According to the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), more than 750,000 Swiss live abroad. This figure is constantly increasing because, whether they are young workers, retirees or investors, more and more Swiss embark on a property purchase outside the Confederation each year.
Practical reasons and border countries are of course at the top of the list, starting with France, where around 200,000 Swiss people live. In terms of more distant countries, exoticism and sunshine are amplified by a square meter price generally much more prudent than in Switzerland and an offer that the Confederation cannot match, especially when it comes to a property by the sea. A beautiful house near a beach in Spain or Portugal will be on offer from CHF 400’000.- to 500’000.-, which seems reasonable especially since it can be rented during periods of non-occupation by its owner. This softens the purchase price and maintenance costs of this offshore investment. An option usually provided during the sale, and managed by a local service provider.
When it comes to sunshine and blue seas, among the destinations favoured by the Swiss clientele are Corsica. A French island, certainly expensive but infinitely desirable for its wild landscapes and globally intact coastline, which is increasingly rare in Europe.The new luxury development programmes in South Corsica are displayed at between CHF 5’800.- and 9’200.-/ m2 depending on the view and can go up to CHF 16’000.-/m2 for a waterfront residence. In general, on the European coast, the notion of “waterfront”, i.e. the property is in direct contact with the sea and accessible by foot, will tend to multiply the price by two. For Corsica, a villa can be worth CHF 3 or 6 million euros depending on its location on the side of the road !
Quality of the architecture
Another case in point is Mauritius, which focuses on the year-round dream setting it offers. After the vogue of prestigious postcard villas, the island has diversified its offer with reduced size residences, while preserving thequality of the architecture or services offered. And almost always near a dream beach, for prices starting at around CHF 300’000.- to increaseto around CHF 3 to 5 million for luxury properties. Mauritius has been a safe and reliable investment since its independence in 1968, and for those who are still active professionally, starting a business on the island is simple, fast and inexpensive.The tax benefits are also attractive (income tax, corporate tax and VAT limited to 15%, absence of inheritance tax) provided you live there for six months in the year. Still, to enjoy the charms of the island, the price of the plane ticket must be added and bear in mind that the flight from Geneva takes 11 hours! According to the FDFA, at the end of 2015, 737 Swiss people lived on the island on a full-time basis. A still modest but steadily increasing figure, while an average of 17’000 Swiss tourists visit Mauritius each year.
On the other side of the Atlantic, one of the world’s top destinations is Miami (Florida). The subject of an authentic property renaissance, it is sought after for both its main and secondary residences in the most highly rated neighbourhoods, such as South Beach, Coconut Grove, Brickell and Key Biscane, prices have been rising steadily since 2010.The Europeans, including the Swiss can take advantage of exchange rate differences and structurally lower prices than in the vast majority of international leading destinations. A beautiful 100 m2 apartment with sea views on a top floor on South Beach is worth around CHF 2 million. And an 800 m2 penthouse with 720 m2 of terrace on one of the most beautiful beaches of Miami is worth around CHF 8,8 million. Certainly these are high prices, but increasing continuously, making this “pleasure” purchase (almost) reasonable! Then there is the case of destinations that are considered exotic, in paradises like the Seychelles, Bali or the Grenadines, for a clientele already accustomed to diversifying their investments. Professional’s onsite have noted a developing trend: the investment in dream yachts, in full or co-ownership.
By Laurent Caillaud