Island life is a dream for many expats, and where better to realise that dream than the Mediterranean? Gorgeous old towns, beautiful nature and blue sea always within easy reach certainly help make a strong case. But, in a region dotted with so many stunning places, how do you choose the Mediterranean island for you? Here’s our round-up of the best ones for a variety of lifestyles.
Best for…year-round sun
Naturally, the further south and east you go, the more likely you are to encounter some balmy winter sun. And the island of Cyprus takes our crown on this one. Its southern coast, in areas like Famagusta, enjoys over 3,500 hours of glorious sunshine every year. Plus, the sea is still swimmable in November, with an average temperature of 22°C.
As for the lifestyle, there’s plenty to do to enjoy that sun. Beautiful beaches abound, some quiet stretches like in Episkopi, and some bustling areas with lively bars and pubs, like Mackenzie. The delicious local food, similar to Greek cuisine, is also certainly worth a try.
Best for…city life
Not all of us who move to a Mediterranean island want the tranquillity of a village. If you’re after being in the heart of the hustle and bustle, Mallorca is for you. The largest of the Balearics, Mallorca’s capital, Palma de Mallorca, is one of Spain’s best cities. Its narrow streets and busy squares are lined with numerous cafés, bars and restaurants. All around, you have gorgeous Baroque architecture in the local honey-coloured stone. In fact, it’s so popular that it’s even been the site of the Spanish royal family’s summer palace for decades.
Transport is convenient, with a light rail and metro network serving the further reaches of the city. Plus, the nearby airport has numerous year-round flights to most European destinations.
Best for…history buffs
The tiny nation of Malta abounds with history, with signs of its past at every corner. Some of Europe’s grandest cathedrals sit side-by-side with ancient medieval cities and even prehistoric temples. As a plus, the grand scale of its past is in contrast to the small scale of its area. Take the grand city of Valletta, once home of the Grand Masters of the Knights Hospitallers and called ‘a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen’. Nicknamed Città Superbissima, the Proud City, it boasts over 350 monuments, and yet is only 0.8km2. This makes everything extremely easy to visit – you don’t need to take day trips like in larger countries. It’s a perfect microcosm of the wider region’s heritage.
Malta voted in a referendum after the Second World War to join the United Kingdom as the fifth home nation. London didn’t accept the proposal, but the friendliness between the British and the Maltese continues today. English is an official language, including in education, government offices and hospitals, so it makes moving here particularly easy.
Best for…luxury living
If you’re looking for a sprinkling of glitz in your new life overseas, look no further than the north of Sardinia. The Costa Smeralda is something of the St Tropez of Italy. Its turquoise waters and long, sandy beaches front onto stunning villages and towns. You’ll find a wide range of luxury properties here, from typical pastel-coloured Italianate homes through to breath-taking modern villas.
The area first came to prominence in the 1960s, when Karim Aga Khan started the development of the coastline. Today, there are marinas, high-class restaurants and fine bars aplenty. It helps, as well, to have summer temperatures above 25°C for much of the season.
Best for…unique homes
There’s no way we could leave Santorini off our list. This Mediterranean island is instantly recognisable from brochures and magazines, with its gleamingly white, blue-roofed buildings providing the perfect contrast to the invitingly azure seas. The traditional architecture of the island is gorgeous – and you could have your own slice of it if you move here.
You find many properties have a truly traditional exterior, and then blend the old with the new in the interior. At the top of the market, you’ll find seaview infinity pools, cavernous living rooms and more.
Wherever you choose to buy, you’ll need to protect your money from moving exchange rates: Find out how in the Property Buyer’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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