Buying a second property abroad can seem like a distant daydream, or if you’re the nervous type, fraught with difficulties and a potential disaster. Realistically, it can be a bit of both: there are pitfalls to watch out for, but if you’re wise it could be a fantastic investment and a lot of fun.There are several reasons to consider buying a second property and it’s important to consider what you need and want to use it for. Perhaps you’re looking for a tranquil, rustic paradise in which to spend holidays or to move to after your retirement; or do you want to make money by letting out your property when you’re not there? Sometimes it’s a good idea for a group of several friends to club together to buy a holiday home and then take it in turns to stay there, sharing the costs of upkeep and any improvements.First of all, be clear on what your priorities are. It’s not as simple as just choosing a country, although of course that’s a very important decision and probably the first one you’ll need to make. Next up, think about the specific location; do you want your property to be near the beach, the city and shops, the airport, the golf course? Or away from it all in some secluded beauty spot? After deciding these, you’ll need to consider what the actual property should be like – flat, house, or mansion? How much space and how many bedrooms do you need, and would you like a large garden, grounds, farmland or a vineyard, a swimming pool perhaps… or is that just going to be too much work?Giving serious thought to questions like these, and having clear priorities in mind before you start looking, will help you avoid the trap of snapping up the first place you fall in love with, which might not turn out to be right for you in the long term and mean overlooking better deals.Make sure you have a firm grasp of the language, culture and legal issues relating to the buying process in your country of choice. This will generally involve speaking to expert local solicitors as well as your financial advisor at home. It always makes sense to get as much expert help on board as possible, but be aware before you begin that you’ll need to budget for the costs of this advice in addition to taxes, travel and other expenses.Also, on top of the price of the property, there will be ongoing costs such as bills, property taxes and charges for maintenance and upkeep of the home. Have the property surveyed so you know if there are any outstanding repairs or renovations needed, then work out what the probable costs of these are and whether you really want to take them on. Most of us aren’t sitting on a big pile of cash to invest, but if you’re keen to get what you have into overseas property then consider the various secured loans available against your current home; by taking out a loan, you could own your dream home now and enjoy it while repaying the loan over many years.