Caledonia dreaming

Go north of the border for a seductive alternative to buying abroad
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£800,000: West Dullater, Perthshire
£800,000: West Dullater, Perthshire. Live lochside in this five-bedroom house 60 miles from Edinburgh, in 20-acre grounds with fishing and boating rights. Call 0131 222 9600
During the financial crisis many of us will be feeling risk-adverse, hesitant to lay out huge sums on expensive foreign holidays.

As we turn to the UK for our holiday playground many of us will begin explore the hinterland of Scotland for a more permanent holiday home.

It might not have the weather of the Côte d'Azur but it is packed with choice. Sailors head to the West, arguably the prettiest coastline, with dozens of islands to explore.

The shooting and fishing crowd heads to estates across the North; city slickers go to Edinburgh or edgier Glasgow for culture, heritage and great shopping.

Families looking for quiet space with easy access to the city should consider Perthshire. Properties range from "But 'n' Ben" croft cottages from £150,000 to 70,000-acre estates for more than £10 million.

Proximity to water and exceptional country views are what most buyers want and, while the Scottish market has fallen in value by around 15 per cent, the number of European buyers has increased, say local agents, eager to take advantage of their strong euro.

£350,000: The Arns, Perthshire
Offers over £350,000: The Arns, Perthshire, a five-bedroom house in Luncarty. Edinburgh and Glasgow are 45 miles away (

There's plenty of space in Perthshire

It has been described as Scotland in miniature but there is nothing small-scale about Perthshire.

The county sits at the heart of Scotland stuffed with hills, lochs, glens, salmon-rich rivers and even a ski resort, Glenshee.

It's the bridge between the lowlands of the South and the rugged Highlands, with its historically fearsome residents to the North.

There's rapid access to Edinburgh and Glasgow, both within an hour of the south, making pretty villages like Crieff, Gleneagles and Comrie popular with commuters as well.

'Edinburgh is a beautiful year-round city'

Edinburgh is a wounded beauty this year. The Georgian centre is being dug up ready for a new tram network in 2011. Spiralling costs - £500 million and rising - and endless roadworks have enraged many residents.

Despite these works, Andrew Smith of Strutt & Parker is seeing increasing numbers of weekly commuters move here from the South. "Edinburgh is easy to walk around and that's part of its appeal," says Smith. "But what really seduces people is how calming it is here.

£595,000: Great Stuart Street, Edinburgh
£595,000: a four-bedroom duplex flat with large kitchen in Great Stuart Street, Edinburgh (0131 222 9600)
Edinburgh is a big financial centre and property prices reflect that but it is also a beautiful year-round city, easily accessed from the South by rail or plane and close to prime countryside."

English buyers who choose Edinburgh often want a pad for their children at university - Marchmont is a popular area. Expect to pay from £350,000 upwards for a two-bedroom apartment in the centre or £550,000 for a desirable home in the West End of the Georgian New Town, Edinburgh's equivalent of Kensington.

Smith advises buyers wanting to let their property to consider a well-located three-bedroom property: "These have been particularly lucrative on short, weekly lets."

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