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The United States, Mexico and the Caribbean have long been popular destinations for Canadian snowbirds looking to escape the cold. Today, as new domestic real estate trends emerge, some buyers are also choosing to buy south of the border for investment purposes. 

From both a lifestyle and investment perspective, buying as a snowbird has its advantages. That being said, there are a few complexities that make the process different compared to buying at home. 

Before we begin, it’s important to clarify that every circumstance is unique. Locational factors can vary by country, region and even city. While these tips are a great starting point, you should always research thoroughly when buying abroad. If you’re ever unsure or have questions, ask an expert. 

Looking for tips on how to sell your home outside of Canada? Check out our blog post on the topic here.  

Start Locally 

The best place to begin your search with your local Ottawa real estate agent. Outside of Canada and the US, most snowbird destination countries do not have centralized listing platforms like MLS. Instead, finding and buying a home abroad generally requires working with an agent in your buying destination. 

Finding and hiring a reputable agent abroad may seem like an overwhelming objective, thankfully, your local agent can help. Most real estate agents will have international connections and can put you in touch with an expert in your buying destination. As part of the Royal LePage family, the Wright Team has access to a vast network of international agents to meet your needs. 

Consider Costs of Living

Regardless of where you choose to buy, it is important to consider how the cost of living in your buying destination could differ from back home. Beyond just the cost of a home, everyday items like food, gas, and utilities could be more affordable or expensive than what you are accustomed to. You should research the cost of living carefully before deciding where you would like to buy. 

Thankfully, there are a few tools to help make this process easier. Many real estate agents recommend Expatistan’s cost of living widget, which allows you to compare common costs between different cities around the world. 


Thinking about selling your home in Ottawa and moving abroad? These posts may be of interest to you. 


International Financing 

Like any property purchase, securing financing for your international home will be a significant part of the buying process. Once again, local factors and regulations will determine what your options are. Before you begin planning, talk to your real estate agent and if you have one, your financial advisor. 

For underprepared international buyers, the mortgage process could bring delays or unpleasant surprises. One crucial detail about foreign transactions is that many Canadian banks do not finance non-domestic properties. Depending on your unique circumstances, you may be looking at a cash transaction. Always do your research and ask an expert if you have any questions. 


Thinking about downsizing in a warmer climate? Check out these blog posts. 


Working With A Lawyer

Just like buying a home in Canada, foreign real estate transactions will also require working with a lawyer. In this case, you’ll want to work with a real estate lawyer that specializes in supporting Canadians who buy internationally – preferably in your specific buying destination. Not only can they ensure the closing process goes smoothly, but they’ll also help you navigate any other relevant legal considerations or red tape. 

For instance, even if you plan on only using your property as a vacation home, you may be required to obtain a visa or residency permit depending on the frequency and length of your stays. As always, research local and national regulations carefully, and always verify your findings with your real estate agent or lawyer.  

What About Your Current Home?

If you don’t plan on keeping your current home, it’s important to note that you’ve got options when the time comes to head south. While selling is typically the first choice for retirees and relocators, keeping your current home as an investment property may also work for you. Your real estate agent can help you decide which route is best based on your unique circumstances. 

Ready to find your next home or vacation property? As experienced local agents with global connections, we can help. Get in touch with us.

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