Gozo: Buying guide

Behind many traditional Maltese facades in Gozo - a small island near Malta beloved of Brits and where Billy Connolly has a home - the prevailing style is Versace-meets-Dynasty
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What to buy? Most Brits buy old farmhouses or villas on the outskirts of villages - nothing is very remote on the island – and town houses of character. Think thick walls and gardens laden with lemon trees and pungent with rosemary.

Cost of properties: Three- to six-bedroom farmhouses range from £100,000 to as much as £1 million for one of the nicest 16th century modernised farmhouses with grounds and pool. A modest two-bedroom apartment with reasonable views starts from £60,000.

Difficulties in buying? The procedure for acquiring property with sole ownership is extremely easy, with good services offered by local notaries and estate agents. Estate agents' fees are normally five per cent of the selling price, which are paid by the vendor.

One-bedroom maisonette in Gharb, Gozo
£67,575: this one-bedroom maisonette in Gharb, Gozo, could be an ideal holiday let. Through Frank Salt (00 356 21 560169)
Tips: “Get a local solicitor to deal with it and then it’s simple, if the house is owned by one person,” says local second-home owner Genevieve De Wynter, of London’s Park Nanny Agency. “But the problem is that often they’re owned by whole families who are scattered around the world, and they all have to sign.” (If you don’t have a local solicitor, many UK solicitors have affiliations with Maltese or Gozitan counterparts.)

Any other difficulties? A lot of demolition went on in the 1970s and 1980s. People pulled down old farmhouses and put up tacky apartments, removing traditional Maltese/Arabian-influenced wooden balconies and erecting aluminium ones. Now rules are quite strict, because of conservation and a greater awareness of cultural heritage - a possible burden when doing up a property.

To love: The simplicity; its relaxed attitude (the motto of Gozo is, ‘Where time stood still’); local hospitality; community life; possibilities for anonymity or an active social life; easy access to beaches; good diving; quietness; mild winters compared to the UK; lovely spring; vans that drive door-to-door selling produce; and its safety. A lot of filming takes place on the island, so there are opportunities for budding extras. And English is one of the official languages.

Three-bedroom farmhouse in Sannat, Gozo
£278,250: many traditional features remain in a converted, three-bedroom farmhouse in Sannat, Gozo. Through Frank Salt (00 356 21 560169)
The downsides: Slow service (Gozitans don’t understand the word ‘fast’); very quiet from November to March; when it rains, it pours, and in August it can get overbearingly hot and humid. Most of the food is imported, and fast-food places are starting to take over in the capital, Victoria.

Fans: Lulu Guinness, Sean Connery and Billy Connolly

For buying property: Frank Salt (00 356 21 560169;

To rent: A 400-year-old five-bedroom farmhouse overlooking Ramla valley, from £800 a week. Contact Genevieve De Wynter (07956 577453).

To rent: A 14th century six-bedroom farmhouse in Kercem with swimming pool and rural views, from £800 a week. Email caroline.logsdail@safeserve.com, or call 07743 899380.

Four-bedroom farmhouse in Kercem, Gozo
£230,550: furniture is included with this four-bedroom farmhouse in Kercem, Gozo. Through Frank Salt (00 356 21 560169)
Hotel to stay in: Hotel Ta’ Cenc (00 356 21 556819/21 556830.

Fly into Luga with British Airways www.ba.com, Air Malta www.airmalta.com or Ryanair www.ryanair.com.

How far? Three hours from London. Once there, in five minutes you can be on a beach. From July, there will be a seaplane service from Gozo’s harbour, Mgaar, to Malta’s Valetta harbour, taking about 15 minutes. Ferries take
15 to 20 minutes to cross from Gozo to Malta.

For more information, visit www.gozo.com

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