Teaching Abroad and Home Ownership

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Teaching Abroad and Home Ownership

Post by justme123 »

First, I apologize if this has already been spoken about at length on ISR.

I am getting back into the world of international education and will be heading to the Middle East for the upcoming school year.

I am looking into buying some property in my HOR (America) and was wondering if others own property's in their home countries while teaching abroad.

Is it worth it or is it more of a headache? What are some pros/cons? I would not be looking to rent it for additional income as I don't feel that headache is worth it.

I guess I am just looking for anyone's thoughts/experiences on this topic.

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Re: Teaching Abroad and Home Ownership

Post by mysharona »

Personally, I would recommend it. We bought a house 12 years ago and have never regretted it. We don't rent it out and its been available to us whenever we have needed it, this was particularly useful this past year when we spent 8 months living there while locked out of China. We have kids, now grown, who appreciated having their own space during the summers and then a space to retreat to while in university. One also lived there for a short time after university. It does come with costs however, you need to keep in mind that it costs money to insure, maintain and to look after when you aren't there.

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Re: Teaching Abroad and Home Ownership

Post by expatscot »

I agree with the second post. We have a house in our home country which is rented out, and a second one in another European country which is where we (normally) head for holidays, and where we spent 6 months outside China. It is useful having your own bolthole if things go wrong - one thing which I want to try to do is make sure that we have enough savings again to cover, say, 6 months of ongoing costs in the house so that if things ever go pearshaped then we at least have the mortgage covered!

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Re: Teaching Abroad and Home Ownership

Post by marieh »

Agree with all of the replies above. The one thing I would suggest is to make sure you install a good security system if you aren't going to be renting it. Other than that, I have 0 regrets about purchasing a home while overseas - it gives me peace of mind to know that I always have a place to go if/when I get tired of life as an expat.

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Re: Teaching Abroad and Home Ownership

Post by alexout »

I would recommend not buying a place in the US, but somewhere else. I sold my house in the States (my home country) after I left to teach internationally a second time, and invested the money from the sale with Vanguard instead. It was the best financial decision I ever made.

Six years later, for a fraction of what the US house cost, I bought a house in Southern Europe where I can go during school vacations and where I will retire. Not only was it much cheaper than anything comparable I could have found in the US, but the costs of maintaining it are so little I still can't get over it. No more paying county, local, and school taxes that added up into thousands of dollars every year when I wasn't even there, just because I owned the property. I now pay less than 100 euros in annual property taxes and 35 euros a month for a property manager to make sure there are no problems when I'm not there. I don't rent it out. And to top it off, it's in a stunning location with a near-perfect climate, friendly people, and a quality of life I'm not sure I can find in the US anymore.

Of course, if you need to be near family it's another story. Everyone has their own reasons for choosing a place to call home. My experience was that the cost and bother of maintaining a home in the US was not worth it. My family is spread out across the globe and we all travel to see each other anyway. But as others have said, it is nice to have a place - somewhere - to go to if you suddenly need it.

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Re: Teaching Abroad and Home Ownership

Post by justme123 »

If you don't mind me asking, in what country did you purchase real estate? Were you already a citizen of the country?

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Re: Teaching Abroad and Home Ownership

Post by mamava »

We love it. We kept our single family home for 11 years and rented it out. We had a good friend act as our contact and she did a checkup on the house every 3 months for repairs, etc. The leases turned over in the summer so we were able to get new tenants ourselves as needed. We could see the house slowly deteriorating as a rental, however, and we wanted to establish a stronger base at home as our kids approached college-age, so we sold it and bought a townhouse.

Leaving a house vacant for long periods is hard on the building. Depending on the weather, serious issues can come up--we are based in Minnesota and were concerned about ice dams, breaking pipes, etc., and damage we weren't aware of. Our townhouse is a row house with no exposed pipes. Our friend still pops over and checks it out but the risk of damage is much smaller and our utility bills are much more manageable.

As our kids transitioned into college and life in the US our home base was invaluable. They could get driver's licenses, summer jobs, and start to build a connection to a place they barely remembered. It went a long way to making their transition smoother. And we love having it turnkey we when come home for vacay!

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Re: Teaching Abroad and Home Ownership

Post by chemteacher101 »

I've often thought about buying a house somewhere in southern Europe. But where? Spain is appealing, but I have heard it might be a problem with keeping an empty house as people might "invade it" and it becomes a legal hassle?

To those of you who own property somewhere other than in your home country:
1. Where do you own?
2. How did you buy it? Was it a location you really liked? Or did you "adventurously" bought a place somewhere you had only visited a couple of times?
3. How do you keep it? Do you pay a company to make sure things are Ok?

Would love to hear some experiences!

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Re: Teaching Abroad and Home Ownership

Post by whynot »

As someone mentioned I think its always good to have somewhere as a bolthole if it all goes pearshaped. I've seen people leaving schools/countries with nowhere really to go. Anything can happen in international education.
A 'lock up and leave' or townhouse type of property, as someone else has talked about, is more low stress.
Also, in some places you might be priced out of the market. In my country real estate has been flying ahead. In the last years my house has made as much money in capital gain as my salary. If I didn't have it, and having a property was a goal, then financially I would have been working these last years for nothing.

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Re: Teaching Abroad and Home Ownership

Post by wrldtrvlr123 »

Just to offer something different...

We sold our houses both times we left to teach overseas and have no regrets. It has been very nice not to have to worry about every hurricane, blizzard, hearing from tenants about problems, etc.

To be fair though, we were not really in great financial shape either time and selling was by far the best option for us. Now that we could afford to buy something, it doesn't make great logistic sense for us (although I guess it could make financial sense, depending on a number of factors). We only go back to the states every two to three years and maintaining a residence so we can have access to it for two weeks every three years just doesn't seem worth it.

But, it seems worth it/to work out for many people, so it's worth considering, based on your own unique situation.

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Re: Teaching Abroad and Home Ownership

Post by sid »

Ah, financial sense. Where to find it?
It's important to remember that for many people, a home is more of a financial drain than a boon. You put money into your mortgage month after month, you pay taxes and insurance, you buy a new roof or refit a bathroom. Miss a payment, and you could lose the whole thing. Unless your financial house is already in order, to the tune that you could continue paying the mortgage for a year or more if you lost your job/income, you may not want to buy a house just to have a place to retreat to should your country/school/job implode. After all, if your first thought on landing would be "now, how do I pay the mortgage", it won't feel like much of a refuge. That's not an investment (something that makes you money). It's a cost. If you can afford it, have a great time!
Some rent out the house, which does move it into the "investment" category at least in theory, but that comes with more costs and more trouble. Insurance is higher, taxes could be higher. Either you pay a good chunk to a management company, or you find some other way to meet your legal obligations when your tenant calls at 2 am about the flooded bathroom or broken furnace. You may or may not get enough in rent to cover your mortgage and all the other fees, especially if you have a shortage in tenants. Or if a pandemic causes governments to take actions that favor renters over landlords. I know a lot of people right now can't pay their mortgages because their tenants aren't paying the rent. They may lose their properties to the banks, even while the tenants will still have the legal right to stay living in them.
I'm a fan of property to a certain extent, but it's not all sunshine and roses. Think long and hard before going down this road. If you don't have the money to pay the mortgage, whether or not you have a job or tenants, this could be a costly mistake.

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Re: Teaching Abroad and Home Ownership

Post by mamava »

sid wrote:
> Think long and hard before going down this road. If you don't have
> the money to pay the mortgage, whether or not you have a job or tenants,
> this could be a costly mistake.

I would echo this. As good as it's been for us. when we sold our first home, we bought the 2nd so no mortgage. Very reasonable HOA fees and the row house formation keeps our heating bills down and we don't have frozen pipe issues. In these times, Sid's advice about carrying mortgages, etc. is certainly worth heeding. Unless you live near a university or in a desirable vacay spot, you probably can't rent it out and also expect to live in it. In that case, it's an investment property only and wear and tear is a factor.

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Re: Teaching Abroad and Home Ownership

Post by IS-Educator »

Thank you for all these perspectives. There are many benefits, but also some challenges with working in international education. Some of the question marks and points of confusion for me are taxes, housing/ mortgages, savings/ retirement. I know these topics come up fairly often, but I always find it helpful to get fresh ideas and perspectives.

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Post by PsyGuy »

I have found it more of a headache and not worth the effort, unless your getting on the closer side to retirement and your intent is to reside in the residence post retirement.

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