Readers' stories of buying abroad

HOUSE prices, wet weather and diminishing quality of life, are leading to the great British 'bail out' as the number of Brits who buy property abroad has hit an all-time high.

By Tracey Sparling

HOUSE prices, wet weather and diminishing quality of life, are leading to the great British 'bail out' as the number of Brits who buy property abroad has hit an all-time high.

Features editor TRACEY SPARLING tracks down three Star readers who took the plunge, to ask about their very different experiences of buying abroad.

AT this time of year many of us pack a suitcase to spend a few relaxing, sun-drenched weeks away from the daily grind of life in the UK.

But while many holidaymakers fly straight back to the desk job as soon as the sunburn sets in and the travellers cheques run out, some stay on to carve out a new life for themselves abroad.

More than one in ten Brits (5.5 million) now choose to live overseas.

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More people left the UK last year than in any year since 1991, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics last week suggesting that 385,000 people left the UK for the long term in the year to mid-2006.

Foreign Currency Direct found that 19 per cent leave because of property prices, 18pc in search of better weather, and 17pc for improved quality of life. 11per cent are disenchanted with the UK and don't like the way the country is run, while four per cent hate the immigration policy and 'yob culture.'

Peter Ellis, chief executive of the company said: “Eight in ten Brits have fallen out of love with the UK. The strong pound and soaring UK house prices have given many people who may have been considering emigrating for some time the added impetus to bail out now and enjoy a new life.

“We all become much more sociable abroad; greeting strangers and chatting to fellow Brits which creates a sense of belonging and community that many feel is now missing from home.”

For some the big move works out, but for others the dream can turn into a nightmare. For example the Spanish property market the subject of speculation earlier this year after the value of shares in Spanish estate agents plummeted, due to the oversupply of property.

Sometimes there are other reasons besides the financial, why a move doesn't work.

More than half of those leaving the UK come straight back, mainly because they were cash-strapped or chronically homesick.

Of course if you do decide to come back to the UK, it's much easier if you can return to a property you already own, rather than having to go through the rigmarole of renting, then buying.

Anthony Kerrigan from the National Association of Estate Agents has some advice: "The most important thing a person should consider when moving abroad is not to burn their bridges without good reason. Anyone emigrating to Australia on the basis of one good holiday should seriously consider holding on to a home they own in the UK because if they sell their property but then decide to come home after 12 to 18 months, they may find they are unable to get back onto the property ladder if property prices continue to perform as they have over the past few years."

N Are you planning to emigrate? Or have you moved here and love life in the UK? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

AUSTRALIA

FORMER Suffolk girl Lynette Jarmoszewicz (nee Barker) emigrated to Perth, Australia with husband Nigel 17 years ago.

They have nine-year-old twins, a dog, cat and huge bob-tailed lizard which sits on Lynette's lap and eats strawberries and bananas. She has have been back to Felixstowe four times in the past 15 years, and hope to be back for a holiday in the next 12 months but loves their home on the other side of the world.

Lynnette, 42, who is a past pupil of Orwell High School in Felixstowe said: “Our house has two balconies upstairs, one overlooks a big golf course with water fountains. Nigel plays golf and the kids can wave to him on the balcony when he's at the eighth hole. We have an outdoor heated spa which we use all year round. Australia is a beautiful country with some of the best beaches you could ever see (minus the odd shark). It's like being on holiday most of the year. Unemployment is at an all time low, there are thousands of jobs, resources sector is booming. Opportunities are still here. The people are very laid back and friendly.”

She admits it was scary at first: “When we made the big move I felt terrified and homesick but determined not to give up and go back until we'd given it a fair go.

“There were lots of hitches with the emigration process, too much paperwork, too many questions, so many categories to apply under. We eventually went through an agency which worked but was a bit costly.

“We found jobs really easily and built our first house within two years. The standard of living is high here as we are lucky enough to have such a great economy. The lifestyle is very laid back, weekends for us is quality time with the kids. There are many beautiful places to visit, wineries, hills and dams, beaches and national forests and if all else fails shops! The roads are really wide and well planned everywhere is very easy to get to.”

She added: “Occasionally I crave for a really cold day...and I do miss family not being here.”

AMERICA

DREAMS are today coming true for Dave and Jo Mickelsen.

Along with their three young children, they took a daring leap in October 2002 to move from Ipswich to Florida in search of a better, brighter future.

They found it in Longwood, in the shape of American Village Academy; a preschool for children aged up to five, and have just completed a million dollar expansion on the school.

They still own Ipswich Private Kindergarten in Woodbridge Road which is run by managers, but decided Florida offered a better future for them and their children, Amy, now 14, Daniel, 11 and Katie ten.

Since buying the American Village Academy in January 2003, they have made many improvements to the school. The first two years were spent upgrading the building and putting in place well qualified, dedicated staff.

Dave said: “There were times when we felt that our dream expansion would not go beyond the planning stages due to incredible amounts of red tape, but after almost three years of determination and dedication, the expansion is finally open and the extra seven purpose built, classrooms, are filling fast.”

They now cater for a total of 156 children every day and Jo said: “Bigger absolutely can be better! Just because we have more families doesn't mean that we cannot continue to give the personal touch. It simply means that we have to hire some more dedicated, educated team members.”

The academy officially opened on August 20.

TURKEY

RETIRED schoolteacher Mavis Bensley's holiday home has turned into a red tape nightmare.

After many happy family holidays in the three-bedroom house in Turgutreis, Turkey, she is now desperate to sell it.

Mavis - who wrote our Globetrotter column earlier this year - and her late husband Don bought the property in joint names in 1989.

“We thought about selling it several times over the years, and maybe buying a smaller apartment but we never did” said Mavis, 72, from Ipswich.

Since Don died in 2004, she has been wrangling with the Turkish authorities to get the property transferred into her name so she can sell it. In Turkish law, property automatically passes to the eldest son - and Mavis only has daughters.

Mavis said: “When we bought it we must have been the first English people to buy property in the town because it took nine months from saying 'yes' to actually getting the keys. We ended up having to employ a Turkish solicitor in London to do the deal.

“We had wonderful holidays out there in the past. About ten years ago we thought 'shall we sell it?' but we never did. Unfortunately my husband died three years ago, and I know I won't have holidays there on my own, so I decided to sell.”

Mavis has been back and forth to Turkey ever since - the last trip was in May - trying to get the authorities to recognise her ownership. She said: “I've sat before judges in court when everything is going on in Turkish, talked to the town authorities, written a letter to the courts in my poor Turkish, and tried to get it transferred to my eldest daughter so she can transfer it back in to my name. I even told the judge 'I'm 72 and I won't be around forever!' to which he said not a word” she said.

She got official papers from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Turkish Embassy in London confirming her husband's will, death certificate and power of attorney. But now officials are asking for the will to be translated into Turkish and want to check British laws.

She returns to Turkey next month - after the Turkish court's six-week summer holidays.

She said: “It's so frustrating, especially with the culture and language barriers and I have been in tears over it.

“There's the financial cost too; I must have spent £5,000 and I'll be lucky if I get back half the cost of the house - we bought it for £34,000 and I offered to sell it for £25,000 because I just want to be rid of it.”

She added: “Turkey is a lovely country with very friendly people, and I wouldn't put anybody off buying abroad. But I would recommend they look very carefully at all the angles of selling because you don't know what's going to happen in future, and make a Turkish will even if it's just about the house.”

As a UK national, you have the right to live in any European Economic Area (EEA) country: Spain, Portugal, France, Ireland, UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria, Germany, Italy, Greece, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Cyprus and Malta - plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Moving further a field will require applications to the British Consul in your intended country and its foreign consulate here in the UK.

Source: www.uk.propertyfinder.com

Britain on the move

Sunny Spain is still one of the most popular destinations, with an estimated half a million British ex pats now calling it home. The largest ex pat communities are on the Mediterranean coasts of Alicante and the Costa Brava which boasts around 145,000 Brits, while Malaga and the Costa del Sol have over a quarter of a million expats soaking up the sun all year round.

An estimated 100,000 to 150,000 British people have upped sticks permanently to live in France.

Approximately 15,000 Britons - the equivalent of over 28 jumbo jets packed full of passengers - emigrate to Australia each year.

Other countries around the globe which attract people in their droves include the USA, Italy, France and Brazil - although Canada came bottom in the poll and Germany didn't even get a mention.

Source: Volvic

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