There are two things that instantly give people a sense of calm after a long, stressful day. The first is coming home from the office and being surrounded by all your comforts, the second is waking up in the morning and realising you’re in a warm, sunny villa enjoying the first day of your vacation. It’s no wonder that many people dream of combining these two sensations in the form of a holiday home.
The idea of escaping abroad temporarily, or relocating there altogether, is certainly appealing, and the only thing really limiting you are your funds and your choice of destinations. The world is a big place, with many countries benefiting from picturesque scenery and envious summer weather just waiting to become your home away from home. If you don’t have the faintest idea of where you’d like to establish your summer retreat, here are a few popular destinations for your consideration.
With over 300 days of sun each year, many people turn to Spain as the location of their holiday home purely for the appeal of dream summer weather. Spain is more popular with British buyers, possibly due to the close proximity in addition to guaranteed sunshine, but people from all over the world should give this sunny country some serious consideration. Those who have frequently vacationed in Spain know that it offers the four S’s that make up a perfect retreat – sun, sand, sea, and sights – therefore it might already be at the top of their list.
Furthermore, even a home on the Spanish coastline, such as Ibiza or Costa del Sol, is well connected to the rest of Europe, making it an excellent home base for anyone wishing to experience even more countries. Finally, despite the recent economic turnover, Spain remains an easy country for real estate, with mortgages more readily available and a system that encourages overseas purchasers. Incidentally, having a holiday home in Spain could also provide you with a new source of income. With the tourism industry in Spain booming, you could rent out your home when it’s not in use and make a steady income. Spain really is a gift that keeps on giving.
Where Spain is certainly a destination of sun and sea, France has a more varied landscape that offers something for everyone: magnificent beaches in the South for sun-worshippers; spectacular countryside for nature lovers; mountains and seas for active adventurers; thriving Parisian nightlife for city lovers. Anyone is search of la bonne vie need only take inspiration from the wine connoisseurs, the art lovers, the gourmet foodies, and the abundant culture. If you’re sold on the idea of a French holiday home, you need to consider some facts about property in France, such as the advantages of buying a new-build property than an older chateaux that is more suited for a bed and breakfast business.
On new-build properties, the typical notary fees are 2.5%, compared to 7-8% for old properties. So for a typical property value of €300,000, buying new means a saving of around €15,000. New properties also come with a 10-year build guarantee, which ensures that if there are any defects, they are covered by insurance, so you can be sure that you are not going to have any nasty repair bills in that time. This guarantee, unfortunately, cannot be extended to older properties. Of course, buying new doesn’t mitigate these risks, although it does reduce the chance of them happening. Should you opt to rent out your property while you’re not using it, this will give you some peace of mind.
To the surprise of many, Albania has gone from an authoritarian state to a flourishing tourism hotspot, and a fledgling international property market is developing in the small country. Albania has a lot to offer its visitors, from coastlines on the picturesque Adriatic and Ionian seas, sandy beaches, and a landscape laced with Greco-Roman antiquities. The country has made tremendous strides in the past years; gone are the remnants of the war from the late 90s, and in their place are brightly colored modern structures housing a young, thriving city. Tourists now flock to Albania in increasing droves for the unspoilt beaches, intriguing history, and growing party culture in the Blloku area of Tirana.
As the country grows in popularity, property prices have been increasing by approximately 20 per cent annually for past five years, and are expected to hot up further if Albania is allowed into the European Union, so it’s best to get ahead of this booming property market while it still remains relatively undiscovered by the wider market.
There’s something about Italy that sets it apart from other popular holiday destinations. This country is more than just a sunny beach retreat with added culture and superb cuisine; Italy is dripping with warmth, both from the sun and from the locals, and the rich history gives it such a cultural depth that you could spend years trying to learn all its secrets. Throughout Italy you will find countless treasures in gothic architecture, renaissance art, and ancient relics; rural towns rounded with vineyards and stone farmhouses; and coastal towns dripping with warmth, expansive ocean views, and incredible food. What more reasons do you need to make a second home in this country?
Right now, it’s a great time to buy in Italy because the prices have fallen, and recent research forecasts a further average price fall of 1.6% and that the average discount on asking prices is running at just over 13%. To give you a better idea, the average real selling price of a nicely restored farmhouse in Tuscany, with good views and a pool, has now reduced about 25% since 2008. If Tuscany doesn’t appeal to you, there are plenty of properties on the coast, in the cities, or even in the scenic mountains for a more quiet environment.
Much like its neighboring country, Spain, Portugal also enjoys 300 days of summer, with the maximum recorded temperatures in the Algarve fluctuating between 25 °C (77 °F) in winter and 48 °C (118 °F) in summer, and almost never falling below zero in the winter months. Yet despite boasting more sunshine than Spain and Italy, Portugal also benefits from the cooling breeze that blows in from the Atlantic, so there’s no need to sweat the heat. Boasting some of the cleanest and most scenic beaches in Southern Europe, one of the Algarve’s star attractions is without doubt the stunning coastline. Long expanses of soft, golden sand, secluded coves backed by ochre cliffs and topped by vibrant green pines. A residence along the coastline will have a steady supply of fresh seafood, and even the city life is exciting and varied. All in all, Portugal is the perfect escape at any time of the year, and a luxury holiday home is easier to obtain than you might think.
Property prices in Portugal are still way below their peak, and with the euro at an eight-year low against the pound, substantial savings are making right now the perfect time to invest in that second home. If that isn’t enough, you should also bear in mind that Portugal is one of the safest holiday destinations in Europe right now. The country is politically stable, there are no mafias, and it boasts one of the lowest crime rates in Europe.
Europe isn’t the only desirable place for a second home. If you want an emphasis on “holiday” in holiday home, Florida might be worth considering. The amount of tourist activities in this US state is staggering; from Disney World, Universal Studios, and Harry Potter World, to golf resorts and Panama City Beach, Florida really does have something for the whole family. Not to mention the high demand you would get from other holidaymakers hoping to rent your property for their own vacation, although you would need to obtain a lodging license if you wanted to go down this route.
Depending on your financial situation and status, obtaining a mortgage in Florida is relatively straightforward. Loans of up to 70% are available for non-residents, and are secured against property for sale in Florida. There are several mortgage programs currently available where you can choose a fixed or variable rate mortgage. Repayment terms range from 5 to 30 years with no age restrictions.
It might not be the first place that comes to mind, but Thailand offers all the benefits of a sunny getaway, with an added focus on tranquility and relaxation due to the high number of spas and yoga retreats in the country, particularly in the coastal areas. Purchasing a holiday home in Thailand is quite the bargain when compared to most other tourist and expat locations. It is unbelievably easy to to find yourself a safe area to buy within friendly communities, and you can get a luxury apartment for practically nothing if you buy early from a developer eager to secure sales.