The lure of sea, sun and sand is always intoxicating, but beachfront properties tend to be quite expensive compared to properties inland. Interestingly, a 20-minute drive away from the coast should reveal plenty of apartments or houses with much better value and more outdoor space. These properties could be in small towns or villages, or in urbanised areas built to cater for foreigners and locals. Urbanisations or seaside complexes have community charges, so do apartment blocks. It is, therefore, advisable that you take a look at the terms and fees before committing to buy a property.
All along the Spanish coast are villas of different sizes and styles. In the North Eastern part of Spain, beachfront properties are still quite expensive despite a fall in property prices. Real estate here is mostly consisted of second homes, with most being used during summer months by their owners who often live in cities like Barcelona, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris, London, and such. Apartments that are not used for up to 6 months of the year are usually aired by being thrown open to the sun and wind most weekends, especially around Easter. However, most are occupied by the first few weeks of summer. These homes are often rented to tourists as a way to get extra money to cater for mortgage and maintenance costs.
It is advisable to remember that property owners are now required by law to apply for licences to let their properties, which are sometimes, not approved. Therefore, consider asking your lawyer to follow up with your local town hall to find out if there are any policies that govern the letting of property to tourists.
An estate agent in Los Cristianos once told me that many people purchase properties only to find out later that the property is not qualified for holiday lettings so it is vital to check these things before making a purchase.
In Barcelona, the city council, or the Generalitat, oversees the letting of property to tourists and is currently seeking to crack down on all illegally let properties following noise complaints by some of the locals. The council is also seeking to limit the number of properties let within certain areas of Barcelona.
If you’ve retired and are thinking of relocating to Spain, consider thinking of the facilities that you want near your property. While it is fun to buy a property on the side of a cliff with a beautiful view, however, it’s highly likely that such a home will have many steps to climb and will obviously be some distance from any shop. Considering all this, you’ll probably need a car to drive to the nearest amenities when you need anything. The same goes for apartments in small coastal towns where most of the shops close down when winter sets in. Larger coastal resorts tend to stay open throughout the year.
Not everyone loves the beachcomber’s lifestyle. Most people are attracted to the simple inland villages and towns steeped in history, and surrounded by vineyards. There are several urbanisations in Spain’s countryside, but there are also standard village houses made of either stone or white-coated Andalucia. Village properties tend to be cheaper than those in big towns unless the village is near or is a tourist attraction like Pals (Catalunya) or Mijas (Andalucia). However, some of these properties will require some renovation, and the maintenance and running costs tend to be quite high. Such properties are still quite popular, especially if the village has one or two bars, chemist, or shops since most of the things you’d need are within walking distance. Life in such areas is usually laid back and slow-paced.
If you are coming to Spain as an Expat, chances are you’ll be living in one of the country’s major cities or towns. If that’s the case, renting is the best option, well until you learn more about the area, found a school for your children, and have had time to shop for an excellent property to purchase. Rentals in Spain are quite expensive, especially around major centres like Barcelona and Madrid where in certain districts, the prices are starting to rise after the recession.
In recent days, there’s been a trend amongst older expats where they are selling beachfront apartments and villas and moving into the nearest towns so they can be closer to some of the amenities they need like shops, restaurants and bars to ease commuting. These villas and apartments are being bought by younger expats willing to on second homes away from their busy town lives. Statistics show that there is a shift towards homes near markets and shops. For instance, the newly opened Barcelona-Paris train route is already having a positive effect on property sales within reach of Figueres, Girona and Barcelona some of the stops on Spain’s side with the French border.
And let us not forget Spain’s mountainous regions. Winter sports like skiing are widely enjoyed here, as is bird-watching and hiking during summer months. The Pyrenees mountain ranges, the Sistema Central, Cordillera Cantabrica, Cordillera Subbetica, and the Sierra Morena offer attractive properties, with most being rentals. Homes around smarter, better-known resorts are predictably more expensive; however, there are plenty of little villages and towns that offer good value for money. If you ‘re contemplating buying a property in the areas, our advice is that you visit the region during both summer and winter that way, you won’t be surprised when it starts snowing and the roads get blocked.
Spain has plenty of great choices when it comes to property types and locations. As such, it shouldn’t be that hard to find a property that suits you and your family. It is just a matter of thinking about what you need, its proximity to shops or a town, the overheads and whether you don’t mind driving to the nearest amenities. Happy house hunting!
Before making a decision on where to go searching, take the time to think about the location you’d like to live and why. Here are some of the things to consider:
- Do you have an idea of the area you’d prefer to buy property in Spain? Mallorca, Costa Brava, Costa del Sol?
- Would you like living in the countryside, in a city, or on the coast?
- Would you like to live in a residential development or in a tourist development?
- How close to local amenities like shops and bars do you want to be?
- Are there enough medical facilities and chemists around where you are considering?
- Are there any essential amenities like schools and gyms nearby?
- Do you need access to public transport?