Home or away? It’s neck and neck!
June 23rd, 2011 by jason

The number of second homes overseas has finally overtaken the number in the UK. That’s the news we would almost certainly be reporting by now if the government had not stopped collecting the figures in 2008.
The official figures relate, oddly enough, to second homes owned by households living in England only – not the whole of the UK. And a recent departmental reorganisation means the figures only go up to 2007/8. But the full table from the turn of the millennium onwards makes fascinating reading:

(000s) England Other GB Abroad Total
2000/01 241 34 129 404
2001/02 226 34 143 403
2002/03 235 32 151 418
2003/04 253 31 163 447
2004/05 255 34 193 482
2005/06 242 36 211 489
2006/07 241 36 248 525
2007/08 272 38 270 580

So by 2008, the number of households owning a second home had gone up by 43.6 per cent, from 404,000 to 580,000. But of those extra 176,000 holiday homes, all but 35,000 were overseas.
While these figures show that in 2008 slightly more people still owned second homes in the UK than abroad, given the strong trend it seems likely that, three years on, overseas home ownership has powered ahead.
These figures for home ownership abroad are lower than many you see quoted – anything from half a million to a million is a popular estimate – but they would need to be increased by perhaps 15 per cent to include owners based in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. And, of course, they are for second homes so do not include those who have moved semi-permanently to a home abroad.
According to research carried out for the Post Office, France is the number one destination for owning a property abroad (41 per cent) followed by Spain (38 per cent) and Portugal (5 per cent). British buyers in France are most likely to have gone for a farmhouse or a cottage, compared with buyers in Spain who prefer flats and villas.

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