Numbers of graduates leaving home turf for better job prospects abroad are on the up. Too much competition at home, regardless of how employable you are, means the chances of a successful job application are getting slimmer and slimmer. So why not take your skills somewhere new and expand them in a foreign clime? This can only be good for your CV and exciting for you: experiencing a new culture, learning a new language – what’s not to love?
Even if you’re not ready to leave the world of education, many are taking courses elsewhere and adding qualifications to their repertoire while the jobs market in the UK calms down. This can help increase your employability while you immerse yourself in a new way of living.
The only problem is finding somewhere to live. No matter which part of the world takes your fancy, there are some basic processes that we all must go through to ensure we get the best possible home with the least possible pain.
Buy or rent?
It might be the perfect opportunity to invest in property abroad. You could get a good deal, depending on where in the world you look. Check with mortgage lenders if you’re eligible for an overseas mortgage and how much you could afford – remembering that typically 10% of the total value of the property has to be paid upfront out of your pocket. Added to this, you must account for legal fees and moving costs, so it’s best to lower your budget to account for all this, just to be on the safe side.
If buying isn’t an option, then the good news is that renting abroad is often cheaper than it is here. However, the rental process can be fraught with difficulty if you’re not currently over there viewing the properties yourself, so it’s important to appoint a legal adviser from the area you’re looking into.
Take into account exchange rates when looking to rent or buy abroad. You can frequently exchange currency for nothing, or for very little, if you shop around rather than going straight to your bank. Alternatives include the Post Office, travel agents or online services to exchange your currency for you, but be sure you look carefully at their prices before choosing. Currencies Direct is a good place to start, with advice for those moving or buying property abroad.
Your location may already be predestined, or you may have the luxury of choice. Whatever the circumstances, make sure you look at country guides on property for the country in question. You can usually apply for one for free from an overseas property site, or you can read online advice. Channel 4 have a comprehensive guide covering just about anywhere. Try to find people who’ve already made the plunge and ask them for their experiences – if you don’t know anyone, check for examples on emigration sites on your country of choice. If you have the chance to contact people in the know, then do so. Networking can be a positive thing for emigrants as well as graduates. Finally, when searching for areas of property, make sure you research the local area so you know where is desirable, convenient and affordable, and where to avoid (e.g. flight routes, high crime areas).
Do not even consider moving abroad without seeking independent legal advice. Even if you’re sure that the agent you’re buying or renting from seems legitimate and friendly, a lawyer can help you to smooth out language difficulties and also protect and inform you. Make sure you don’t accept the first to come along – check they are experienced, independent and AIPP members (Association of International Property Professionals). Be honest and open with your lawyer about what you are looking for and what your budget is. Of course a lawyer will cost you, but don’t even think about skimping on something so important.
You really must take an opportunity to go to the location and if possible take a friend or family member with you. Arrange viewings in advance in all the properties you are interested in that are well within your budget. Remember to keep an open mind and not to get attached to any one property, just as you would in the UK.
You’ll probably have a number of viewings to make, so in order to keep each one fresh in your mind and make an informed decision, you should take a note of the address and price of each property. Also you should ask if it has a septic tank and mains drains (especially if it’s in a rural area) and its proximity to the airport and vital facilities. Note down its state of repair, as you’ll have to factor in the cost of building and maintenance, or if renting, arrange repairs with the owner. Be sure to take photos of each room and any damage, for consultation during the decision and negotiation stage.
Most importantly if you intend to make an offer, ask how long the property has been on the market and what the reasons are for selling – this will tell you whether you’re likely to be accepted with a low offer. If the property has been on the market for a long time, or if the seller is keen to sell it quickly then you can try reducing the asking price. Even if this is knocked back, it provides a platform from which to start negotiations. If you’re looking to rent, make sure you ask your lawyer about their opinion on the value of the properties and don’t pay more than it’s really worth. You should be just as assiduous as a buyer when viewing properties.
Inform your lawyer if you intend to put in an offer, and keep them informed throughout the negotiation process. They may be able to advise you on best practice, using their knowledge of the area and the agent involved. Do not put in an offer exceeding your agreed budget! It may sound simple, but in the heat of the moment you shouldn’t let your heart rule your head – many people live to regret doing so.
If you are successful, congratulations! Whether buying or renting, find out what the deadline is for handing over your deposit, and get your currency converted at least ten days in advance, to allow for delays.
As soon as the deal is made, you should shop around for removal companies and work out how much you’ll need to move and how much you can buy in your new country. Sometimes it works out cheaper to buy locally than to have everything you own shipped over. Factor in the cost of redecoration, building work or repairs. Whether you’ve moved for a job or to study, try to move in at least a week before you are due to start to allow you time to settle in and make it home. Find out about local transport, amenities and make friends with your new neighbours. You want to make this as positive an experience as you possibly can.