The notion of extended suburbs appearing around Athens was little more than science fiction some 10-15 years ago, but now this prospect is just a matter of time. Many households have moved beyond the city limits and on to the east of Attica, a trend set to strengthen considerably in the coming years, bringing major changes in the housing market and in the character of many areas. Nea Makri, Rafina, Porto Rafti, Markopoulo, Anavyssos and Keratea, to name but a few, were considered in the past as ideal for buying or renting a house in the countryside but near the capital. Yet as the search for permanent residence is intensifying, these areas are going to turn into new cities, only without losing their «countryside» character, according to local estate agents. «In Nea Makri many new enterprises are being created, almost all banks have branches and we already have six large supermarkets in the area, which goes a long way to showing the changes in the town,» says estate agent Maria Vassilopoulou. «But this will not alter its character or reduce the country houses’ value, because development is mild and the area continues to combine the mountain with the sea.» There are plenty of reasons that lead a family to make the big decision and move beyond the traditional city limits. The most important one is the construction of new roads, such as Attiki Odos, the Hymettus ring road, the broadening of Marathonos Avenue, as well as the suburban railway (Proastiakos), which bring those areas much closer to the center of Athens, the northern or the southern suburbs, where the vast majority of the population works. The second reason is the much better quality of life available in eastern Attica, particularly for those who cannot afford to buy a house in the expensive suburbs. Construction is of higher quality, pollution is less of a problem and parking problems are non-existent, at least for the time being. Prospective buyers are mainly pensioners who wish to sell their Athens flat and buy a house in some quiet area near the capital, as well as many young couples who seek detached houses to rent, as data from local agents show. Besides detached houses, demand is also high for maisonettes and newly built houses. The current intense constructing activity in the area offers a broad range of choices while keeping prices affordable. The value of houses and land has increased in the last few years as the airport, transport and Olympic projects have upgraded the region, although in many areas there are problems recorded in the drainage network. Notably, after the price rally of the last four years in anticipation of the spate of infrastructure projects, prices have now consolidated as the broader region seems to have hit its price roof, while there even are cases of price drops mainly for older houses. The average rate per square meter for newly built houses in the region is around 1,700 euros, while for maisonettes it ranges between 2,055 and 2,934 euros. Demand is stronger in coastal areas such as Kakia Thalassa, Porto Rafti and Kalyvia, which are closer to Attiki Odos and are easily accessible to southern suburbs such as Glyfada. Markopoulo is also proving very popular for employees in the race course and the airport. In Nea Makri, too, demand is going up as the area is being upgraded and developed at fast pace. Vassilopoulou suggests that the blocks around Dionyssou Avenue are showing increased demand mainly for commercial purposes, while demand for permanent residence has shot upward compared to five years ago. The land market is also very interesting in eastern Attica. The lion’s share is certainly being taken by farms within urban zoning plans, while many people are purchasing large plots investing on the risky prospect that they will be added into urban zones in due time. Land prices vary considerably, given that value is determined by size and location as well as the total permissible built area, which varies across the region. Real estate professionals believe the purchase of property in the eastern Attica region is a very sound investment choice.