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Holiday home ownership: overcoming the language barrier

By HiFX   /     Apr 26, 2017  /     Holiday Homes  /     , , , , ,

HiFX has teamed up with Intasure, experienced providers of insurance for holiday homes abroad, to create this four part guide to holiday home ownership. In this second part, we discuss some ways you can negotiate potential language barriers. 


Once you’ve set your heart on a dream holiday home abroad and chosen your perfect location, your mind might start to turn to the practicalities of how to make it happen. If you’re buying abroad, you may wish to think early in the process about whether the language will be an issue, both during the purchasing process and once you are ready to start spending time on your new property. We’ve put together some suggestions that could help you get up to speed.

1. How to start learning

The good news, if you would like to start learning a new language from scratch, is that there are a wide range of online resources designed to help you. Some places you could start include:

  • Spotify users can start to learn the basics of 9 languages by streaming their free language lessons.
  • Duolingo is a free app for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone with bite-sized lessons to help you read, listen and speak over 20 languages.
  • BBC Active Languages provides a range of books, CDs, DVDs and apps for 12 languages, tailored to different levels.
  • Rosetta Stone offers paid software and online classes for over 20 languages on computer, tablet and smartphone, including access to an online tutor.

But there are plenty of other tools available for different budgets, formats, learning styles and proficiencies. You can also find general advice online on areas such as common misconceptions of learning languages and different methods that could help you learn.

2. Spend time in the community

While there are lots of courses designed to help get you up to speed with a new language, nothing can replace actually using your language skills with native speakers. Immersing yourself in the culture will generally help to build both your confidence and your fluency. And people will generally appreciate it if you make the effort to speak to them in their own language where possible.

Being able to speak with the locals could be helpful when you’re deciding where to buy, as they might provide some invaluable local knowledge when you’re looking for a property. Some knowledge of the local language could also help you to build friendships with your new neighbours, who might provide useful updates on your property if you aren’t visiting it often.

3. Hire an independent translator

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office has issued some guidance for Brits looking to buy property abroad. They advise that the legal system may be very different from those experienced in the UK and recommend that:

If you don’t have a good understanding of the language of the country in which you’re intending to buy make sure that you get all contracts and relevant documentation translated by an independent translator and that an interpreter accompanies you to all meetings. Be wary of using a translator or interpreter that has been recommended by the agent or lawyer.

They warn that, where overseas property owners encounter problems, it is generally because they did not seek independent legal advice. Instead, they relied on the lawyers or translators recommended by the estate agent or property developer, who in some cases were acting for both parties. Appointing your own translator or bilingual lawyer might help you to avoid potential conflicts of interest.

Even if you do have a good working knowledge of the local language, it’s worth bearing in mind that any legal paperwork will have its own vocabulary and specific phrases that you may not be familiar with.

So while hiring a translator may seem like an additional unwanted expense, it is one that has the potential to save you a lot of money and hassle in the long term when buying a property abroad.

What’s next?

The good news is that, whether or not you are comfortable speaking a foreign language, Intasure provides English-language holiday home insurance policies for over 40 countries, so you’ll know exactly what’s covered. Their team of specialists in the UK are on hand to create the right insurance for your holiday home.

And throughout your holiday home journey, HiFX can help you with international money transfers both for the property purchase and for ongoing payments such as mortgages or bill payments. To find out how HiFX could help save you time and money, please contact us.


The details expressed in this transmission and accompanying documents are for information purposes only and are not intended as a solicitation for funds or a recommendation to trade. HiFX Europe Limited accepts no liability whatsoever for any loss or damages suffered through any act or omission taken as a result of reading or interpreting any of the above information.

HiFX Europe Limited is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority under the Payment Services Regulations 2009, registration 462444, for the provision of payment services. HiFX Europe Limited is also a registered MSB with HM Revenue & Customs. Registration number: 12131222. HiFX is a limited company registered in England and Wales. Registered number: 3517451. Registered office: Maxis 1, Western Road, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 1RT

Intasure ® is a trading name of Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered Office: Spectrum Building, 7th Floor, 55 Blythswood Street, Glasgow, G2 7AT. Registered in Scotland. Company Number: SC108909


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