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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