what about rent, realtors and mortgages

In various articles about relocation, we touched on the topic of real estate: our heroes talked about how much they rent apartments for and what they encountered when renting. We decided to collect information about several countries in one material: Brazil, Great Britain, Poland and Slovakia. Read and write in the comments about real estate in which other countries would you like to know.

We converted all prices into dollars to make it easier to compare.

Introducing the heroes

Great Britain, London. Lula talks about him – we wrote materials about looking for a job in London and living and working in three different countries

Brazil, Sao Paulo. Arthur Virzin, who has been living in Brazil since the age of 7 and shared with us the details of IT in this country

Poland, Lublin. Olga will tell you about this small Polish town. shared with us the details of life in Poland

Slovakia, Bratislava. Here our hero is Sergey Fedoseev, who leads here business and talked about life in this country

How much does it cost to rent a home, what with a deposit and other payments

Great Britain, London. Renting an apartment costs $ 1400-2000 per month for transport zone 2-3. If you want to find your way around the districts, here transport zone map… In general, all current prices can be viewed on the sites https://www.zoopla.co.uk and https://www.rightmove.co.uk/

Until recently, I paid 1700 dollars for a two-room apartment, which evoked emotions “I don’t like it very much, but you can live”.

A deposit of 5 weeks of rental is required upon arrival. And when you leave, you will most likely have to pay for professional cleaning and carpet cleaning – in London, apartments are often covered with carpet.

I believe that the quality of the apartments is low for that kind of money. There is an alternative, a “branch” of high end rental, you can see it on the website https://www.thisisvertus.com/… But $ 2,400 per room is outside of most people’s budget.

Brazil, Sao Paulo. Prices vary widely, averaging around $ 700 per month. There is a deposit in the amount of rent for 3-5 months. Sometimes they require a surety – a person who vouches for the tenant and presents his property as a guarantee.

In both cases, the tenant carefully examines the landlord: is he listed in the defaulter database, where he works, what income he filed in the last tax return.

Poland, Lublin. In Lublin, a two-room apartment with a modern renovation in a good area can be rented for $ 400-450. There are cheaper options. Treeshki are $ 50 more expensive.

The deposit is usually in the amount of a monthly rental.

Slovakia, Bratislava. Housing prices start at $ 400 for a small studio. Odnushki start at $ 520. I rent a 2.5 room apartment in the center of Bratislava for 750 euros per month.

In addition to the rental amount, you need to prepare a deposit in the rental price for 1-2 months and the rental amount per month for the realtor. Like in Russia.

Housing features: furnishings, neighbors, gym in the house

Great Britain, London. Apartments with neighbors, flatshare are very common among young people. But I never lived like that.

Most of the apartments are rented out together with furniture and built-in appliances, but the quality is average at best, and sometimes even lower. I was looking for an apartment specially without furniture and equipment, and it was very difficult to find at least something.

Modern multi-storey buildings have gyms or shared laptop space. But such housing is found only in areas of modern development: Wembley park, Elephant & Castle, Canary Wharf. Usually apartments are still without “bells and whistles”.

In general, there are a lot of rental options. There are ultra-modern residential skyscraper towers. And there are shabby ex-council flats. They were once social housing, but then they were sold to the private sector. There are tiny apartments in victorian houses. And even tiny houses, a terraced house, when you have your own front door, a small garden behind the house, but the total area is only 50 squares, 10 of which are occupied by a staircase from the first floor to the second.

Those same ex-council flats
Those same ex-council flats

Brazil, Sao Paulo. Sao Paulo is an urban agglomeration with over 21 million inhabitants. Therefore, there are many areas with their own characteristics and special properties. For example, there are areas with almost no trees with small houses. There are green buildings with luxury high-rise buildings and swimming pools. Accommodation can be found for every taste and budget.

Specifically, such a location is rather an exception, but it shows well the variety of real estate.
Specifically, such a location is rather an exception, but it shows well the variety of real estate.

Poland, Lublin. Everything here is almost the same as in Russia. Usually there is furniture, storage space, appliances and utensils. You may need to buy something in addition, like a kettle. Empty apartments are also rented out. Renovation depends on the budget – there are both premium and grandma.

Houses are different. Premium complexes with swimming pools are rare, for Lublin they are generally rare. Basically, the most common high-rise buildings are everywhere.

Interestingly, instead of a balcony, the first floor often has its own fenced piece of land, a “vegetable garden”.

Slovakia, Bratislava. Basically, all apartments in Bratislava are comfortable, no frills, but with light walls and all the furnishings. Although there are Soviet options with furniture from the 80s. I advise you to look closely to see if the apartment has an air conditioner. Summer is quite hot here, and for some reason the locals rarely install climate systems even in expensive apartments.

Finding housing: realtors, agencies, difficulties

Great Britain, London. It’s easy to find housing – the city is huge, there are many options. But the market is very fast, so good options should be missed – in a week they will no longer be available.

The main sites for finding housing https://www.zoopla.co.uk and https://www.rightmove.co.uk/… Apartments there are exhibited by realtors. Without a realtor, you can look at https://www.openrent.co.uk/

You can communicate directly with the real estate agency – then there is a chance to see several apartments at once in one day. But they are very intrusive: they will constantly write, call and offer options, and often inappropriate ones.

Brazil, Sao Paulo. There are really a lot of offers, but it can be difficult to find a suitable apartment according to several criteria: in a good area, with a swimming pool and a gym in the house, a park nearby.

Usually you can rent through the platforms: QuintoAndar, Loft and VivaReal. There, as a rule, there are realtors, but there are also owners.

Poland, Lublin. There is a lot of housing, there is no problem to find something, even if you are with pets and children. If you don’t speak Polish at all, it’s best to contact a realtor. If you are able to connect two words, it is better to search directly, in Poland realtors have not completely crushed the housing market yet.

You can use Facebook or websites to search https://www.olx.pl/ and https://www.otodom.pl/

Slovakia, Bratislava. The choice of housing is smaller than in large cities of Russia and Ukraine, but you can pick it up. It is more difficult to rent with children and animals, they may ask for an additional deposit. Plus, foreigners are not always happy to rent out apartments, because newcomers need a residence permit from the landlord for the police. And not everyone wants to issue it.

You can search for apartments on Facebook. But you are unlikely to rent an apartment without a realtor, especially the first one, so you can immediately go to the real estate agency.

What about utility bills and other “unexpected” expenses

Great Britain, London. Two people in a two-room apartment with poor thermal insulation pay per month:

  • $ 50 for the Internet.

  • $ 145 for gas – heating and water heating.

  • $ 140 city tax, varies by apartment size and neighborhood.

  • $ 40 for water.

Brazil, Sao Paulo. A communal apartment is on average about $ 200 in a good building, maybe from $ 400 where there are many guards, swimming pools and few apartments.

Poland, Lublin. I will not say for sure, but in general, communal apartments are more expensive here than in Russia.

Slovakia, Bratislava. Utility is usually included in the price and is spelled out in the contract. But sometimes they write in the contract, for example, $ 116 – and if you spend more, you will have to compensate for the amount of overspending. On average, the cost of an apartment is about $ 230 per month.

Everything about buying an apartment: prices, mortgages, conditions for expats

Great Britain, London. My husband and I bought an apartment when we lived in the UK for 2 years. Because I wanted to live in an apartment with high-quality furniture and household appliances, which we ourselves have chosen. And mortgage payments are comparable to the cost of rent.

For a mortgage, a down payment of at least 10% of the cost of housing is required. There is a 5% deposit, but I don’t know if it is available to people with a residence permit, plus a lot of conditions must be met to receive it.

The interest on the mortgage does not depend on the income or status of the person, but on the first installment – the larger the installment, the lower the percentage. On average, this is 2-3% per annum.

The cost of real estate depends on the area, but there is nothing cheaper than $ 300 thousand, not even one-room apartments. My husband and I bought an apartment in the Canary Wharf area: odnushki here cost from 350 thousand, kopeck piece – from 500 thousand dollars.

To buy an apartment, a foreigner needs to live in the country for two years or have a visa for three years in advance. Not every bank will give a mortgage, sometimes a higher deposit is required. The maximum amount for which a mortgage will be approved is five times the family’s annual income before taxes.

There is no special bureaucracy, but it is not easy to buy an apartment financially. for example, you have chosen housing for 500 thousand. You will need to pay:

  • 15 thousand – Stamp duty (tax to the state) from the cost of the apartment

  • 50 thousand – 10% deposit, this is the minimum. For literalists, yes, there is a special 5% deposit, but with it a lot of conditions go into the load that the bank will or will not allow to buy. Also, I do not know if a mortgage with such a deposit is available for people with a residence permit.

  • 5 thousand – the services of solicitors, they organize all the bureaucratic questions of the purchase.

In general, the real estate market in London is stable, prices are always rising. So if you plan to stay here for at least 5 years and have savings, it is better to buy an apartment than rent.

Brazil, Sao Paulo. The city I live in, São Paulo, is the most expensive in Brazil. Real estate here costs up to $ 4,130 per square meter, with prices rising. The cheapest real estate is about $ 480 per square meter.

Real estate price index in Sao Paulo, Rio and Brazil in general.  Sao Paulo is the clear leader
Real estate price index in Sao Paulo, Rio and Brazil in general. Sao Paulo is the clear leader

The mortgage rate for expats is almost the same as for locals. In 2021 it was 7.5%. For a foreigner for a mortgage, it is enough to obtain a local tax number, it’s simple.

I myself am thinking of buying an apartment, I am waiting for such an opportunity.

Poland, Lublin. We bought an apartment here a couple of years after we moved. Mortgage payments are almost the same as rent payments. The mortgage interest is very low even for non-local ones, about 3%. They plan to raise the rate soon, but it will still be low.

A three-room apartment in a good area near the center of Lublin costs $ 100,000-200,000. Prices vary greatly depending on the condition of the apartment, area, location. A house with a plot in the suburbs can start at $ 250,000.

You can take a mortgage with a residence permit even immediately after moving. There are wage requirements, an open-ended employment contract is desirable.

I believe that you don’t need to buy a house in Poland, only if you plan to stay here for a short time. In other cases, it is worth taking a mortgage – it will come out inexpensively. Plus this is a profitable investment – our apartment has risen in price by $ 38,000 since 2016.

This is what a typical new building in Poland looks like - this is a render from the developer's website, but in reality everything is the same
This is what a typical new building in Poland looks like – this is a render from the developer’s website, but in reality everything is the same

Slovakia, Bratislava. The interest on the mortgage here is 1% –2%. For expats, it can be a couple of tenths of a percent higher due to the country’s short credit history. The real estate is quite expensive, with a mediocre two-story apartment costing about $ 230,000. It is not difficult to take a mortgage, although I myself am not planning to buy an apartment yet – I think that the real estate market is overheated.

PS Links to our heroes:

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