The clocks are going back this weekend which essentially means Winter Is Here. It’s dark when I get up in the mornings and it’s going to be pitch-black at 4 pm very soon. If you’ve come back from a half-term holiday somewhere lighter and hotter, it’s very tempting to check out whether a more permanent arrangement abroad is viable.
Missing the mellow evenings of Mallorca, I’ve been having a little nosy around what Mr Minted refers to as ‘property porn’. You can spend a lot of time online viewing villas in Valencia or apartments in Alicante. Amazingly, you don’t need huge amounts of cash either to become a second-home owner. The great news is that you can buy a place in the sun for less than ten grand.
Check this lot out. I’ve found a freehold, new-build studio flat 400 metres from the beach in a complex with shared pools, Jacuzzis and landscaped gardens for £9,672. Scale up to a one-bed in the same block and it will cost £15,545. If you need more room, there’s a two-bed flat available in a slightly older block (built 2010) a little further from the sea for €20,995 (around £18,660). Finally, you can get a four-bedroom townhouse in an island village for £53,452 (€60,000).
So what’s the catch? Funnily enough, none of the properties are quite like the Swiss villa pictured. The studio and one-bed flat are in Hurghada, Egypt, across the Red Sea from Sharm-el-Sheikh. The diving’s great but it’s five and a half hours from Gatwick. The two-bed apartment is in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria which is a little over-developed for my tastes while the townhouse in Kontokali, Corfu doesn’t actually have a bathroom. But hey, all these issues can be resolved in time, right?
Renovating property in a different language and strange legal system is hard work, as many of those Brits-living-abroad novels outline. Then there’s also the risk that the value of the pound will fall against whatever foreign currency you borrowed in or used to buy the property and you could be severely out of pocket. Not to mention the fact that you’ll probably only ever use it twice a year and can’t be on site to manage the crisis when the water pipes burst or similar. I could go on about ongoing maintenance costs, taxable this and that and even whether you actually own the land your house stands on. I won't. Instead, I suggest a few minutes of idle day-dreaming about having a bottle of local wine watching the sunset on your own (refurbed) balcony. These are good thoughts to warm us as the evenings start closing in.
For our SMM guide to buying property abroad, see here.