A holiday home’s a dream for many of us: the chance to escape, not to a hotel, but the comfort of our own property. And, as time passes, it almost becomes part of the family – and it comes hard to imagine life without your own bolthole. For most Brits, this means France, Spain or Portugal. But if you’re willing to take the plunge and move beyond the usual expat areas, you’ll find you can get a lot more for your budget. Not only that, but in these stunningly unspoilt areas, you’ll find wonderful natural beauty, a lack of endless high-rise hotels and a really authentic glimpse into local life. Come with us as we explore Europe’s best spots for holiday homes off the beaten track.
The Balkans have hit the ‘trend’ lists for holidays abroad for over a decade, but most tourists make a beeline for Croatia. Head further south and you’ll find Albania, once an isolated dictatorship and today one of the last truly unspoilt parts of Europe. The Albanian Riviera possesses stunning sandy beaches against a typically Balkan backdrop of towering hills and mountains.
Near the city of Vlorë, you’ll find beautiful beaches, some of which can only be reached by boat. There are really no crowds here – a world away from Croatia or Greece. The Karaburun Peninsula is home to numerous canyons and gorges, like Gjipe Canyon. Its lagoons, like Narta, are known for attracting thousands of wading birds. You can easily find seaview holiday homes for as little as €40,000.
Further east still lies Romania – a fascinating outlier, speaking a Romance language but surrounded by Slavic nations. This is a country of natural superlatives: 14 mountain ranges, 13 national parks, three protected biospheres and largest area of undisturbed forest in Europe – covering 27% of its surface.
If you’re looking for a holiday home, the Black Sea coast is a ‘must’ to check out. The area around Constanța – especially Marmaia – is popular with local tourists (and foreigners in the know) for its broad beaches and warm summers. A seaside property here is a bit pricier than Albania, at around €300,000, but the good news is that maintenance is cheap. The cost of living in Romania’s over 77% lower than in the UK and you can easily secure cheap flights from Constanța’s Mihail Kogălniceanu Airport to London.
Slovenia’s the meeting point of the Mediterranean, the Alps, the Dinarides and the Pannonian Plain. In other words, it’s a wonderful microcosm of the wider region. And, for holiday home owners, there are plenty of further advantages. It has a warm, dry climate, and the Alps help to break the northern winds. The local karst, or limestone, topography makes for stunningly turquoise rivers, many amid impressive mountains and valleys.
If you head towards the Littoral, or coastal region, you’ll feel a bit of a cultural difference. This area was historically Italian-speaking and a small community still remains today. Much of the architecture is reminiscent of Italy, especially in medieval coastal towns like Koper. However, they don’t come with the northern Italian price tag: you can buy villas for €250,000 around here.
For something a bit different, look north. We all know Sweden as a spotless, almost ‘perfect’ country, whether its the quality of its cities or the beauty of its countryside. That said, it might not be on your holiday home list (yet). But, if you’re the type who prefers to move around for your summer holidays, why not consider a winter home to settle in and enjoy a proper, snowy season in Sweden?
Go right up north to Lapland itself (yes, it’s a real place) and you can find typical Swedish winter cabins for €45,000. Despite the low price tag – in an otherwise pricey country – they’re excellently built to keep you ‘as snug as a bug in a rug’. And, although we’re talking about the chance to experience truly magical winters, don’t forget the long Swedish summer nights. Come here in August and experience joys of almost-endless sunshine, with hours of swimming in pristine lakes and enjoying traditional crayfish BBQs.
Wherever you choose to buy you’ll have a few financial matters to sort out : Download the Trader’s Guide to Currency
If you find the home of your dreams but it’s beyond your budget, effective negotiation could make the vital difference. Download the How to Negotiate Abroad Guide.
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