Have Your Cake and Eat it

by : Graham Baylis

I'd be the first to defend Britain against its harsh critics. I'm very proud of our British heritage and really wouldn't want a permanent base anywhere else. But I must concede that our unpredictable climate does leave quite a lot to be desired. I can remember last summer, when my wife and I planned a barbecue for family and friends. All morning we were looking anxiously at the black, threatening clouds, wondering 'will it, or won't it...'? Well of course it did. The rain teemed down all afternoon, the barbecue wouldn't light and we all had to resort to the kitchen, crammed in like sardines, trying to cook dozens of sausages and burgers in the oven. It just wasn't the same.

Imagine how wonderful it would be to have a retreat in a place where clear blue skies and sunshine are virtually guaranteed and where rain is a rarity, rather than the norm. For me, when I just want to get away from it all for a while, the answer would be a holiday home abroad. A pipe dream? Not necessarily. These properties are not all nearly as expensive as you might think. Some can be bought for less than many of us would spend on a new car. And the investment potential can be considerable.

But where to choose?

Bulgaria is becoming increasingly fashionable with tourists all over Europe and property there is now acknowledged as one of the finest emerging investment opportunities in south east Europe. This intriguing, historic country boasts clear blue lakes and rivers, magnificent mountains and gorges and natural hot water springs. The unspoiled beaches, hospitable people and superb cuisine combine to make this an ideal choice for a home away from home.

Enjoying a current property boom, Turkey also offers outstandingly good investment potential. With miles of spectacular coastline, deep azure seas, pine-clad mountains, rich culture, fantastic climate and welcoming people, it's little wonder that it's become so popular with the millions of investors and tourists who visit its coast each year.

Egypt, too, is fast becoming a favourite destination for those who favour a country steeped in ancient history and with a climate that is hot and dry. With a high build quality and very low property prices, Egypt and its Red Sea Riviera are presently a very appealing option for investors. Other compelling factors include the prospect of excellent capital growth and an already solid and ever-expanding 'buy to let' market. In short, Egypt represents a great investment opportunity.

If you fancy looking further afield, what about beautiful, lively Brazil, a country of amazing diversity, marvellous weather and with an economy that is thriving and set to become one of the world's largest? Brazil has some of the world's best beaches and the favourable exchange rate and excellent capital growth result in more and more investors buying property there.

For those whose taste is for the ultimate in cosmopolitan, you could do no better than to consider the south east Asian country of Malaysia with its incredible blend of eastern and western cultures. If you choose to buy a property here, there's every chance that you'll be making a sound financial investment. Malaysia is so close to the equator that you'll also have the benefit of a year round tropical climate.

For me, Spain, with its fabulous landscape, fascinating culture, kind winters and glorious summers has always appealed and I can understand why so many tourists flock there year after year. I can picture it now... a classically designed villa with a stunning mountain view and a balcony overlooking a large, landscaped garden and swimming pool, just minutes away from a golden, sandy beach. Investing in a property here represents excellent value for money. The cost of living is very much lower and it's only a short flight away from the UK. In fact, shopping around on the Internet, you can probably find quite cheap fares available at any time of the year.

So, for those of us dyed-in-the-wools who could never bring ourselves to leave these shores forever but who hanker after a place in the sun, it is possible to have our cake and eat it. And not a soggy barbecue in sight...