From Bristol to the Balkans – A tale of one man’s Albanian addiction

From Bristol to the Balkans – A tale of one man’s Albanian addiction

It may not seem to be the natural leap from the South-West city of Bristol, England’s 6th most populous city, with its bustling crowds of shoppers and famous Brunel-designed Clifton Suspension Bridge, but the undiscovered Albanian coastline, with its golden sands and azure waters, is proving to have a very special magnetic draw for one Bristolian.

Neil Harper, a Business Analyst from the Somerset city, has bought a two bedroom apartment at Lalzit Bay Resort & Spa, after falling for Albania when he visited earlier this summer. The 58-year-old used a combination of savings and pension funds to buy his dream property and explains that the country has a multitude of charms that drew him in,

“The Albanian countryside provides a good mix of mountains, farmland and tremendous beaches and this was a key buying influence for me. Having visited Albania, I also found the people to be undoubtedly friendly and eager to make sure your visit is enjoyable which was wonderfully refreshing. Not only this but the weather in the summer is hot, though not unbearably so, and the beaches and Adriatic Sea are extensive so you can really make the most of your time.”

Just 45 miles across the water from Italy and bordered by the popular tourist hotspots of Greece and Montenegro, the comparison of Albania to its neighbours is an interesting one and one that is not lost on Neil. Recognising that Albania is one of the few underdeveloped countries in relation to mainstream tourism, Neil saw the potential in buying in a market where the cost of home ownership is relatively low and the cost of living approximately half that of neighbouring countries.

He explains that in light of this he purchased his property primarily as an investment, whilst also hoping to use it himself too,

“When buying my apartment I was certainly attracted by the potential within the Albanian property market. Tourism in the country is up 5% year on year and flights into the capital, Tirana, are already available from most European countries, with this coverage hopefully continuing to expand as the popularity of Albania as a holiday destination grows. The country has also recently been granted EU accession status which should provide further benefit in both commercial terms and in boosting tourism.”

And Neil is right to spot the growth in tourism. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama recently noted a rise of 14% in the number of tourists visiting the country this year and with the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) revealing in their ‘Travel & Tourism Economic Impact 2014’ report that the direct contribution of travel and tourism to the country’s GDP is scheduled to rise by 5.5% in 2014 and by 5.6% each year until 2024, it is clear that now is the ideal time to invest in a property in this corner of the Balkans.

Given these conditions, and when compared to the financial investment options currently available in the UK, Neil was encouraged by the monetary gains predicted when buying a property at Lalzit Bay. He explains how he plans to use the property as a source of income,

“With typical UK savings gross interest rates of below 2% I have estimated a gross return of circa 8% from the investment in Albania assuming it is let for only the main three summer months. I am making an assumption of 0% growth but I am hoping for a decent rise in the value of the property which, given the current market conditions, seems to be achievable.”

On first glance a somewhat unusual choice as a location to consider when buying an overseas property, it is perhaps easy to see why Neil’s decision was met with initial surprise on the part of his loved ones, yet, as he explains, they soon came round to the idea,

“I think my family and friends were surprised when I said I’d chosen Albania as the country in which to buy, I think because until recently it had not been heavily promoted as a holiday destination. However, when I explained the reasoning for my decision and the potential growth prospects (both in terms of my investment and the country as a whole) they soon saw the sense in what I am doing and being able to show them the development updates means that they are all impressed by what they have seen.

“Although my children are all grown up I have no doubt they will all soon be after a week or two in the sun when my apartment is ready!”

Just 30 minutes from the international airport of Tirana, Lalzit Bay Resort and Spa boasts a breathtaking beachfront location on beautiful golden sands with stunning views of the Dajti mountain range behind. A low-rise five-star development with a host of excellent facilities – from a beach club and tennis courts to boutique shops and top restaurants and bars – the resort offers a range of property options, all built to the highest of standards.

One or two bed apartments are available, like the one purchased by Neil, or three or four bed villas, boasting spacious indoor and outdoor space, optional private swimming pools and the very best fixtures and fittings, all inspired by California’s elegant and modern beachfront houses. Prices range from €35,000 to €360,000.

As someone who has successfully made a purchase of one such property, Neil is keen to offer a helping hand to anyone else looking to do the same. He concludes,

“The only advice I can give potential buyers of property abroad is to do extensive research. Look at any feedback by other purchasers, make a list of all questions you may have and get them answered before you commit, engage an independent English-speaking solicitor, check that the developers are financially secure, pay in stages and just be confident in your own mind that you are making the right choice before you pay any money. Look at it as if you were buying your own home in the UK. This is what I did with my property at Lalzit Bay and I am more than happy with the result.”

For more information about Lalzit Bay Resort and Spa call +44 845 125 8600 or visit