Brits are upping sticks and opting for a property abroad

26 August 2008 / by Rachael Stiles
A growing number of Britons who have had enough of the weather and the credit crunch are upping sticks and moving abroad, where the sun is shining and property is often cheaper.

More and more Brits are taking the holiday spirit a bit further than two weeks in Spain, heading abroad not just for a summer holiday, but for a year or even longer, waiting out the troubles in both the economic and meteoric climates, according to the Times.

This 'grown up gap year' is all the rage amongst those who are fed up with the doom and gloom which is currently dominating Britain's headlines as well as its skies, and are trading it all in for local vino and more competitive prices on overseas property.

Famous soprano opera singer Marie McLaughlin is one such Brit to have relocated to a property abroad, telling the Times that "With its all-white interiors, our French home is the antithesis of our dark, wood-panelled English house."

"Here, we have sunshine, great food and south-facing views across idyllic countryside," she explains as some of the reasons for swapping her home in Kent for a French property.

She and her husband bought a farmhouse in a small French village, and have been renovating it, spending £150,000 doing it up along the way, funding it by renting out their British home, a Grade 1-listed 16th century manor house.

The couple had originally planned on selling the property, but after finding the UK housing market at a standstill, they opted instead to take advantage of the rent market which has recently turned in favour of landlords as many Brits put off buying a house until the market stabilises.

It’s no surprise, says the Times, that "the idea of taking a grown-up gap year appeals to ever more of us – fortysomethings seeking long-overdue career breaks, baby-boomers wanting to make up for lost time, or young families wanting to give their preschool children a taste of foreign life."

While Ms McLaughlin's situation might pose a grandiose example, many Brits are opting to move abroad and keep their property in the UK, either out of choice or because they simply can't sell it, and benefitting from high rental yields to finance their lives overseas.

Emigration enquiries are up 30 per cent on last year, according to figures from currency specialists HiFX, but actual relocations were up only 10 per cent, illustrating a growing desire to move abroad compared to the reality of the slump in the housing market, which for some people is making it impossible.

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