Several nights each week, as I’m dozing off to sleep, I’m hearing strange accents of foreign property owners buying real estate in foreign countries.
It’s all thanks to my wife’s quirky — some may say disturbing — addiction to overseas real estate shows such as House Hunters International, Hawaii Life and Masters of Flip.
What these shows have taught me, apart from having to put a pillow over my head to block out the TV screen light, is that Australian property owners live in a lucky country for real estate.
Jeez those foreign buyers can whinge, whether it’s over an apartment in Buenos Aires or a remote island north of Denmark.
Too expensive, too old, too far from the city, too yellow. But it makes good television, and is educational for any Australians unhappy with the housing quality we have here.
It shows that an Aussie dollar will buy you plenty of good overseas real estate, if you’re interested in making a move offshore or just want to feel good about your personal wealth.
Despite falling property prices in many Australian cities and tough lending conditions, we have plenty to be happy about in any global comparison, including:
WE ARE RICH
Most overseas homes could be bought for less than the cost of a median-priced house in any Australian capital city.
We all tend to live in a bubble, usually confined to our own city or state, when thinking about house prices, and don’t realise that the Aussie dollar is powerful when purchasing property.
That’s one reason why some forecasters have predicted Australia’s national house price performance to be among the world’s worst this year, although that’s mainly caused by the sinking Sydney and Melbourne markets. Adelaide and Brisbane prices haven’t done much in the past 10 years while Perth and Darwin have been dropping.
WE HAVE SPACE
There are shoeboxes galore in global property, and many of them make small Aussie apartments look large.
There’s actually a TV show called Tiny House Hunters, and it’s not about vertically-challenged property buyers.
The traditional quarter-acre block may be disappearing amid Australian apartment towers and property developer subdivisions, but homes here are still more spacious than elsewhere.
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A good home is more than bricks and mortar. It requires access to utilities, handy services, transport links, nature and recreational space. Australia has plenty of this, though some may disagree about the quality of public transport.
Many of the world’s largest cities are concrete jungles where trees are sparse, but if you fly over any Australian capital — including the metropolises of Melbourne and Sydney — there remains a calming green canopy.
A HOUSE IS A HOUSE
Despite all the differences, there are big similarities. Anyone expecting to see weird, exotic overseas dwellings will quickly realise that modern designs, furniture and fittings are the same everywhere.
We’re in a global community where popular ideas spread rapidly to other countries, even if the people talk funny — or more accurately we talk funny.
Originally published as What we can learn from overseas homebuyers