"Chalupareni" which loosely translates as "a country-cottage lifestyle" is a Czech term coined in the second half of the 20th century when Czechs could not travel and when all their time and money was invested in their country cottages. As a result Czechs now top the European statistics in the number of country-homes owned per head. "Chalupareni" is still going strong but as Czechs get richer many are looking around for a different kind of holiday home.
Gardening, DIY jobs around the house and a barbecue for family and friends are just fine but those Czechs who can afford it want to buy the one thing they never had - a country cottage with a sea view. Just ten years ago only celebrities and top business managers could afford it. Now real estate agencies offering holiday homes abroad report a growing number of clients. Ivana Balkova is from Mediterranea, an investment and consultancy company that specialises in property abroad.
"When we started offering properties abroad our clients were mainly successful entrepreneurs looking for luxury summer homes. Today we increasingly get middle class clients who want to purchase a standard apartment or seaside house for weekends and summer holidays".
"Croatia is definitely a very popular choice. It is easily accessible by car and there are cheap flights to these holiday destinations. Croatia has a very nice coastline, it is not overcrowded like some areas in the Mediterranean and the prices are quite affordable. This year there is a big interest in Greek locations such as Crete, Corfu, Chalkidiki, the prices in Greece are comparable to those in Croatia, the coast is also very beautiful and the way of life is very healthy. Another popular destination is southern Spain. This is due to its benevolent climate, good infrastructure and high quality services."
What are Czech buyers most interested in - what are their priorities?
"Czechs definitely want to have a sea-view. Ninety-nine percent of clients make this request. They want to be able to walk to the beach - so it need not be property in the "front line" but it has to be close. And then it depends on the individual client - some prefer an apartment, others want a family house."
A holiday home in Greece costs between 125,000 to 200,000 euros - that's approximately three and a half to five million crowns. Regarding overseas destinations the biggest interest is in property in the United States, namely in Florida.
Czechs with money to spare are also learning to pamper themselves at home - buying luxury apartments in the country's winter-holiday resorts and in renowned spa-towns, such as Karlovy Vary and Marianske Lazne. People working 18 hours a day and making big money are no longer interested in DIY jobs at their country cottage. They are looking for five star restaurants, private sporting facilities and wellbeing centres that will enable them to rest as efficiently as they work. And a luxury flat in Greece or a villa in the Alps is not just a good investment - it's a status symbol.
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