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Rural bargains attracting canny investors who seek the quieter life

Village houses can still be found south of Naples for €14,000. 'If you look outside tourist Italy there are tremendous bargains. A quiet place might not suit everyone. In villages everyone tends to know your business. These are not the kind of places with all night clubs and brimming with shops but they do have good restaurants and you can leave your bicycle unchained,' said Valerie Harrison, a property consultant in Naples.

'These properties have good holiday rental potential as they are within an hour and a half of Naples and Pompeii. They suit the kind of holidaymaker who wants to be able to visit the sites but also enjoy the tranquility of the countryside,' she added.

In Southern Italy there are similar bargains. In Abruzzo and olive grove can be bought for €8,000. For those seeking unspoilt but less remote areas Calabria is being dubbed Italy's forgotten chic corner.

'It is an area that is stunning yet affordable but it won't stay like that for long,' predicted Chris Sawyer, of GEM Estates. 'It ticks boxes for both lifestyle buyers after a pleasant climate and attractive coastline and investors with an eye for a profit. Capital appreciation is tipped to be 15 to 20% per annum for the foreseeable future and with prices creeping up at a heady pace the time to get involved is now.'

Mercedes, in Uruguay, is another increasingly chic backwater tipped for success. It is located on a curve of the Río Negro, with a population of about 40,000. The shady riverfront park is usually bustling with families out for a sunny afternoon of grilling, swimming, or tending to their boats in the quiet, sheltered marina.

Properties vary from a two bedroom apartment overlooking the pedestrian shopping area for £30,000 to an 80 year old colonial villa in need of restoration for £50,000, according to local agents.

American property investors are finding that Mexico is much more than Cancun and increasingly seeking out properties in hill top villages and towns inland.

Guanajuato, set in the centre of Mexico about six hours north of Mexico City, is a beautiful example of a colonial settlement, according to Ben Lewis, an expert on the area. 'The colour and vibrancy of this small university town is incredible and at the weekends there is arguably no better place to be out and about in the whole of Mexico,' he said. A four-bedroom home in Guanajuato will cost around £50,000.