South Africans may feel that they are disadvantaged in many ways when compared to citizens of most first-world countries, but when it comes to property – and what one gets for their money – we have much to be grateful for.
It is no wonder that foreigners like to snap up properties here that are far superior to what they could buy with their same budgets at home.
Similarly South African expats are often disappointed at what they get for their money overseas compared to what they owned, or could have owned, in their home country.
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In South Africa, an amount of R4 million could get you a large free-standing home, complete with garden and entertainment area, or a luxury apartment with a sea view. But take that money and spend it on bricks-and mortar overseas, and you get a lot less bang for your buck.
The weak value of the rand compared to most other international currencies makes it easier for foreigners to own homes that are bigger and more luxurious than what they could buy at home. In addition, house prices in South Africa have remained relatively stable over the years.
To compare, we have looked at properties in some countries popular with South African emigrants. And while different areas in these countries will, of course, offer different value for money, it does give one a general idea of what their hard-earned rands can buy overseas.
Here is what R4 million will get you overseas:
England – Maidstone, Kent
Price: £210 000 to £220 000 (R4.175m to R4.374m)
Bedrooms: 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom
Size: 70.5m², split-level
External features: Garden and patio area. On-street parking.
Location: Well-located near the town centre with a vast choice of shops, restaurants, a cinema complex, and supermarkets. Easy access to Maidstone’s three train stations and local bus services.
Australia – East End, Adelaide
Price: AUS$360 000 to AUS$380 000 (R3.875m to R4.090m)
Bedrooms: 1bedroom, 1bathroom
Size: Building 60m², land 76.52m²
External features: 1 garage/underground parking
Location: Positioned within the heart of the vibrant East End. Near trendy cafes, restaurants and wine bars, as well as Adelaide universities. Close to Adelaide Oval.
Portugal – Vale de Parra, Albufeira
Price: €225 000(R3.83m)
Bedrooms: 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms (fully furnished)
External features: Communal pool, garden, and playground. Storage room and dedicated parking space.
Location: Situated very close to both Gale and Salgados beaches. Guia shopping centre is just 10 minutes away, as well as a cinema, variety of clothes and accessory shops and pharmacies.
Mauritius – Black River
Price: Rs11.99m (R3.985m)
Bedrooms: 3 bedroom, 2 bathrooms
Size: Land 321m²
External features: Private garden, swimming pool, 2 parking spaces.
Location:Close to all the daily conveniences: various shops, shopping centres, schools, banks and public transport. Golf, spas, climbing, hiking, mountain biking and a wide range of water activities are easily accessible.
Parking and gardens
When making comparisons, it is important to bear in mind that, while parking in South Africa is a necessity, in most overseas countries it is not as important as many people choose to use the reliable public transport on offer over owning their own cars.
Higher levels of security in many other countries also mean cars parked on the road are not at the same risk of being broken into or stolen as they are here.
A number of safe public spaces, such as parks and other family-orientated facilities, are often plentiful in suburbs and residential areas, which means that having a garden is not as desirable as it is in South Africa.
Many will, however, still desire at least a small private outdoor area at home to have the traditional braai.
Beware taxes and restrictions when buying overseas - Sara Clemence
You don't have to have to star in a spy movie to have multiple passports. Buy a house in Malta, Cyprus, Grenada or several other countries with special investment programmes, and you could be eligible for second citizenship.
But on the flip side, many countries place restrictions on foreign ownership. In Costa Rica, they can’t own 100% of any beachfront property while, in Mexico, the constitution forbids foreigners from directly owning property in a “restricted zone” that extends 50km inland from the ocean and 100km from any national border.
Regardless of where you buy a home, you’ll be on the hook for extra taxes. Spain levies a 10% sales tax on real estate. Nonresidents buying in Italy have to pay about a 9% tax on the value of the land.
On top of that, there can be ongoing property taxes. Although, depending on where you buy, they might be a pleasant surprise. When you fall hard for a farmhouse in the South of France or a studio with a view in Hong Kong, your long-term thinking is often focused on how much you’ll enjoy it in the years to come.
That’s not the wisest approach, experts say. A lot can change over the years. A blossoming local economy might double your property value over time. Or, the government might change the local laws – and not in your favour. – The Washington Post