Seasoned traveller Zoe Dare Hall introduces our search for the number one destination for overseas buyers.
I remember my first evening spent living abroad, sitting in a bar on Barcelona beach with new-found acquaintances, each of us with a cold beer and a slightly stunned sense of: “We’ve done it.” We were all in our early thirties, having ditched decent jobs and partners to head to a city where we knew no one to teach English to dockers for £500 a month. And that sense of “I’ve done it” didn’t leave me for the two years I lived there.
10 of the best places to live abroad
1 SOUTH/SOUTH-WEST FRANCE: It has a diverse and established property market, good range of international schools, easily reached by train, car or plane. Rates highly for relaxed lifestyle.
2 GENEVA: Stable, tax efficient (though tax varies widely among cantons), easily reached by plane or rail and good quality of life, albeit costly. Despite limited supply of property for non-Swiss nationals, demand remains high.
3 ALPS: Demand for French or Swiss alpine homes has been high this year, transport and education systems are outstanding and flight access is excellent. In both countries, buying and selling costs are each about six to seven per cent.
4 MAJORCA: All-round appeal, with property attracting numerous nationalities. Property prices have fallen by 15-20 per cent, but interest in the south-west coast means there is little evidence of bargains. There are nine international schools on the island and one of busiest airports in the Med.
5 MONACO: Highly accessible from Britain by plane, train, car or boat. Very low tax environment. Property prices have recovered from the crunch and a normal level of transactions has returned.
6 TUSCANY: Property market less depressed than elsewhere in Italy, good international school in Florence, excellent state health care. Buying taxes are 10 per cent, but no CGT if property owned for five years.
7 SOUTHERN SPAIN: Great climate (this winter is a rain-lashed exception), excellent infrastructure and established British expat community. Endless choice of flights to newly expanding Malaga airport; there are 30 international schools in Andalucia. Marbella’s newly signed urban plan has cleared up years of planning corruption.
8 CYPRUS: Good year-round climate, popular with British buyers. Low end of market suffering, but much of the new property stock is moving upmarket, with larger units and higher price points. Buying costs about 8 per cent.
9 ALGARVE: Well served by low-cost flights, good international schools, three large hospitals. The majority of overseas buyers there are still British and stock levels remain high and varied. Older residences in prime locations are selling regardless of condition.
10 BARBADOS: Politically and economically secure. Great properties at prices not seen since 2006. No CGT, inheritance tax or gift tax. Distance and lack of work opportunities may limit appeal to those looking to move permanently.