The price of a home in a prime overseas area - Ibiza, St Tropez, Courchevel in the Alps - can rival those of the finest London addresses. The trick is finding a holiday home that helps pay for itself, has low running costs, is easy to lock up and leave, and doesn't cost a fortune to reach.
LIVE IN A CHÂTEAU
While property prices in lavender-filled villages of Provence remain high, next door in the Languedoc they are a lot more affordable: an average of £157,500 against £255,000. Reach the region via five high-speed rail stations, five airports and a good road network.
Twenty minutes from Beziers and an hour from Montpelier, Château St Pierre de Serjac is a 230-acre 19th-century wine estate with château, winery and extensive range of outbuildings.
Over the next two years, developer Karl O'Hanlon plans to create 36 flats and houses there, from £168,850 for a studio and £306,500 for a two-bedroom flat of 880sq ft with terrace. Furniture packages start from £10,200.
Even better, these should generate good rental returns, says O'Hanlon, based on his previous Languedoc project, Château Les Carrasses. He renovated that château, selling 28 flats and townhouses to owners who could stay as often as they liked in their own property, but otherwise had to make them available to rent. He operates the château as a hotel and wine estate, earning up to 4.7 per cent rental yields for owners in the first full year with no tax on rental returns for seven years.
* Domaine & Demeure: (domainedemeure.com).
Search for houses and flats for sale in Montpelier, France
THE ALPS FOR SKIERS
It's hard to ski on the cheap in a prime resort. Even those lucky enough to afford a home in the Alps can be caught out by the cost of living there. So hurrah for Austria: not only the birthplace of Alpine skiing but also the home of true value compared with the eye-watering prices in much of France and Switzerland.
Website skiingthealps.com puts a beer in the ski resort of Kaprun - one hour from Salzburg - at £3 against £5.12 in Verbier, Switzerland while a seven-day lift pass is £281 in Verbier against £209 in Kaprun.
In both summer and winter, Kaprun is a popular tourist town. For skiers it has 85 miles of pistes, while for summer visitors there are golf courses, national parks and thermal spas.
The 1,000ft Kitzsteinhorn glacier makes Kaprun one of only a handful of places in Europe where in summer you can ski in the morning, play golf in the afternoon and take a boat out on the lake at Zell am See for a lazy sun-downer.
This is where the Austrian ski team trains and it is also a family-friendly resort.
Fully furnished studios and one- to three-bedroom apartments in Panorama Residences start from £97,980 excluding VAT (not payable if you agree to rent your apartment out) through Mark Warner Property.
* Mark Warner Property: 020 7692 0786 (markwarnerproperty.com).
Search for houses and flats for sale in Austria
DISCOVER A REAL TUSCAN TREAT
Prices in Tuscany have tumbled since 2007, down 25 per cent on average, but living the Chianti-shire dream still doesn't come cheap. Strict planning rules keeping supply low means a farmhouse in a rural utopia will start from a cool £1 million.
Why not buy a home in an 800-year-old Tuscan village instead? The Castelfalfi development project overlooking Volterra is a 1,100-hectare agricultural estate within an hour of Pisa airport, Florence and Siena. It is being brought back to life by TUI to create a superior leisure resort with 190 homes for sale.
Prices start from £196,500 for a 538sq ft one-bedroom flat in the original borgo, with larger apartments and stand-alone farmhouses also for sale. Facilities include two golf courses with clubhouse, pools, a hotel that opened in March, restaurants and shops. Castelfalfi will manage rentals, giving owners 85 per cent of rental revenue.
* Knight Frank: 020 7629 8171
* Castelfalfi: 00 39 0571 890124
Search for houses and flats for sale in Volterra, Italy