Where to buy in 2010
After a dreadful 2009, this could well be the year when Britons’ interest in buying abroad is re-awakened. But which countries should you be looking at? Here are our top five selections, balancing perennial appeal with a couple of emerging hotspots.
France . Any further weakening of the Euro will provide a green light for Brits to resume their love affair with France. The attractions are obvious: gastronomy and wine, uncrowded towns and countryside, and a better climate than at home – especially in the south. On top of that, France has one big advantage over all other destinations: accessibility. Security checks and airport congestion have taken much of the gloss off flying; but to France you can travel in your own car, or increasingly, by high-speed train. The choice of properties and locations in France is virtually unparalleled, from a run-down farmhouse in Normandy costing €30,000 to a super-villa in the playground of the Cote d’Azur costing millions.
Croatia . 2010 could be the year it finally happens for Croatia, a country that has unparalleled attractions for buyers of holiday homes, with 1,800km of unspoilt coastline, and more than 1,000 islands in the Adriatic Sea. Croatia ticks all the right boxes: it is upmarket, easily accessible with more flights on the way from the likes of Easyjet, and has impressive environmental credentials. What’s more, it is set to join the EU in 2012, less than two years time. The country promotes itself as “the Mediterranean as it once was”, reflecting the unspoilt character of the coastline, with low-key development. It’s already a favourite among the sailing fraternity and while Dubrovnik is a world-famous heritage site, the peninsula of Istria is just coming to the fore as a rival to Tuscany with its olives, truffles and wine. Central Dalmatia, around the second city Split, is ripe for discovery. In the medieval town of Trogir, a three-bedroom house would cost you around £350,000.
Turkey . The hit destination of this latest recession, Turkey offers fantastic coastline properties at bargain prices. Being outside the Euro has made it even more attractive to British buyers, while the prospect of eventual EU accession enhances the overall investment proposition. Turkey’s Turquoise Coast is arguably one of the best value locations you could find a holiday home anywhere in Europe. And Kalkan is the most sought-after spot on this coastline, a former fishing village now bustling with restaurants and gift-shops, with boat trips readily available. Here you can buy a high-quality villa with fabulous sea views starting from around £200,000 – a fraction of what it would cost on the Costa del Sol. Prices still have some way to go as Turkey catches up with the western Mediterranean.
Barbados . There has to be one exotic inclusion in the list, and Barbados has shrugged off the recession to reinforce its position as Britain’s favourite Caribbean island. Rum punch, palm-fringed beaches, a vibrant nightlife and plentiful flights are among the plus factors. Barbados goes from strength to strength with ongoing development attracting high-profile buyers such as Wayne Rooney in the last 12 months. Knight Frank estimates that prices have fallen by an 22 per cent over the last two years; nevertheless, property is among the most expensive in the Caribbean, starting at around £150,000 for a one-bed seafront apartment and heading quickly up into the millions for properties at exclusive estates like Royal Westmorland or Sandy Lane.
Italy . While prices plummeted in Spain over the last two years, on another Mediterranean peninsula – Italy – property has held up fairly well. The simple reason is that Italy has never participated in the wholesale over-development that took place in Iberia, a policy that is now paying some dividends. Tuscany has long been a sought-after location to move to or buy a second home; Umbria followed in its wake and was followed by Le Marche. Now other Italian regions are encroaching on the radar: Puglia, Abruzzo and Piedmonte to name a few. As a brand, Italy has class and is likely to prove an investment that holds its value.
Alexander Garrett is a freelance property writer who contributes regularly to The Observer and British Airways' Business Life.