Monday, 9 April 2012

Tips to buy property in Finland

Sure, Finland features as the fourth best countries to live in. Interestingly, if you remember, Finnish policy even reduces barriers to employment by ensuring all families with young children have access to a subsidised childcare place. Attractive, isn't it?

A lot of European citizens invest in a holiday home in Finland, but living there permanently may need some adjustments to do -- for example, the extreme winters and days at length of ‘no sun’ or nights of only the white sun! But then I am sure you are already aware of all that, and are prepared to make that move.

So here you are, a few top tips to buying property in Finland

    The most popular locations to buy property in are its major cities, Helsinki, Tempere and Turku. Lapland, at the northern part of the country is also popular with a lot of foreigners, due to it’s vast expanses of green forests and for being renowned as the home of Santa Claus!
    It is advisable to make to of the services of a lawyer or solicitor who can go through the sale agreement or read survey reports and sign for completion of contracts. 
    Transfer tax must be paid and is at the rate of 4 per cent, and is paid at the time of registering the deed.
    In Finland, you are required to pay taxes on several heads, so it’s advisable to check where taxes are applicable. For example, there is a separate municipal tax on real estate, and so on.
    Foreign nationalities.
    Though there are no restriction anymore on foreigners buying property in Finland, they are restricted from acquiring property from the Province of Aland. Even this can be one, with a writ permission from the Finns to buy property int his province!
    Days taken.
    You may be pleasantly surprised to note that it take 14 days to complete all the required procedures to register a property in Finland.

It is indeed relatively easy and quick to buy property in Finland. 

Best wishes from this side of the world. 

Be sure to visit us to get a peek at homes across the world.

Much Love and happy house hunting,

P.S: Follow me to my next post: Property Buying tips in Netherlands.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Tips to buy property in Belgium

Interested in Belgium, are you? Go for it, I would say. Buying a property is straightforward, more than anything. But be warned, it can be laborious !Living in Belgium is not an easy thing, say some of my friends in Brussels! The one thing that I heard most from those who I asked about life in Belgium, is ‘Be prepared to face bureaucracy!”There are three local languages -- French, Dutch (Flemish) and German, and it’s important that you do not speak the wrong language to the wrong people. Relax, the good news is that,  English is widely accepted and used. Ready to make that move?

Now for the tips
  1. Choose and sign.
  2. Once you have selected the property, it is important to sign an agreement to commit to purchasing the house. A final contract is signed a few months later, once the legal work and mortgage issues are done.
  1. Notaire. 
  2. All of the above happen via notaries, known as notaire. both the seller and the buyer have a notaire, each. Pick a notaire on recommendation and ensure that s/he is conveniently located. Also, find a notaire, before you find a house.
  1. Price.
  2. Assuming that you will do all the necessary research involved in buying a house, remember that the price that you agree with the seller and the price you finally end up paying will differ hugely. There are several factors contributing to this -- huge property taxes, notary fee, taxes on loans and so on. 
  1. Structural Surveys.
  2. These are not a legal part for getting a mortgage. You must do it for your own benefit. A must do before you sign up on that agreement.
  1. Property Insurance.
  2. You are liable for it from the minute you sign on that dotted line of that agreement. Be aware of these implications and stay alert.
  1. Mortgages.
  2. You have a whole plethora of choices in Belgium. make a wise one. What might help you is the services of a mortgage broker. Typically a  mortgage broker helps you find the best deal, the best source for a loan, etc.

Now, what you need, I am sure, is loads of luck! 
Be sure to visit us to get a peek at homes across the world.
Much Love and happy house hunting,
P.S: Follow me to my next post: Property Buying tips in Finland.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Tips to buy property in Switzerland

Here is something you simply must know before you start property search in Switzerland -- the costs involved with property buying in Switzerland is higher than anywhere else in Europe. Not just that, general cost of living is also higher in Switzerland than in any other country in Europe. But then I assume you already know that, right? So here goes, some great tips to get that house you so want!

Some hot tips
  1. Laws: Non Swiss citizen have several laws to abide by before a property is bought. You must obtain an authorisation from the Cantonal Authorities and from the Federal Department of Justice and Police, through a notary. This is because there is an annual quota for sale to non Swiss citizens. Also, it’s worth knowing that if either you or your spouse is an EU citizen, Swiss residency is most likely to give you almost all rights as a Swiss citizen.
  2. Holiday home or permanent house?  It is very imperative that you decide what you are planning on buying. If it’s a holiday home, where you will stay on for a few months in a year, there are rules, and quotas. If it’s a permanent house, you will definitely have to show your stay permit, especially if you do not hold an EU/EFTA passport. However, this may lead you to a wild goose chase. Be warned.
  3. Price payable: This is usually done in stages, which is specified in the purchase agreement. Do go through it thoroughly.
  4. Location dependant. Remember the price you will have to pay depends on the location of your house. Of course, this is true in any part of the world.In Switzerland, the property market being small, the location of the property assumes greater importance.
  5. Loans: Do remember that local banks can loan up to two thirds of the purchase price.
  6. Agent: A piece of good advice -- identify and pick a good, trustworthy and experienced real estate agent early in this process. It eases out a lot of hassles and quickens the process, too.
  7. Taxes and rates. It is important to do a thorough research on the property taxes applicable in each town/ canton.. It may serve you well to know that the Canton of Zug, for example, has the lowest tax, and therefore, highest property price in all of Switzerland!
Hope this has helped you in some way. Do drop in a line if you need to know more.. or simply visit our website
Much Love and happy house hunting,
P.S: Follow me to my next post: Property Buying tips in Belgium.

Tips to buy property in Sweden

Here are some good news if you’re planning to buy property in Sweden:
  • There are no restrictions on foreigners buying property in Sweden.
  • House prices have fallen considerably in 2011. 
  • The real estate transfer process is easy, swift and quick. 
So, looks like it’s the right thing to  buy property in the biggest Scandinavian Nation. However, you could visit there on a holiday and check out... After all it has been reported as the 7th best country to live in!
Here goes my tips for you...
  1. Agent. Most house hunting, negotiations and preparing relevant papers are managed by real estate agents. It’s best you appoint one for your self.
  2. Deposit. In Sweden, there is a norm that the buyer places 20% of the property price as deposit, as soon as the buying price is agreed upon. 
  3. Conduct a survey. It’s a common practise in Sweden. A friend who had recently moved to Sweden recommends that it’s best to hire the services of an independent surveyor, who will do a profession job of it.
  4. Hire a solicitor. Though it's is not a must, it’s definitely advisable to hire a legal person to carry out all your legal work. It eases your work and helps a great deal to have a professional work at legal issues.
  5. Deeds of Title. You have to apply for this within three months of the sale transfer. the deeds of Title will need to be submitted for registration. 
  6. Charges and fee: Stamp duty is charged on the registration of Deeds of Title at about 1% of the purchase price. Agent fees are approx. 3.5 % and are usually payable by the seller. You also have to pay the property tax, wealth tax and so on. Do find out and be prepared.
  7. All the best
Hey, by the way, I assume you will follow my standard instructions diligently -- RESEARCH. It’s a must.

Much Love and happy house hunting,


P.S: Follow me to my next post: Property Buying tips in Switzerland

Monday, 12 March 2012

Tips to buy property in Portugal

Welcome back. Portugal was Ninth on our list of Top Ten countries with a healthy work-life balance. If you are looking to relocate to foreign shores and are considering Portugal, here is what you will need to know....

Before I plunge in with the dos and the don’t and tips to live in this stunning country, you must know that just as in any other beautiful country, holidaying is all heavenly and fun, but living there is simply another ball game. You have to be practical and realistic about relocating to Portugal. No, No No... I am definitely not putting you off, or scaring you. Being prepared is a good thing, don’t you agree? And, who better than I, your good friend, MILO, to prepare you?

Here we go....

A few good things:
  1. A great place for retireesThe government of Portugal has recently introduced a ten-year tax exemption window of opportunity for foreign retirees. Those who want to retire abroad to live in Portugal can enjoy a reduced cost of living. (Watch out this blog -- I will dedicate an entire post to retirement in Portugal, on a future date.)
  2. Best golf courses in the world. So, if you are a passionate golfer, this piece of information might give you an added push to choose Portugal. Of course, you have to stock up on the money as well!
  3. Fabulous Weather. It’s just for the beautiful weather alone, that Portugal is very popular, especially among Britons, to settle in.
  4. Affordable property prices. Apparently, finding a good bargain for a property is easy in Portugal, if you are not looking at some mod luxury resort type of a house, that is!
  5. Good health care systems. It’s easy to get medicines over the counter. The system is far more sophisticated than many European countries.
Now for the Hot tips:
  1. Preliminary contract for sale. In Portugal, execution of this contract, called the Contrato de Promessa de Compra e Venda, is the first step. This initial agreement is a legally binding contract that sets forth the conditions of the sale. This is later legalised by presenting in the Notary Office. This contract is legally binding on both sides and breach of this, attracts a fine, or forfeit of deposit, as the case may be.
  2. Important Documents: Ensure that the following documents are available:
  • a) A Habitation License for property constructed after 1951
  • b) Certified insertion in the records of the Land Conservatory
  • c) A detailed “Caderneta Urbana” from the Tax Office
  1. Government Licensed Estate Agent: Its very important to use a licensed estate agent. S/he is bonded by the state by means of an insurance cover and this proves helpful when there are disputes!
  2. Always use a lawyerThis is true of property buying anywhere abroad. In Portugal, too, this is most practical in order to act for any legal matter on your behalf. A document named ‘Procuração Publica’ is prepared with all the required details, which is then signed by those granting the ‘power of attorney’ in the Notary Office, and registered in the Notary. This official document can also be created in the Portuguese language outside Portugal in a Portuguese Consul in a foreign country. It can also be created in a Notary in the language of the country concerned, in which case, the document must have the Seal of the Notary and an Apostil attached. An official translation into the Portuguese language will later be necessary.
  3. Fiscal Number. In fact, this should be the first thing you have in place -- A Fiscal Number, also known as Numero Fiscal de Contribuinte. It’s a must for all nationals and foreign nationals, wishhing to buy property in Portugal. It’s easy to obtain from any tax office at a nominal fee. It’s also called a Tax Card.
  4. State Payment. Just before the purchase, you will be required to pay the CEMI, a state payment which can be carried out in a local tax office, closes to your property. The amount depends on the nature of the property and there may be cases when the buyer is exempted from paying the same. Your estate agent and lawyer should be able to help you out on this.
  5. Completion of Sale. Once the above procedures are complete, the act of sale can be done in any Notary office. You could also complete the purchase of your property at the Conservatória do Registo Predial (land registry office) through a fairly new system called ‘Casa Pronta’.The completion of sale is often called the ‘Escritura’ which refers to the title deeds of the property.
  6. Registration of Property. Once the full payment is made and the documents are in place, you will need to register your property, in order to legally make it yours! Once you have registered, you might have to notify the local tax office regarding change of ownership. Your appointed lawyer will, of course take care of all these.
  7. Final Touches. We have reached the end of the steps involved in buying property in Portugal. However, as I always say in all my posts, do your research well. Talk to locals, read up, make new friends, and... learn the language. Portuguese is rather complicated but it’s worth knowing, especially since you plan to live in the country.
  8. Best luck to you.
Hope that was of use to you. I have taken loads of help from friends who live in Portugal, some informative websites and other reading material. A big thank you to all those who helped put this together. See you soon.

Much Love,


P.S: Coming up next: Property buying in Germany! Achtung!

Top Ten Tips -- Buying property in France

Welcome to my hot tips for buying property. Our chosen country is France, this time. Refer to our list of ten best countries to live in, and you will find France on the tenth!

My top ten tips:

Before we begin, I must tell you that buying property in France is fairly straightforward. Also, there are no restrictions on foreign ownership. Therefore the process maybe a simple one. Still, there are some things you have to bear in mind.

1.     Know your French. And know it well. Half baked knowledge of the language is dangerous. Better still, simply get assistance in translation.

2.     Select your region. France is a huge country. So narrow down your search to which region you might want to invest in. (for more info on regions, do look up one of our earlier posts --‘Knowing France’ - a three part series). Also, you must make up your mind whether you want a town house or a country house.

3.     First, only a verbal offer. Remember, not to sign any paper or hand over any money, till you are in front of the notaire to process the sale and purchase contract. If possible, do some research and appoint your own notaire. Do ensure you clear your doubts and ask for advice from your notaire. A notaire’s fee is fixed by law and is non-negotiable.

4.     Research. Do ample research about the property that is of interest to you. Ask questions, make a couple of visits before you get to the ‘notaire’ stage. It might also be extremely useful to go through all the taxes you might have to pay -- agent’s fee, notaire’s fee, land registrar’s fee, VAT, registration fee, and so on.

5.     Preliminary Agreements. Once you have decided on the property and agreed on the price, you will need to sign a preliminary agreement with the seller. You will also have a seven day cool off period, during which time, you have the right to change your mind. This time is best used for structural survey and other inspections, if required.

6.     Buying property with French mortgage. Mortgages are cheaper in France and offers a whole lot of tax advantages. If you do opt for mortgages, ask about conditional clauses and incorporate them.

7.     Vendor obligations. Be sure to know what the vendor has to provide to you before the sale. The vendor must provide a number of statutory survey reports. Get clarification and help from your notaire on this front and do not go by the report alone. The vendor is also obliged to make a number of statutory disclosures, which you must verify in front of your notaire

8.     Laws for unmarried, married and group of people. There are different laws and conditions, you must know and bear in mind. Ask friends, legal experts and read up.

9.     It’s all about wits.  It’s often noticed that when you buy property in your own country, you keep your wits about you, but when it comes to buying property abroad, you lose track of where you left it! Often, it’s your wits that come to your rescue or help you in a situation. Basically, you must remain calm and be able to think clearly without confusion.

10.   Loads of luck. 

Much love


P.S. A million thank you to several informative websites and my French friends who helped me draw out a comprehensive list.

P.P.S: Our next post: Tips on buying property in Portugal. See you there :)

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Top Ten Countries to Live In

I scanned through several studies to bring to you, the ten best countried to live in. In what way are they the best? They are the ones that provide the healthiest work-life balance.

The OECD -- the International Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, drew up a cmprehensive list of countries that offer the healthy and safe work and life balance.

Here are the top ten from there....

Number 10: France
  • Only 9 per cent of working people work very long hours, i.e., more than 50 hours a week.
  • Employement rate of women between the ages 25 to 54 years is well above the OECD average.
  • The study shows that there is enough quality time spent devoted to leisure, family and personal care.

Number 9: Portugal
  • Only 6 per cent of working people work very long hours, i.e., more than 50 hours a week.
  • High women employment rate.
  • There was much time spent on leisure and personal care.
  • Most families in Portugal were one child families
Number 8: Germany
  • Gender pay gaps were well above the OECD prescribed average.
  • Just 5 per cent of working people work very long hours, i.e., more than 50 hours a week.
  • Again, time spent on leisure and personal care was well above the prescribed norm.
Number 7: Sweden
  • People in Sweden spend 65 per cent of the day, i.e., about 15.5 hours in a day, on personal care (eating, sleeping, etc.) and leisure (socialising, entertaining, pursuing hobbies, etc.)
  • Only one per cent of working people work very long hours, i.e., more than 50 hours a week.
  • Women employement is high.
Number 6: Switzerland
* People in Switzerland work 1640 hours a year, lower than the OECD average of 1739 hours.
  • Only 6 per cent of working people work very long hours, i.e., more than 50 hours a week.
  • High rate of women employment.
Number 5: Belgium
  • People in Belgium work 1550 hours a year, one of the lowest rates.
  • Almost 16 hours a day are devoted to personal care and leisure.
  • only 4 per cent of the working people work long hours.
Number 4: Finland
  • As the report says, The Finnish model of work and family reconciliation stands out in international comparison because of the manner in which it provides choice to parents with young children. Finnish policy reduces barriers to employment by ensuring all families with young children have access to a subsidised childcare place.
  • Approximately, 15 + hours a day are spent on leisure and personal care.
  • High women employment rate.
Number 3: Netherlands
  • One of the lowest rates in OECD, people in Netherlands work for about 1378 hours a year.
  • In the past two decades, the rise in female employment in the Netherlands has been rapid.
  • Only one per cent of the working population work long hours.
Number 2: Norway
  • Only 3 per cent of the working people work longs hours.
  • Again, people in Norway work about 1407 hours a year -- much much lower than the OECD’s prescribed norms.
  • The employment rate of women with children: 79 %
Number 1: Denmark
  • As per the OECD report, “Denmark ranks first in participation in childcare services and also boasts the lowest child-poverty rates.”
  • Only two percent of the working people work long hours.
  • The employment rate of women with children: 78%
A word about the OECD. It’s an International organisation with 34 member countries across Europe, Asia-Pacific, Northa nd South America.
So, the above study pertains only to those member countries. Nevertheless, it’s a good guide to decipher where we might want to live.
There we are! So, which country would you want to live in?
Watch this space. We will bring you tips on how to buy property in each of these countries -- the dos and the don’ts.

Enjoy browsing for homes across the world,



P.S: Coming up Next: Tips on and Process of buying property in France.
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