When you think of ski property, you probably think of second homes. However, a small but increasing number of buyers in the Alps are bucking that trend and buying property to live in year-round. Chamonix, for example, has over 9,000 permanent residents. So what’s behind the trend – and could you follow in their footsteps?
Growing year-round fitness appeal
There’s been a huge shift in recent years towards emphasising the year-round appeal of some of the top ski resorts, and it is all about living an active lifestyle amid beautiful natural surroundings year-round. In winter, hit the slopes and ski and snowboard to your heart’s content, but, in spring and summer, make the most of the stunning scenery right on your doorstep for hikes, mountain biking and more. If you’re looking for a new adventure in retirement, for instance, it’s almost a no-brainer – who wouldn’t want to be able to open their front door and head out into the Alps every day?
Alpine fitness is likewise a growing trend, and, highlights Knight Frank in its 2020 Ski Report, there is a small trend of serious athletes buying permanent Alpine bases to train from. This is complimented by the increasing addition of ‘wellness’ elements to many resorts, such as spas and retreats. Courchevel, for example, has a new, luxurious 150,000m2 complex called ‘Aquamotion’, with leisure pools, a surf pool, saunas, steam rooms, and more.
World-class dining and nightlife
Ski resorts are perhaps some of the few places where you can find high clusters of world-class dining, nightlife and entertainment outside of a major city. And with growing interest from non-skiing tourists or tourists who only want a short skiing experience as part of a package, such as Chinese tour groups, there is only going to be further investment in non-ski infrastructure.
So why not enjoy the buzz of fantastic leisure experiences, whether it’s Michelin-starred restaurants or live music and swish bars, while being right on the doorstep of fantastic nature and sporting activities? It’s a blend of two lifestyles that you’ll rarely find elsewhere.
Rise of remote working
It’d be difficult to have missed the rise in remote working, whether permanently in a salaried role or as a freelancer. It’s moving beyond traditional ‘home-working’ roles like designers and writers, with companies taking advantage of geographical flexibility to expand their reach without the need for an office – for example, an estate agent in London might have a sales manager in Méribel, or a stat-up in Berlin might work with software developers scattered throughout Europe.
The Alps are well connected now with 4G across many areas, opening up the possibilities for digital workers. According to Opensignal, over 87% of Swiss internet users in mountain areas above 3,280ft can access 4G, and have a relatively respectable upload speed of 35mpbs.
In many ways, the region is absolutely perfect for anyone working from home. It’s geographically at the heart of Europe, a short train ride or flight away from all major destinations. And, on that subject, the transport infrastructure is generally excellent, and English is widely spoken.
Many older villages, not necessarily purpose-built as resorts, are also keen to attract a wider population base, and are busy promoting their area to businesses and employers alike. Canton Valais, for example, has launched a dedicated site, Valais4You, to bring new talent to the region, and has over 1,000 jobs listed.
Eleven-month Brexit transition period
For British buyers looking at purchasing abroad, by far the biggest event of this year will be Brexit. The UK is set to leave the EU on 31st January, after which there will be a transition period until the end of December. If you move during this period and establish residency, then you will be guaranteed your EU rights after 31st December.
This makes this year the perfect time to buy a permanent home in the Alps in France, Italy or Austria. Just owning a property and using it part-time isn’t enough to establish residency, unless you spend 183 days a year or more in that country. To find out more about moving before and after Brexit, have a read of our free Brexit guides.
And, to find out more about how to buy your permanent home in the Alps, download our country buying guides, covering the purchase process, hidden costs, tax, legalities and more.