Home Away From Home – The Best Places To Own A Holiday Home
The holiday abroad has become a staple part of British culture. Whether it’s getting away from work, weather or worries, we take advantage of cheap flights and short travel times now more than ever before. Although staying in a hotel or guest house is a welcome change, some prefer to save costs or have that touch of ‘home from home’ when holidaying. Holiday homes have become extremely popular as it becomes easier to buy, sell and travel abroad. Countries like Spain, France, Italy and Portugal have millions of holiday homes that are owned by British people.
Owning a holiday home has its benefits compared to renting or staying in hotels. Not only does having your own place take away the stress of picking a decent place to stay, but you know exactly what you’ll get when you arrive. You can also rent it out to other holidaymakers when you aren't there, with sites like AirBnB making it super easy to find trusted short term tenants. If you can afford the mortgage repayments, it’s also a way to gain a new asset, rather than giving your money to Mister Travelodge.
Spain has been and always will be a popular tourist destination thanks to the weather, landscape and similarities to home, so owning property on the Spanish Coast guarantees a relaxing holiday with better weather than the UK. Tread carefully however as parts of Spain, France and Italy, especially in mountainous regions, can suffer from cooler temperatures and overcast summer days. The Tuscany region in Italy has some incredibly beautiful countryside as well as amazing cities like Florence and Pisa, but in the winter and late summer the weather can be similar to the UK, with plenty of thunderstorms and cool days.
Although it is many people's dream to own their own spot somewhere hot and sunny, a lot of hard work is needed before a property can be purchased. In France for example, there can be a lot of bureaucracy and approvals needed from local government before a property can be purchased. A problem that can be exacerbated if your money is in a British bank. Once you have got around this problem, the South of France is a beautiful part of the world with castles, nature reserves, picturesque villages and plenty of restaurants and wineries with English-speaking owners.
If you don't know much about the area you want to buy in or about buying properties in general, there is always the danger that you don't see any of the underlying problem in a property. There could be planning restrictions or access problems that aren't highlighted by the estate agent or seller at first. An often overlooked problem could be a language barrier and translation costs for legal documents and deeds aren’t cheap.
It is also worth noting if British people are welcome where you are considering your purchase. Spain has a large population of ex-pats and is generally considerate to tourists, but in some areas locals are against the idea of their town or village being ‘overrun’ with foreign property owners. The upcoming Brexit negotiations are pretty cloudy for UK citizens with property abroad and there may be changes to rules, regulations and charges depending on how the government manages negotiations with the rest of the EU.
Once you have bought the property, it may need renovation or maintenance that is impractical if you only visit for short periods of the year. Make sure you have an agreement with a local builder or handyman, especially if you plan to rent the property out. Trying to cover the costs in one fell swoop can be harder for holiday homes as well, especially when the damage can mount up, and cause worse damage than if it was caught early. A thief gaining entry by breaking a window invites further acts of thievery, and even more damage. Sometimes standard home insurance doesn’t cover these eventualities, but you can find holiday home insurance that specifically covers the types of damage found in other parts of the world in properties often left empty.
If your home is often unoccupied, then it’s good to make contacts in the area, and where possible get them to visit your property once in a while to check for any damage. Trying to fix or pay for burst pipes, broken furnishings or fire damage is made much harder if you are hundreds of miles away. Tread carefully if you choose a provider in the country you're buying the home in, as foreign insurers may seem cheaper per month, but excesses can often be much higher if something does go wrong.
Another key consideration when choosing your holiday home is local tax law. Some municipalities in Spain for example charge higher a council tax rate to foreign property owners or those who only inhabit the home for a certain amount of time per year. Do your homework to make sure you aren't overpaying if there is a better alternative in a different area. As with buying any property, once the headaches are out of the way you can sit back and enjoy what you have worked hard to purchase. Make sure you fully research what you're about to buy, as well as the location, monthly costs and if the property will be easy to sell on if your situation changes, turning your investment back into a liquid asset.