Buying abroad: what can you get for the price of your UK home?
Comparing exchange rates with five years ago, £100,000 would have got you a €122,000 property in the eurozone in August 2010, but a €141,000 one today. In Canada it would be worth C$163,000 five years ago but a much more appealing C$204,000 today. Just across the border in the US, however, the exchange rate hasn’t moved much in five years and your £100,000 still buys around US$154,000.
For British buyers, the strengthened pound buys a lot more property in most places. So if you were selling up and moving abroad, what could you swap your average British property for?
According to the latest official data, the average property in England and Wales is £181,619, which is up 5.4% on last year. In London the average is £481,820 (9.2% up) and there are big regional variations. But taking the South East outside London as an average, which includes the commuter belt, but also the seaside, the average home costs just under £250,000, which is equivalent to C$514,000, US$392,000 and €355,000.
In most countries that buys you quite a lot. It would get you an equivalent property in the most expensive state, California, where the average selling price is just over $400,000. Also relatively pricey are New York (average $360,000), Washington ($300,000) and Connecticut ($249,000). Florida is surprisingly cheap, averaging $183,000, but American property varies hugely in price between districts. Prices nationally are still slightly below their 2007 peak, but rose 5.7% in the year to May 2015.
It’s just as well the pound has strengthened against the ‘loonie’, as the Canadian dollar is known, because Canadian homes are more expensive than the UK, averaging C$437,000 (£213,000). Our average South East England property could be swapped for an above-par one in Ontario (average C$454,000) or a small house/ good flat in British Colombia (average C$608,000), its most expensive province, although only a couple of bedrooms in Vancouver. In Calgary the average property is C$460,000; a small fall in price since 2014 that could be repeated nationally next year.
In France, notaries report prices fell 2-3% last year. Paris property costs €7,910 per square metre (psm), which means you could swap your South East England house for about 45m2 of Paris; that’s a one bedroom flat.
You could get, however, the same Haussmann-style French elegance in the southern city of Montpellier for a third of the price of Paris. Indeed average home prices across South East France are between €287,000 and €350,000, a little lower than their South East England equivalent. A rung down in price from these are other popular holiday homes areas, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nantes, where the average selling price is €250,000.
In Spain, official figures are hard to rely on. On the property portal Kyero, however, the average property price is €224,000 and four-bedroom houses are €400,000. The Spanish notary’s organisation lists the most expensive area as the Basque Country, at €2,139psm, Madrid at €1,775 and the popular British buying areas coming in at: Balearic Islands €1,816, Catalonia €1,477 and the Canary Islands €1,216. Andalusia’s average is just €1,080psm, but on the Costa del Sol, €350,000 would buy a reasonable three bedroom villa with pool, and even a Mediterranean view.
In Portugal, a survey by Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors members reported a rise in prices recently that is expected to accelerate. Nationally, prices average €1,400 per square metre, but €350,000 would get you a sizeable modern apartment with pool in the central Algarve or a small villa with pool in the Western Algarve.
Elaine Ferguson is head of the resource centre at OverseasGuidesCompany.com