Homing in on Hotspots Abroad

Financial Times
January 8, 2005

“A decade ago, purchasers of homes abroad were generally an unadventurous lot, with Europeans invariably cruising Spanish costas or the Côte d’Azur, and Americans bagging a bolthole in Canada or on a Caribbean island. Today, however, buyers are beginning to focus on lesser known countries, including ones they’ve only recently been able to locate on a map. (…)


This lovely, if at times chilly, little former Soviet Baltic state has seen a surge of foreign investors since it joined the European Union in May 2004. Boasting large tracts of beautiful unspoilt countryside, lakes and beaches, it enjoys one of the fastest growing and most stable economies in eastern Europe, and large-scale, post-accession investment is rapidly improving infrastructure.

Property ranges from seaside chalets to new-build city apartments and rickety wooden homes in the forests. The capital, Tallinn, which enjoys daily flights from the UK, is likely to have the greatest investment potential. Its attractive centre, with cobbled streets and medieval and neoclassical merchant houses, is well-preserved and offers excellent inexpensive eating, drinking, opera, ballet and theatre – although the latter may not be much of a draw considering the unfathomable native language.

Prices are rising rapidly, but apartments in Tallinn are still available for under £50,000, especially outside the centre. RED Group (www.redgroup.ee) currently offers a £46,000 fifth-floor one-bedroom apartment with balcony located in Harjurnaa, the port area of the city centre. “Tallinn is a fabulous place,” says Toby Stone of Bristol and Stone Baltic Real Estate Investment Group. “The Nordic cool of neighbouring Scandinavia has rubbed off on Estonia, making it very attractive to foreign investors. Flying between the Baltic capitals and to London is very cheap and easy now. It is feasible to visit for the day.”