Expatriation is a carefully considered choice that allows for personal and professional development. And what is one of the highest achievements of personal development, the goal of a lifetime: becoming a property owner!
Buying real estate while abroad represents a long-term commitment, proof, if any were needed, of the attachment one has for the host country.
To prepare yourself before investing in real estate as an expatriate, it is essential to find out as much as possible about restrictions and property rights before you run into any nasty surprises!
Let’s take a look at 10 countries where buying property is restricted for expats.
Expatriate: Becoming a property owner in Asia
Buying property in Thailand
In Thailand, it is possible for an expat to become a property owner but not quite 100%. Allow us to explain! For nationalistic reasons, land must be owned by a Thai. Thus, an expatriate can only own 49% of a piece of land, the rest being co-owned with a local. Still, it’s better than nothing!
Finding a cosy nest in Hong Kong
Want to buy a property in Hong Kong while being an expat? Then you will have to pay a 15% surcharge on the property purchase if you are not a resident! In addition, foreigners living in another country for the rest of the year cannot buy property in certain areas of the city.
Buying real estate for an expatriate in North America
The case of Canada
In Canada, there are few restrictions, with the exception of land belonging to the British crown. Some of this land may be up for sale, but would not be owned. The restrictions are more on the provincial or territorial side. Did you know this? Canada recently banned foreigners from buying real estate to stop real estate speculation that is driving up property prices for locals.
Becoming a property owner in the United States
Foreigners can buy houses and flats but not in cooperative housing or condominiums. Cooperatives require that the buyer’s source of income be from the United States and that more than a majority of the buyer’s assets be located in the United States.
And in South and Central America?
Mexico is a country that prohibits expatriates from investing in real estate within the country. However, conditions for exemption exist only in certain areas.
Indeed, the expatriate in Haiti can only have one house per commune and must reside in it.
Becoming a property owner in Brazil as an expatriate
Expatriates can buy almost any property in Brazil, enjoying the same rights as Brazilian citizens. The only limitations are on foreign ownership of property located near national security zones, the coast and borders with other countries.
Can expats buy in Europe?
To become an owner as an expat in Denmark, it is mandatory to apply for a court permission to prove a real connection to this country, especially related to family.
To become a property owner in Switzerland, you must be a Swiss resident and work in the country. Only cross-border commuters can buy a second home, but only in an area close to where they work.
Finally, in New Zealand
Certain restrictions apply for foreigners wishing to buy property in New Zealand. These cover foreigners who wish to purchase more than 12 acres; the buyer must then obtain permission from the Foreign Investment Commission.
However, New Zealand has recently banned the purchase of property by non-residents in order to limit inflation.
Let’s end this article on a positive note with the example of one of the Gulf States! The Sultanate of Oman has recently allowed expatriates to own property, in addition to having the highest scores in the ease of settlement index.
To find out more about expatriation in Oman, you can check out this article.