Posted in Features on July 29, 2008
Have you dreamed of owning a castle? For the price of an average home in the U.S., you can own a piece of history or the whole shebang. Not all castles listed on the market command a fortune. You can find a masseria in Italy, a châteaux in France (or, as you’ll see below, a plot of land on a châteaux property) or a property in Poland for a mere pittance. If you conduct a Web search for castles for sale, you might be pleasantly surprised at the prices you’ll discover.
In Eastern European countries like Poland and the Czech Republic, where many old castles and estates were often turned into agricultural buildings, schools or communal housing, some structures may go for less than $100,000. However, many of these properties do not meet American standards for “ready to move in.” They may lack amenities such as plumbing or sewer or they’ve been neglected to the point where it could cost millions of dollars to restore the property. And, as these properties become more popular, their prices will rise. But, if you’re patient, you’ll discover new properties listed daily at many of these Web sites.
The listings below are filed in price range from the lowest- to highest-priced properties, and they include properties that were discovered online during the second two weeks in July 2008. Therefore, they may not be available when you get around to checking out the properties, but you may find more properties to take their places. Their standing in this list is no reflection on value, as this list is just a list, not an endorsement of any property or real estate broker. In addition, the USD prices listed in parentheses below are an approximate value of a given price listed for a given property, based upon currency exchange values for the week of 14 July 2008.
Posted in Features on July 9, 2008
- A Masseria in Italy
The Lowdown: A masseria is a farm or estate, and many Italian masserias once belonged to royalty. This particular Salento masseria is located in the Puglia (Apulia) countryside. It needs vast restoration for its fortifications, which include cultivated lands and terraces. Once restored, this palace could be breathtaking. The price, which seems ridiculously low, seems to be part of an auction scheme, as the Realtor states no prices on the home site, simply, “Reserved negotiations,” whereas other listings show the 1 EUR price.
Why You Should Want This Castle: Although you may pay more than $1.50 USD for this property, if you have the wherewithal to purchase and renovate this masseria, you then could have a wise investment on your hands. Did we mention that this property is located near Lecce, a city also known as the “Florence of the South,” for its rich Baroque architectural monuments and for its location in southern Italy? Speaking of location (location, location), this property is located in a region in southeastern Italy that borders the Adriatic Sea to the east, the Ionian Sea to the southeast, and the Strait of Òtranto and Gulf of Taranto in the south. Its southern portion is known as “Salento,” a peninsula that forms a high heel on the “boot” of Italy. This is an ideal purchase for anyone who loves the countryside and endless water.
Price:: 1 EUR ($1.58414 USD)
- Italian Castle Living
The Lowdown: Don’t let the ‘Castle on the Lake for rent’ title throw you when you follow this link. This late sixteenth-century castle is for sale. Originally created by Cardinal Morigia, this property contains a terraced park, grand staircases, Renaissance-style statues, a swimming pool, tennis court and panoramic views of a lake. It is currently used as a hotel, complete with antique furniture, marble flooring and wood parquet, frescos, five bedrooms with bathrooms and balconies and more for a grand total of 13,073 square feet. Yet, it needs restoration.
Why You Should Want This Castle: This castle is located in Piedmont Ghiffa, an area in northern Italy. This area is popular with tourists, thanks to adjacent Lake Maggiore and to the famous nearby Sacro Monte, a site of pilgrimage and worship for Christians. So, this steal-of-a-deal hotel could make a great investment property for anyone who wants to host guests. Or, just purchase it for the furniture and flip the hotel unfurnished. On the other hand, this romantic-looking property might just steal your heart. In that case, you might hire an architect to scope out the true state of affairs, as this price seems too good to be true.
Price:: 15,000 EUR ($24,000 USD)
- Auvergne, France Châteaux Lot
The Lowdown: If you don’t have the stomach for heavy-duty renovation, but you might be in the mood to build, perhaps this sweet little plot in France will tickle your fancy. This is a nicely-situated building plot located on the grounds of a nineteenth-century châteaux. You can build up to a 200m2 (2152.7 square feet) villa with two levels and a semi-attic for storage. You will have water, sewage, electricity and phone service, and the boundaries already have been marked off with newly planted hedges.
Why You Should Want This Châteaux Lot: It’s located in Auvergne, folks - smack dab in the middle of France. This region is famous for its cheeses, mineral water exports and Michelin tires. Outside these material items, the buyer has full access to the communal swimming pool, sauna and bar area. So, no need to build anything other than your new home.
Price:: 54,500.00 EUR ($86,466.71 USD)
- Bulgarian Castle
The Lowdown: This lion-splashed property is located in a small and quiet European mountain village at the feet of the Stara Panina and Sredna Gora mountains (Balkan Mountains). But, the castle also is centrally located, as Sopot is about three miles away, Karlovo is about six miles distant to the east and it is 41 miles to the city of Plovdiv to the south, which is the second largest city in Bulgaria after the capital city, Sofia. A river passes near the castle village and the region is suitable for hunting and fishing. An asphalt road leads from the village to the castle, which makes this castle approachable during winter. The house is a three-story building with modern architecture, electricity, running water, sewage-system, etc. The courtyard contains a large area of cultivation that includes trees, flowers and bushes. All this crown home needs is a bit of exterior work, according to the sellers.
Why You Should Want This Castle: If you do some research into the area, you’ll learn that Sopot is famous for its paragliding and handgliding, Karlovo is filled with history and roses (literally - this is large-scale rose production, including their famous rose oil), and Plovidv is an important economic, transport, cultural and educational center. All this comes together to provide you with an opportunity to appeal to a wide variety of tourists as you rent out your castle to visitors. Or, if you decide to live here yourself, you can enjoy one of the most ‘ready-to-move-in’ properties on this list.
Price:: 55,000 EUR ($87,125.77 USD)
- Costa Rican Castle
The Lowdown: Before you pass judgement on this ‘castle’ (it is listed as such), look at the price and the amenities first. This property is conveniently located in the Nicoya Península in Costa Rica, with good access and ample public road frontage. It is close to Carrillo and Sámara beaches, and it has awesome panoramic views to scenic valleys. There are three rivers, two are small and one is big, on 481 acres. And, it comes with water and electricity.
Why You Should Want This Castle: Although this castle doesn’t come with turrets, it is located in the Guanacaste region, known for sportsfishing, heavenly beaches, bird watching, horseback riding, excellent surfing, superb snorkeling and truly amazing and breathtaking scenery. The eastern border of Guanacaste is formed by a chain of volcanoes. They offer great hiking and views of the surrounding countryside. Dense and lush forests fill the valleys, and many endangered animals and birds reside here, including jaguars and tapirs. If you’re a nature enthusiast, you could lose yourself in this kingdom.
Price:: $100,000 USD
- Southern Slovakian Castle
The Lowdown: If you’d like four bastions on your castle as well as 35 bedrooms, then this gem - located in the Casoviapolis region of Slovakia in eastern Europe - might be yours. The rooms which were used as classrooms for a primary school during the last half of the twentieth century. The property carries a large park in front with a small pond, and it also is in reach of all the amenities that Trnava has to offer. The history within this town dates back to 1211, if not earlier. After the establishment of Slovakia in 1993, Trnava became the capital of the newly created Trnava Region in 1996. Any person who chooses to purchase this castle also will enjoy access to universities, libraries, theaters, a district hospital and other modern amenities against an historical backdrop.
Why You Should Want This Castle: This structure is large enough to house a single family as well as a few guests. Make it work as a honeymoon retreat, complete with a history that would suit the setting. The first written document about this castle was generated in 1583, when the Croatian nobel, Ungnada, invited other nobles to this residence for his daughter’s wedding. Although this castle has seen numerous renovations since that event, this castle’s Renaissance/Baroque stylings can capture the imagination of any newly-wedded couple. For the price listed below, how could you go wrong?
Price:: 107,000 EUR ($169,711.46 USD)
- XVI-Century Palace in Lower Silesia
The Lowdown: If your style is Baroque built with brick and stone, then this palace from the XVI century (1570) might tickle your historic decorating bone. Located in the Boleslawiec area of Poland (home of Boleslawiec Pottery), this building contains a strong foundation, an asphalt access road, electricity, sewer and water. Telephone lines, Internet access and a full basement makes this private property an absolute steal.
Why You Should Want This Castle: While the property needs renovation, there’s a place for parking and the opportunity to purchase adjoining land. Along with all the amenities listed above, this building easily could be made into a tourist hotel for pottery fanatics. Much of the pottery made in this region is of high-quality, handpainted stoneware. In 1898, the German government established the Keramische Fachschule (Ceramic Technical Training School) to foster development of the art. The added plus is this castle’s terrace with mountain views.
Price:: 125,000 EUR ($198,242.18 USD)
- 19th Century Castle For Sale in Hungary
The Lowdown: This European castle, built in the classicist style, is a gem in the rough. It is located in Kercseliget, Hungary, near the city of Kaposvar (the capital of the county of Somogy) and about thirty-one miles from the Balaton, one of the largest lakes in Europe and often called the “Hungarian Sea.” A water quality survey has been conducted on this property, and the water is spa-quality, the same as two other spas located nearby.
Why You Should Want This Castle: Although this structure was built about 1840, the foundation is strong. Additionally, preliminary construction has begun to convert this building, which has a wine cellar, into a tourist facility. The spa waters add to the possibility that this castle could earn its keep, especially with its close proximity to Kaposvar and to the popular tourist destination of Lake Balaton.
Price:: 150,000 EUR ($237,969.23 USD) (Negotiable)
- An Irish Abode
The Lowdown: The top write-up in this link is the one of interest, as it offers the Brackloon Castle Clonfert, County Galway for sale. Clonfert and its castle is part of the ancestral home of the Maddens and forms a stage of the Beara-Breifne Greenway which is based on the historic march of O’Sullivan Beara in 1603. Attacked many times and captured by Queen Mary’s forces during the sixteenth century, this castle was inhabited until the 1950s. At that time, teachers from the nearby Clonfert School were its inhabitants. They enjoyed four floors connected by a spiral stone staircase that, contrary to popular construction, spirals counterclockwise. The castle is now missing its upper floors and it is roofless, but the main structure appears sound and able to withstand restoration.
Why You Should Want This Castle: If an Irish soul is reading this (especially a Madden), need I say more? But, just to entice you even further, the tower house of this castle is located on 8.5 acres overlooking a stream with opportunities for fishing. Plus, the owner can look for further entertainment on the Shannon, which is fit for sailing and cruising. This castle is situated close to the village of Clonfert, a tiny village in South Galway bordering County Offaly. This village is well known for Saint Brendan’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, the oldest living church in Ireland with an unbroken history of public worship.
Price:: £120,000 ($239,605.18 USD)
- Fortified Castle and Jesuit Estate
The Lowdown: If you want a safe place to reside in the South American countryside, then you might find this fortified castle and 1790 Jesuit estate in Uruguay appropriate. The property is located on a 148-acre ranch in north Uruguayan hill country. Although the land around this area is traditionally known for sheep and cattle breeding, much of the area is being converted to forest. This may be the oldest castle for sale in Uruguay, as it dates back to Spanish colonial era, founded by Jesuits, and later used as a Spanish royal mail stage post.
Why You Should Want This Castle: While the amenities are limited, many parts of this building are the original 1790s construction, including the entranceway. The property contains a quarters for staff, a barn and a workshop. You’ll own cattle installations along with a fieldstone corral. While you may not want to own cattle, these structures possibly could be used for horses. The property is located about 249 miles from Montevideo, which is the largest city, the capital and chief port of Uruguay. A big plus - most of that road is paved! The only problem, really, to acquiring this simple yet beautiful abode is the price. You may need to haggle down $10,000 USD to meet the the $250,000 mark, but this one was just too good to leave off the list!
Price:: $260,000 USD
Who hasn’t dreamed of living on a private island, away from the hustle and bustle of city life? But, how often have you dismissed this dream with thoughts that you couldn’t possibly afford this luxury? Well, you may need to rethink your dreams, because many private islands now are listed for less than $500,000 USD. In fact, you can find islands for less than $100,000. All you need to do is spend a little time searching online for your dream environment.
The point to remember in this situation is that you get what you pay for. Cheaper islands, on the whole, tend to be undeveloped. This means that you may need to acquire electricity, plumbing and land suitable for building to complete your dream of living on said island. Additionally, it may be tough to obtain a mortgage for island purchases, because most islands lack ‘comparables’ for valuation purposes. So, you’ll either need cash on hand or a solid business plan for development that could add valuation to your island (such as a resort).
On the other hand, you can employ such amenities as prefabricated homes, easy-to-install solar power, reverse-osmosis water filtration systems and composting toilets. All these items, which are perfect for island living, are within reach for an island dweller’s average budget. So, keep these plus-side items in mind when you tackle your search. The ten islands listed below will give you a head start, as they lead to real estate businesses that can help you realize your private island dream.
The list below is organized by price, with the least expensive listed first, and the most expensive at the end.
- West Bank Lighthouse: The U.S. General Services Administration actually is auctioning two lighthouses/islands in New York. The one shown here, the West Bank Lighthouse, and the Old Orchard Shoal Lighthouse both are for sale. Both properties are open for bids starting at $10,000, and - as of this writing - no bids have been offered. On the plus side, both lighthouses offer 360-degree water views and both lighthouses retain basic integrity despite neglect. Plus, the new owners will claim a bit of history with either purchase. But, both lighthouses have been neglected, and they will be sold “as is” without warranties. Additionally, both properties require an easement to legally occupy the submerged land, and the properties must be maintained in accordance with the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and in consultation with the New York State Historic Preservation Office. The Old Orchard Shoal Lighthouse is located approximately 3.5 miles south of New Drop Beach on Staten Island, Richmond County, New York. The keeper’s quarters consist of approximately 1000 square feet of space with porthole-styled windows. The interior is brick-lined in the first three stories. The West Bank Lighthouse is located in Lower New York Bay and is situated approximately 3.2 miles east of Staten Island, Richmond County, New York. This property sits on a man-made island and includes a riprap breakwater which extends westward approximately 100 feet from the lighthouse. There are two pilings which serve as moorings, and the interior is accessed by a metal platform and ladder. Both properties are accessible only by boat. Current price: Starting at $10,000 USD.
- Dolphin Bay Island: This is a small island that consists of 6,000 sq. ft., but it is located in a very nice area near Bocatorito, Panama, with views of Dolphin Bay. Plus, access to the island is easy, with a connection to San Cristobal Island via a strip of mangrove and access by boat within twenty minutes from Bocas. You’ll find a few large trees and some pineapple plants, and the island sits in protected waters with deep water nearby. The island displays elevation, and it is perfect for a single-family home. Current price: $40,000 USD.
- Bereck Island: Canadian islands remain a relative bargain, with several available for less than $100,000. Bereck Island, located on Stuart Lake in British Columbia, Canada, represents one of these bargains. Stuart Lake is the seventh largest lake in B.C., and it is a fisherman’s paradise stocked with rainbow trout, lake trout and kokanee. The island is approximately one acre, and it is surrounded by a shallow rocky shelf on its south side that is exposed during low water level and that is visible during winter. The island is accessible by boat or by floatplane. Bereck Island is zoned as residential, so there should not be any problems building a dwelling. Nearby towns include Fort St. James, which is accessible by paved road and is located about 60 km north of Vanderhoof and 160 km northwest of Prince George. Current price: CAD $65,000 ($64,327.21 USD).
- David Island: Settle down on approximately five forested acres in Guysborough County, Nova Scotia. David Island lies in the bay of Port Felix, about 30km from the city of Canso and near the town of Whitehead. The existing simple 12′ x 16′ cabin was built in 2003, and it does not support a septic system. But, it will provide a roof over your head as you plan for your future residence (which is, in principal, possible). This island could serve as a great fishing camp, provided you bring potable water. The view includes the mainland and other islands, which lie in the Tor Bay direction. Current price: CAD $75,000 ($74,474.55 USD).
- Chris Pinnacle: This sale consists of two islands, which comprise an area of approximately 2.47 acres or one hectare located in Jordan, on the western side of Guimaras, Philippines. One island contains a small bamboo hut with an outside seating area and a concrete pier. While no electricity runs to the islands, it is possible to transport power and water across from the mainland via underwater pipe. The mainland is only a few hundred meters, or a five-minute boat ride, from the island. The larger of the two islands holds a large area at the peak where a house could be situated. This view is magnificent, as you can enjoy the sunset to the west and unusual rock formations along the coastline to the east. The smaller island is in ‘virgin condition,’ and it also contains a flat top. Both islands are within viewing distance of a resort situated a mere 200 meters away on the mainland. This location and ease of access, in addition to the unusual stone formations, the potential for sea-kayaking and diving and snorkeling (yes, coral formations are abundant here) make these islands ideal for resort development. Current price: $100,000 USD.
- Cockroach Caye: If you want to start from scratch, Cockroach Caye (shaped like a cockroach), located fifteen miles east of Belize City, Belize, Central America, is a great place to begin. This unspoiled, undeveloped virgin swamp-free ten-acre property features 500 feet of Caribbean sea front in Cockroach Bay with approximately 300 yards to the eighteen-mile-long reef. The island sits on top of the reef that extends from Turneffe Island, located a mere 300 feet west of this island. The island will need to be cleared for development, as it is packed with coconut trees and mangrove. But, you’ll discover beautiful white sand along its beaches. If you are into fishing, you’ll discover tarpon and bonefish in the nearby flats and in the deep blue you can fish for Marlin, Sail Fish, Tuna , Wahoo and more. Cockroach Caye is part of the Turneffe Atoll , which is about thirty miles long and about eight miles wide, and is the largest of the three atolls in the area. Turneffe is the closest to the mainland and is home to a number of world-class dive sites. The atoll has a scattering of fishing camps, some of which are permanently occupied, and some of which are used only on a seasonal basis. At peak times, when combined with tourists and researchers, the atoll is inhabited by approximately 300 people. If you arrive by air to Belize City, it will take you about one hour to get to your island by boat. The seller is eager, and will consider all offers and can offer some financing as well. Current price: $189,900 USD.
- Lenur Island: Lenur Island is a beautiful and unspoiled thirty-seven acre island, situated in the crystal clear waters of South Malakula, Republic of Vanuatu, Oceania. The archipelago is some 1,090 miles east of northern Australia, 310 miles north-east of New Caledonia, west of Fiji, and south of the Solomon Islands. The archipelago is of volcanic origin, and maintains a tropical or sub-tropical climate. The island is surrounded by small trees and a few coconut palms and there is about three fresh water streams that run from the mainland to the island’s harbor. From all claims, this island is the best site for a fishing stop for people who decided to come for game fishing in Vanuatu. It claims the best harbor and beautiful sunset views. Current price: $400,000 USD.
- Eagle’s Nest Island: Who would have thought that an affordable island could be found in the heart of the U.S.? Eagle’s Nest Island, located in Bath Springs, Decatur County, Tennessee, offers over 167 acres of undisturbed hardwoods, stone and sand in the middle of the Tennessee River. The island holds some Civil War history, as Union troops searched for Confederate troops here in 1863. Decatur County and its cities and communities (including Parsons and Decaturville) boasts an active and progressive Chamber of Commerce, fine medical facilities, one of the best paramedic and emergency response teams in the State of Tennessee, a host of volunteer fire departments, an all volunteer, highly professional rescue squad and an excellent education system. The county borders fifty miles of undeveloped river property, a tourism card that brings many visitors to this area to enjoy fishing, camping, swimming and river recreation, sports and hunting. The island is approachable only by boat. Current Price: $350,000 USD.
- Carrington Cay: If you’ve been to Great Abaco Island and fell in love with this Bahamian island, then this treat is right up your alley. This island is located just 300 feet offshore from Great Abaco Island, but it provides the seclusion that only a 1.4-acre private island can offer. Still, you would be located within minutes of shopping and other urban conveniences at Leisure Lee, an exclusive canal community filled with quality homes. Carrington Cay also is located just three miles from the more cosmopolitan Treasure Cay, a thriving luxury resort with a full-service marina, golf course, shopping and every amenity imaginable. The island has good deep water for dockage at western end (eight-foot depth at mean low water), and spectacular views of nearby Great Guana Cay and Treasure Cay. A rare bonus is that due to the prevailing winds, the island is essentially insect-free, and with cable, electricity and potable water available for hook-up from the mainland, it will be easy to establish all the comforts of home on your private island paradise as soon as you sign the papers. Current price: $455,000 USD.
- Katunayake Island: Located a mere two-minute speed boat ride from the west coast of Sri Lanka, this ten-acre Asian tropical island begs for an eco-tourism resort development. Why? For one reason, the buyer is required to divest in an Eco-Friendly operation. Secondly, the convenience of the nearby Bandaranayake International Airport and the short distance to Colombo, Sri Lanka, makes it easy for visitors to gain access to your property. Finally, the island is a beauty, with deciduous woods on the west side and green grasses and swaying trees on the eastern shores. The lagoon is peaceful, and you’ll enjoy birds that nest on the island, great sunsets and sunrises, swimming and fishing from the beaches or rocks, caving and shell collecting. Although the island lacks electricity and phone service (cell signal is available), you can develop connectivity easily from the main road. Current price: $500,000 USD.