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A home away from home

01:00 Sun 17th Dec 2000 |

FLOODS, fuel crises and travel chaos. It's little wonder that at this time of year so many of us start dreaming of owning a little corner that is not forever England.

The number of people either decamping wholesale abroad or investing in a foreign holiday haven has never been higher. But is buying property abroad really a dream come true or a potential nightmare

Leafing through the property pages it is hardly surprising so many of us are swapping the traditional dingley-dell getaway in the British countryside for foreign climes.

For starters, for the price of an average suburban semi in this country you can pick up a four-bedroom farmhouse in France with land attached or a three-bedroom villa on the Algarve. Here a small cottage in, say, the south-west, wouldn't leave you much change from 100,000.

If that's beyond your means, a Greek beachside studio could set you back as little as 20,000 or a Spanish two-bedroom villa around 30,000.

If you live near a convenient airport it can be as quick to fly to the South of France as it is for you to brave the Friday-night queues on the M5.

But, before you get carried away, it's important to consider the potential downsides, particularly if you are not going to be resident all year round.

For instance, if your secluded farmhouse is in need of some renovation how are you going to find a reliable local builder who you can trust to do the work in your absence What if the pipes burst when your not there. Who is going to keep an eye on the place when it's empty

If your planning to settle permanently, will you be shunned by locals fed up with the English influx

If it is sun and sand you're after, it's worth remembering that the place you had in mind for that dream summer holiday may be very different when the area is all shut up for winter.

Then there is the actual process of buying itself. There are plenty of agencies that will handle the purchase for you in this country, for a fee. But, if you want to go it alone you will need sound legal and financial advice in the country of your choice to guide you through local rules and regulations.

Still tempted, or are we best off going native Click here say what you think.

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