A family home abroad can be a treasure chest of wonderful memories; a place where your family visit as children, and one day perhaps, visit with their children. Such investment does of course mean that you’ll be returning to the same place, year after year, but that familiarity brings with it a special sort of pleasure. But it’s essential you research buying a property abroad to make the right decisions.

All of this potential for future happiness, however, depends on where and what you buy in the first place. Impulse purchases made after a couple of glasses of wine, in a location you scarcely know, rarely work out.

How are you going to use this property?

Do your personal circumstances allow you to spend months abroad or will you be limited to just a few weeks a year? Do you intend to rent out the property when you are not using it? The answers to these questions will help you decide on the type of property that you should look for and the type of location.

Travel is likely to become increasingly expensive so, ideally, you want a location to which you can travel affordably. That probably means a property within reasonable distance of an airport which hosts budget airlines or proximity to a ferry port.

However cheap and however beautiful it may be, there is no point in buying a large run-down property if you are not going to be there to restore and maintain it. Remember, pools and large gardens need year-round maintenance and that means year-round expense.

If you intend to rent the property when you are not using it, then you need to choose somewhere that is on a tourist route and equip it to an appropriate standard.

holiday homes in portugal
The village of Carvoeiro in the Algarve, Portugal


Once you have a clear idea about how you intend to use the property, then you can think about a specific location. Key factors that you ought to consider are, climate, accessibility, cost of living and safety. Popular choices for British buyers have long been France and Spain, because of proximity and familiarity, but increasingly, British purchasers, in search of a family home abroad, are choosing Portugal for it’s sun, food and sea.

Consider Albufeira on the Algarve, which is also known for the best golfing in Portugal. It’s just over a two-and-a-half-hour flight from the U.K. Portugal has one of the lowest costs of living in Europe, it’s the third safest country in the world and property prices are far lower than those in comparable beach locations, such as Nice or the Costa del Sol.

Local amenities

How convenient is your intended property purchase? Is there public transport nearby or is a car essential? How far is it to the nearest hospital or pharmacy? Are you able to easily access large supermarkets or will you need to buy your food from small, more expensive, local shops? Are there activities and entertainment in the area which will keep all the family happy? Ideally, you’ll be able to rent a property in your intended location so that you can really get to know if you’ll like it.

Legal issues

You are going to need an independent, bi-lingual, legal advisor. You need to be confident that the vendor owns the property they are selling, that there are no surprises, such as a public right of way through your property, and that there are no debts associated with the property for which you will become responsible.