Three European Cities Perfect for a Cultural Investment


Aerial view of the old town in Valencia from SerranosEuropean cities are often cultural hotspots that provide overseas property buyers with a fun base for enjoying a rich urban lifestyle.

Here are three cities that could be perfect holiday home spots for those seeking a cultural investment:

Valencia, Spain

With its historic old town, fashionable beachfront and suburban communities, Valencia has neighbourhoods to suit all types of property buyer. Its current, favourable house prices also give it the edge over other – more popular – Spanish cities.

Highlights of the country’s third largest city include: Europe’s largest urban park, called Turia Gardens; one of Spain’s largest and best preserved old towns, which includes a UNESCO site; and the landmark City of Arts and Sciences complex on the seafront, which includes Europe’s largest aquarium.

Most international buyers head to the Eixample district, which combines beautiful old apartment blocks, with a thriving café scene and easy access to Valencia’s key central districts. There, the Ruzafa (also Russafa) neighbourhood is especially fashionable, alongside the upmarket Pla del Remei.

Also popular is Barrio del Carmen in the heart of Valencia’s historic old town, home to ancient winding streets, pretty plazas and stunning architecture. Meanwhile, an area highlighted as up and coming is the old fisherman’s quarter, El Cabanyal, on the city’s beachfront.

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Lisbon, Portugal

The appeal of Portugal’s capital has soared in recent years, thanks to the city’s emergence as a hub for young start-up firms, in particular, those operating in the creative and technology sectors.

The country’s introduction of incentives to attract more international investors, namely the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) programme and the Golden Visa scheme, has helped to fuel its popularity.

Prices in Lisbon are still very competitive compared to other European capitals, for both property and living costs.

Apartments in one of the city’s most sought-after districts, predominately the historic old quarter, Bairro Alto, where old character buildings are being restored to meet demand, are an estimated 40-50% cheaper than equivalents in London, Paris or Madrid.

Other popular central districts include Lapa, Chiado and Santos. In addition, recent reforms to restrictive rental rules have made buy-to-let property more attractive to international investors.

The riverfront section of Lisbon’s Belem district is another exciting area. It is the site of significant urban redevelopment and is being transformed into a cultural hotspot, helping to put the city on the global map. Central to this is the recently completed Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT), which has become an instant city landmark.

Meanwhile, on the south side of the River Tagus, the Lisbon South Bay project will see the regeneration of large parts of the Almada, Barreiro and Seixal districts, and has been compared to the successful regeneration of the docks area of Liverpool.

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Berlin, Germany

Recently voted the number one city in Europe for self-employed people, Berlin is well known for its sense of free spirit and colourful artistic streak. Its more bohemian districts include Kreuzberg, Neukölln and Tempelhof, where the streets are lined with bars, cafes and second-hand shops.

Lichtenberg is intriguing for its remarkable East German brutalism and pockets of international communities that add zest to the neighbourhood, for example, the huge Vietnamese Dong Xuan market.

One of the most desirable districts for international investors is Berlin’s British quarter, Westend, offering close proximity to Charlottenburg Palace and Brixplatz, one of the city’s oldest parks. The area includes the International Club Berlin, a private members’ club that continues the legacy of the post-war British Officer’s Society, complete with tennis courts, a swimming pool, bar and restaurant, as well as the 1936 Olympic Stadium and modernist Olympic Village, Messe exhibition ground, and various concert halls, theatres and upmarket businesses.

Originally developed into a residential neighbourhood for the Berlin bourgeoisie and so named after London’s West End, it was planned as the city’s artists’ colony, home to large traditional style villas. For those wealthy enough to live in Westend, the villas provided a stark contrast to other areas of the city that are dominated by apartment blocks, known as Plattenbau (brutalist concrete architecture).

Unlike London’s West End, which is today dominated by overseas investors and second homeowners, Berlin’s most affluent neighbourhood isn’t ostentatious and has retained its character, community and charm, thanks to the city’s strict planning laws.

Will you choose to invest in any of these cultural hotspots?

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