When it comes to investing in property abroad, the top destinations for British expats are France, Spain and the United States. There are 200,000 Britons in France, and an astonishing 761,000 have migrated to Spain. But there's a whole wide world out there to choose from, and we're becoming an increasingly adventurous bunch. As Rupert Bates puts it in The Daily Telegraph: "Buying abroad used to be a question of whether the sun shone, where to find all-day English breakfasts and if the country had an extradition treaty should the authorities track you down. Today it is more complicated." A recent article in The Guardian shows just how much more complicated choosing where to live abroad has become: there are UK expats living in countries ranging from North Korea to Tonga. If you're among those tempted to sell up here and make a new life for yourself abroad, here's a look at three destinations that still offer that all-too-rare combination of good value, good potential, and most importantly a pleasant lifestyle.
Invest in property abroad: Canada
Top of the list is Canada. Its wide-open spaces are already enjoyed by 603,000 Britons, but Canada has every intention of letting more in. While applications for a skilled worker visa "can take years to process", says The Guardian, 90% are successful. And the ease of getting in isn't the only reason to go. By our standards, property is cheap: the average house price in Ontario is £112,000. And unlike its neighbour to the south, Canada has "fewer question marks hanging over the property market", says Sean Newsom in The Sunday Times. The Canadian government expects average prices to rise by 5% during 2007, but the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors reckons that a rise of more than 10% is possible.
The main thing to watch out for is the Canadian dollar, "which has been yo-yoing about all over the place of late", warns Newsom. The currency's close link to commodity prices saw it soar to $1.975 to the pound last March, only to slide back to $2.32 as commodities weakened. The Sunday Times suggests consulting a currency specialist, such as Baydonhill (Baydonhill.com) before buying.
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Invest in property abroad: Argentina
If the Canadian winter doesn't appeal, then how about Argentina? British nationals don't need a visa to enter, and the Argentinean property market has recovered well since the 2002 economic crash. "Many homes have at least doubled in value," says Benedict Mander in the Financial Times. So is there any value left? There is, says Mander but you have to buy in "the next up-and-coming area", which he believes is the Buenos Aires suburb of San Telmo. Prices per square metre in the popular regions of Palermo and Recoleta range from $1,500 to $3,000, which is high for South America, while the London average is $8,000. But in San Telmo, prices are around $1,200 per square metre, and old, unrestored houses sell for "as much as two-thirds less". Meanwhile, strong economic growth is encouraging Argentines to move their money from offshore into property. GDP growth is forecast at 8% this year so the market should have further to go.
Invest in property abroad: Kenya
But if you fancy a temperate year-round climate, an English-speaking population, and don't mind a bit of adventure, then The Guardian advises heading to Kenya. Despite the inevitable trials of third-world living such as an unreliable electricity supply and potholes that are occasionally broken up by bits of road 29,000 Britons have moved to Kenya and now Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood is considering buying a home there. Nairobi has the second-strongest property market in Africa (after South Africa), according to Knight Frank, yet life is still pretty cheap. You can apparently rent a large, four-bedroom house with a big garden for around £1,000 a month.
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