I started doing a bit of research regarding buying a place in the UK. An apartment/flat though, not a house. Somewhere I could nip back to occasionally. It's many years since I've lived there so I'm a bit out of touch regarding the day to day costs costs. The question is, imagine I bought a place. I would need to pay electric and community charge (or whatever you call it now) etc etc. What are the standing charges needed to be paid every month/year? I realise the amount may depend on the amount of people in the house, the size of the property and so on, but what things would actually need to be paid every month/year?
You would have to allow for Council Tax to pay for the palace the wankers inhabit and their excessive salaries and platinum plated pensions, say £100 a month. A standing charge for gas and electric and water, I am lazy and they are all on direct debit so haven't a clue, but there could be another £80 there, an insurance for peace of mind, and carefully explain to them what the place is for because normally you are not allowed to leave it empty for more than about 30 days a year. They will find every excuse in the book, and then some, not to pay any claim.
But stay away, this country becomes grottier by the day.
Man is not lost, only temporarily uncertain of his position
I will make sure the front door lock is PIN coded and pass it on to you all.
lagatta, it's not so much about the costs, there are too many variables for that, it is more about compiling a list of the things that would have to be paid. Things that are unavoidable like standing charges for electric and water, but also I think some form of council charge for rubbish and stuff.
What we pay are : - mortgage (... we don't have enough money to buy a house fully so had to borrow money) - electricity, water, gas or fuel - I need 2500 liters of fuel for our main house. Add 250 euros a month fir electricity - family of 4. Water is not tat expensive. - garbage tax - 'revenu cadastral' - 'taxe foncière' in France : a tax because you are privileged enough to own a house - Maintenance cost : I consider one month of rent (caluclate the cost/revenue of rent) to cover for 'small' costs : plumbing, repairs etc - not the roof.
then if your house is an appartment, you have additional costs for 'common areas' : lift, cleaning of hall etc - can be quite expensive : several hundreds of € per month.
I think that these charges are quite similar through most of Western Europe. However, today in France they were talking about the cost of transforming houses due to the fact that heating fuel will be banned in the next ten years. I had never paid attention to this in my all electric dwelling, but apparently 12% of French residences still rely on heating fuel (3 million houses). My grandmother's house used heating fuel (which could also congeal during cold snaps), and even though I have a certain nostalgia for the odour. Conversion to other systems costs a certain amount of money but it is more ecological and saves money in the end. I have no idea whether other European countries are also banning heating oil.
It wasn't even necessary to ban it here. Forty years ago it was still quite common and I've lived in flats with a little heating oil tank behind the dwellinng. Now the vast majority of dwellings; single-family, plexes or apartment buildings have hydro-electric heat. Even recently I've seen heating oil trucks coming round; some people don't feel secure having only electric heating and lighting in case there is a blackout. Will have to check on whether or not it is banned now.
Our heating is cheaper by thermal unit than most places in North America or Europe, but it can still entail "heat poverty" as it gets so bloody cold here in wintertime. I have a large window I really have to reinsulate because our building has shifted a lot after being shored up several years ago, and is crooked in the other direction.
How often would you be thinking of nipping back? If not too often, you'd probably be better off getting an airbnb rather than buying. And if you just wanted to own something in England, starting out by using a self-catering apartment would be a good way of getting the lay of the land. You'd be paying a flat rate, but still could find out about local taxes, utilities, etc. by talking to people.
Good idea bixa. The lay of the land is easy enough to come by as I know most of it, the information would just need updating. It is right that if I bought a place I wouldn't use it as often as I should to make it worthwhile. The problem is that I have problems with things like renewing my driving licence, sorting out tax, my bank wondering if I am a resident and those things. With my own address in the UK it would be easier as I would have access to things like utility bills to prove stuff. The other problem is, and I know I've spoken about Brexit (or Brekshit as suggested) but I still am of the old school in that there is little substitute for converting your money into bricks and mortar as a safeguard.
For example, I've found out that the tax authorities owe me money, several hundred pounds. Their solution was to send me a cheque to my address. The one they have is out of date and thus I haven't received it. I am going to phone them up later to ponder why they can't electronically send it to my bank account - as modern people do. If that can happen, then no problem. If it can't because they say they can't I have to get a new cheque written and sent. They do not send this abroad, which anyway is of little use unless I can cash it at a foreign bank. Which might be possible but just complicates the matter.
With living abroad but not really being a proper resident of that country, I get all sorts of UK related problems that can often be sorted but usually are complicated when doing so. The other thing is that if I have no proper connection with the UK it can be deemed that I am not a resident. Thus I cannot renew my driving licence nor keep the bank accounts I have, nor pay taxes in the UK rather than in some foreign country that I'm only in for 3 or 4 years and plenty of other things. I'd then have to keep changing everything every time, which is a pain. In effect life is difficult with bureaucracy if you're not accepted to be a resident of any country. Currently I have to do a bit of ducking and diving and coming up with sticking plaster solutions to enquiries as to verification regarding who I am. It would be a lot easier if I had my own place in the UK.
That place next door to you. If not, then I'll have a scrap caravan on your driveway.
I am looking around where I used to live, north Nottinghamshire, as I know the area well. But, I am not tied to there for any reason. I'm also looking at where I can get the best bang for my buck, as some say. I've checked out recent information to find the cheapest places in the UK to live, to buy property and so on. There is a couple of places in Scotland, which is too far north, a couple of places in Wales, which is too far from a major airport, same for an area in Cumbria though that would be tempting, that leaves a couple of places in Lancashire but my favourite so far is around Stoke on Trent - which is central England, within spitting distance of the Peak District and about an hour away from Birmingham airport.
Mick, here's one of the problems - I pay tax every year but last year because I started getting a local authority pension I ended up paying too much tax which they want to refund me. Initially the Tax authority sent me a letter to be able to claim it online. But they sent it to the wrong address. Then because I didn't claim the money they sent a cheque to the same address. This is valid for six months. I didn't get that either so I've contacted them and given them and made sure they know the right address. They've said they will send out a new cheque.
I asked if it could be sent out of the country to Spain. Yes, was the answer. I asked if I could cash it or pay it in to a foreign bank, a Spanish one. No they said. I can only pay it in, in the UK? Yes. But I'm not coming to the UK. Just send me to the proper address the online payment letter.
Nope, they said, that's not the system. Because you didn't pick up and use the first one that is it. It has to be cheques. So, I asked, you can only send me a cheque and I can only use it in the UK, so I have to come back to the UK to do that? Yes. But what if someone in the UK paid it into your account. They are all dead, I said. I am an old man. I have no-one in the UK to do that. Just send me the online details and I'll get them scanned and sent to me so I can do it abroad.
No, can't do that. Why? Not the system. Then who can alter the system? It's not one of the ten commandments, it's not a law passed through Parliament, it is a tax office policy someone has just made up. He replied, the best he can do is send an email to the accounts department explaining the problem. Let me speak to someone there then. Saves you an email. They don't have phones, he replied. Me - "Of course they do, that's a ridiculous thing to say. What you mean is that members of the public aren't allowed to talk to them." He reiterated that all he could do was send them an email (internal) to explain and they would contact me and asked for my phone number. I gave him my Zambian one.
"Where is this?" "Zambia" "Ummm errr" "Now you're going to tell me you can't ring me in Zambia" "Umm err, I'll find out" A minute later he comes back and says they can but it might take two or three weeks. "So just because you say you can't send me the online refund details we have to go through all this palaver?" Then I set the cat amongst the pigeons by saying, "Why do you have to send me a physical letter or cheque anyway? If I can do online banking securely and many other payments and refunds online, why can't you email the refund details to do online?" "It's not how it is done."
So now I have to wait for a phone call from someone who might have a reasonable solution for me other than me spending I don't know how many Euros/UK Pounds just to pick up a cheque for a few hundred. To explain - the address they have is a version of a PO Box. But is a physical house. The person there collects my mail and scans me the important stuff or will send the letter to me if I deem it necessary. He will not go to the bank and pay my cheque in to my account. That's not what he does. It is a mail forwarding service. Even if he sends me the cheque I can't do anything with it abroad.
Also - my bank sent me a renewed credit card, to Zambia. Of course it didn't arrive. They've now sent it to a Spanish address and it did arrive but I don't trust it to be sent to me here. So I need to pick that up in April. In the meantime the card was cancelled so for some time I didn't have one. I've got the details of the new one and activated it so I can pay for stuff online but I don't physically have the card yet. In effect I am just plugging holes with sticking plaster. I need a one stop solution for all the bureaucracy surrounding normal life. If I have a place in the UK, a place where a trusted person will visit every couple of weeks to check it and pick up the mail, and use that as proof of residence/domicile, then things would be a lot more streamlined and easy. I can, for example, register with a local doctor, who I will need for an examination in a few years to renew my driving licence - as DVLA will not accept a doctors certificate from a doctor not in the UK.
The tax refund is more an annoyance than anything, but there are other things that are necessary and important.
Oh, I quite understand. It took several years for French administrations to understand that "original electric bill only -- no photocopies" and other such demands (bank statement, taxes...)were meaningless as such things have been dematerialised for modern people, often at the request of sometimes the very same administrations. Now most of this has become easy, but we all hit a snag from time to time. However, proving that you have a physical address in a country when it is not actually true can be one of the more difficult complications.
But since you're an old man, maybe you can just apply for a room in a nursing home.
Regarding my credit card saga, first a slight review - my old one should have run out 01/2019. For some reason the bank sent me a new one in May this year, but didn't tell me. They sent it to Zambia. I asked them recently if they would send me one to Zambia. They said we already did. I told them it hadn't arrived and to send me one to Spain. They did and it arrived. I activated it but it doesn't work.
I contacted them today, they said it had been cancelled but didn't know why. I said ok, send me another one to Spain. They said they can't now. I have to pick it up from a branch of the bank in the UK. After a long drawn out and irritable conversation, on my part, telling them I couldn't they stuck to their guns and the only suggestion they had was someone else pick it up for me from any nominated branch and then send it on to wherever I wanted. I told them everyone was dead, that's why I'm retired and travelling.
All I could do is make an official complaint and leave it at that for now. They said they would contact me back. I told them that it was just "company policy" that they couldn't send me a new one again and that that can be changed. But no. It has to be picked up. Stupid banks. That's why I've just transferred half of my money out to another one in Germany.