The Unique Property Site Blog

Back to the Unique Home Page
The Blog Index 

2021 -- Part Nine: Are There Better Places to Buy Homes?

I will add a link to the Youtube video version when I can replace a cable which I've mislaid, unfortunately due to an altercation with the local hospital service. I may do a podcast on that incident as well. Sorry for delay. Meanwhile here is the text. 

Last week I left you with a question. Where do we go to escape the current madness. Is there an alternative?

I'd love to go travelling and give you a report on various nice locations and how life is panning out in those locations, but of course I am grounded. Wonderfull isn't it?

Let's start with the obvious locations. How about starting with the UK, and then the EU and branching out from there.

I long ago left the UK. I'm a born bum, in fact I was born on a yacht, which is a pretty good start for someone who is by nature a traveller. I was born in the West Indies and we came to the UK in the winter of 1947. How's that for bad timing? The coldest winter since god knows when. We settled in a small village on the Lincoln Edge and on the mantlepiece used to be a photograph of a double-decker bus on the Lincoln to Grantham road. All you could see of the bus was the top two or three feet, the rest was covered by snow.

The media were warning us that we were about to return to another ice age, and indeed I do remember much later having to leave my home in Somerset one day by the kitchen window. It was the only one above snow level. I, together with my friend Jerome, walked two miles to the nearest accessible pub. We didn't see a single road on the way, and easily cut across fields without having to find and open gates. Hedges and gates had simply ceased to exist.

This takes me to my first problem with the UK, the climate. I long ago figured that spring could be nice (and bloody awful), the summers could be delightful, (or bloody awful). Autumn and winter were generally bloody awful. At this point I'm tempted to quote from the Flanders and Swan song about the British weather. Of course, it is a piss-take on the original nursery rhyme that begins:
January brings the snow, makes our feet and fingers glow
February brings the rain,
...and so on. You get the picture.

But these days it isn't so much the weather as everything else. The cost of living is considerably higher than where I currently live (in the Algarve). In England I come out of the shop with barely a few basics, and maybe a couple of bottles of wine to last me the week. The bill is not exactly long, but what are all those numbers on the right? 70? Pardon? I look down at my shopping bag, and do the addition yet again. Back home in the south I'd have twice as much in my bag, and that includes the wine, and I'd be more likely to be paying anywhere between 25 - 35. And for six months of the year I can use my simming pool. Try that in the UK.

If you live in Scotland then you have a certain Nicola Sturgeon to contend with. What is she doing with the money she gets to run the country? And why is Scotland suffering a 7% budget deficit? And why oh why is Sturgeon trying to get into the EU when they won't accept any country that has a deficit of more than 3%? Difficult questions, I know. But what that means is that very few people will be regarding Scotland as a go-to place at the moment.

But things have gotten a lot worse. The UK now has a rather belligerent government that keeps telling us what to do, spending money it doesn't have, and is doing a good job of taking away our basic rights, and preventing people from working. Tried getting a hearing in the courts these days? Tried getting a government department to answer the phone. Good grief, the pensions mob even have me listed as dead! Which is a trifle disconcerting. But at least I no longer have to pay tax.

And real estate is rather expensive. So maybe it is a good time to move.

The first question has to be: are you, or could you be, a digital nomad? Or do you have the skills to get work somewhere else in the wide world? If not, you're probably stuck. Tough!

If, on the other hand, you have embraced the digital world then you are at least in a better position to choose your place of residence. But where to go?

How about starting with that strange place called the EU?

I know rather a lot of you thought that staying in the EU was a good idea, in which case you might be a trifle surprised at what you see if you totter over the border and have a look. That is, if the various government dictats let you out of the UK, and into the EU, and the border guards don't confiscate your sandwiches.

Not only have things changed over the past year, they are likely to change somewhat drastically over the course of the next decade.

The real problem with writing this blog is that things are deteriorating in the EU at such a rate of knots that I cant keep up. I started writing this entry at the beginning of January, but by the middle of the month things were getting serious. There were reports of half a dozen countries that were seriously thinking of leaving. Sweden was beginning to feel a trifle lonely without the support of the UK. Denmark has for a long time been considering backing out. The Netherlands is apparently getting fed up with supporting the southern countries. France and Spain are also on the verge of accepting that maybe the time has come for referendums on the subject. And then there is Italy.

Even by the middle of January there was talk of the Italian government, that was already functioning in what can only be described as a uniquely Italian manner, beginning to crack up. How it lasted as long as it did is a wonder, considering that it was made up of two parties that have fundamentally opposed ideologies. Fast forward a week and, lo and behold, the prime minister has thrown in the towel.

I suppose the next move is to see if someone else can cobble a government together. How long that can take is another matter, but ultimately we are assuming that Salvini will end up forming the next relatively stable government, and that is likely to lead to a referendum which is likely to come out in favour of an exit from the EU.

Let's back up a bit. First let me first put a few statistics on the table for you to consider until next week.

The EU started off as a trading bloc. But look at this. Back in 1980 if we take all of the current members, the value of the bloc's trading with the rest of the world has halved from 30% to 15%. That's hardly a promising way to go. Is that the kind of enterprise one wants to invest in? You have to be joking. That statistic is appalling. The bloc is operating in reverse.

The Descent of Italy

How about individual countries' economic performance?

Here are the latest stats for growth in the three largest EU economies:
Germany: 0.6%; France: 1.3%; Italy: 0.3%;
And inflation:
Germany: -0.1%; France: 0.2%; Italy: -0.5%;
In fact, half the EU countries managed a negative inflation rate. So much for inflation eating away government debts.

Next week we'll home in on the state of various economies and house prices. However, the main takeaway from the current situation is that the EU is, economically speaking, a disaster zone, and prices of real estate are going nowhere, and likely to continue going nowhere for some time. But the real question to ask is 'what is going to happen to finances when another country leaves the bloc?'

For example, let us assume Italy does vote to leave. The main problem for the country is being tied to the euro. So Italy will go back to the lira, or the New Lira. But only after a sizeable devaluation. That's the biggie that everybody thinking of moving to these places needs to factor in to any purchase. But we'll go into that in more detail next week. See you then.

Subscribe to our email alerts on the housing markets both in the UK and abroad.

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...

Disclaimer     Privacy Policy