Sardinia: Buying a home near the jetset at a fraction of the price

By : Nick Marr

 More affordable Sardinia is renowned for its Costa Smeralda coastline, the playboys’ paradise developed by the Aga Khan in the 1960s and where the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Robbie Williams, Mariah Carey, Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas come to top up their tans.

The luxury waterfront properties that overlook the equally luxurious yachts in the marina are as expensive as they appear, often changing hands for up to €75million.

To reinforce the point, Chelsea FC owner and Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich bought a villa for €30million just under ten years ago. Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi also has a 68-room 168-acre estate on the market here, where he once hosted everyone from George W Bush to Vladimir Putin. The asking price? Yours for a cool €500million.

Yet, as the British are slowly discovering, away from the glitz and glamour of this stretch of the north-east Sardinia — and the area around Alghero on the north-west coast, another property hotspot — the island is home to a number of eye-catching property bargains.

UK buyers are drawn by the availability of short, low-cost flights to Sardinia. But the island’s increasing popularity, which can inflate rental income in high season, is also a factor. Rents can be up to a third higher than on a similarly sized property in Tuscany.

For buyers, if for instance you’re happy to be 10km or so from the coast and take on a fixer-upper, you can pick up an 80sq m apartment for around €15,000 in Sassari, in the north-west of the island, or Iglesias, in the south-west.

Want to steer clear of a renovation project? Again in Sassari, just €25,000 can get you a one-bedroom apartment ready to move into.

However, if your heart’s set on a cut-price deal, bear in mind that as you go further inland, it becomes much more rural and you are less likely you are to find amenities such as banks and stores close at hand or English-speaking estate agents.

If you want to be closer to the coast, there are bargains to be found in several parts of the island. And bear in mind that a bit of haggling can knock up to ten per cent or even more off the advertised price.

Simon Llewellyn of Italian real estate company Homes and Villas Abroad explains: “On the promontory of Sant’Antioco, off Sardinia’s south-west coast, expect a studio apartment to start at around €40,000 and an apartment — with two bedrooms, if you’re lucky — to start from around €55,000.

“The northern coast of the island is also fertile bargain hunting ground too, especially if you’re looking for something with a bit more room.

“In towns such as Castelsardo and Valledoria, budget around €100,000 for a new one-bedroom property and €225,000 for a 3-bedroom sea-view villa, sometimes with a swimming pool thrown in as well.

“The northern coast is spectacularly rugged and offers stunning views over the La Maddalena archipelago. It is also dotted with charming fishing villages and lovely beaches. In addition, both the airports of Alghero to the west and Olbia to the east are within a 75-minute radius and both are now served by low-budget flights from the UK. The Costa Smeralda is also within easy reach.”

Little wonder that at one stage an estimated three in four buyers in this part of Sardinia were from overseas.

Sardinia has other natural attractions, too. The island — about the same size as Wales —  is the second largest in the Med behind Sicily and boasts 1,150 miles of stunning coast. That takes in everything from scenic bays and long sandy beaches to stunning white cliffs and windswept dunes.

Large swathes of the coast, particularly on the Costa Smeralda, have stringent building restrictions in place, ensuring there’s no danger of a plague of ugly, Spanish-style high-rises scarring the landscape.

Some of the pick of its beaches are, in the north, the  Spiaggia di Cavalieri on Isola Budelli in the Maddelena archipelago; Cala Brandinchi around San Teodoro in the north-east; Cala Goloritze and Cala Mariolu in the east; and Spiaggia della Pelosa in the north-west just above Stintino.

Others include, in the east, Spiaggia della Piscinas as well as Aruttas on the Sinis Peninsula, plus the area around Chia on the south coast.

The weather’s not bad either. As befitting an island closer in parts to North Africa than it is to the Italian mainland, it boasts an average of around 300 days of sunshine a year, meaning it enjoys warm weather well into the autumn months.