Posted: Oct 13, 2015
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Continuing our new monthly column, Property experts from around the globe pick their favourite hot spots from Sicily to Tuscany and Marbella to Majorca.
What makes the perfect place to live? Friendly people, affordable properties, good schools, sandy beaches or just an opportunity to live and work overseas. It is probably a combination of all these X-Factors. In one way or another, they all influence where we decide to settle down.
For those looking for a life change, industry experts share their local knowledge on 20 of the world’s best places to live. There are some old favourites on the list, but a few lesser-known locations are making their mark on the international scene, too.
Someone once said: “living abroad is something everyone should do at least once”. Well, maybe it’s time to find out.
1. Venice, Italy
“Venice can be a case of love at first sight, then for those lucky enough to buy here, the romance can last for ever. Buying in Venice is more than just a property choice, it is an emotional and cultural investment. To live like a local offers a unique lifestyle that is like nowhere else in the world. Where else is your commute a choice of either a speedboat ride or meandering through a historic city maze on foot? Those who choose to own a home in Venice are able to immerse themselves fully in this enchanting city and have the opportunity to see and experience it through the eyes of a Venetian, relaxed and stress-free.”
2. Marbella, Spain
“I am often asked ‘how did you end up in Marbella’ and my answer is always the same. I wanted a better lifestyle and more opportunities for my children.
“The better lifestyle has come from the fabulous year round weather that allows us to enjoy all types of sports: horse-riding, tennis and of course golf as well as water sports in the summer. Walking, even when we get a rare rainy day, is always wonderful. We can ski in the winter in the Sierra Nevada or go out on a drive. Within easy driving distance there are lots of great little towns, country restaurants with superb gastronomy and even local wineries. Málaga wines are starting to win awards and many local restaurants are now serving them to support local industry. There is also culture in Málaga city or just over two hours away are the amazing towns of Seville or Granada with so much history.
“For the children it has been great. They grew up in a country where family is the most important thing and speaking both English and Spanish so they are bi-lingual. They have always been surrounded by children of different nationalities so, I feel they are very tolerant and open minded to all cultures. The Spanish education system took some getting used to, but the group of friends were able to go on to University and have graduated, and are working, as Teachers, Lawyers etc. .. and there is a high number of local International Colleges in the area so there is a full range of education systems to choose from.
In summary, Marbella is the modern place to live if you want to enjoy year round fresh air and sunshine within an authentic, old style family values location.
I suppose the best advice for living overseas is to learn the language, join in as many local activities as possible, join a sports club and enjoy life!”
3. Castiglione della Pescaia, Italy
“Tuscany is a perennially popular holiday and second-home location, which offers year round attractions. Despite it having been on the ‘map’ for so many years, there remain a number of exciting undiscovered areas, which offer both value and a taste of the real Italy.
“Castiglione della Pescaia is an ancient seaside town, which grew around a medieval fortress and a large fishing port, from which it got its name. Today it is known for its beaches.
“Approximately 5 km (3 miles) from Castiglione della Pescaia is Roccamare, a tiny village in the province of Grosseto, with a population of 107. Situated in the pine forest along the Tyrrhenian coast, the original settlement consisted of villas designed by architects Ugo Miglietta and Antonio Canali, with others designed by Roberto Monsani, Luigi and Giancarlo Bicocchi. This picturesque location, in such a beautiful region, could easily become Tuscany’s answer to the Hamptons, in so much that there are a number of villages in the area, each remaining separate from the others, yet connected.
"House prices in Italy have fallen by about 15–20 per cent since 2008, but dropped very little at all this year. The market has in many places bottomed-out and is starting to show signs of activity, as Italy’s broader economic position has stabilised, and may show slight growth by the year end.
“With the euro at a seven year low against the pound and buyers confidence strengthening, now is the time to dip into Italy. While the short-term capital growth may remain slim for a number of years, overseas homes tend to be driven more by desire and lifestyle issues then figures. In which case, it is plain to see why Italy remains a firm favourite."
4. Ibiza, Spain
“With scores of international daily flights between London and Ibiza, which is just a little over two hours flying time from the UK, Ibiza is certainly an interesting choice for many clients looking to relocate.
“The white isle has always had a draw for those looking for the more bohemian, alternative lifestyle, but is now attracting many from major financial sectors. They are able to conduct business from their Ibizan fincas with the luxury of Wi-Fi.
“With 300 days of sunshine a year and up to twelve hours of sunshine per day during summer, the climate offers a refreshing break from the dismal UK weather. A plethora of beach bars and internationally renowned restaurants offer the same diversity and standard of dining out in London. For example Cipriani, Nagia and Heart. For those with children, there is an excellent international school, Morna Int. School."
5. The Algarve, Portugal
“There is a real year-round community in the Algarve. You have retirees, young families with parents, commuting back and forth from the UK, as well as people like me who own their own business here. In the summer, it (of course) feels a lot busier, however the quieter months are equally enjoyable – and it’s far easier to book a table at your favourite restaurant!”
"Portugal really does have everything going for it and the exchange rate is favourable right now, so buyers are picking up a bargain which really has to be seen to be believed."
“Why Portugal – well firstly the Algarve enjoys 300 days of sunshine a year which is hugely important for most people looking to relocate. Add that to stunning beaches and you have a winning formula. It is less than three hours by plane from London and many low cost airlines come here, so it is inexpensive to travel. A glut of properties has meant that prices have tumbled – so low prices and high quality homes are on offer.
“Very important for many are the impressive tax breaks. The Non-habitual Resident tax scheme in Portugal, can enable those moving there from overseas to essentially live tax-free for 10 years if they meet the legislation's criteria.
“Another factor that is important to buyers is the wonderful inexpensive local cuisine. The Algarve is also littered with award winning golf courses, which for many is important.”
6. Sicily, Italy
“Seven good reasons to live in Sicily happily ever after:
7. Dubrovnik Riviera
"The Dalmatian coastline, and Dubrovnik Riviera in particular, is undoubtedly one of the more appealing destinations to purchase prime residential property in the South East Mediterranean. For those seeking to purchase a second home, the Residences at Sun Gardens, Dubrovnik, offer an enviable lifestyle, complete with strong rental yields which continue to allure buyers to the resort and the region as a whole."
8. Porto Heli, Greece
"Naturally, being Greek I believe Greece offers some of the best places in the world to live. Porto Heli on the Peloponnese for instance, is often described as the 'Greek Riviera', a destination synonymous with understated elegance. Our portfolio includes projects in handsome destinations world over from Greece to Panama and the Dominican Republic, all which offer fantastic opportunities for second-home ownership in stunning surroundings, ease of access and safe environments to live."
9. Egypt and Montenegro
"I'm a little biased of course, but I'd have to say Egypt, and particularly Montenegro as a promising destination, offer some of the best places to live in the world. Montenegro is steadily becoming a go-to destination for those seeking an attractive lifestyle offering, especially at Luštica Bay where a dramatic coastline and endless sea views make up everyday life. El Gouna in Egypt, another Orascom project, offers fantastic amenities for permanent residence, not to mention 365 days of sunshine!".
“Natal in north-east Brazil is definitely one of the most popular choices among those looking to buy in the country. And it is easy to see why. It has a year-round sunny climate, an abundance of beautiful beaches on the coastline, growing infrastructure and a variety of real estate developments.”
11. Istanbul, Turkey
“With a growing tourist and property market, Istanbul is emerging as one of the world’s hottest destinations and one that offers much to those looking to settle overseas. It has an excellent improving infrastructure, with a new international airport in the offing and it’s set to be home to Europe’s first major monorail. Alongside this, the city is a melting pot of east meets west, a cultural haven and a shopper’s paradise.”
12. Mallorca, Spain
“Mallorca has proven itself to be an enduringly popular location over the years and demand for quality properties is high. Its appeal lies not just in its fabulous scenery and pristine beaches, but also in its connectivity. It has year-round flights to the UK and other European destinations as well as benefitting from good international schools. There are top-range facilities, making it the perfect place to lay down roots, too.”
Marc Pritchard, Sales and Marketing Director of Taylor Wimpey España (www.taylorwimpeyspain.com)
13. Montalcino and Anghiari, Tuscany, Italy
“Tuscany has always been, and still is today, one of the favourite areas for British, American and other seekers of holiday or permanent homes in Southern Europe. The region offers a unique combination of beautiful landscapes - wooded hills, neatly kept vineyards and olive groves - with excellent food and wine, friendly people and in recent years significantly reduce property prices. In the pre-crisis year of 2006 well restored farmhouses in attractive locations, many of them with a swimming pool, were fetching an average price of somewhat above €4000 per square metre. Today, nearly 10 years later this average price is down to about €2500.
“Montalcino in southern Tuscany is home to one of Italy's most famous wines - Brunello di Montalcino - and with its medieval houses and hilltop location is a quintessential Tuscan town. Further north is Anghiari, close to San Sepolcro and the birthplace of the famous Renaissance painter Piero della Francesca. One of his best known works - the Madonna del Parto (the Madonna about to give birth) is on display in the town which is one of the centres of Italy's artistic patrimony.”
“Croatia has often been described as “the Mediterranean as it once was.” With 7 UNESCO sites on the world heritage list, around 2,000 miles of coastline, more than 1,000 islands with an average high of 26°C between May and October, one can see why it is a now a hot spot for people looking for second homes.
“The majority of the local population speak English as a second language and are extremely welcoming to foreigners making it easy to make the initial transition. The cost of living is also relatively low when compared to the rest of Europe and Croatia is now becoming more and more accessible due to increasing demand for flights from the UK.”
“Countries such as Albania offer great value properties, in friendly and unique areas. However, it is not just property prices that buyers factor in to their decision making, as living costs are also something to consider. We have recently seen enquires from UK buyers in their 50s and 60s who are looking at Albania specifically for retirement, as the significantly lower cost of living is an attractive proposition for them.”
16. Maresme Coast, Spain
"For many years the Maresme Coast has been a sought-after area among wealthy local buyers, but it is really only in the last seven years that the region has made a name for itself on a wider, international level.
“The Maresme Coast offers everything and more than you would expect from a Mediterranean destination: A superb, year-round climate; stunning sandy beaches; and an extensive range of marinas and sports clubs. There are wonderful restaurants, gastronomy and beautiful unspoilt countryside. It has easy access to two international airports - within a comfortable distance of a major city.
“We anticipate the demand for Maresme properties to continue to grow in the coming years - there are few locations on the Mediterranean that offer such a diverse lifestyle and quality of life. The number of foreigners now living in some of the most desirable towns of the Maresme has increased by as much as 350 per cent over the past decade.”
17. Costa Del Sol, Spain
“The Costa Del Sol is one of the best places to live abroad thanks to consistently warm temperatures, easy access, modern amenities and the lifestyle on offer. It’s no surprise that Brits flock here.
“Unless money is no object, affordability must be taken into consideration; the overseas dream won’t last long if all of your capital has been spent on the initial property purchase. Property prices on the Costa Del Sol are still relatively low, meaning that buyers can purchase a home and still have considerable funds leftover from the proceeds of their UK property sale.
“Accessibility is crucial when choosing an overseas location as often you will be leaving behind friends and family, so being in an isolated area with expensive, sporadic flights is not desirable. This is one reason why Marbella is so popular as direct flights from London or Manchester to nearby Malaga Airport take under three hours and can cost as little as £30.”
18. Le Marche, Italy
“An undiscovered Italian region, yet one growing in popularity, Le Marche, is a wonderful location to begin a new life overseas – and my family and I did just that. It has everything you could wish for: rolling countryside, amazing local food and wine, friendly locals and beautiful traditional properties. I cannot recommend it highly enough!”
19. Bordeaux, France
“Bordeaux has fabulous travel connections, an international airport, and with the new high-speed train line, expected to open in 2016, the travel time to Paris will only be two hours. Bordeaux is also close the sea, as well as being only an approximate drive of four hours to skiing in the Pyrenees. It has fabulous shops and museums, hosts many concerts, it is steeped in history and of course, the wine...
Buying to live
“With many people seeking to change their UK lifestyle, France is increasingly the country of choice. With rural areas being particularly safe environments with very low crime rates - coupled with excellent schools and health care - France ticks all the boxes for both young families, and those entering retirement.
“The ongoing strength of the pound against the Euro ensures that those garnering income in the UK - such as those with pensions - money goes a little further.
20. And finally… Warsaw, Poland
"Warsaw is a fast growing and exciting city and Poland is currently the sixth largest economy in Europe, making an apartment within Zlota 44 a sound investment, both in terms of affordability and potential returns. At current we are seeing an average rental yield of 7.5 per cent for high quality apartments in Warsaw, making this a very exciting investment for international property investors.”