Despite the recession, around half a million British people still own a second home abroad. The lure of a strong pound against the Euro makes it more affordable than ever to buy in even the most popular European countries - and the number of Brits searching for property in France and Spain has risen by 48% since 2014, according to data from RightMove.
So where exactly are the most popular places to buy abroad - and what makes them special? We’ve taken a look at six favourites to see what it is about them that makes them so attractive to second-home owners. Whether you already own property abroad, or are considering it, make sure you register with Transferwise in order to transfer money between countries securely and cheaply. You can save on the fees high street banks charge on money transfers.
The UK’s nearest European neighbour is the most popular country in the world for Brits buying abroad. The proximity means that weekend visits are possible, especially in northern areas such as Normandy and Britanny.
- How many Brits own property: Approximately 200,000
- Popular areas: Provence, French Riviera, Dordogne, Brittany
House prices in France have been falling steadily over the past few years. This fact, coupled with cheap long-term mortgages and a weak Euro, means that this might be the perfect time to take the plunge. French mortgage lenders are keen on long-term mortgages at very low rates - but be aware that paying off early can mean a penalty of up to 3% of the purchase price.
70% of Brits looking to move abroad have France or Spain at the top of their list - and while France might be nearer, the cheaper cost of living, strong expat communities and guaranteed sun make Spain a very desirable destination.
- How many Brits own property: 170,000
- Popular areas: Costa Blanca, Costa del Sol, Barcelona
The sun has set a little on the Spanish dream in the last few years, with nightmare stories in the media about British expats getting severely burned by Spanish building laws, but the upturn in the strength of the pound has reversed the fortunes of many Brits who were finding life difficult with a stronger Euro.
The slow-paced, family-orientated lifestyle, beautiful scenery, vibrant cities and incredible food of Italy have been a draw for Britons since the days of the Grand Tour.
- How many Brits own property: Data not available but around 73,000 expats live there
- Most popular areas: Tuscany and Umbria
Many people dream of a Tuscan farmhouse, looking out over steep vine-covered hills, but be aware that the buying process can be drawn out due to planning permissions and land rights. Get a recommendation for a good property agent if you are planning on buying in Italy.
Cheaper than its Spanish neighbour, Portugal is an increasingly popular country for British second-homers. The good climate, proximity to the coast, and friendly people make it a great choice for a holiday home.
- How many Brits own property: Over 20,000
- Most popular areas: The Algarve and Lisbon
Some legal issues have recently cropped up regarding waterfront property built after 1951, so be sure to have all paperwork in order and engage a competent bilingual agent to ensure there are no problems down the line. Property becomes cheaper the further inland you go, so don’t limit your searches to the most popular areas of coastline.
The Land of Opportunity has always been popular for Brits, and despite the huge travel time a surprising number of Brits are choosing to own a holiday home in the US. The most popular areas are coastal resorts in California and Florida - the latter especially popular with people coming up to retirement age who are planning on spending their retirement in the guaranteed sunshine of one of the state’s many communities for senior citizens.
- How many Brits own property: No data, but there are 678,000 expats
- Most popular area: Florida and California
If you’re thinking about buying a second home, take a look at our guide to the countries where your pound will stretch the furthest - and also what you should consider before making such a big decision.