You’ve made the decision to have a property in your dream location abroad to visit whenever you choose, or to live full time, so what are the options available for establishing a home together with their advantages and disadvantages?
Many people find the idea of living in house they have designed themselves to be very appealing. However, having already made the important decision to set up a home in a foreign country, is it needlessly complicating matters by deciding to build it yourself?
So, having already made the important decision to set up a home in a foreign country, is it needlessly complicating matters by deciding to build it yourself?
Construction in an unfamiliar country can be a testing experience and even more so for those unfamiliar with construction in general or the idiosyncrasies and language of a local building crew. Many people have had their whole experience spoiled when their supposedly straightforward dream home turned into a nightmare.
Fortunately, with a realistic design, good pre-planning, a capable builder and sufficient financing, there is no reason why the experience should be anything but a happy one. (see our Article on Construction in Paradise)
Building your own home can be a satisfying experience. However, the decision should not be taken lightly and definitely not without serious consideration of the alternative options available.
The decision to purchase a Pre-Built house offers a significant number of advantages. First and foremost, it avoids the uncertainty of building from scratch. Secondly, with careful inspection, any serious problems, which can take time to appear on a new construction, can be seen ahead of the decision to buy.
Thirdly, the surroundings and landscaping will have had time to recover from the construction stage, offering a ready-made integrated property. And finally, aspects such as the comfort of the house in the heat of the day, the drainage of the land during a tropical downpour, or the water pressure from the shower head etc can all be physically experienced instead of anticipated.
The decision to purchase a Pre-Built house offers a significant number of advantages
This is not to suggest that buying an existing house is not without its drawbacks. The property may cost more than building something similar yourself (assuming you can build to budget). It may not be located exactly where you want to be, with the view you would like or the neighborhood you would prefer. Plus, you may need to live with the original designer’s idea of what constitutes stylish and practical! Buying secondhand requires compromise, but it can avoid a great many problems and allow you rest peacefully knowing that someone else endured the headaches of the original construction process.
Perhaps the most obvious Off-the-Shelf option is the purchase of a Condominium property. For people who don’t intend to live in-country year round, a Condo may be a good option. Unoccupied property can attract unwanted attention, so if you know beforehand that your property may be unoccupied for a long periods of time, being within a Condo development may offer some advantage in terms of security and maintenance.
In addition, if you’re less inclined toward the chores of garden maintenance and more inclined toward the rigors pool lounging, this too could be another reason this option would be good for you.
For people who don’t intend to live in-country year round, a Condo may be a good option
The majority of Condo developments are located within view of the ocean, as historically this type of property has proven to be popular with foreign purchasers. With beachfront real estate becoming evermore expensive, the smaller, multi-storied nature of Condos provides the opportunity to live by the sea, for less than buying actual land there. On a comparative basis, Condos themselves are probably the most expensive form of real estate on a price per square foot of living area basis.
As an investment, Condos can be unpredictable. Pick one in a increasingly popular area at the right stage of development and saturation, and it can become a lucrative investment you can personally enjoy whenever you need a holiday. Pick one at the wrong stage of development in an over saturated area during an economic downturn, and negative equity may be a factor for years to come.
Another Off-the-Shelf option is the purchase of property in a gated community. These offer some of the same advantages of Condos but with the possibility to buy actual land. With your designated plot, the developer often has a construction crew who can build a property for you from a choice of designs.
This usually works out cheaper on a price per square foot basis than Condos, but more than Pre-Built property or a Self-Build project. Lured by relatively cheap lot prices and developer financing, many of these developments remain undeveloped even though the individual lots may have been purchased. If the community aspect of this option appeals, it’s worth investigating the level of development already in place.
Another Off-the-Shelf option is the purchase of property in a gated community
Off-the-Shelf real estate, avoids some of the headaches associated with having to personally build your own property and introduces a few more depending on your preferences and requirements. Developer financing plays a significant part in the popularity of this model so if this aspect appeals then it may well be worth considering.