Slovakia is reckoned to have all the ingredients of a fine holiday destination except the sea and, it might be said, any large lakes like the Alpine nations benefit from. It does have beautiful mountain scenery, castles (Krasna Horka, Muransky Hrad and Spissky Hrad) and national parks (The Tatra National Park, the Low Tatra National Park, Pieniny National Park, Slovak Paradise for caves, Muranska Plateau and Poloniny National Park for wolves, bears and wooden churches). Eastern Slovakia has the lions share of these atttactions.The High Tratra fulfilled a role as a scenic holiday playground for visitors from the richer western half of former Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) and will probably continue to do so. In addition the region has several ski resorts.
Old towns such as Kezmarok and Tara Lubovna retain often attractive historic centres but often have large apartment block estates on the outskirts. The region is also reputed for its mineral springs – the Empress Maria Theresa had them enumerated in the eighteenth century and there are a number of spas such as Bardejov.
Whether these attractions add up to a strong likelihood of a property boom in Eastern Slovakia is dubious. The country’s per capita GDP was almost $18,000 in 2006 (up from $12,840 in 2002) but living standards are higher in the relatively more prosperous and developed west of the country with people in Eastern Slovakia only achieving incomes of about one third those enjoyed in Bratislava. The eastern areas suffer from poor transport links and although road improvements are being made the region’s economy is going to be heavily dependent on rising living standards in neighbouring countries (eg. Poland and Hungary) and greater accessibility.
The regions main towns are Kosice (pop. 250,000), Presov (pop.92,000) and Poprad (pop. 55,000). Kosice and Poprad both have airports but the former is only served by flights from Bratislave, Prague and Vienna. However, Poprad-Tatry has a service to London operated by SkyEurope three times a week in summer.
There is significant marketing of properties in Slovakia, both new and re-sale. See, for example, the following websites:
Prices seem very reasonable: an eight bedroom house for 40,000 Euros, a 9 bedroom guesthouse 3 km from the Strbske Pleso ski resort in the heart of the High Tatras is on the market for approximately 150,000 Euros, near Poprad a 6 bedroom house divided into two self-contained flats is for sale for 200,000 Euros and the 450 year-old Betlanovce ‘Chateau’ is for sale at a price of 480,000 Euros. Prices in the Forest Tatry resort development will start at about 90,000 Euros.
The region also has a number of industrial parks either in business or in the process of realisation and the employment opportunities these may generate could be good for property prices in the years ahead (see www.usske.sk/edc/).
Generally speaking the low property prices might be a snare for the unwary with difficulties down the road in liquidating investments. For investors from Western Europe buying property in Eastern Slovakia is likely to be a matter of a lifestyle choice for some years to come.