Canada is one of the highest ranked countries in the world based on the quality of life it offers and is hugely popular with UK expats. There are many things to keep in mind when purchasing property in Canada and having all the information in advance allows you to make the process as smooth as possible.
Here are some things to consider when buying property in Canada.
As the second largest country on Earth, it is hardly surprising that Canada offers a lot of variety. When picking your preferred location, decide what you want to get out of living abroad. For instance, living in or around Toronto would make it easy for you to cross into New York state or Michigan; although you need to remember that you’ll need the correct visa or other authorisation. Those with a love of sport may want to settle in Alberta, home to some fantastic ski resorts.
You may have your heart set on Vancouver, Toronto, or Calgary, but you should be prepared to compromise. Doing so could be the difference between being able to afford to live comfortably in Canada and not being able to afford to live there at all. You’ll often find that expensive cities are flanked by cheaper ones. For example, the city of Guelph is just 43 miles – an hour’s drive – away from Toronto, yet the costs of living are significantly lower.
Buying a property and moving abroad is only the beginning. You’ll need to make sure that you can afford to live once you have settled in Canada. Are you seeking employment, planning to live on savings, or retiring? You may find your options change once your income is taken into account.
Understanding how property purchases in Canada work before embarking on one is vital. Knowing how the transaction will progress and what costs will need to be paid when helps you to plan and budget effectively. This way, you know how much money you need and how long you have to find it. Solid budgeting is also useful for planning your currency transfers (see below).
There are several different visa options for those looking to live in Canada. Which visa you apply for will depend on the kind of lifestyle you’re seeking. Options include those for skilled migrants looking for work, start-up business visas, investment options and family sponsorship. There is currently no specific way of applying to retire in Canada, so you’ll need to contact the immigration board and discuss your circumstances. Making sure you’re actually eligible to live in Canada is important before you commit to buying a property there.
While English may be the most commonly spoken of Canada’s two official languages in most provinces, residents of a number of places uses French as their first language. Strong English skills will get you far, but without at least a foundational understanding of French you may struggle to deal with estate agents and property owners. It’ll also make it much easier to settle in and integrate once you have completed your purchase and made the move.
Canadian lenders will often finance property purchases for non-residents, which could be a good option for you. However, they usually require a larger deposit than residents, with a 35% deposit not uncommon. If you can afford this it might make sense to have a domestic mortgage, especially if you’ll be earning money in Canada. However, you might find that getting a mortgage in the UK is cheaper once the higher deposit and interest rates for non-residents buying property in Canada is taken into account.
Known as a ‘buyer’s agent’, an independent realtor who represents your interests in the sale will help you to get the best deal. Shop around for a professional who is well-reviewed and see if you can find one who has a history of working with overseas residents. Considering you likely won’t be present in person for the majority of the sale, having a buyer’s agent gives you a strong negotiating presence.
Going straight to your bank to transfer the funds for your purchase could see you losing out. There are other foreign exchange options that could save you a significant amount of money. Specialist currency brokers focus just on currency transfers, meaning they can secure a highly competitive rate compared to a bank. When it comes to transferring large sums overseas, like those involved in a property purchase, a small difference in exchange rates can equate to thousands of Pounds saved or Canadian Dollars gained.
‘Forward contracts’ allow you to fix an exchange rate in advance, protecting you against market volatility. Leading brokers can set a rate for up to two years in advance, meaning you know exactly how much money you need to fund your property purchase. Even if the market falls dramatically, you’ll be able to make your transfer at the rate you secured, potentially saving you thousands of Pounds.
These top tips for buying property in Canada may help you get started, but remember to do plenty of independent research before you make any financial commitments.