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An expat dilemma: Rent vs Buy

An expat dilemma: Rent vs Buy

According to research, more than 30% of Americans have thought about moving abroad, and many chose to do so. If you’re one of them, it doesn’t matter if you’re doing it for business, retirement, pleasure, or adventure. You have to decide where you’ll live. To help you with that, today we’re diving into an expat dilemma: rent vs buy. 

There are lots of factors that can impact this decision. You have to think about how long you’ll be there and what you can afford. Regardless of if you’re buying land overseas or trying to find a rental, these two factors are crucial. However, there’s plenty more of them to consider. 

So, here’s what you should keep in mind when making the decision. 

There are a few things you need to think about before you can make an informed decision.

Think about your long-term plan

If you’re planning to stay abroad for just a short period of time, renting is probably best. That being said, if you can afford it, buying a home away from home can be an excellent investment. Not only will you have a vacation home, but you can also rent it out and earn some money on the side. These are all valid options, but only you can decide what you should do. 

There are many questions you need to have answers to before you can push on through with this. For instance, if you decide to call a company like Peasley Transfer & Storage and move back home, who will be responsible for maintaining the property you bought? If you choose to sell it, who are you going to leave that task to? There’s plenty of micromanaging involved, and that can be tiring. 

On the other hand, if you go with renting, you only have to worry about paying utilities and rent while you’re there. And when you decide it’s time to leave, you can simply walk away from it. Buying a home and selling it can be an excellent investment, but only if you have someone who can do it on your behalf after you’ve left. 

Learn local laws and regulations

No matter if you’re renting or buying, you must understand the local laws. For a foreigner, these can be confusing, and they can bring lots of problems and frustration. Before you decide to buy, inform yourself about the rules regarding property purchases by foreigners. Some countries don’t allow this at all, while others might have special conditions you need to meet. On top of that, resale restrictions exist as well. You don’t want to have your proceeds stuck in the country you’re leaving. So, make sure to consult with a lawyer before you even think of buying

With renting, things look less grim. The fluctuating property taxes won’t concern you, and your insurance fee will be lower. Rent is usually fixed, and you may not need to pay utilities at all. Therefore, budgeting might be a lot easier for you if you rent. And if you know what you’re doing, you’ll be able to find an absolute gem of a rental abroad. However, this doesn’t mean that renting is all fun and games. In this instance, you should also take the time to learn the local laws, as they don’t always cover the conditions of leasing and tenancy. So, consulting with a lawyer is a must here, as well. 

It’s important to mention that you’ll have a lot more household freedom as an owner. You’ll be able to redecorate, remodel, and make the improvements you feel are necessary. You won’t have any restrictions regarding pets, children, or noise, and that’s important to some.

If local laws are favorable, resolving an expat dilemma: rent vs buy in favor of the latter is a good idea.

Evaluate the economic stability

The next vital factor regarding the expat dilemma: rent vs buy is the economy. Before you put down the money, make sure you understand everything about the country’s financial stability

Now, if you’re going to live in a western country, you probably don’t have anything to be worried about. But, the more exotic the place is, the more challenges you’ll face. Rarely does anyone want to be an investor in a country that has severe fiscal issues. So, in such a scenario, renting is always a safer option.

You never know what can happen, and if you’re there for work, you might even have to leave the country suddenly if things with the economy escalate in the wrong way. Being a renter allows you to plan a last-minute move and organize everything on short notice

With that said, some people enjoy taking risks. And if you’re one of them, buying can be a great adventure. Usually, property prices are low, and if things improve, you’ll make a hefty profit. That might be enough to spark your imagination. Nonetheless, always make sure that buying a property is in your best interest.

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Consult the experts

As mentioned above, you should consult with local experts as much as you can. Find a trustworthy local agent and ask them to fill you in on local laws and customs. They can also advise you on the final contract, whether you decide to rent or buy. Besides, having someone who speaks the local language will be of great help. 

If you’re renting, they’ll be able to outline all the details for you and maybe even get you a better deal. They’ll also explain if renting a house or renting an apartment is a better decision. All in all, if you’re working with experts, you’ll get more bang for your buck

Local agents will be able to help you in many ways.


Finally, here are some key takeaways to consider

  • Buying a second home abroad can mean that you’ll spend a lot less and get much more. A beach house in Brazil can cost around $80,000. Try to get a deal like this in the USA. 
  • Retiring abroad with a home of your own is a good solution also. You’ll be able to take advantage of a super low cost of living, and that’s always a good thing. 
  • Owning a home abroad makes you one of the locals. You’ll get a better cultural experience, and you might even get a residency visa. 

Therefore, an expat dilemma: rent vs buy doesn’t have a clear winner. Sometimes, it’s better to buy, and sometimes renting is the way to go. It depends on many factors, and only you can make the right decision. 

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