Sunday Express 27/01/08

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From the city life of Toronto and beaches of Vancouver to the wilds of the Rockies and ski slopes of Whistler, it's no wonder the second largest country in the world is becoming the destination of choice for Brits looking for exciting lifestyles and good rental opportunities. BRIGIT CUNNINGHAM finds out more.

IT'S OFFICIAL - the British love Canada. More and more of us are holidaying there and more and more of us are starting new lives in this stunning and diverse land. Canada virtually owns the rights to the words "great outdoors". At four million square miles it is second only to Russia in size but most of its 30 million population live along the US border, leaving vast swatches of land empty and unspoilt.

Canada's provinces offer huge variety. In the east, cities Toronto and Montreal give way to the lakes and rivers, national parks and the rugged Atlantic coast. In the west, a journey through British Colombia could take several weeks such is its diversity from the beaches of Vancouver to skiing at Whistler.

Then you can hop over to the next province, Alberta, for a trip to the awesome Canadian Rockies. With the pound doing well against the Canadian dollar, Canada really is a must-visit playground for Brits.

Of course, skiing is the big attraction in the winter months with word-renowned centres such as Whistler proving a big draw. But year-round visits are on the increase, with tourists keen to explore the vastness of the country, its jaw-dropping scenery, sporting possibilities and cosmopolitan cities.

These are big factors for the holiday visitor but bigger still for the potential migrant, attracted by the high standard of living, a very low crime rate, a booming housing market and an economy to match.

It's easy to get there, too. The market for flights to Canada is more open than to the US with a wide range of options including traditional scheduled airlines, charter flights and no-frills services such as Zoom, which will get you there for around £200.

It was while on the hunt for the ideal property investment that Lisa and Barry Everitt recognised Canada's potential. They have bought a one-bedroom apartment for £230,000 at the Red Leaves development in Muskoka, which is about two hours drive from the attractive city of Toronto.
A seven-year rental guarantee scheme for the first four years will bring a return of seven per cent of the price and the property is also available for their personal use for a week a year. They are already planning their first activity holiday in Muskoka next summer when the resort opens.
Lisa and Barry, who are both in their early 30s and live in Northampton with their two children, Juliette, three and Ella, 16 months, had been looking for property to invest in for about a year. "We considered buying in France, Spain, Portugal and Eastern Europe but none of the projects we saw were offering large enough returns" says Lisa.

The 1,400-acre resort on the shores of Lake Rosseau is in the exclusive region of Muskoka in the province of Ontario. It is being sympathetically developed to preserve the natural environment surrounding it.

Internationally renowned conservationists, Hap Wilson (Canada's own Grizzly Adams) and Robin Tapley have been bought in by the Canadian developer, Ken Fowler, to manage the environmental impact of opening up this huge nature reserve to tourism.

Scenic trails, some suspended above wetland, will provide the chance to view Canada's wildlife that include moose, brown bears and red squirrels. Wilson and Tapley have thought of everything to provide a thorough out door Muskoka experience - from night vision glasses for spotting natural creatures to sight seeing trips for elusive animals. A variety of other outdoors activities will be on offer including cross-country skiing, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing, dog sledding and snowmobiling.

Lisa and Barry opted for an apartment overlooking an 18-hole golf course designed by Britain's Nick Faldo. The property comes fully furnished and fitted for the integral mod-cons such as plasma TV and up-to-date kitchen appliances.

They will also be able to take advantage of the resort's facilities which include The Rosseau, the first Marriott Hotel Resort in Canada, and a car-free village known as Minett Landing. A paddle steamer provides regular transport across the lake to Rosseau, where Hollywood actors Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell have a lakeside cottage, and float planes arrive daily to provide trips to Toronto.

Barry, a professional rugby player for Northampton, is looking forward to his summer break but points out that the main reason behind their purchase is investment. "We recognise the potential that the resort and surroundings area have for visitors and are particularly impressed with the efforts to preserve the countryside while attracting tourism. We are confident that even after the initial four-year period is over, the apartment will be regularly rented out."

Nova Scotia on Canada's Atlantic cost offers a variety of attractions from rugged coastline to stylish, modern cities such as the province's capital Halifax.

The first "British" town in Canada is now a relaxed waterfront city with a large naval base and a wonderful mix of architecture including white clapboard churches and Victorian red-brick public houses.

The pine forests that stretch for mile after mile provide the beautiful site where Landcorp International is promoting the chance to become involved in a project which it predicts will return of up to 300 per cent on the original investment.
More than a 1,000 acres of land in a maritime Nova Scotia has been set aside for Forest Lakes Country Club, a luxury lifestyle resort complete with 40-acre private lake and 18-hole golf course, surrounded by rich Canadian forest. The developer is releasing 30 to 35 per cent of the land in order to raise development capital and there's a double attraction for British investors.

Not only do half-acres cost from £11,500 with a projected return of around £40,000 to £50,000 after three years but it's also possible to protect investments from UK capital gains tax using a self invested pension plan (SIPP).

If log cabins appeal to those wanting to get closer to nature, Vivaldi Resorts is building log homes set up in nearly 600 acres of forested mountains at Ogilvy Lakes in Quebec province. Investors can buy freehold properties off-plan with prices starting at £279,000.

Two pristine spring-fed lakes surrounded by breathtaking mountains provide the backdrop to the luxuriously-appointed homes and the four-season outdoor lifestyle they access.
Nearby Mont Tremblant international airport is a hop across the Atlantic for the keen skier, attracted by the miles of winter snow trails. Rich in natural resources, it is also home to booming hi-tech businesses such as Blackberry and Bombadier jets: world leading brands which make Canada's economic growth an attractive proposition for the would-be investor.