Home » Currency 101 » Organising currency for viewing trips

At what point in the process of buying a home overseas should you be using a specialist in international property payments rather than just changing cash as if for a holiday? As early as possible! There will be significant costs on viewing trips and then the payment of a deposit, possibly in a hurry. Smart Currency Exchange specialises in the particular needs of house hunters overseas. We spoke to one couple whose property hunt is in full swing and who explained the benefits of getting Smart on board from the get go.

Philip Howell and his partner have reached the fun part of buying abroad – looking at actual properties! They recently made the leap and swapped Yorkshire for the sunny skies of Gran Canaria, Spain. Between viewing homes, they spoke to us about how Smart has helped them transfer their initial funds safely to Spain – and how Smart will support them throughout the purchase process and beyond.

Property-hunting in the Canaries

We hear that you’re currently over in the Canaries looking for a home. How’s your search going?

We stayed in a holiday resort in Gran Canaria for two weeks while looking for a rental property and, now that we have, we’re looking for a permanent one. We’d also already come out about ten to twelve weeks ago, with the intention of finding out as much as we could, rather than just a holiday.

I’m 65 next month, so we don’t want to be moving and relocating again. We want a ground-floor flat that’s reasonably sized. We don’t want a big place – we had one in England it just wants cleaning! We’d like reasonably sized outdoor space if possible and not too far from local shops and bars and what have you. We’re fine getting around now but you never know in ten years’ time, so we do want the convenience.


Philip is using Smart to safely make regular payments for his new life in the south of Gran Canaria.

Philip is using Smart to safely make regular payments for his new life in the south of Gran Canaria.


What was it that originally attracted you to Gran Canaria and have you found a particular area you like?

The weather – in Gran Canaria, it’s much more of a constant. Maspalomas and Playa del Inglés are places we’ve been coming to a long time on holiday and we just feel really at home here.

Within this area, when we first came over, we had in mind already an area called San Fernando where we wanted to live. We spent a lot of time Googling it and now walking the streets, getting a feel for the place and asking ourselves, “is this where we really want to be?”

We’re looking more at local areas, towns and villages rather than urbanisations – where the local workers live, basically. We don’t want anything particularly new or to live in a holiday complex.

So what, for you, were the main things you were looking out for when you were exploring the area?

We wanted to get an atmosphere for the place. Obviously, cleanliness is a big factor and it is clean here. There’s no graffiti and you can see people are really bothered about the environment. They look after their properties.

Also, just simple things like going to the local shops, having a drink at the local bar. We didn’t see anything we disliked and we spoke to people we knew, who all said “oh yes, San Fernando – you’ll be fine there.” It’s a conversational and observational process.

Controlling the risk of regular payments overseas

You’ve used Smart Currency Exchange to transfer over your initial sum of money. How did you first come to Smart and how did you find the service?

Well, we did quite a bit of research. Transferring money overseas isn’t something you do every day, so the first thing was “where do I start?” We’d heard and read about Smart Currency Exchange, so I researched them and these other companies online and through the Financial Conduct Authority. You’ve got to be cautious, because it’s every penny you have!

With the research on Smart, everything seemed to tie up and the credentials matched your web pages.

Then, we went to the seminar at Your Overseas Home in Manchester and we actually met people from Smart. You can’t beat a face-to-face handshake, can you? So that really made it a deal for me. Once I’d met those people – it was really very reassuring.

I also found it so useful to have Matt Bird as my named personal trader. Every time I call, I just ask to speak straight to him.

Moving all our savings to an account abroad was an unprecedented experience for us, but the guys at Smart handled everything so professionally and kept us in the loop every step of the way. They explained in easy-to-understand terms exactly how the transaction would work and were reassuring throughout the process.

I also found it so useful to have Matt Bird as my named personal trader. Every time I call, I just ask to speak straight to him.

Sounds like it’s been really successful – do you have any plans to use Smart in the future?

Oh yes, I’m going to set up a regular payment amount for my pensions to be sent. I’ll still have my bank account in England, so that my pensions will go there and not be sent directly out here. Matt will then transfer me so much per month into my account here. I’m looking forward to many years knowing that further transfers will be dealt with as efficiently as this one!

Now that you’ve gone through the initial stages of the moving process, do you have any advice for anyone going through the same thing?

Brexit’s a big factor. When we first started, we were told by our solicitors that we should “be here before March”. It might be fine after, but we just don’t know. So, make sure you move before March and that way you can start your residencia.

Our other concern was having our property on the market in England with the sale agreed and then having he buyer pulling out at the very last minute to try and get it devalued, I suppose. That’s why you need to lay out your money and make sure you understand the risks. To know what to do right from the start and make sure that you’re in control.

If you’re moving abroad like Philip, Smart Currency Exchange can use a forward contract to lock in an exchange rate for you for up to 12 months – so you know exactly how much you’re paying on regular transactions. Give your Personal Trader a ring on +44 20 7898 0541 or apply for an account online to find out more about how we can protect your money.

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