Posted: Nov 9, 2016
Where would you live if money was no object? Many places spring to mind from Venice to Vancouver and the Seychelles to Singapore. But the best places don’t all have to be far-flung locations.
Many Brits want a restoration project just across the channel or a villa in the Italian countryside. The sights and sounds of Tuscany or the lure of the Loire often prove irresistible. Yet London also appears among some of the best places to live for its fast-paced lifestyle and cosmopolitan feel.
Town or city? Coast or country? It often comes down to personal preference. Here leading property professionals pick their favourite places to live both overseas and closer to home.
1. Porto, Portugal
“Porto is known for its cool bars, culture and stunning landmarks, but the historic city has so much more to offer. There is everything from a growing foodie hub to designer stores. The property scene is changing, too. You can pick up a one-bedroom apartment for around €120,000 or a four-bedroom villa from €1,500,000. Prices are reasonable at the moment, but are expected to rise with the continued growth of the city.
“Porto is a coastal city and the second largest city in Portugal. The historic centre was nominated World Heritage by UNESCO. The local people are helpful and extremely friendly. It is famous for its Port wine production as well as its stately bridges. The best way to discover the six magnificent bridges is probably to take a riverboat cruise on one of the old boats which used to carry Porto‘s wine cargoes.”
Helena Belo, Regional Manager of Fine & Country Porto (www.fineandcountry.com/pt)
"Italy is one of the most sought-after destinations for both international tourists and would-be buyers looking for a second home abroad. This is thanks both to its artistic and natural beauties, plus it's quality of life. But there's much more than this that make Italy one of the best destinations if you're considering relocating.
“In the southern regions of the peninsula, you can still sunbathe in late October. You can also go skiing from the north to the toe of the 'boot-shaped country', including Sicily.
“Did you know that Italy boasts one of the best health care systems in the world? Property prices decreased by around 20-25% since 2008, so nowadays you have the chance to find bargains, which are hard to get anywhere else. Just think that for the price of a flat in Hong Kong, you can get a fabulous castle in Italy. But if you'll decide to move to Italy, you'll definitely find many other reasons to stay and never leave.”
Simone Rossi, Managing Director at Gate-Away.com
3. Dubai, UAE
“There are many reasons to move to Dubai, but for me the lifestyle and climate make this one of the appealing places to live and work overseas. The hottest months are July and August, reaching temperatures in the late 40's °C and the coolest months are January and February. Expect temperatures between 14-15 °C during these months. There are some beautiful beaches (Jumeirah Beach, Marina beach and Kite Surf beach).
“You will find great running tracks and cafes here. A one – two bedroom flat in The Marina will cost around £150,000 - £200,000 depending on location and sea views. However, a villa will set you back around about £800,000 up to £10 million plus. The average property is between £700-800,000.”
Stephen Rutter, Head of Fine & Country Golf, (www.fineandcountry.com/golf) lived in Dubai for 14 years after relocating from the UK.
“Firstly and foremost Spain wins on its lifestyle benefits. Thanks to year-round sunshine, people spend much of their time outdoors – strolling along beach promenades or city boulevards, chatting over a vino in the plethora of outdoor cafés and bars.
“The cost of living is low: transport is efficient and affordable, property is still priced around 30% below the peak of 2007 and because the weather is so kind, much of one’s entertainment is free – beaches, mountains, hiking trails and sporting activities are never far away.
“Spain offers diversity in almost every form - landscape, culture, history and gastronomy in all its regions There are few countries where, in some places, you can be on the ski slopes in the morning and be back in a chiringuito (beach bar) before the sun goes down.
“Spain also has one of the world’s highest life expectancies thanks to its renowned Mediterranean diet and excellent health service. Why are you waiting?”
Carrie Frais, Lucas Fox International Properties (www.lucasfox.com)
5. London, UK
“London is at the cutting edge of culture, couture, cuisine, technology, education, commerce and finance. Unlike any other metropolis in the world, all the centres of excellence are in one place and there are more parks and open spaces within the Greater London curtilage than anywhere else in the world. Property prices hitherto have tended to go in only one direction over time and all this goes to make London the greatest city on earth.”
Trevor Abrahmsohn of Glentree International (www.glentree.co.uk)
6. Cannes, France
“In Cannes, it’s all about the lifestyle. Everything is so easy, with a relaxed pace of life. We have lovely markets, pavement cafes, and the magnificent views. Here, the locals take the time to enjoy their leisure time. The South of France is one of the most welcoming parts of France as it is so cosmopolitan.
“The most popular areas to live are in the Côte d'Azur, which has more than 300 days of sunshine each year. The hottest days are in August, which is also the peak season for visitors. Even in January the weather is still good and there are fewer people around, making it a relaxing place to live or visit.
“It’s never cold and damp, and I find that winter can be the best kept secret. February is the wettest month, so be aware of that if you are planning a holiday. My favourite months to be in Cannes are September and June, when the weather is beautiful and the streets are less busy.
“The popularity of the Côte d'Azur means it’s a secure location to invest in property. For €180,000, you could own a studio apartment. Property prices can range up to €3,000,000 for beautiful villas. We find that the most popular homes cost between €300,000 and €400,000, as these are achievable prices for holiday homes and investment properties.
“If you are thinking of moving to Cannes, I recommend doing your research and know exactly what type of property you want. It’s a fantastic opportunity to change your pace of life.”
Alice Watson-Smith, Fine & Country Cannes (http://www.fineandcountry.com/fr)
7. Hampstead, London
“Hampstead has always attracted an eclectic group of people, whether this is due to the supposed medicinal spa waters, before and during Victorian times, or because it was situated far enough from central London to feel like the countryside, is not known. It may be that as it is the highest point in London above sea level, it has continually appealed to artists, poets and writers by providing inspiration with its expansive views.
“Today Hampstead is as much a draw for thespians, authors, dancers, musicians, intellectuals and the like, probably for the same reasons it has always been popular.
“Heath Street and Hampstead High Street offer a broad range of shops and cafes. There are homes of all styles and sizes from pied-a-terres to mansions, from Queen Anne to contemporary and everything in between. Hampstead also offers the highest density of schools anywhere in London, both state and privately funded, with ages ranging from nursery years to university ready.”
Vivienne Harris, Heathgate (www.heathgate.com)
“The influx of Swedish and Belgian buyers are showing that Spain is not simply the favourite destination for Brits, but is popular all over Europe. The total year to date sales to Swedish nationals, as of September 2016, has increased by 100% in comparison to last year’s figures, according to Taylor Wimpey España. Spain is the sunny and easily accessible location for that dream holiday home – it is the world’s best place to live.
"European buyers in particular enjoy the friendly atmosphere on our Costa Blanca developments; a great example being Panorama Mar, where there is a strong sense of family and community with three shared swimming pools and a children's playground. The stunning and enjoyable site encourages international buyers to socialise and appreciate the gorgeous weather in the favourable communal areas."
Marc Pritchard, Sales and Marketing Director of Taylor Wimpey España (http://taylorwimpeyspain.com)
9. Birmingham, UK
“Demand for city centre living in Birmingham has never been higher and it’s more than just jobs attracting people to the city. Birmingham is ranked in the top three places in the UK for shopping, has 20 leading universities within a one hour drive of the city centre and has numerous regeneration projects underway.
“It’s also home to the busiest and most popular theatre in the country, as well as the world-famous City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Library of Birmingham; the largest cultural public space in Europe.
“Additionally, residents can enjoy the thriving restaurant and bar scene, with new venues opening up every month, regular street food events. There are more than 8,000 acres of parks and open space, too.”
Ben Evans, Managing Director, Fleet Milne (http://fleetmilne.co.uk)