Should you buy a ski chalet?

Sarah Moore looks at what you need to consider when buying a ski chalet.

Cold Easter
(Image credit: Rafal Bozek)


The closer to the airport, the better for letting

If you're a keen skier, the chances are you've occasionally looked out across the sunlit, pristine slopes and wondered what it might be like to own your own chalet a cosy home from home, located conveniently for the ski lifts. If you're contemplating turning this daydream into reality, how do you go about it?

Firstly, just to be clear, ski chalets do not make great investments. Property consultancy Knight Frank reckons you'll be lucky to make 2.5% a year return from renting it out and that's assuming everything goes smoothly. However, if you're a regular on the slopes and you're happy to ski in the same location every year, then once you factor in the savings on hotels and the priceless joys of aprs-ski, the prospect might still appeal. So how do you go about choosing one?

Firstly, consider when you'll be visiting. The skiing season typically runs from early November to early April, but it is possible to get late snow in high-altitude resorts, such as France's Val Thorens, Europe's highest ski resort. A longer season will allow you to let out your chalet for as long as possible and still enjoy it yourself at less popular times.

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Secondly, research your resort carefully. There is a "noticeable correlation", says Knight Frank, between this year's ski property index (which tracks the price performance of prime ski chalets) and resorts investing in their infrastructure. Also look for plans to expand out-of-season activities if a resort offers ample summer entertainment, this could extend the property's rentable period. (French resort Chamonix is the "most well-serviced year-round resort".)

Factor in travel time, both from the airport and from the chalet to the slopes the quicker the better. If you're based in the UK, the western side of the Alps is probably the most convenient destination. However, if you are looking further afield, less traditional and hence cheaper ski destinations include South Korea, Kyrgyzstan and Bulgaria.

Finally, be aware of your tax liabilities. In Switzerland you may need a permit to buy real estate, before you even get hit with an annual tax on the property. In France you may be liable for a wealth tax if you hold assets above a certain amount (though you can also reclaim 20% VAT on the price of some off-plan properties if you commit to renting it out for 20 years). Specialist companies that can help with these questions include Alpine Homes International, Athena Advisers, Chestertons and Knight Frank.

Sarah is MoneyWeek's investment editor. She graduated from the University of Southampton with a BA in English and History, before going on to complete a graduate diploma in law at the College of Law in Guildford. She joined MoneyWeek in 2014 and writes on funds, personal finance, pensions and property.