Purchasing a Property When Relocating to Spain - Three Things Every Would-be Expat Needs to Know

Contributed by Costa Blanca Magic, 09 February, 2018

I have lived and worked for the last ten years selling properties for the real estate agency Costa Blanca Magic. During this time, I have met literally hundreds of families and individuals who have moved from the UK to Spain, and helped them settle into their new home in Spain.

One thing I have consistently noticed is that people often make a rash decision when purchasing a home in Spain, which they later lived to regret, and then put themselves through the hassle of searching for a more suitable property.

While in the early days this was not the case, thanks to my now considerable experience, I can advise the buyer that when looking for a property, they need to look at the following three factors very carefully.


1. Age!

Here is a typical scenario. A couple in their 50s come looking for a property. They have taken early retirement and decided to start a new life in Spain, but want everything to be as idyllic as possible for when their young grandchildren come to visit. They choose to move to one of the urbanisations surrounding a resort. Typically, these will be a 10 or 15-minute drive from the resort shops, and beach.

Many buyers are attracted to the "urbs" as they are often able to get a lovely property for a much lower price than they would pay nearer the town centre.  They possibly have their own pool, there is little traffic, and the kids can play outside safely from morning to dusk (and beyond).  However, what they neglect to think about is just a few years down the line, when these 10-ish-year-olds become teenagers who want to be in the centre of the action, near the beach and mixing with other kids of their age.

As with the case of my friends who bought in an urb of Torrevieja, the parents of teenagers will even opt to stay in the town away from the grandparent's house to avoid the problem have having to ferry their children to and from the beach and various evening activities.

The lesson here is what is a perfect home when you have children visiting is maybe not so perfect when these children become teenagers. Because the urbanisations are usually not serviced by public transport, and even if they are a very sporadic, the kids won't want to stay with you once they get to a certain age unless their parents are willing to act as round the clock taxi drivers.


2. Accessibility

Most resorts in Spain are served very well by a number of airports namely Gerona, Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante, Murcia, Almeria, and further down south on the Costa del Sol, Malaga. However, not all resorts or towns are within easy driving distance. Although a property may only be located 50 or so kilometres from the airport, poor winding roads, heavy summer traffic or other conditions may mean the property is not within an hour's drive as the relatively short distance would indicate.

When looking at towns for relocation, optimally it is best to choose a place that is within an hour's drive from the nearest airport. You might think two hours away is not that far, but it is the difference between being able to ask a friend to take you and probably receiving a yes rather than a no. The difference between being able to hire a taxi with it still being affordable (believe me once you get within two hours of an airport we are talking about a one-way taxi fare that will cost way more than your return flight). Moreover, do you really want to drive two hours when you have just landed after you've been travelling for most of the day? That one hour can also make all the difference when people are deciding whether to visit you or stay in a resort closer to the airport.


3. Perhaps this is more obvious, but another thing that people tend to overlook how an area will change according to the seasons. Beach areas are fabulous for everyday living up to June and after September, but July and August can quite frankly be a nightmare. There is nowhere to park, local bars and restaurants are packed and finding a table may be difficult, and you might even have to put up with unsociable behaviour if you are close by to clubs and late-night pubs. In the same way, if you live a little way out of town it might be lovely in the summer with lively local bars and several shops, but in winter more than likely the majority of these, if not all, will close for at least five months between October and March. 

In addition, is the road leading to a property up to withstanding lousy weather? A long dirt track was the only way to access the first place I rented when I came to the Costa Blanca – it was lovely and peaceful during the summer, but became inaccessible several times that first winter. Spain does experience some extreme weather most winters in the way of substantial storms and occasional snow. A flooded or crater filled collapsed track will make your property challenging to reach which believe me, is no fun.  These days I always recommend prospective buyers visit an area at different times of the year before you making a final purchase decision, and if this is not possible, ask as many people as possible who live in the area how conditions may change between the summer and winter months.

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