Given up on Australia? No prob, buy in Amsterdam
Meet Chris and Lily. They're both 29. Lily's a UX and service designer from Seattle, Washington. Chris, a data scientist, hails from Melbourne, Australia. After three years living in Amsterdam, the itch to own something of their own had to be scratched. But where to buy? Seattle, Melbourne or Amsterdam?
Bang for their buck
The pair looked in each of these cities. After a bit of research, Amsterdam made the most sense, even though they didn't plan to stay forever. For starters, they only needed a 10 per cent deposit and they could get a decent one-bedder with a garden for less than $350,000.
'The interest rates are so low, paying off a mortgage is, on average, far less expensive than renting. We now pay two thirds of what our rent was. The money we save is going towards our renovation, after that we will put more towards the mortgage,' Lily says.
But making the leap together was still a little scary. The key to committing was thinking with their heads instead of their hearts. After passing on more expensive places, they found a home that didn't stretch the budget. 'We started thinking about it as an investment property - a place we will rent out in a few years,' she explains.
Buying in a foreign location came with challenges, though. 'The purchase process was all in Dutch. So we were required to have a translator present. We also hired a mortgage broker to help us find a good bank,' Lily says.
Come for the small deposit, stay for the lifestyle
'We ride our bikes to work every day - rain sleet or snow. My commute takes about 15 minutes, it’s great!' Lily says. Because their mortgage is so manageable, they haven't had to give up on Bruin cafes (aka pubs) or their favourite winter pastries, oliebollen (Dutch doughnuts). Plus, they're on good wickets at work, so they get to head back to Australia and the US whenever they can.
Still not sold?
Lily reckons that no matter where in the world you're buying you need to treat it like a decision that's right for the moment, not something you're stuck with for life. 'A lot of people may feel like we did, like buying a house is locking you into that location for the next 10 years. But that doesn’t need to be the case. Just view it as an investment rather than settling down,' she says.
Even though it's a 'for now' purchase, they're still looking to improve on it. They will chip away over time and boost the value. 'Eventually we want to build a deck in the back garden,' she says. They know they wouldn't have had that luxury in Melbourne.
On ya bike, aspiring buyers. Amsterdam's just a flight away.