Can British buyers still purchase ski homes abroad after Brexit?

Time is ticking down on Brexit, and it’s still not even clear what the final deal will look like – or even if a no-deal truly will be off the table. So should British people looking to buy ski homes after Brexit put their plans on hold? Absolutely not – whether you’re looking in France, Italy, Austria or Spain, there will still be avenues for you to purchase a home and use it. How? Find out in today’s article.

Will Brexit mean British people can’t buy property?

Absolutely not! Buying or owning property is not one of the European Union’s ‘four freedoms’ – and is in fact governed by individual country laws. Think of the number of Australians, Americans, Chinese and Russians who purchase in the EU every year!

The only difference is that, sometimes, you may have to obtain permission from the government. In Austria, for example, buying a ski property after Brexit that you’ll use as a secondary residence will require your estate agent to get permission from the local land-use committee (Grundverkehrsbehörde). In Cyprus, on the other hand, to buy any property, even as an EU citizen, you’ll need to ask for permission from the Council of Ministers. It is completely up to individual countries.

However, where things do get a little more complicated after Brexit is taking up residency. EU rules don’t govern buying property, but they do govern entry into European borders. British buyers will likely not have freedom of movement – as this is one of the Four Freedoms – so you will need to get a visa.

How does getting a visa work?

There is quite a surprising variety of visas out there for the main countries – meaning, with just a bit of paperwork, you will still be able to move. These are the main categories for your situation.

Buying a ski holiday home

If you’re purchasing a ski home after Brexit as a holiday property (ie you’re not living there full time), then it’ll be simple. All you’ll need for any country in the EU will be a tourist visa – which covers the entire Schengen zone. Normally, it’ll be valid for stays of up to three months at a time, so plenty of time to hit the slopes!

Moving full-time

If you’re relocating permanently, then you’ll need to do a little more paperwork.

If you have a job, then you’ll need an employment visa. This will generally be called something similar to ‘skilled work visa’ and can normally be obtained once you’ve got a job offer. An extra step if you’re buying in an Italian resort will be to check the Decreto Flussi. This is a regularly updated list of the number of workers each region needs, so keep an eye out for your chosen location!

If you’re self-employed, such as a remote digital worker, then it is a little bit more difficult. Generally, you’d need to meet a minimum amount of investment in the country to be offered a visa.

One-bedroom new apartment in Les Houches, Chamonix Retiring abroad

If you’re not working – perhaps taking retirement or early retirement – then you will normally be looking at a ‘temporary, non-lucrative residency’ visa or an ‘elective residency visa’, depending on the country. These require you to have a specific amount of savings in the bank, to show that you can live in your chosen country without being a burden on the state.

The visa will usually be valid for periods of around one or two years. As long as you continue to meet the conditions, you can continue to renew.

Buying for investment

You won’t need a visa if you’re not looking to live in the property yourself! You will need to declare your tax earnings to the local authorities, however, as you will have earnt that income in that country.

What about residency by investment?

There is, however, a fifth category of visa: so-called ‘golden visas’, where a property purchase of a particular price fast-tracks you to permanent residency. These are most common in southern Europe, so not so normal among skiing countries!

However, if you’re buying in Spain, such as in the ski resorts of the Pyrenees, and your property is worth more than €500,000, then you will be eligible. For this, you and your immediate family get Spanish temporary residency, renewable each two years, regardless of whether you’re working or not.

Two-bedroom apartment in Unken, Heutal, Austria.Converting to permanent residency

With any non-tourism visa, you will receive temporary residency. In almost all EU countries, after five years, you can convert this to permanent residency – and often even apply for citizenship.

Financing a property purchase after Brexit

For anyone buying ski homes after Brexit, the volatility of the pound versus the euro can be worrying. Between putting in an offer and actually transferring over your money, a small move in the exchange rates could see you lose thousands of pounds. However, the risk is easy to control. Find out how in our blog on the costs of buying a ski home.

And, if to find out more about purchasing in the world’s top locations for ski properties, don’t miss our free country buying guides.