Films and TV shows prompt Britons to buy slice of paradise

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The Independent Online

With its deserted shores and pristine waters, year-round sunshine and lush vegetation, the island idyll was as much a star of the film The Beach as its Hollywood hero, Leonardo diCaprio.

So it is perhaps not surprising that some film-goers have sought to emulate the fictional young hedonists in the 2000 thriller by seeking their own utopia in Thailand. And according to a new survey by a foreign exchange company, Foreign Currency Direct, they are among the one fifth of Britons who have bought a foreign property after being influenced by a film or television series.

With the help of the polling company YouGov, the firm asked 2,000 people what prompted their investment in bricks and mortar abroad. After analysing their replies, it picked out the 10 films and television series that have tempted buyers to start a new life, or buy a second home, abroad. Among the favourites are the James Bond films, which have frequently featured the azure waters and lively nightlife of the Caribbean, and The Lord of the Rings, which is said to have encouraged fans to seek a new life in its mountainous backdrop, New Zealand.

The cobbled streets, fishing boats and shimmering sea of The Talented Mr Ripley have strengthened the appeal of rural Italy, despite harbouring a celluloid psychopath played by Matt Damon. Captain Corelli's Mandolin has, apparently, prompted an influx of romantic homebuyers to the Ionian island of Cephalonia.

An interest in moving to Argentina may have been aroused by the 2004 hit The Motorcycle Diaries, which depicted the journey of a young Ernesto "Che" Guevera and his friend Alberto Granado from Buenos Aires to Venezuela.

Television series credited with stirring people into action include A Year in Provence, based on Peter Mayle's diary of restoring a French farmhouse. About 13 per cent of buyers in the South of France aged over 45 said they had been "seduced" by the series.

Rural Ireland has become popular partly as a result of Ballykissangel, the BBC drama set in a village in County Kerry, but filmed in County Wicklow. And the purchase of property in the Scottish highlands has been spurred by the panoramas of The Monarch of the Glen.

Further afield, the soap operas Neighbours and Home and Away, set in Melbourne and Sydney, have tempted Brits to Australia with images of detached houses and unfeasibly large kitchens.

The cheaper cost of living was the biggest reason cited by owners for buying abroad, followed by fear of crime at home, the weather and investment or taxation.

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