Splashing Out On A Chalet Of Your Own

It shouldn’t surprise you that we here at the Skiing department believe in the value of a luxury chalet of your very own. But not everyone shares our enthusiasm, of course. Ski chalets are a big investment, there are no two ways about it.

Having just recently been involved in selling my parents on a lovely ski property for sale in Austria, here are the pros and cons I presented them with before they made the jump.

Pro #1 The strong pound

For the benefit of our British readers, the Great British Pound is incredibly strong at the moment. With mortgage rates in countries like France being lower than they have ever been, and the Euro continuing not to show any signs of strengthening any time soon (sitting at 1.00 GBP to 1.23 EUR at the time of writing), the whole of Europe is your oyster as a British buyer.

Pro #2 Flexible buying options

There are plenty of options for prospective chalet buyers, with prices to match. Catered or non catered, ski-in/ski-out locations or locations a drive away from the slopes, pools, jacuzzis – there is a lot to consider in terms of the calibre of chalet you might want to invest in.
Property developers and agents are more than happy to agree renting terms, as well as direct buying terms. You can often benefit from approaching developers like Kristall Spaces or French Mountain Property directly, rather than contending with buyers’ fees through estate agents.

Pro #3 An all year round basecamp

It can be misleading to think of a ski chalet as just that, a crash pad after a day of hitting the slopes. To do so tends to do the resorts themselves a disservice. A lot of them are just as enticing out of season as in season. More manageable climates, lush green valleys and a lower tourist headcount are but some of the advantages of having access to a chalet in the summer months.

That’s not to say there won’t be anything to do other than hiking, though. Activities as varied as golf, horseriding, paragliding, rock climbing and watersports become available once the summer months roll in. It can give you a whole new appreciation of your favourite resort, and might make your chalet a go-to holiday destination all year round.

In the interest of fairness, let’s consider some of the disadvantages of outright buying a chalet.

Con #1 Local property ownership laws

Property ownership laws vary greatly from country to country – the fees you pay for the chalet itself might not be the only fees that you will be expected to pay.

The French government, for example, heavily taxes wealthy residents seeking second homes in the Alps. These laws obviously don’t apply to buyers who aren’t existing French residents, but that’s not to say you won’t receive aggressive letters assuming that you are until you tell the government otherwise.

Go prepared for anything!

Con #2 Maintenance costs

Depending on the agreements you make when you choose to invest in a property, you may be responsible for maintenance costs yourself, or, if you are renting, you may be able to report problems to a landlord instead.

Maintenance itself is one cost, but it can be worth employing a housekeeper to occasionally check up on your chalet when it’s not in use. They can highlight maintenance issues ahead of your arrival, which you can hopefully have addressed before you start your holiday.

Con #3 Inflexibility

Owning your own chalet can make you feel tied to that resort as your sole holiday destination. If you let it, that is.

It can help to choose a resort that has more than a few slopes locally, letting you expand your horizons on subsequent visits. As mentioned earlier, some resorts are just as exciting to visit during the summer as during winter.

The inflexibility issue is only an issue if you let it be. Your property could be a stopping-off point onto another resort or an unexpected summer getaway spot – it doesn’t have to be a winter-only skiing headquarters.

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Robert Stewart

Ski Editor at Snow.Guide

Rob has extensive knowledge and experience of winter sports and has been qualified to instruct and teach Alpine Skiing for over 25 years. He is also an experienced off-piste and backcountry skier and has competed in freestyle and freeride events around the world. Now a full-time ski writer and Director of Ski Press, Rob is Snow.Guide’s Ski Editor and contributes to many other snowsports, national and lifestyle publications.

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