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Part 4: I am in the Diaspora, where should I build/buy my home?
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Part 4: I am in the Diaspora, where should I build/buy my home?

This will be the final part in the series that is meant to help those who are in the Diaspora decide where the first house they’ll buy should be located. To recap, when you are a Zimbabwean in the Diaspora who wants to buy a house you have roughly three options:

  1. You can buy a house in your new adopted home country where you are now resident.

  2. Or you can buy a house back in one of Zimbabwe’s many urban centres including Harare.

  3. Another option would be you buying/building a house in rural Zimbabwe. This doesn’t have to be the old fashioned rural house but could be a house in one of Zimbabwe’s upcoming peri-urban areas like Domboshava. You could also build/buy a house at a growth point.

In this final instalment, we will look at some of the reasons why you should and shouldn’t buy a house in the diaspora where you are located currently. We have deliberately put off this option while we looked at the options which you have back in Zimbabwe as I believe even if you turn your back on it and decide to settle in your new-found land, Zimbabwe will still be your home because your heart will always be here.

Reasons why you should build/buy a house in the diaspora

  • The house will provide you with financial security. Even when disasters like lockdowns happen you are better off if you are living in your own home (provided the house is paid off of course otherwise you might still lose it to the bank if you fail to pay the mortgage).

  • Readily available financial assistance in the form of mortgages. In Zimbabwe, you have to jump through hoops in order to get a mortgage. We don’t even have a universal widely adopted credit scoring system. It’s each business for itself and the default with many lenders is to turn you away. 

  • You will have collateral and the house can be a stepping stone to getting even more credit and expanding your business if you have one.

  • If you own a home it can help with your path to citizenship in your new adopted country. Becoming a citizen will allow you to access things like medical care and pensions when you retire.

  • Even if you do decide to leave your new adopted country, your house will still belong to you and you can actually earn money by renting it out or selling it through an estate agent.

  • Social amenities are much better in the diaspora especially if you are working in a developed or BRICS country like the UK or South Africa.

  • Better communication infrastructure. For example, the internet tends to be faster and cell coverage more comprehensive. Gigabit internet is cheaper and readily available while it’s not even existent in Zimbabwe.

  • No load-shedding to contend with.

  • If you do decide to invest in solar you actually get credits which make the purchase cheaper.

Now for the reasons why you might not want to buy or build a house in the diaspora

  • If you don’t have your immigration papers in order it’s hard to partake in the financial systems of your adopted country. There is also a risk that your house may be forfeited to the state in countries with draconian immigration/terrorism laws.

  • It can be hard to sell your house and recoup your investment when you do decide to come back home.

  • Building laws are stricter in most developed countries. Even rural counties will have inspectors coming to your site to see you are adhering to set standards

  • Land tends to be much more expensive in developed countries. So is the labour you need to renovate or build a house.

  • You can still lose your house if you fail to pay mortgages.

  • Property taxes can be very steep in certain diaspora locations.

  • The nostalgia will never go away if you decide to settle there.

So which house should you build or buy? Ideally, as we pointed out in the first instalment, you should have a house in all three locations. However, in life, we don’t always get to have everything we want. In my opinion, if you can afford it and have your papers in order, get that diaspora house first. If you have more funds, get that urban house and if you eventually can afford it, get a house in rural Zimbabwe.

Your choices will also be guided by what your intentions are. If you don’t intend to come back then your choice is easy. However, sometimes intentions change or are forced by circumstances. You might want to stay but fail to extend your visa, in which case you might be deported. A smart individual prepares for all eventualities and hopes for the best.

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