Research by glossy weekly magazine Country Life ? required reading for anyone thinking of buying upper-scale property in Britain or abroad ? has revealed that 31% of its readers who own a second property have picked France as the best spot for a holiday home.

Spain and the Balearics take second place, with 26% of Country Life readers buying there. The United States is still popular, attracting 13% of readers, with Australia, New Zealand and South Africa attractive for 6%.

For those planning to buy an international property, 34% aim to buy in France, with 14% hunting in Spain and the Balearics. Only 2% of readers are considering buying in the emerging market of Eastern Europe.

Despite growth in the overseas property market, only 18% of Country Life readers have actually taken the plunge and bought their homes for investment. The majority ? 60% – are buying mainly holiday homes, while 15% are planning ahead for their retirement. Only 3% has purchased buy-to-let property.

‘The great advantage that France, Spain and the Balearics have over emerging destinations is they can be reached easily, enjoy stable economies and have been the choice for Britons buying abroad for many years. Most buyers have a simple desire to enjoy spending time in holiday homes in a country that offers an excellent climate and attractive lifestyle. Other destinations may offer cheaper prices and greater capital growth, but most people want to enjoy their second home without waiting for vital infrastructure to be built,’ says Penny Churchill, property correspondent for Country Life.

The average spend on an international property by Country Life readers is £449,074, with 69% spending less than half a million pounds, 26% between £500,000 and £1 million, with the top 6% forking out from £1 million to £2 million.

Country Life’s next international edition will be published tomorrow , Thursday, 11 October. To search the best dream properties abroad, from Spain to Saint Vincent, log onto www.countrylife.co.uk