Spain Still Reigns but for How Long? as More Britons Flock to Live Abroad, They Look beyond the Costas
Byline: SEBASTIAN O'KELLY
While the domestic property market is fast coming off the boil, British buyers are showing no loss of appetite in finding their bargain bolthole overseas. According to a plausible guesstimate from Sainsbury's Bank, 112,000 homeowners are planning to move abroad over the next six months, adding to the 1.4million Britons who now own an overseas property.
Within eight years, it is estimated that one in eight Britons aged over 55 will be living abroad. The question arises of where they will actually go. In the past, the obvious answer would have been Spain and its islands.
But these days the British are proving to be remarkably openminded over where they plan to go lotus-eating in the sun.
According to latest research for Homes Overseas magazine, involving 1,500 potential buyers, Spain and its islands appealed to only 66 per cent - well down on its previous overwhelming popularity. Instead, 37 per cent of potential buyers preferred France, the traditional refuge of cultivated, Francophile Peter Mayle types.
Thanks to effective marketing by estate agencies such as VEF, and the first signs of a mass newbuild market, the popularity of France is soaring - so much so that British buyers are distorting local property prices.
Prices in Languedoc Roussillon rose 28 per cent last year, triple the national average, thanks to the influx of British buyers, according to research by Barclays. Even more surprising than the appeal of France is that 31 per cent of potential buyers were attracted to Eastern Europe and Turkey.
Of these, 8.5 per cent wanted to buy in Bulgaria - in spite of negative publicity concerning corruption and appalling building quality - Turkey at 8 per cent and Croatia at 7. …