A guide to finding property in Venice
With renowned attractions such as St Mark’s Square, the Palazzo Ducale, the Grand Canal, the Bridge of Sighs, it is no surprise that Venice in Italy is one of the world’s most magical cities.
There is little surprise either in why it is one of the most sought-after spots in which to own property in Italy. Mind you, it is not exactly one of the cheapest. The top-end of the Venice real estate market has remained virtually untouched by the worldwide slowdown and prestige apartments routinely fetch the best part of US$10million in upmarket areas such as between the Rialto Bridge and St Mark’s Square on the Grand Canal.
The sky-high prices of real estate in Venice have seen some property investors shy away from the city. They have merely followed in the footsteps of large swathes of the local population. Since the 1950s, nearly 70 per cent of them have headed for the outskirts, leaving Venice’s present-day population down to a mere 60,000 hardy souls.
However, you do not always need millions to buy a home in the city. One highly affordable area is Dorsoduro, south of the city centre and just a short boat ride away. Here, expect around US$350,000 for small, well-appointed flat. Dorsoduro is brimming with vitality. The city’s Ca’ Foscari University is here and after dark the area becomes the centre of Venetian nightlife.
Yet Dorsoduro also oozes upmarket chic. The Accademia art gallery and Peggy Guggenheim Museum are here. They were recently joined by the Punta della Dogana Museum, on the site of a 17th century customs building.
Even more affordable is Castello, the largest of Venice’s six districts, which lies just east of St Mark’s Square but is not yet deluged by hordes of tourists. Here, expect around US$420,000 for an 80sq m two-bedroom home.
Given the city’s flooding woes, there is an ongoing Euro 4 billion project to build a network of dams to protect Venice from the sea. That notwithstanding, some purchasers try to avoid ground-floor apartments. Either way, a handy piece of advice would be to obtain a full survey and ensure that the property you plan to purchase is above the highest water level for the area.
That said, more than 19 million visitors flock here each year, attracted by its Venice’s timeless appeal and by events such as the carnival in February/March; the Biennale arts festival in summer and autumn; and the Venice Film Festival in August/September.
It means excellent rental potential for pretty much 12 months of the year. In high season, expect US$1,700 a week from a one-bedroom property; US$2,500 for a two-bedroom one; and US$8,000-plus for the top-end of the market.
Alternatively, there are 118 islands in the Venetian archipelago which also represent excellent buying opportunities.
In Burano, some 10km north-east, US$625,000 can land you a house rather than just an apartment. Nearby Torcello and Tellestrina Chioggia are also scenic. However, rental yields diminish the further away from the city centre you go.
Another possibility is the historic towns scattered some 30-45 minutes by train from Venice. In Padova, expect to pay US$550,000 for an 80 sq m two-bedroom home. Elsewhere, however, budget US$350,000 for a two-bedroom town centre apartment in either Treviso, renowned for its wine and cuisine, or Vicenza, a Unesco World Heritage Site.