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Last updated: 7th October, 2020

buying property

How to save money when buying property abroad

Find out how much you could save by using an international money transfer service when buying a house abroad

You’ve dreamt of buying a house overseas and finally you’re in a position to do so. The property might be for you to live in or an investment to add to your portfolio. Whatever the reason, you’ll have to draw up a budget and look at the costs.

This article will help you avoid many of the costs and pitfalls associated with buying a property abroad.

Hidden costs

If, for example, you live in the UK and you want to buy a house overseas, one of the main costs you’ll have to consider is the potentially high price of commissions and transfer fees when using a money transfer service. The recently launched PagoFX app offers reliable international money transfers with crystal-clear costs and competitive exchange rates. With no hidden fees and the same security as a high-street bank, you can confidently send money or pay bills abroad at low cost.

If you opt to send your money via a bank, you may have to pay a transfer fee, which can differ from bank to bank. When transferring large sums of money across the world, you will pay a CHAPS fee if you want a same-day service, as well as a transaction fee of up to £10. Banks can offer low exchange rates.


Sometimes services offer ‘commission-free’ transactions. This may mean that you are paying costs elsewhere in the process, such as the exchange rate. If you’re buying your overseas property through a mortgage and if you’re going to transfer funds on a monthly basis, you should also take currency fluctuations into account.

Buying a property in Poland

As the seventh largest economy in the EU, and with a growing entrepreneurial sector, Poland is becoming an appealing destination for property investment. GDP is rising and many large international companies, including IBM and Samsung, have established branches in the country. Growth is reflected in all areas of the Polish economy. New technology has received investment over the last few years, and having 20 game developer companies listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange demonstrates this.

Property prices are rising across Poland, and the National Bank of Poland published figures that show that the cost of a house during the last quarter of 2018 rose by 2%, with apartment prices in the major cities rising by 7.11%.

Rules and regulations

It’s very easy to buy an apartment in Poland if you’re a foreigner. You won’t need any official permits and you don’t even have to live in the country to invest. If you’re thinking of buying a house, you will have to apply to the Ministry of Interior Affairs for a permit, unless you’ve been living in Poland or the EU for longer than five years. Poland uses the złoty (PLN) as its currency, though property prices are listed in euros.

A four-bedroom apartment in the centre of Warsaw can cost around €300,000. Should you wish to buy a studio flat in the centre of Krakow, you’ll be looking at a list price of €100,000

Other costs

You’ll have to factor other costs into your housing budget. If you’re paying for your property through a mortgage, then you may be affected by currency fluctuations. It’s a good idea to see if your lender will let you repay the mortgage in alternate currencies. In Poland, the buyer can expect to pay an additional:

● 23% for VAT
● 2% for tax
● 0.25%-3% for notary fees
● 3% for estate agent’s fee
● 0.10% for registration fee

This will add an additional 28.35% to 31.10% on top of the list price.

Moving to Germany

With its low interest rates and growing economy, Germany is a popular destination for those wishing to buy a property. Whether you’re thinking of investing in a property to let out or wish to buy somewhere for yourself, there are no restrictions for overseas buyers. Those wishing to buy property to let will be delighted that Germany offers tax incentives for this type of investment.

Industrial centres such as Düsseldorf and Munich are popular with expats, as is the perennially lively Berlin. An open-plan, one-bedroom apartment in the centre of Berlin will cost around €6,009.05 per square metre, while a comparable flat in Munich can cost €10,703.45 per square metre.*

Additional costs

● 19% for VAT
● 3.5%-6.5% for property tax
● 2% for notary fees
● 1.5%-3% for estate agent’s fees
● 0.80%-1.20% for registration fee

You’ll have to take all these fees into account when drawing up your property purchase budget.

Property in Belgium

Home of the EU Commission and NATO, Belgium is an attractive property investment destination. Although there are no restrictions for foreigners buying property in Belgium, you’ll have to be aware of the tax implications between resident and non-resident buyers. House prices vary considerably throughout the country. Brussels is attractive – the cost of an apartment per square metre in the city centre is €3,318.48. Again, currency conversion costs should be taken into account when planning your move. Antwerp offers €2,675.15 per square metre.

Additional costs

● 21% for VAT
● 10%-12.5% for registration tax
● 1.6% for notary fees

You should also expect to pay more in taxes if your property is under two years old.

Other expenses

Moving your furniture from one country to another can be expensive. The final price depends on the amount of goods you wish to transport and your method of transportation. As Poland, Germany and Belgium have a coastline, you may find shipping rather than air or road transportation a more cost-effective option. You’ll have to factor insurance costs into your budget.

You’ll also have to set aside a certain amount for tax. If you’re a UK resident, you must declare your overseas investment property on your annual tax assessment return.

By using a reliable international money transfer platform such as PagoFX by Santander, you’ll be able to reduce your money transfer costs and keep your budget under control without the worry of any hidden expenses. PagoFX is a transparent and effortless way for everyone to send money abroad at a lower price, delivered with the inherent trust and security of Santander.

*Figures correct as of 30 August 2019