I had the desire to have a Mediterranean property in Europe for a long time: since 2007 I have property in Bulgaria, and my choice was between Spain and Bulgaria. I gave preference to Bulgaria, bought an apartment there and by the end of 2014, I spend there the vacations for 8 seasons.
I wanted diversity and I started to explore other directions, and I fell in love with Albania, by reading few reviews of tourists and property buyers, who visited the country in recent years. I prepared so well that I knew dozens of beaches on the Albanian Riviera already by correspondence, and originally chose for myself Ionico. The Albanian Adriatic has sandy beach, the same as in Bulgaria, and I wanted a transparent turquoise sea with white pebbles on the shore.
About the country
So why Albania:
1. A secure country.
2. Friendly people, not spoiled by mass tourist.
3. Cheap, natural and very tasty food (fruits and vegetables, seafood, etc.). In Albania there are 300 sunny days per year: grow olives, citrus, pomegranates, figs, bananas, etc. So all year round there are fresh and cheap fruits.
4. Beautiful sea, lots of empty beaches.
5. Accessibility by car: 2100 km from Kiev.
6. The cheapest meter on the Mediterranean sea. Prices in neighboring Montenegro are 2 times higher, not to mention Croatia. In Greece you can find such offers, but it's the same Schengen and rates “for life” in Greece are much higher.
7. Growth potential. Albania now is Montenegro 10 years ago. Yet for every 20 tourists from Russia in Montenegro has 1 a tourist in Albania.
8. The country is actively growing, the capital is very pleasant. Since 2006, the Albanians travel through Europe without visas.
9. The country is not very rich but life expectancy is much higher than even in Bulgaria, not to mention Ukraine and Russia.
10. Being in Albania, it is possible to travel by car to nearby countries: Greece, Corfu island (ferry), Montenegro, Bosnia, Croatia, Italy (ferry from Vlora).
11. The season is longer than on the Black sea. September, October and maybe even part of November are suitable for swimming.
The complexity of the choice
In Albania only about 20% of real estate are sold with a full package of documents, with the so-called hypoteque. So if there is no this hypoteque, the right of ownership won’t be issued quickly. In Saranda I met Russians who bought the property three years ago and still do not have all the documents. So I decided for myself: I will buy the property only with all the documents.
The trip was planned out so that we lives 2-3 days in different towns, to study the infrastructure, to relax and at the same time to see the property (I made a list in advance made and agreed with the agencies). We stayed in Vlore, Thermi, Himare, Saranda and Ksamil.
I liked Himare very much. This town is located perfectly to all the beaches of Albanian Riviera – from both parties within 15 km (an hour away) it has a variety of uncrowded beaches. However, in the Himare was not property, which would suit me in all respects: with or without hypoteque, or far from the sea, next to the road and without common areas. Prices in Himare by the way were from 700 to 850 euros per square meter.
After Himare we went to Saranda, in which we observed a wide variety of objects, and finally opted for the house where there was a patio, swimming pool, a nice area, near was all the infrastructure and good beaches 100 m away. In addition, in favor of the purchase was the fact that several Ukrainian families have already bought apartments in this house. Price was around 500-550 euros per square meter.
On my budget I could buy a small studio of 38 meters in Sermi (the most luxury resort of Albania), or more than 80 meters 1+1 in Saranda. Also there was another factor: an apartment in Saranda will be easier to rent out. My wife liked Saranda more than Himare, the town is more (35 vs 15 thousand population), and if you come during the off-season, you will not feel yourself in the middle of nowhere.
The procedure of purchase took 1 day. More time was required by banking (cash withdrawal from the Ukrainian credit card was limited to a certain amount per day, so we had to stay longer).
I bought an apartment with Aler Travel – they showed me the most interesting offers for Albanian property, as well as helped to reach a compromise with the seller when negotiations had already been stalled (there were nuances in the footage of the apartment, associated with redevelopment). They were very helpful in everyday things: a settlement in Tirana, also they advised a good clinic (we needed vaccine from tetanus for our son – he jumped in the wrong place and stepped on a nail), etc. Now they help me with the furniture that is already 90% done.
What is most important to me: the result fully meets my expectations!