We all know how it can be. You've woken up to another dreary, rainy day in the UK. You trudge to work in the grey cold, give eight hours of your life to some noble occupation and rush home to the insulating comfort of your four walls. You switch on the TV and your, ahem, favourite overseas property programme is on. The lovely Jasmine Harman is basked in sunlight, showing some lucky couple properties in a tropical paradise. You marvel at the wonderful homes and beautiful scenery -and then you look out onto your overcast garden, which doesn't have a swimming pool, and decide there and then that you're moving overseas!
So you do your research online - read travel guides, visit expat websites, check out properties - perhaps speak to a friend who's lived in the country you're interested in. And maybe before you know it, you've sold your house, packed in the job and are already in the air on your way to A Place in the Sun.
This kind of spontaneity is impressive, and it's probably how many people have successfully made the move overseas. However, as part of your preparations for moving overseas, it would make the most sense to experience being there for a period of time too. As no matter how much research you do, how many expat forums you visit, or how many short vacations you've spent somewhere - you can't really appreciate the everyday realities of living in a place (cost of living, friendliness of locals and neighbours, etc) until you're actually living there.
And this hopefully won't be the case, but there is always a chance that your chosen paradise won't be all it's cracked up to be - making you face the disappointment of returning home, like some of the 140,000 Brits who came back to the UK from living overseas in 2013. So, it's good to keep your options open, which is why we suggest you consider renting somewhere overseas first before buying there.
The 'try before you buy' approach really is the smart option when thinking of moving abroad. For one, it gives you flexibility. Buying a home in another country is a big financial and personal commitment - whereas, renting somewhere for say, three months or longer - gives you the opportunity to test the waters of that place. It allows you enough time to get your bearings, to check out the local job market if you need to find work, to experience more than one season there - ensuring your new home is just as appealing if and when the weather is colder, and perhaps to discover other towns and regions that might be more suitable places to eventually settle and buy.
And if you're only renting and haven't bought holdings somewhere, then this approach gives you the relative freedom to pick up sticks and move on if things don't work out - whether this be to another overseas location or back to the UK (ideally, if you've only rented and not sold your UK property).
The undeniable logic of renting before buying property abroad is the reason why A Place in the Sun has partnered with holiday rentals company HomeAway, as we want savvy house buyers to have as many resources at their disposal when planning their overseas property searches - whether this be for a couple of weeks' "viewing trip" when searching for that new home, or for an extended rental stay.
To give you a steer, as an experiment we've picked properties from five of the most popular regions on aplaceinthesun.com to give you a quick comparison of what it would cost to rent in the area while you continue your property hunt - or maybe give you an idea what you could be earning if you buy then decide to rent your overseas home out while you're not using it!
We have quite a few properties in the popular area of Lagos, Algarve listed on the site, like this two-bedroom apartment in Meia Praia. An equivalent rental in the area would cost between £326 (low season) and £709 (high season) per week.
The ever-popular Orlando, Florida continues to be a smart choice for bargain hunters and savvy renters alike. This two-bedroom flat is typical of what can be found in the area - a similar rental would set you back between £336 and £447 per week, depending on season.
Spain's Costa Blanca also continues to be favoured by property hunters - this two-bedroom flat in Torrevieja is an example of the type of place you can find in the area. If you were renting a similar property, you'd expect to pay between £213 (low season) and £548 (high season) per week.
|An equivalent property to this two-bedroom flat in Tuscany, Italy would cost between £470 (low season) and £857 (high season) per week in rent.
|And rounding out the top five, this three-bed in Carcassonne, France. A similar home could earn you approximately £542 (low season) to £1,114 (high season) per week in rental income.|
Renting somewhere before you buy is a clever way of preparing for your overseas property adventure, as well as giving you a good idea of knowing how much rental income you might be able to get from the home you choose to buy - should you ever wish to rent it out.
Happy house hunting! As always, A Place in the Sun is here at your disposal to offer you all the latest news, advice and property listings to help you achieve your dreams of owning property overseas.
Search over one million holiday rental listings with A Place in the Sun - holiday rentals.By Rudi Haig, A Place in the Sun's web writer