Fifty-eight percent of expats live in the same type of housing in their host country as they would in their country of origin, according to a recent Expatica poll. Also, 54 percent own their homes while 36 percent rent.
The survey also found that it is a minority of expats who live in a house or apartment provided by their employer, share a rental house or apartment or live in government-subsidised housing. Only seven percent of respondents are eligible for social housing or simply couldn’t stick out the long waiting time or preferred to own their own homes.
When looking for a home the most important factors considered were a good neighbourhood (54 percent said this was their highest priority) and then price (24 percent considered this first and foremost). Other aspects taken into account when house-hunting were a rural location; appreciation potential; spaciousness; a good climate; peacefulness; a convenient location for school and work; quality for money; good standard of living; good access to public transport; well-lit rooms; close to the city/ amenities; and modern facilities.
Complaints about housing in resident countries included noise from bars and other residents, badly constructed buildings, a lack of living space, few proper laundry facilities, poor maintenance and upkeep, high costs, few rights to make changes to rental properties, too many stairs, not being allowed pets, problems with landlords/ property management companies and few good schools nearby.
Expats most commonly found rental homes through relocation agents, signs posted on buildings, online advertisements, housing agencies, expat agencies or employers. The main disadvantage of rental housing was the high deposits required, 54 percent of respondents said.
Meanwhile, 59 percent of expats surveyed had never experienced problems with their landlords. Those who weren’t happy complained that agencies tend to be geared toward landlords and also experienced problems due to being foreign often stemming from their lack of fluency in the local language.
Fifty-eight percent of the expats who own their own homes negotiated the purchase themselves while others used insurance brokers, real estate agents and friends.
The advantages of owning a home included having a good long-term investment, the ability to build capital and the freedom to change one's home, respondents said.
When buying homes, expats experienced problems such as complicated administrative procedures, high taxes and legal fees, incompetant real estate agents, high prices in relation to size and a lack of public records for house-price comparison.
The bright side
However, not all expats found the experience of buying a home in their host country negative. Some found there was less paperwork and negotiation and that the whole process was much more straightforward than in their home countries. Some also said that lawyers were more trustworthy and willing to do more and that banks were flexible and willing to offer a mortgage to people without savings as long as their jobs were termed “acceptable.” “I was able to buy a 700,000-euro home with zero down,” said one American expat who bought a house in the Netherlands.
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