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The ex-pat conundrum: To rent or sell your South African property when moving overseas?

The ex-pat conundrum: To rent or sell your South African property when moving overseas?

September 27, 2023


Relocating to another country is a significant financial pivot, with a host of strategic decisions to make about existing assets. Paramount amongst these decisions is the one concerning the management of one’s South African residential property. It’s a challenging choice between turning the property into a source of rental income or selling it, a decision that calls for comprehensive financial consideration.

The big question for South African ex-pats: Moving overseas should I sell my house?

Relocation presents a vital question concerning the future of one’s property. For some, their home in South Africa acts as a fallback option should their overseas venture not proceed as expected, or it could be a retirement nest. Factors like visa procedures, relocation destination, and initial capital requirements shape this decision significantly. As shown in FNB’s Q2 Residential Property Barometer, emigration-related property sales constituted 9% of all property sales, with the number being even higher in the expensive property brackets.

The benefits of selling a South African property

Craig Mott of Rawson Property Group advises emigrants to sell their properties, arguing that liquidating assets can provide financial stability in the transition to a new country. Property management from a distance can be logistically and emotionally daunting, especially when dealing with renters. This, in tandem with the desire to evade double tax liabilities, often drives homeowners to sell their properties.

Renting out your house while living abroad

There are ex-pats who choose to retain their properties. Berry Everitt from Chas Everitt notes that such a decision is not without challenges, mainly around tenant management and property upkeep. Effective property management hinges on a competent rental manager, consistent property maintenance, and keeping up with rental pricing trends.

How timing influences the decision

The speed of emigration can significantly impact the decision between selling and renting. In a situation where time is of the essence, proper property pricing is critical. Homeowners needing to relocate swiftly should aim for precise pricing, ideally under a sole mandate with a trusted agent. A sole mandate allows agents to concentrate on marketing and negotiation efforts, ensuring a smoother process.

The final word

The decision to rent or sell your property before relocating abroad is complex and influenced by numerous factors. While selling is often the more favourable choice due to financial, logistical, and tax implications, some individuals opt to keep their properties for various reasons. The timing of the decision also plays a crucial role in determining the best course of action. A detailed assessment of personal circumstances, financial goals, and the practicality of managing a property from abroad will help homeowners make the most appropriate decision as they embark on their new journey.

FinGlobal: Your Trusted Partner for Expat Financial Services

FinGlobal is the company to contact if you’re thinking about leaving the country or are already living abroad and need assistance with your financial and tax emigration needs. We provide specialised emigration services tailored to your demands and situation to ensure your move goes as smoothly as possible.

Because FinGlobal has many years of experience, it is well-positioned to guarantee a successful process and assist you in making the most of your foreign experience. Call +27 28 313 5600 or send an email to to speak with FinGlobal about your goals and requirements right away.

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