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What will $1 million buy you around the world?

By Kyrenia Blanshard

While we can’t travel, it is still fun to daydream about the rest of the world, particularly their cheaper property prices. While Australia’s house prices continue to rise, you may be wondering whether you could find better value buying something in one of your favourite holiday destinations.

Australians are property obsessed and particularly like investing in property. But the places in which we invest are overwhelmingly in Australia and we are generally wary about looking too far afield. Unlike investors from China, who represent the biggest group investing offshore, who look far and wide for opportunities. We have a much stronger preference to stick closer to home.

As well as being nervous overseas buyers, we are restricted from buying in many countries. New Zealand has completely banned overseas buyers. In Thailand, foreigners can own an apartment but are forbidden from owning freehold land. Elsewhere, there are far fewer restrictions. In the United Kingdom, anyone can buy, even if you don’t live there. It’s a similar situation in the United States. In Cyprus, they will even throw in a passport, although you do need to spend at least €300,000 in a government approved new development.

The final challenge is getting finance. Australian banks are not keen on providing finance to offshore purchases of residential property. And it’s difficult to get finance from foreign banks. If you want that Paris apartment, it might be best if you have the cash available.

Assuming you have overcome your nervousness about buying overseas, have saved up lots of cash over the pandemic and have found a country that allows you to buy, what types of properties could you afford to buy?

It’s hard to compare pricing at a global level, particularly given within a capital city or country, there can be significant variance in properties available. On a sqm basis, Turkey is the cheapest country to buy in, while Switzerland and Luxembourg are the most expensive. But in the United Kingdom, cities like London would have precincts that are potentially far more expensive than Switzerland.

Switzerland is the world’s most expensive country to buy in on a sqm basis
Price per sqm by country

One bedroom apartment in a global city

The Australian dollar is pretty weak at the moment. $AU1 million will only get you around $US715,000, £525,000 or €610,000. But if you’re dreaming of New York, London or Paris, this is enough to buy you a one bedroom, one bathroom apartment close to Central Park, close to the City of London or near the River Seine. This is roughly similar to the median for our most global city, Sydney where the median for an apartment is $960,000. If you want a much cheaper option, you could look at Melbourne CBD where the median for an apartment is $460,000.

New York, NY 10026

Family home in a “most liveable city”

If a one bedroom apartment doesn’t appeal, then living in the most livable city in the United States may do so. Austin, Texas is ranked as one of the best places to live and the neighbourhood of Highland one of its best suburbs. For $AU1 million, you are looking at a pretty nice house on a big block.

In the United Kingdom, one of the best suburbs of Edinburgh, West End, you can also buy a three bedroom house.

In Australia, you are unlikely to get into many of our most expensive suburbs which currently sit at around $3 million but you could definitely get into a nice suburb in our most liveable city of Adelaide. And it would be beachside. Henley Beach has just hit a $1 million median. In Melbourne, the up and coming inner west could also appeal with Footscray hitting that price point now.

Australia’s newest $1 million plus suburbs

A beachside getaway

If you want to buy in Asia, then a beachside holiday home represents very good value, although you would need to carefully look at what you are allowed to buy in each country.

$AU1 million is approximately 24 million Thai baht. In Phuket, you can get a luxury hillside villa for this price. In Indonesia, that same million will get 10,405 million rupiah which would get you a similarly beautiful villa close to the beach in Canggu.

In Australia, you can definitely buy into a beachside suburb but you are unlikely to get a new luxury villa for the price. Pelican Waters on the Sunshine Coast recently hit that price point and the weather is likely to be just as nice.

Canggu, Pererenan

A country mansion

Rural Europe is pretty nice, but there are also some pretty nice places in rural Australia. The main difference is that in Europe, you get a castle. In Australia, you would get something potentially as large but certainly not as historical. I don’t know much about the predominantly rural Auvergne region of France but for $AU1 million, you can certainly get a lot of house on a lot of land, more specifically a 16th century manor with two towers.

For $1 million in Australia, you could get into inland parts of northern New South Wales. Mullumbimby currently has a median of $988,000. Close to Melbourne, Macedon has just recently clicked over to the $1 million median mark.

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