A growing number of ex-pats are heading to the Czech Republic for a new way of life, says overseas property expert Simon Conn.
The Czech Republic, nestled between Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Poland, is home to around 10,000 British expats among a population of 10.5 million.
The country offers value for money when it comes to property and food prices, and its local wines are good quality. And if you are looking for an outdoor lifestyle, you will love exploring the land-locked region's mountains and range of landscapes, including beautiful countryside, lakes and rivers, caves and well-preserved forests.
People are also drawn to property in the Czech Republic because of its beautiful medieval towns, stunning architecture and many castles, although it is also home to a World War II Gestapo prison and concentration camp, as well as the slightly eary Sedlec Ossuary, which is a church made from the bones of dead people.
You will find the climate is more extreme than ours. Summers are usually warm and dry, but winters are colder, with temperatures dropping below zero, bringing the snow - perfect for all you winter sports fans.
The Czech people are always pleased to see the back of the snow and if you become a resident, you are sure to get the chance to join in with their tradition to mark the end of winter, The Burning of the Witches. It is a bit like our bonfire night celebrations, but with a witch effigy burnt to get rid of the cold weather every April.
Property in the Czech Republic is picking up and apartments in the capital - Prague - are said to represent good value for money. The city has been split into districts and, as you would expect, you will find all sorts of activities to suit the whole family, along with the usual diverse and thriving social scene. Vinohrady is a particularly charming residential area, full of historical buildings.
Olomouc in central Moravia runs alongside the Morava River and is a great place to settle, with its quaint cobbled streets, stunning cathedrals and palaces. Although it is a beautiful city, it is not as popular with tourists as some areas, and has an excellent education offering for your off-spring. It is also a cultural centre, with a full calendar of festivals.
Or if you are looking for a home with a fairy tale backdrop, the beautiful village of ÄŒeský Krumlov in Southern Bohemia is magical and dates back to the thirteenth century.
A word of caution if you are thinking of buying a property in the Czech Republic - you often find that the price listed is higher than its true value, so taking off around 10 per cent will give you a better indication of what you should be paying.
Before buying a property you must obtain a statement from the Land Registry to prove that the person selling it is the legal owner.
Current lending terms are a maximum 80 per cent loan to value (possibly higher on a case-by-case basis) with a maximum term of 25 years up to the age of 70. Minimum loan value is €40,000, but there is no maximum.
Interest rates are from 3.30 per cent fixed for three or five years available in CZK only. Interest rates and setting up costs will vary dependent on purchase price and location of property, size of mortgage required, loan to value and a client’s current personal financial status.