Ljubjlana, Zagreb and Trieste - 3 more 200% club candidates
Yesterday we drove via Italy, passing near to Triest and around Ljubljana and Zagreb reaching Budapest, Hungary late last night.
I'm meeting key people in Hungary today, so I'll let you know my impressions of this city tomorrow.
However, I want to put three more candidates in your mind
Trieste, Italy (population 207,000)
Ljubljana, Slovenia (population of 265,000 according to some sources - but 700,000+ according to others...)
Zagreb, Croatia (population of 700,000?)
Here's why... its the all about the border!
Cities that are located by the sea (but with no significant sea port - Hastings in Sussex for example) suffer economically because they have only half the land area in their immediate vicinity that their land locked competitors have (the other half being sea).
Of course, if there is a thriving port - then this may compensate for the lost or actually give it an extra advantage.
But I want you to think about those towns and cities that border the sea / ocean and lose out as a consequence.
Now, cities by the sea dispaly a fan shape (instead of a typical circle) which is an indicatino of a phyical border / barrier what prevents economic development on one side (unless, as I say, it has a thriving port).
The three cities I have listed above all suffer (or have suffered this problem in a number of different ways).
The barrier between Trieste (Italian - latin language) and Slovenia - is a linguistic one.
It used also to be economic (now Slovenia is part of the EU) and used also be a currency one (Slovenia now has the Euro).
However, just to the south of Trieste is Croatia (still outside EU and clearly, not a Euroland member).
So, the barriers are dropping around Trieste - but they have not all dropped yet!
Clearly, however, the tourist boom to the south of Trieste on the Croatian coast is a major economic benefit - not least because this makes Croatian border police less fussy and this encourages more traffic and trade.
Hence, with Croatia's EU membership application still proceeding, this represents a future barrier that will be removed.
Ljubljana, Slovenia too has 'connected' with Europe via currency and economic membership. However, it has two problems. Firstly, it doesn't have a motorway that connects the capital with Italy (but from my sightings yesterday, the missing sections will shortly be completed) and secondly, the motorway southward leads to non-EU Zagreb (which leads to non EU Serbia and then to Bulgaria).
Hence, the city will benefit from Croatian EU membership - just as much as Croatia and as Zagreb, Croatia connects to Budapest via motorway (which is complete as far as Hungary - but still missing a long stretch on the way to Budapest) so there will be a 'tax free' trade route for lorries and goods to pass this way.
Slovenia certainly deserves it's comparisions with Switzerland - it has a calm sophistication and appears far more prosperous that its neighbours. But I suspect that it needs the dynamism of its neighbours before it will really take off.
Which leads me to Zagreb in Croatia. This is a city to which I will return - but to follow the theme of borders - it's main border is religious - as Croatia is a predominantly Catholic country compared to the Orthodox Christianity and Muslim religions to the south.
This issues has been key in the make up (and on-going resolution) of the new countries that have (and still are) emerging from the old Yugoslavia.
Land title are key issues in Zagreb - as the country suffered depopulation of its Serbian population during the war of independence and hence investors need to proceed with caution. The ability to insure the land title may help.
Equally, Zagrab is still outside the EU and hence, fits into the Wild East section of investors portfolio - and finance for non-Croatians appears to still be a problem.
However, that won't stop the city booming and its prices jumping by our 200% in 5 year mark - it just makes it harder for non-Croatian investors to get a part of the action!
Please share any comments or insights on the potential of these locations (or recommend any others that you think will grow 200% in the next 5 years).
Many thanks Neil
ps. Today I'm in Budapest - reveiwing why Property Secrets doesn't believe (yet) in this market... more to follow...
These three properous small cities -
NEIL LEWIS ON MON 23RD JULY AT 07:08 GMT