Your choice of which Austrian resort to purchase will depend on many factors – ski area, proximity to airports, summer activities and not least of all, budget. Prices vary dramatically between the different regions in Austria as well as from resort to resort. In figure 6 we have put together a useful high-level price guide for several key resorts as well as providing a brief description.
The Hochkonig (High King) ski area is still relatively undiscovered by the UK market but has been popular with Dutch and German skiers and holiday homeowners for some years now. Just 25 minutes from Zell am See and 5 minutes from Saalfelden, the Hochkonig is real Austrian ‘Sound of Music’ country with beautiful villages, rolling meadows and towering mountains.
The fact that the area has only recently been fully linked together is perhaps why it has been relatively undiscovered. The Hochkonig is an ideal family-friendly ski region and compromises some 160km of slopes that join together the villages of Maria Alm, Hinterthal/Hintermoos, Dienten and Muhlbach.
The lack of international exposure to the ski region has kept a lid on property prices and the region is one of the most affordable in the area. Prime new build developments close to the piste start at around €3,400/m2 meaning that entry-level apartments can be found from around €140,000 while it is possible to find a smaller, older chalet property from around €500,000.
Maria Alm is the largest of the villages that makes up the Hochkonig and has seen the greatest residential development over the last 10 years. The village centre is attractive and dominated by one of the largest church spires in the region.
Although there is a lift right down into the centre of Maria Alm, it is not yet possible to ski back to the village at the end of the day so expect a two minute bus ride back to the village after your day’s skiing. Plans are afoot to correct this but buyers need to be aware. Regardless, the village is in an attractive position and offers much more than a simple ski resort.
Hinterthal / Hintermoos
As you ski east through the Hochkonig from Maria Alm, the next two villages that you will come to are Hinterthal and Hintermoos, situated close to each other in the next valley.
While these are great locations to access the ski area, they lack the amenities that are on offer in Maria Alm and Dienten.
These are ideal villages to buy a property if you are really looking to get away from it all in a traditional Austrian environment. Just don’t expect any wild après ski!
Carry on east from Hintermoos and you will come to the charming village of Dienten. Dienten is the picture postcard Austrian village with some incredible scenery.
Offering more amenities, perhaps, than Hinterthal/Hintermoos and better access to the pistes than Maria Alm, Dienten is perhaps the ideal compromise between the two.
If you believe the locals, the village is also a ‘snow trap’ at the end of the Hochkonig valley and boasts a longer season due to the many north-facing slopes.
The Gastein Valley includes the villages of Dorgastein, Bad Hofgastein and Bad Gastein as you travel south from Salzburg.
The area is a popular holiday destination for the Scandinavian market but is much more undiscovered in the UK. The area is a popular 2nd home destination due to the large (200km) ski area and lively summer season. There is a wide selection of property for sale ranging from small one bedroom apartments in the €140,000-200,000 price range right up large detached chalets for €1.5m plus.
For architectural grandeur, take a look at some of the beautiful 1920s buildings that sit around the waterfall of Bad Gastein. Much of the property in Bad Gastein has been built into the steep hillside, making location key. Venture too far from the main gondola by the railway station and you will need to drive or get a ski bus to the lifts.
Dorfgastein is a picture perfect Austrian village and ideal for families with young children.
Although not connected directly into the Gastein ski area, it does have its own separate ski area with a good selection of lifts.
The piste comes right down into the village meaning that this is one of the rare Austrian villages where you may be able to find a property right beside the piste.
Sitting below Bad Gastein, Bad Hofgastein offers a much more relaxed way of life and has a busy summer cultural programme of live music and events.
Plans are afoot to extend the existing gondola right into the centre of the resort, making property in and around the centre even more attractive.
We would recommend looking at property on the west side of the village where you are within walking distance to the thermal spa, ski lifts and resort centre.
Situated just 15 minutes from Zell am See, Saalbach Hinterglemm has boomed in popularity over the last few years with both UK skiers and property hunters. While not as busy as Zell am See in the summer, Saalbach Hinterglemm more than makes up for it with its world famous Ski Circus, featuring an extensive 220km of piste.
Residential development has historically been tightly controlled with the hotel owners reluctant to release land for sale. Apartments for sale are likely to be part of managed resort developments and priced from €200,000 for a one bedroom apartment. Very few private chalets exist and even fewer come on the market.
Buyers have a choice between the two separate villages – Saalbach and Hinterglemm.
Saalbach is the livelier of the two and much of the property (and slopes) here face south. If the planned ski link between Zell am See and Saalbach finally gets the go-ahead, the property buyers here are likely to benefit most.
A slightly more upmarket vibe prevails in Hinterglemm and prices are higher to reflect it.
Many of the pistes are north-facing and will hold the snow better later on in the season.
Zell am See
There are very few alpine destinations that have the magic mix of lakeside summer activities and high-altitude winter skiing. New build apartments are now starting from around €200,000 or €4,500-5,000/m2. Chalets are few and far between, but if you manage to find one, expect to pay from €900,000. A newly built chalet in prime location of 250m2 plus with a view of Lake Zell can now start from close to €2m. When looking to purchase a property in Zell am See it is very important to understand the different locations and the pros and cons of each one.
Zell am See
This is the most sought-after location due to its proximity to the ski lifts and the lake. With a property in the centre of Zell am See, there is no need to have a car. You can arrive by train and everything is within easy walking distance.
Property in the centre of Zell am See should also be some of the best investment property in Austria due to an imbalance of supply and demand caused by shortage of land. It is impossible to expand the centre of Zell am See as it is sandwiched between the lake on one side and Schmittenhohe mountain on the other. Consequently most new property developments involved the renovation or re-development of existing buildings.
Kitzbuhel is widely regarded as the property, sporting and glamour capital of Austria.
Large chalets dominate the village and are some of the most prized property in Austria. Property in the centre of Kitzbuhel has become the preserve of the global elite with apartments now starting from about €1m and chalets from €2m plus.
Those on more modest budgets can still find some good value property in the outlying villages such as Jochberg and Kirchberg. Both are fully connected to the Kitzbuhel Alps ski region and just a short hop on the ski bus into the centre of Kitzbuhel.
Kirchberg in particular is now a lively resort in its own right with a great selection of bars, restaurants and activities. Property here can be up to 50% cheaper than the centre of Kitzbuhel with apartments available from €500,000 and small chalets from around €1.5m.
Just 10 minutes from Zell am See, Kaprun is home to the highest altitude skiing in the region on the 3,300m Kitzsteinhorn glacier. It is a lively and attractive town that is busy throughout the year.
Kaprun’s drawback is that, with the exception of the Maiskogel mountain, you will need to drive or jump on the ski bus to reach the Kitzsteinhorn or Zell am See ski regions. This has not prevented a mainly Dutch clientele from buying apartments here, ranging from one-beds at around €150,000 to chalets worth over €1m.
Property on the Maiskogel mountain provides one of the few ski-in ski-out locations in the region, although it has historically been hard to find. If the planned link between the Maiskogel and the Kitzsteinhorn glacier gets approved, then those lucky enough to have found an apartment or chalet here are set to benefit greatly.
Thumersbach is a popular location for locals due to the south-facing aspect of much of the property. The area attracts many European property buyers who arrive in Zell am See for their holidays by car.
Since a car is generally required, most property owners will make the short drive to either Saalbach, the Kitzsteinhorn glacier or Zell am See ski lifts each morning. There is also a free ski bus that runs around the lake.
Schuttdorf is the most affordable region of Zell am See in which to purchase a property. The area is predominately a residential region popular with local Austrian buyers.
Location is key here as some of the area is blighted by noise from the main road. There are, however, some quieter areas around the town centre and the Areitbahn gondola that are now attracting property investors who have been priced out of the centre of Zell am See. Apartments or houses in these areas – within walking distance from the Areitbahn and the lake – should make good long-term investments.