Posted: May 3, 2016
The trend for taking mini-breaks has opened our eyes to the attractions of other cities around the globe. Some of us might even be tempted to relocate. Here we capture a snapshot of lifestyles in some of the world’s most amazing metropolitan cities and look at property markets in these 20 overseas destinations.
20. Geneva, Switzerland
This very cosmopolitan city hugs the shores of the lake, where its smart citizens promenade on balmy summer evenings. After a period of rising prices, growth is now slowing. Nevertheless, you’d be unlikely to buy a detached house for anything less than seven figures and a two-bedroom flat can easily set you back £500,000. But who can the resist, Swiss chocolates, Lake Geneva and the stunning backdrop of the Alps?
19. Bruges, Belgium
This attractive city has medieval streets, tightly packed Flemish town houses and canals. It’s pretty architecture, beer and moules frites are all temptations here. You can buy a house from about £350,000. An historic house with a canalside location would set you back much more.
18. Cape Town, South Africa
Blessed with the breathtakingly beautiful backdrop of Table Mountain and the ocean, Cape Town is a magnet for many. Expats tend to congregate in the suburbs, where you can expect to pay around £500,000 for a four-bedroom home.
It's a buyers' market in Singapore. However, the city remains Asia's second most expensive property market, after Hong Kong. The average price of a new-build condo is £460,000. Watch out for the 15% stamp duty on top.
16. Athens, Greece
A glut of properties and low prices have attracted foreign buyers. The islands are popular for holiday makers, but if you prefer a city pad, they start at well under £50,000.
15. Budapest, Hungary
The property market in Hungary is booming. Sales were up 40% in the first half of last year, following the crash of 2008. Popular areas of Budapest saw prices rise 20%. This is from a low starting base, however, so foreign investors may still sniff out bargains. Buda, to the west of the Danube, is more expensive than Pest, on the eastern bank. You will find a luxurious, central apartment for less than £200,000 and studios further out for as little as £30,000.
14. Lisbon, Portugal
The capital of Portugal, Lisbon is the oldest city in Western Europe. Its buildings are painted in pastel shades, topped by a cathedral with white domes. Take one of the wooden trams or explore the city on foot. Wander the individual bairros, or neighbourhoods, and discover tiny bars and atmospheric restaurants. House prices rose in Portugal last year for the first time since 2011, and investors are competing hard with owner-occupiers. You can buy a small flat in the city centre from about £120,000.
13. Tampa, Florida
The USA has seen property prices recovering over the last 18 months. Tampa, on Florida’s west coast, has been doing better than Washington DC but not as well as Dallas. You can still get a reasonable house in the suburbs for £100,000.
12. Amsterdam, Holland
Although it’s the Dutch capital, Amsterdam is not where the government sits. Politics are conducted in The Hague. It’s a tolerant place, with a penchant for art and architecture. The government has recently tried to cool the property market, but prices are still expected to rise this year. Properties in central districts can easily cost over £1m. If you head to the outer suburbs, you could still find a flat for around £100,000.
11. Milan, Italy
Milan is fast, smart and sleek. Famous for fashion and finance, the shops are world class. Culture is up there with the best of them, too. It’s the spiritual home of opera and has numerous prestigious museums. Art is not confined to galleries – public installations are everywhere. Unsurprisingly, property here commands a high price with city centre flats approaching £500,000.
10. Melbourne, Australia
Big on sport, food and drink, Melbourne is culturally sophisticated. With its attractive historic buildings and pleasant climate, it immediately feels like home to Brits. House prices have been slowing in recent months. If you want to buy here, expect to pay an average of £250,000 for a flat and £320,000 for a house.
9. Hamilton, New Zealand
A vibrant city on New Zealand's North Island, Hamilton's demographics are heavily influenced by the presence of Waikato University. Average prices in Hamilton reached a record high last year, at about £220,000. Now a shortage of property on the market is set to push prices higher still.
8. Vienna, Austria
Austria’s capital, with its glittering imperial past and its musical heritage, has warm summer temperatures and often a pretty blanket of winter snow. Properties typically have triple glazing and heating systems. A housing shortage has been identified and a gradual economic recovery is expected. Both these factors will push up prices. Central property is expensive, but you can find a flat in the suburbs for about £200,000.
7. Copenhagen, Denmark
Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen, home to the magical Tivoli Gardens and the Little Mermaid. But it has so much more to offer. You can see cutting-edge architecture, world-class art galleries and smart restaurants. Low interest rates and lack of supply have pushed up property prices. Expect to pay over £300,000 for an average two or three-bed apartment.
6. Vancouver, Canada
In the far west of Canada, Vancouver is consistently ranked in the top five cities globally for quality of life. With the mountains behind and the ocean in front, it’s densely populated, but with easy access to endless untamed wilderness. Flats start at about £150,000 but the average home comes in at nearly £500,000.
5. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague can match Paris when it comes to beauty, charm and historic sights. Once the capital of Bohemia, it has an imposing castle, a shimmering river, the picturesque Charles Bridge and cobbled squares full of gothic and baroque architecture. Property prices across the country grew strongly last year. You will pay more than £200,000 for anything central.
4. Paris, France
La Belle Paris, with its stately boulevards, elegant buildings and chic shops, is such a temptation. We love to pop over for le weekend, browse the boutiques and sip a chocolat chaud in a pretty corner café. If you want to buy a pied à terre here, experts believe price may rise a little this year, pushed up by a lack of availability. But mortgage rates are low and prices are expected to rise more quickly next year, so now might be the time to take the plunge. You can pick up a tiny studio for around £250,000.
3. Berlin, Germany
German property prices have been rising steeply and are expected to continue to do so this year. Berlin is a buzzing metropolis with something for everyone. There is a laid-back, cool vibe where the parties keep on going. You will find plenty of flats in the suburbs for under £100,000. If you want to live in the centre, expect to pay from £250,000.
2. Venice, Italy
There are few cities as exciting as Venice. It is brimming with historic buildings, charming restaurants and a maze of canals. Prices have fallen around 30% over the past 10 years. But some think the market has hit the bottom and is now on the rise. You’ll still pay multi-millions for the best locations and a water gate can add hundreds of thousands to the price of a property. But further out, on Giudecca Island, you can find flats from about £240,000.
1. Barcelona, Spain
On the north eastern coast of Spain, overlooking the Mediterranean, Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia. Its art and architecture attracts culture-vultures from all over the world. From Gaudi’s magnificent unfinished cathedral, to Picasso’s works in chronological order, the city is high on the art lover’s weekend wannabe list. Residents enjoy the food markets and the tapas bars late into the night. Spanish house prices dropped around 40% in the recession, but sales picked up last year. You can get a small flat close to the city centre for about £120,000.