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A Spanish acquisition; Mediterranean paradise is ideal for retirement, say expats ABROAD Unlimited sun, the blue seas and dramatic landscapes are within reach of even smaller spenders.

As overseas values fall, retiring Brits have been focusing new sights on sunny boltholes.

And still leading the popularity stakes are the traditional favourites - the Balearics, including Menorca, Mallorca, Ibiza and Formentera.

An impressive list of A-list celebrities has long been securing best plots in the nicest upmarket corners.

Unlimited budgets are useful for the one off coastal opportunities which come with private beachsides and total privacy.

Famous home owners in the Balearics include Richard Branson, John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Schumacher, Annie Lennox and Rafael Nadal.

But the unlimited sun, the blue seas and dramatic landscapes remain within reach of even smaller spenders, two bedroom apartments still available from 140,000 euros, around pounds 107,000 - equivalent of a one bedroom flat in Birmingham.

An exhibition is being staged this weekend at the National Motorcycle Museum near Solihull, The Balearics Roadshow runs from Saturday, September 13, to Sunday, September 14, open to all who might like to know more.

For those who don't know the facts and figures - even the attractions, there will be information on hand including stands manned by estate agencies specialising in property across the islands.

Derek and Sue Pritchard, both of Selly Oak, recently bought a three-bedroom villa at Calan Porter on Menorca.

Part of their retirement plan, they first bought with friends, later deciding to buy them out.

Menorca-based selling agents Bonnin Sanso helped with the initial negotiations, securing the property for 185,000 euros, a decent saving on the 220,000 euro list price.

Sue Pritchard, a financial systems manager, said: "After a family holiday, we fell in love with the island. It's a tranquil, Mediterranean paradise. The scenery is beautiful, the sea is bright blue, crime is minimal and the local foot is fresh and delicious."

The couple always planned to move there permanently once they reach retirement.

After deciding to buy on Menorca, the couple felt they could do with a guiding hand.

"We soon realised that estate agents in Britain didn't seem to understand the unique fabric of the island."

Their search for English-speaking agents on the island led them to Bonnin Sanso, the house was found and the deal done.

The couple had toyed with the idea of building something from scratch, another option for incoming buyers. "But we decided we couldn't wait and had to have a property immediately."

Another Birmingham couple, Alan and Anne Jones, are pleased with their decision to take the plunge, having opted to purchase in Mallorca.

Alan, a former director at Birmingham City FC, and Anne, also fell for the Spanish island while on holiday, deciding it would be ideal for their eventual retirement.

"We began by researching poperties and approached our local overseas estate agents Burchell Edwards in Dorridge.

They work in tandem with an agency on the island, The process was very smooth and worked well," said Anne.

The decided on a seaside apartment in a block of four in Colonia Sant Jordi in south-east Mallorca.

The price tag was 275,000 euros - and the purchase was completed in April this year for their two-bedroom home with sea views, just 50 yards from the water.

"Our Spanish agency sorted out all our legal documents and handled everything in Spanish for us. They even took us furniture shopping and helped us find local workmen would could help us install a swimming pool and fit extra lighting."

Balearic fact file

Menorca has a population of approximately 88,000 and has long, historic links with Britain, including a local taste for gin, which islanders mix with bitter lemon.

Main tourist areas are along the south coast including Santo Tomas, Son Bou, Cala en Porter, Binibeca and Punta Prima.

Lovely fishing villages with famous fish restaurants include Fornells on the north coast.

Mahon is the capital with its deep natural harbour.

Cuidadela was the capital during French occupation. The small town of Es Castell dates from the British period.

Local specialities include mayonnaise, shoes and leather goods.

Monarch Airlines operates from Birmingham, Manchester, Luton and Gatwick.

Local estate agents include Bonnin Sanso, www.bonninsanso.com.

Mallorca is the largest of the islands with a population of around 517,280.

Palma de Mallorca is the capital.

Specialities include the local wines.

Monarch flies direct from Manchester, Birmingham and Luton, return flights from the Midlands available from about pounds 88.

Local estate agents include Casa Oversas, www.casaoverseas.es

The Balearics Roadshow takes place at the National Motorcyle Museum, Coventry

Road, Bickenhill, for two days, from tomorrow, Saturday, September 13.

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The rustic charm of Mallorca
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 12, 2008
Words:767
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