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3 Top Countries to Rent or Buy in Overseas—International Living Australia.

February 7, 2019 Lifestyle No Comments Email Email

According to International Living Australia Global Retirement Ranking 2019, the best places for Australians to buy and rent overseas are Thailand, Malaysia and Italy.


Affordability is one of the most important factors in planning a successful and happy new life overseas. Get more but spend less. That’s the goal. Costs for food, transportation,medical care, utilities and fun are, of course, all part of the equation but housing is one of the most important considerations of all.

When moving overseas, International Living Australia recommends you rent before you buy—give yourself time to get to know the area and be sure it’s the right fit for you. Doing your research is key.

The countries that score the highest in the Buying and Renting category of the 2019 Annual Global Retirement Rankings are….

#1 Thailand

From the golden beaches to the fabulous food and friendly people, it’s easy to see why Thailand is the number one retirement destination for Australians in 2019. And, when it comes to buying and renting, the country offers tremendous good-value.

Long-term leases of land are the most common way for foreigners to purchase a house and land in Thailand. As long as it’s registered at the Land Office, the current law permits a 30-year lease with a prepaid option to renew for a further two periods of 30 years each. Lots of people have successfully done that. With a reputable real-estate agent and an experienced lawyer, expats should be able to find their very own piece of paradise.

A couple of years ago, IL Chiang Mai Correspondent Rachel Devlin decided to sell up in Australia and make the move to Thailand. When she told friends and family her plans, they thought she was making a mistake. But Rachel knew better. Three years on, she’s retired and living her dream life in Chiang Mai, Thailand’s “Rose of the North”.

“My move wasn’t about escaping a terrible life, but shifting to a healthier one,” says Rachel. “A few years ago, I didn’t even realise that I yearned for a better lifestyle. It naturally evolved when I moved here. Here, I have time to pause, breathe and really appreciate the time I have.

“And the secret to how I made it happen? I sold my house in Australia and bought property in Thailand. It provides me with an income stream that meant I could kiss goodbye to my old 50-hour work week. Apartments here start at $40,000–that’s in the bustling city–they get cheaper as you move out into the peaceful suburbs. This is a well-kept secret which I only wish I had discovered sooner. It’s certainly proved a life-changing discovery for me.”

Many expats prefer long-term rentals. There is a wide variety of houses and apartments available throughout Thailand for a fraction of the price you’d pay in Australia.

“The Land of Smiles offers affordable rentals in modern fresh apartments no matter where you go in Thailand,” says Rachel. “If warm breezes, long beaches and palm trees are what you desire, you can have it. If you are looking for comfortable city living, an active expat network and natural mountain surroundings, it can be yours too.

“The great news is that most apartments here come fully-furnished, so all you need to do is pack your personal items. The standard rental usually includes a queen-size bed, linen, dining table, TV, communal swimming pool, gym and a kitchenette with plates, cutlery and a microwave. The icing on the cake is that you can live in locations that would normally cost a fortune back home for a fraction of the price.

“Chiang Mai has all the conveniences of city living but without the high-rise. This means everyone can enjoy views of the sacred mountain called Doi Suthep. This city is only a one-hour flight away from Bangkok.

“There is an abundance of apartments to choose from dotted around the Old City. For the budget conscious, studio units are a great deal. A 38-metre-square studio in an older building with close proximity to shopping centres and the Old City can rent for as little as $375 per month. A new, one-bedroom, 38-square-metre apartment with expansive views of the mountains can cost as little as $541 per month. If you would rather see the Ping River and local markets from your window, it’s possible to find studios for $460 per month. More luxurious one-bedroom apartments with great views of the night markets and mountains can be found for around $708 per month. If you are living near the Old City you will have everything you could possibly need at your fingertips.”

#2 Malaysia

“Malaysia is an easy destination to try out. I love to visit Kuala Lumpur, the capital,” says IL Malaysia Correspondent Keith Hockton.

“But, if you prefer seaside living, as I do, then the island of Penang, in Malaysia’s northwest, is the place to be. Renting is trouble-free and affordable. And you can choose from jungle, sea or city views. The areas to look at in Penang are George Town, its upscale suburbs Pulau Tikus and Tanjung Tokong and the beach areas of Tanjung Bungah and Batu Ferringhi. All are highly sought-after and have sizeable expat communities.

“Renting property in Malaysia is as easy as renting at home. You find the property that you are interested in, view it and, if you like it, you agree to take it for an allotted time. The only difference here compared to home is that absolutely everything is negotiable. This is Southeast Asia and bargaining is expected. Never settle for what’s put on the table and never be the first to talk about price. Long-term rentals are easy to find in Malaysia. I’ve seen contracts running out to five years and most owners are happier and more accommodating if that’s the case.

“Unlike Australia there are no property agents’ offices where you can walk in and chat to an agent. However, there are a number of very good property websites that address the Malaysian market.

“Once you decide on an apartment, the bargaining starts. When my wife Lisa and I moved into our apartment we asked for a new washing machine, a new fridge, a new dinner service for at least eight people and a large, flat-screen TV. The owner didn’t blink and agreed to all of our requests.

“Contracts are a must. Just like at home, read them carefully to make sure that everything you have agreed to is in them—have your lawyer look at them if need be.

“Just like at home you are covered by the terms of the contract which is legally binding. Three months’ rent is required as a deposit which will be refunded to you when you decide to leave as agreed in your contract. This deposit covers any damage that the property may sustain during your stay.

“I love telling people about life in Penang, how much Malaysia has to offer retirees and what a game-changer an overseas move can be, not just for your wallet, but for every aspect of your life.

“To say that our lives are more enjoyable here is an understatement. My wife Lisa and I are both in our mid-50s and free to enjoy our lifestyle as we like—at a fraction of the cost of living in Australia. Our apartment is 220-square-metres and costs just $900 a month. It has three bedrooms, a maid’s room which we use for storage, two parking bays, a swimming pool and a gym. The views to Penang Hill where I hike most days are what sold it to me, while Lisa liked that we are able to stroll to cafes and restaurants.”

#3 Italy

“Sipping Aperol spritz at an outdoor café while watching the high fashion parade of the evening passeggiata (stroll) unfold along marble lined promenade or lazing on the terrace of a centuries-old stone farmhouse as the heat haze shimmers on a vista of olive groves—everyone has their own personal dream of Italy,” says IL Italy Correspondent, Valerie Fortney-Schneider.

“With a full range of landscapes, dozens of art cities, an endless choice of hill towns, thousands of kilometres of coastline and fabulous food wherever you go, Italy has something to fit everyone’s ideal or budget for living the dolce vita. And citizens of Australia can buy property in Italy without restrictions.”

Valerie and her husband Bryan moved to Italy 10 years ago.

“Since then, we have lived in three locations—a bustling seaside town south of Rome, a marvellous, elegant city in Le Marche and now in a tiny, traditional mountain village inBasilicata,” she says. “We’ve also travelled a lot, seeking hidden places and little-known, authentic towns. And what we’ve realised is that Italy really does have something for everyone’s taste and budget.

“If you want art and culture, Italy has plenty of that. The world’s most acclaimed artists and composers lived and worked here, defining the concepts and ideals of their fields. My personal penchant is for Parma—a university city in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, famed for Parmesan cheese and Parma ham.

“I find it to be elegant and its splendid historic centre is easy to get around and has an upscale feel. Everyone rides bikes here, so pedalling around town is safe and simple. The city has lots of parks, it’s very clean and its pretty pastel buildings are delightfully appealing.

“At the centre of the city is its art-filled cathedral—home to many Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces—and its tall, layer cake baptistery next door. Music lovers will hit high notes, as Parma gave us Paganini, Toscanini and Verdi, and it serves up operas, musical events and a fine philharmonic orchestra.

“Despite being one of Italy’s most liveable cities and its wealthy reputation, prices in Parma aren’t astronomical. I saw nice rentals in the city centre ranging from $788 for a one-bedroom unit up to $2,047 for a penthouse-type apartment in a palace with frescoed ceilings. Expect to pay between $1,104 and $1,346 a month for a spacious place in the centre.

“But if you’re after beaches and mild climate Italy’s sexy, sunny stiletto heel is surrounded by 800 kilometres of coastline on three seas and it has the mildest winters of mainland Italy.

“On the Adriatic side, Polignano a Mare is a whitewashed gem south of Bari. It’s the birthplace of musician Domenico Modugno, and you can easily imagine he found his inspiration for Volare (Nel blu dipinto di blu) in the blue waters that wash his hometown.

“Capping a cliff, the old town is a delightful web of lanes, with boutiques, artisans and small eateries tucked in, while the larger part of the city spreads out from the old quarter along the rocky waterline. There are some excellent and classy restaurants, along with homely trattorias and pizza joints. I had an abundant plate of pasta with clams and prawns for about $19, at another place, risotto packed with seafood was under $16.

“Rental homes range between $781 and $1,104 a month—surprisingly affordable for a seafront town. Purchase prices run the gamut. Recently, I saw a very spacious and airy, well-kept three-bedroom, two-bathroom house of 130 square metres, in town with access to all amenities, a balcony, parking space and basement storage, for $393,265.

“Or if you want a renovation project that doesn’t require structural work but could do with a handyman’s facelift, then you might love a barrel-vaulted farmhouse outside town with a small, separate guest cottage that I saw. It has a wood-fired oven, more than an acre of land, and yet it’s just minutes to town and the sea for $180,875.”

The complete International Living Australia 2019 Global Retirement Rankings report, can be found here: The World’s Best Places for Australians to Retire to 2019

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