Britain is one of the world’s most multicultural countries. London alone is estimated to be home to more than 270 different nationalities.
All four countries that make up the UK – England, Scotland, Wales and, to a lesser extent, Northern Ireland – have significant expat populations, especially in the larger cities. There are many reasons why the UK has long been viewed an attractive destination for both expats and overseas property investors.
The UK’s education system is of a high standard and some of the world’s best universities are located in the country. The excellent (yet much maligned) and mostly free healthcare system provided by the National Health Service (NHS) is the envy of many other countries, while the UK boasts some of the world’s best infrastructure throughout all areas of the country.
British people are, on the whole, extremely welcoming towards foreign residents; and while you shouldn’t expect any of the locals to converse with you in anything other than English, most expats are free to enjoy and celebrate their own cultures. On the subject of language, one point to note is that regional accents do vary wildly throughout the UK and some expats may have trouble understanding some of the stronger dialects; indeed, even some British people do!
What about Brexit?
2016 was the year everything changed. The result of the EU Referendum sent shockwaves through the UK, Europe and beyond. Within 24 hours of the Brexit result being confirmed, the Pound had fallen to record lows against most major currencies, nearly $2 trillion had been wiped off the global market, and fears of the UK entering a widespread recession were commonplace. It would be fair to say that the uncertainty caused by the shock result yielded something of a panic.
At the time of writing, two years on from the Brexit vote, the dust is still yet to settle. What will actually happen when the UK leaves the EU is still mostly unknown. However, through all the doom and gloom, the UK economy has not collapsed – and in some areas has seen some really strong results.
There is arguably one group of people for whom the current economic climate has proven to be hugely beneficial – overseas property buyers. British expats looking for a way back into the British property market have also benefitted from a pummeled Pound. Falling house prices and favourable currency exchange rates have combined to give overseas-based investors some of the best property investment conditions in many years.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be purely an investment property. It could be a holiday home; somewhere to enjoy your retirement; or perhaps a permanent home. Whatever the reason for your interest in purchasing a UK property right now, by following the five key steps in this guide, you should have the right tools to get the job done. For returning UK expats, check out our 25 top tips to ensure your return to the UK is smooth as possible!
Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds
Pound Sterling (GBP)
The UK has long been a popular location in which to buy a property, often for investment purposes. UK centres of business and finance such as London are a continued draw for those who are emigrating for work and the housing and rental markets are both strong, post-financial crisis. Intense demand for housing in London has pushed house prices up 86 percent since 2009, when the property market dropped due to the global credit crunch. Until recently, this has led to the average overseas-based purchaser being priced out of the UK property market – particularly those looking for a home in London and the South-East region. However, the aftermath of the Brexit vote has led to small price falls – although nothing as alarming as those witnessed during the late noughties financial crisis – and this, along with a weak Pound, opened up the market for thousands more buyers.
Recent studies also show that cities outside the South East of England are confident in the ability to buy property and have not been overly affected by the UK’s vote to leave the EU in the referendum.
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