The ultimate beach read: Holiday homes from £15,000 to £200,000

In many parts of Britain, £200,000 will buy you a decent flat. But take that money on your travels and suddenly the world's your oyster. Laura Latham locates the best deals on Earth – from Thai beach paradises to Italy's hilltop hideaways (and some of them cost less than a Ford Mondeo)


Dominican Republic

Expect to spend £12,000 to £160,000

What can I buy?

A holiday destination rebranded for the property market. Many see it as the cut-price Caribbean and it's certainly cheaper than Barbados. There is probably more choice than you'd expect for under £50,000 – at this price you can get a one-bedroom apartment or studio measuring around 35sq m. There is a wide variety of one- and two-bed flats at the £50,000 to £100,000 level, with price dependent on the quality of the resort and proximity to beaches. Many new homes are well designed, if pricier.

Is it easy to get there?

There are seven international airports with plenty of scheduled charter flights from the UK.

What else do I need to know?

Ensure no ownership issues or debts are on the property titles. There have been instances of government "land grabs" with no compensation. Poverty and corruption are endemic.

Istria, Croatia

Expect to spend from £30,000 to £150,000

What can I buy?

Istria was once part of Italy and you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between here and Tuscany, apart from the lower prices. Those on a budget can find ruined stone houses in need of restoration in a rural or village location from £30,000, but for around £50,000 to £100,000 you can easily find attractive new apartments or habitable houses. For anything large with land or directly on the coast you should expect to pay nearer to £200,000.

If you're on a tighter budget, you can find some very pretty cottages in good repair for upwards of £60,000. Selection Property (www.selectionproperty.com; 020-8533 9988) has a renovated stone house in beautiful countryside for £88,000. The same agent also has some gorgeous new apartments with sea views in the Riva development (see box, above right) which overlooks the pretty harbour at Umag.

Is it easy to get there?

Drive across northern Europe in around two days, or take the train from London to Zagreb (via Paris, Munich and Ljubljana) in just over 24 hours. Several budget airlines fly from the UK to the region's two airports at Pula and Riejka, the journey takes around 90 minutes. Alternatively, fly to Trieste in Italy and drive across the border in around an hour or catch the ferry from Venice (around three hours).

What else do I need to know?

UK nationals need government permission to buy property or land. This can be very time consuming, so most buyers set up a Croatian company through which they can buy more quickly. This costs £600-£1,000 and can be done easily by your lawyer.

Abruzzo, Italy

Expect to spend £30,000 to £160,000

What can I buy?

Fabulous coastline and glorious countryside on Italy's stunning east coast. Resort towns such as Pescara are busy all summer but out of season you'll find them quiet, and inland there are peaceful mountain-top villages and acres of national park, plus good skiing. Properties range from ruined houses, churches and beach-front apartments selling from between £30,000 and over £200,000, with village houses and modern villas costing from £100,000.

Is it easy to get there?

Budget flights can take you to Pescara airport or Rome, which is an hour's drive away – or get the train from Rome (five hours) or private bus (three hours). Or you could drive all the way there from the UK in two days.

What else do I need to know?

In Italy, you are allowed to renovate the interior of an older property but often you can not change the exterior at all. This means no conservatories or extensions unless you get planning permission from the local authority, which is unlikely if the house has local character or is of historic significance.

Jerez, Spain

Expect to spend: from £80,000

What can I buy?

An architecturally beautiful city with a long tradition of sherry making. Jerez is surrounded by mountains and vineyards and is around a 20-minute drive from some of the cleanest beaches in Spain.

Property in Jerez and nearby villages tends to be apartments and townhouses, with the odd mansion thrown in. Prices start at around £90,000 for an apartment measuring 60sq m in the centre of town, though larger apartments and traditional houses can be found for around £170,000 to £200,000. Mercers (www.spanishproperty.co.uk; 01491 574 807) has a pretty four-bed home for £169,800 and a swanky apartment development with flats from £141,500.

Is it easy to get there?

Jerez has its own airport, around 15km from the city. You can also fly to Malaga, Seville and Gibraltar (all one to two hours' drive) or take the train via Paris and Madrid in around a day.

What else do I need to know?

You need a "fiscal ID number", or NIE, before completing your purchase in Spain. This takes two to six weeks to be issued.

Montenegro

Expect to spend: from £65,000

What can I buy?

Montenegro's natural beauty has been attracting tourists for decades and the coastline is a favourite with the yachting set. Prices for property in prime, waterside locations can be high, so don't expect a bargain. But inland you can find wrecks from around £55,000; sturdier stone houses cost between £80,000 and £150,000. There are also plenty of well-designed contemporary apartments for between £70,000 and £150,000, Dream Property Montenegro (www.dreammontenegro.com; 01753 831 182) has properties in the San Ference resort for £70,000 and a two-bed duplex in an old stone house for £200,000.

Is it easy to get there?

A large number of airlines serve Montenegro's two airports. Many tourists also arrive via Dubrovnik, just 16 kilometres from the border.

What else do I need to know?

Infrastructure is poor across the country. Registering ownership is not compulsory and there may be no legitimate title deeds to some properties. In addition, large areas of land were confiscated during Communist rule and ownership is now unclear.

Aveyron, France

Expect to spend £15,000 to £185,000

What can I buy?

A slice of one of the prettiest, least-known areas of France. Located in the Midi-Pyrenees and offering awe-inspiring scenery, pretty villages, Unesco heritage sites and affordable property, the Aveyron valley is about as rural and authentically French as it gets. Property starts at under £40,000 with some ruins and renovation projects on offer for close to £20,000. More substantial homes come in at around £130,000, which will get you a detached stone cottage with large garden, three or four bedrooms and good views of the mountains. Paying nearer £200,000 offers some really quite exceptional homes, such as a stone cottage with four bedrooms for £156,600 (see below), a stately four-storey townhouse for £195,000 and a beautiful character property with lots of original features and an acre of grounds for £187,000 (see below), all through Latitudes (www.latitudes.co.uk; 020-8951 5155).

Is it easy to get there?

The area isn't well served by air. Ryanair flies to Rodez once a day during summer, but busier Montpelier is an hour's drive away. There are also trains from Paris to Montpelier taking around three-and-a-half hours or you can drive it in a day.

What else do I need to know?

France has an annual wealth tax, charged in January on perceived value of assets worth more than €750,000 (£510,000). It is levied on a sliding scale from 0.55 per cent to 1.8 per cent.

Marrakech, Morocco

Expect to spend £60,000 or more

What can I buy?

Marrakech has become one of the hottest, hippest cities to own in, yet still retains all the mystery and exoticism that's attracted visitors for centuries. Until recently the only properties available were traditional riads, with beautiful tiling, cool central courtyards and roof terraces, often buried within the ancient city. They still exist, though prices are now more than double what they were five years ago.

Restored riads sell in excess of £300,000 but renovation projects are still available. Francophiles (www.francophiles.co.uk; 01622 688 165) has several on the threshold of £200,000, including a lovely property needing renovation in the Kasbah for £95,000 and another in the Medina, for £214,000 (see box, below right). But for those who want all mod cons, new-build estates are proliferating on the edge of town, offering swimming pools and golf courses. They may not be as characterful but they can be good value. Saffron Villas has several such complexes, including Atlas Golf Resort with apartments from £55,000.

Is it easy to get there?

Lots of scheduled flights from all over the UK to Marrakech airport, with several budget carriers as well. The journey takes almost four hours.

What else do I need to know?

Morocco's inheritance laws state everyone with a claim on the property must give permission before it can be sold with clean title. Many older properties don't have title deeds, so tracking down family members and collating all the relevant permissions can be problematic and time consuming.

Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Expect to spend £20,000 to £100,000

What can I buy?

You shouldn't need to spend more than £100,000 to get a traditional-style property in this part of Bulgaria. Unlike Bansko or the Black Sea, the area around the town of Veliko Tarnovo doesn't have mass developments. Instead you'll get authentic villages and plenty of rolling countryside.

Veliko Tarnovo is a picturesque medieval town on a river with pretty red-roofed buildings, narrow cobbled streets, ancient monuments and surrounded by mountains. Properties range from basic bungalows costing from as little as £5,000, to habitable country cottages in need of updating for around £20,000 to large, family villas with land for £70,000 to £120,000. A large modern house in good condition can cost just a little over £100,000 (see box, right).

There are also lots of cheap traditional homes such this large stone-and-timber house for £81,600 (see box, right).

Is it easy to get there?

Bit tricky, you'll need to fly into Sofia and then drive or take the train, there are also direct trains from Istanbul and Bucharest.

What else do I need to know?

Non-Bulgarian citizens can't own the freehold to land, only the building on it. This means you will need to set up a Bulgarian company in order to purchase any property that sits on its own plot. It's easy to do and costs around £400.

Antalya, Turkey

Expect to spend £50,000 to £160,000

What can I buy?

A beautiful, cosmopolitan city on Turkey's Mediterranean coast with historic monuments, an old town, and two long beaches (sand and pebble) surrounded by the gorgeous countryside of the Taurus mountains. The resort is one of the largest in Turkey and is pretty well-developed but the city retains an up-market feel.

Property in older-style apartment blocks sells from around £30,000, with average prices of new places around £80,000. Semi-detached villas cost from around £90,000; detached properties with pools from £140,000. Pivotal Turkey (020-7887 4562; pivotalturkey.com) has apartments in its new Obassary development from £78,000 and Aquavista ( www.aquavistaproperty.com; 01580 850 170) is selling chic apartments from £116,000 and two-bedroom properties in a pretty, low-rise building from £47, 600.

Is it easy to get there?

Direct flights on scheduled and charter carriers to the city's international airport. Journey time is about four hours.

What else do I need to know?

You will need to be cleared by the Turkish military before you can buy. Not all property or land sold to foreign buyers is legal, if it comes under military jurisdiction, non-nationals can't own it.

Phuket, Thailand

Expect to spend £80,000 to £180,000

What can I buy?

Phuket has transformed itself from cheap, backpacker destination to up-market property hot spot, though there is still good value to be found here. The island's main draws are the great weather and beautiful, tropical beaches, though there is also a vibrant yachting scene and a large number of upmarket restaurants and bars. Property splits into apartments and villas, mainly new and built in either very traditional or highly contemporary style.

Prices in purpose-built resorts start at around £85,000 for a two-bedroom apartment or small townhouse within walking distance of the beach, but you can find property in busier resorts such as Patong, or via private sales for as little as £60,000.

Something on a more secluded estate, with beach access and larger, detached villas with private pools, will set you back from £140,000 to £210,000, but it's possible to pay a lot more. .

Is it easy to get there?

Direct flights from the UK to Phuket or you can connect via Bangkok. The journey takes around 14 hours.

What else do I need to know?

Non-nationals can't own land freehold in Thailand and property is typically sold with 30-year leases that can be renewed twice giving up to 90 years' ownership in total.

Lagos, Western Algarve, Portugal

Expect to spend at least £90,000

What can I buy?

The Algarve has a bad name for being overdeveloped and touristy but take the new motorway from Faro to the western end of the coast and you'll find areas that are quieter, with attractive little towns and great beaches. For those who want to mix lively leisure time with beachlife and some culture, Lagos is an obvious choice. The ancient, walled city has a nearby beach, new marina and great mix of bars and restaurants.

Property ranges from small modern apartment complexes to family villas with pools, though there's often the chance to snap up traditional single-storey houses. Prices range from £95,000 for a simple apartment in a good location to £190,000 for something high-end with sea views. John D Griffiths (johndgriffiths.com; 00 351 282 760 416) has apartments starting at £94,000 and traditional houses cost around £100,000. These properties generally need sprucing up.

Is it easy to get there?

Direct flights to Faro are available via a large number of scheduled and charter carriers and take three hours then it's a 40-minute drive.

What else do I need to know?

Properties constructed more than 10 years ago may not have had planning permission or may have been extended illegally. Always engage an independent lawyer to check that the building is legally registered and a full description of the property's size and boundary is also listed on the title deeds.

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