Posted: Dec 3, 2015
If you despair of the housing market in the UK, change tack and head for the sun. Whether you buy a holiday home or an expat retreat, there’s a world of choice available to help you maximise your profits. Here are 20 great places around the globe to get on the housing ladder.
The cost of living here is low, and property prices are reasonable, so expats tend to buy rather than rent. A romantic riad in Marrakesh can be picked up from about £150,000, while trendy Tangiers is cheaper. In thrilling and mystical Fez, traditional courtyard homes in need of work start at about £20,000.
Relaxed, affordable and boasting a great climate, this little Mediterranean island has historic links to Britain and an English-speaking population. It appeals to freelancers who can work from home and retirees who want to live out their days in the sun. A one-bed apartment here will set you back less than £100,000.
Property prices in Dubai fell earlier this year, after several years of stratospheric increase. However, this gives a buying opportunity for investors. Yields of around 7 per cent are common with smaller apartments, compared to 2-3 per cent in London. You can buy a studio flat for less than £50,000.
Manila is increasingly attracting foreign investment and seeing economic growth. The cost of living is low, yet the capital compares favourably with Jakarta for quality of life. Expats rave about the surf culture and dive spots on the coast. English is widely spoken and the locals are friendly. As a buyer from overseas, you can buy property, but not the land it’s built on, so leasehold apartments and condos might be for you. You can buy a three-bedroom flat for £80,000.
Who’d have thought Panama would be voted second best place in the world to retire? This little Central American country offers the pensionado visa to anybody with a lifetime pension paying more than US$1,000 (about £660) a month. With this, you get 20 per cent off medical costs and 25 per cent off electricity bills. You can buy an apartment in Panama City from £70,000.
This small country between Romania and Ukraine has been independent since 1991. The capital is Chisinau and property prices here are attractive. Yields are high. Small apartments can realise 13 per cent and cost as little as £12,000. Moldova’s not on the tourist map, but that suggests opportunity in years to come, as people realise it’s a cheap destination and different from the usual resorts or city breaks.
Paradise islands in a sparkling sea. The Bahamas are a chain of islands stretching out into the Caribbean. About 30 are inhabited – but they are all different. It would be a good idea to explore several before choosing which one to invest in. Then spend some time there, just to be sure. Formerly a British colony, the official language is English, which makes everything easier. Apartments start at about £30,000.
13. Florida, USA
Attractive exchange rates make property in many parts of the US look affordable. Florida is the top destination for Brits who love the sunshine and make the most of the cheap airfares. Buying an apartment or condo in Orlando makes sense if you want to let it out to holidaymakers when you’re not using it. Prices are bouncing back, especially if you want luxury, but you can still find homes for around £100,000.
This ancient land at the crossroads of east and west is proving increasingly popular with expats and holidaymakers alike. The weather is good all year round at the coast and it beats the Spanish resorts when comparing apartments for under £100,000. Bodrum and the south-east coast are popular with British buyers and flats start here from around £20,000.
This island in the eastern Mediterranean is popular with Brits and many expats have settled here, citing the sun and the slower lifestyle as attractions. English is widely spoken and, as it is a former colony, you’ll be familiar with the legal system, red post boxes and traffic driving on the left. It’s in the EU, so you don’t need a visa to work here. Paphos is a favourite spot for settlers and holidaymakers, and you can buy a flat here for £100,000. A three-bedroom villa might set you back around £250,000.
10. Central Massif, France
Everybody dreams of a little place in the Dordogne, but if you look a little further inland or towards the Alps, you may get much more for your money. In the Auvergne you can still pick up a project for as little as £20,000. This area is the heart of France, the volcanic plateau known for its spa towns and dramatic ravines. There’s plenty of scope for holiday lets, after you’ve learnt a new skill - DIY.
9. Brussels, Belgium
Transaction fees can be high when buying in Belgium. A good lawyer is essential to navigate any local laws. Rental yields in Brussels are around 5 per cent and you can get a two-bed flat for £100,000 to £200,000. Just two hours to London by train, it is becoming much more popular as a city break as tourists discover its charms. Public transport is easy to use, too. And how can you resist a country famous for its chocolate and beer.
8. Calais, France
Most of us drive off the ferry at Calais and head straight for the motorway south. But the Nord pas de Calais is a lovely region with pretty towns and lots of history. Just imagine having a holiday cottage less than an hour from the port. It’s not impossible to commute to London. You can buy a rural three-bedroom farmhouse for less than £100,000 and a one-bedroom apartment in chic Le Touquet for less than £200,000.
Property in the Iberian Peninsula has been stabilising for the past two years, after seeing foreign investment dwindle. Institutional investors have been moving in and where they go, others are sure to follow. Hot spots include Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia. You can still buy a three-bedroom country house or a two-bed seaside apartment on the Costas for less than £100,000.
This landlocked country has beautiful mountains and spring meadows full of flowers. Enough of its previous history remains to attract tourists, too. The capital, Bratislava, is just an hour from Vienna, but the cost of living is 30 per cent less. Many people choose to live in the Slovak city and commute to the Austrian capital. Meanwhile, Slovakia’s easternmost city, Kosice, is probably half the price, and offers life at about half the pace, too.
You would have to spend £150,000 for a small apartment in the outer suburbs of Rome and Milan, but pretty Perugia is cheaper. It’s popular with tourists and students, so there are plenty of rental options. Ryanair has regular flights from Stansted. Or look at the Piedmont area around Cuneo. This region is encircled by the Alps, making it popular for winter breaks, and Bra is the slow food capital of the world.
Germans tend to rent rather than buy, meaning there is an interesting market for investors. You do have to bear in mind that tenants have more rights than they do in the UK. There are decent returns available and there’s no shortage of tenants. Munich is expensive to buy in, attracting mainly high-net-worth investors, so look at Berlin or Hamburg. You can buy a one-bedroom apartment in Berlin for just over £100,000.
After several years in the doldrums, Irish house prices are bouncing back and Dublin is riding the wave. Look further out, though and prices are far cheaper than those in the capital. If you don’t mind remote, and many holidaymakers might actively seek seclusion, you can still pick up attractive rural properties needing some work for under £100,000, and complete ruins with land from £60,000.
The average price of a two-bedroom apartment in Poland is £90,000. Historic Krakow is more expensive, but even here you would still be able to find flats from about £100,000. Those looking to buy from overseas are advised to stick to flats, for which you won’t need a special permit. Buying a house can be more complicated. Always seek advice from a reliable agent and a good lawyer when looking to buy overseas. Zakopane is a popular mountain resort, great for skiing, but also for summer hiking. Apartments here start at about £50,000.
With the exchange rate so favourable at the moment, Europe is an attractive option for British buyers planning to move abroad. The Algarve is the number one spot for expats and investors in Portugal, for its climate, leisure facilities and laid-back lifestyle, but a little further inland, or up the coast north of Lisbon, you’ll get more for your money. Even so, £100,000 will buy you a two-bedroom apartment in the popular tourist spots within easy travelling of Faro airport. This is important if you want to rent your property out when you are not using it.