Where to live and buy property in Spain?

Where to live and buy property in Spain? What are the best and most popular places? Where is the best climate and cheapest properties to buy? Overview of 5 best Spanish locations for expats to live. Choose your one!
Where to buy property in Spain is the second most popular question after "how much does it cost". 90% of non-Spanish residents choose resort regions of the country. In contrast, only a small percentage buys real estate for permanent residence in central and northern Spain. However, vacation homes in Spain are also perfect for year-round stays.

In this article we will talk about the most popular regions for buying Spanish property – these are the eastern and southern coast of Spain, from Catalonia to Gibraltar, plus the Balearic and Canary Islands.

1. Property market information and selection criteria

This year, the Spanish housing market, just like many others, is drastically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the second half of 2020, the real estate sector will resume its activity. The Murcia region has already recorded an increase in deals compared to 2019. Besides, remote sales have been introduced to our clients. Market experts predict a temporary decline in the value of Spanish housing (until the coronavirus epidemic is over). So now is the time to take advantage of the situation and buy property below market value. To date, the cost per square meter of housing in Spain is estimated at an average of €1735.
Real estate in Benalmadena (Andalusia)
Real estate in Benalmadena (Andalusia)
There are several essential criteria for choosing a property, which most clients focus on:

  1. climate (winter/summer seasons), length of high season, water temperature
  2. cost per square meter
  3. transport accessibility (airports, flights)
  4. infrastructure – roads and their quality, shops/cafes/restaurants, health centres, schools
  5. Nationalities living in the region, expats – who they are, are there any diasporas
  6. landscape of the area (mountains, plains, mixed)
  7. sights and cultural life – tourist attractions, festivals, national holidays
  8. beach infrastructure – quality and size of beaches, access to the sea, water sports
The first 4 are the most important ones when choosing a place to buy a home. Let's have a closer look at the most demanded regions.

2. Catalonia

There are three main destinations for tourists and property buyers in Catalonia: the Costa Brava, Barcelona and its surroundings, and the Costa Dorada.

  • Costa Brava
Spain's northernmost coastline (Costa Brava translates as 'severe shore') is part of the Girona province, starting at the French border and stretching for 162 kilometres. It is one of the most prestigious holiday and home buying places in Spain. The nearest airports are in Girona (62 km) and Barcelona (104 km).
Holiday home in Empuriabrava
Holiday home in Empuriabrava
In Costa Brava a climate is relatively mild, with an average daily temperature of 16°C and an average water temperature of +24°C in July and August. This is the coldest resort in Spain by local standards. The landscape is picturesque: a combination of unapproachable cliffs (to the north), rocks dotted with pines and cosy bays. To the south, the landscape becomes softer, and the beaches there are sandy. Popular resorts: Playa de Aro, Sagaro, Lloret de Mar, Tossa de Mar and Empuriabrava.

According to Idealista, as for September 2020, the average cost per square metre of housing on the Costa Brava is €2030 (€2500 in popular resorts). Advantages of the region: moderate climate, picturesque landscape, two international airports, prestigious resorts. It has all the modern infrastructure for both vacation and permanent residence – excellent roads, schools, shops, restaurants and everything else you may need.

  • Barcelona
Barcelona is one of the most popular and demanded cities in Europe. Tourists come here to see Antoni Gaudi's architectural masterpieces. While investors, including foreign ones, hunt here for the best properties. Some of the world's largest corporations, such as Facebook, Amazon, Nestle have their offices in Barcelona and its surroundings. Besides, the capital of Catalonia is extremely attractive to immigrants by its dynamic pace of life of the European megacity. This is especially true for young people who come here to study, as Barcelona is a major educational centre offering various prestigious universities.
Barcelona is located on the coast but is also famous for its 'high-rise' attractions on the Tibidabo and Monserrat mountains. The city has several wide beaches. Barcelona and its surroundings are the most sought-after locations to buy luxury real estate for the whole family, as well as to earn money by renting or reselling. There is very little available housing in Barcelona, both secondary and new, which increases demand and leads to a steady price growth. The average cost of 1 sq.m. in province is €2600, while in Barcelona the price of a one sq.m. reaches €4000. The rental of an apartment in the city costs from €1000 per month. The cost of living in this city is higher than the national average: according to the numbeo statistics, the average spendings per person is €685/month, excluding rentals.
Beach in Diagonal Mar
Beach in Diagonal Mar
Popular resorts of this coast include Barcelona, Badalona, Gava Mar, Cabrils and Sant Andrés de Lievaneras. Luxury properties are usually located in gated complexes. Residents of Barcelona complain about the noise and crowds of tourists. Still, in other resorts of the province it is much more tranquil. The advantages of Catalonia are its mild climate, numerous attractions and entertainments, wide clean beaches and excellent infrastructure.

  • Costa Dorada
The Costa Dorada coastline begins south of Barcelona. It stretches for 200 kilometres up to the border with the Autonomous Community of Valencia. The Costa Dorada is translated as the 'Gold Coast' definitely for a reason: the area is famous for its golden sandy beaches. There are long, flat stretches of coastline as well as picturesque bays and lagoons. The closest airports are located in Reus and Barcelona. Here you can also find pine forests, but as you move south, the landscape becomes flatter, and the climate – drier and warmer. At the same time, the Pyrenees and the Catalan mountains protect the coast from the winds. The water temperature in summer is around 26°C, while the air heats up to 30°C.
Popular resorts include Tarragona, Salou, Cambrils and La Pineda. Close to Salou you can find PortAventura, one of the largest amusement parks in Europe.

The average price per square metre of real estate on the Costa Daurada, according to Idealista, is €1322 (in coastal resorts it is around €3000). The coast is famous for both permanent stay and vacation. Most resorts have comfortable entry points in the sea, making the beach suitable for children. Proximity to Barcelona is also a great advantage.

3. Valencia & Alicante

As wе cross the border of Catalonia, we get to the Autonomous Community of Valencia. The region is divided into three provinces from north to south: Castellón, Valencia and Alicante.

  • Costa del Azahar
The Costa del Azahar coast stretches along the province of Castellón. This place can be called a developing coastal zone. In the past, it used to be a destination for local tourism. Still, in recent years flights from various countries began arriving at Castellón La Plana Airport. Thanks to the "unpopularity", prices here are still below the regional average (€1042/m²). Unlike Catalonia, Castellón has more land for development and plenty of property offers.
Seafront in the town of Alcossebre
Seafront in the town of Alcossebre
The climate in the Autonomous Community of Valencia is perfect for year-round living: even on the hottest days the temperature rarely exceeds +30°C, and in January it hardly ever drops below +15°C during the day. The most popular resorts on the coast are Oropesa del Mar, Marina d'Or, Vinaros, Peniscola, Benicassim, Benicarlo. Marina d'Or is one of the largest SPA resorts in Europe.
SPA resort on Costa del Azahar
Marina d'Or SPA Resort
Overall, the Costa del Azahar is one of the best places to buy a home in terms of price and quality. Prices here are even lower than on the Costa Blanca, while the coast offers a high-level infrastructure, wide beaches and more space as it is not yet crowded. Another advantage is wellness and family holidays; there you can even find kindergartens for children on vacations.

  • Costa del Valencia
Costa del Valencia is the coast of the Valencian province. There is also a city of the same name, the third most populous in Spain (around 800,000 citizens). There are plenty of tourists in Valencia who come to see some significant attractions: the famous City of Arts and Sciences and the medieval Silk Exchange buildings. There is an airport in the city, but the most popular airport is located in Alicante (83 km south). Besides the excellent beaches and sights, there are also some of the best universities in Spain.
City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia
City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia
In Valencia the nature and landscapes are quite diverse. In the surroundings of the city, you will enjoy both aromatic citrus plantations and picturesque hills. The sea temperature reaches 27°C in August. The following places are considered popular resorts: Valencia, Gandia, Oliva, Cullera and Mislata. The average price per 1 sq.m. of property in Valencia is currently around €1200/m².
Coast of Valencia
Unlike the quiet coast of the Costa del Azahar, the Costa del Valencia, especially its capital, is full of travellers and immigrants. It is believed that Valencia is a perfect place for expats: it is not a vast megacities like Barcelona or Madrid, but still quite large and well-developed by European standards.

  • Costa Blanca
It is Spain's warmest coast with low prices. Two popular cities – Torrevieja and Benidorm – are located there. There are two airports in Alicante and Murcia. Concerning flora, here you can see both palms and deciduous or coniferous trees. The northern part of the Costa Blanca has many hills.

In contrast, the southern part is relatively flat, with pink salt lakes and a variety of golf courses. There are also nature reserves, gardens and amusement parks in Alicante, which is great for nature enthusiasts and families with children. The air temperature here is the highest on the east coast: even in winter the thermometer shows up to +17°С. The sea warms up to +29°C during the high season!
Popular resorts include Torrevieja, Alicante, Calpe, Denia, Benidorm, Altea, Villajoyosa, Guardamar del Segura and others. The average price per 1 sq.m. of housing is €1500, which makes the Costa Blanca an incredible investment opportunity. This region also shows high demand for holiday rental properties.

Other advantages of the coast are bargain prices, diverse nature, great offer of new properties and good infrastructure. By the way, on the Costa Blanca you can visit offices of VirtoProperty real estate agency. If you are interested in this region, we recommend contacting us!

Related articles:
Alicante city guide: everything you need to know before relocation
Benidorm city guide: how to relax and where to buy property

4. Andalusia

  • Costa del Sol
The Costa del Sol has two airports – in Malaga and Gibraltar. It is worth saying that vacation on this coast has its specifics. Because of the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean, the water here is cold enough by the standards of the Mediterranean Sea (usually no more than +23°C in summer), so tourists mostly do not arrive here for a beach holiday, but for an excellent service.

Not without reason we mention Marbella, a local Hollywood, city of rich people and celebrities. Marbella is home to the summer residence of Saudi Arabia Prince, Antonio Banderas and other rich and famous. Malaga is a business and educational centre.

Estepona is a rapidly developing neighbour of Marbella and is expected to merge into a single area soon; this city offers many opportunities for investors. Because of the chilling sea, real estate with a swimming pool is highly demanded and is 1,5 times more expensive.
The landscape of the Costa del Sol is rich and diverse, from hills and valleys to untouched places and wide beaches. In general, the landscape is hilly and the climate more arid. Popular resorts are: Estepona, Malaga, Marbella, Fuengirola, Benalmadena, Calahonda, Casares, Mijas, Nueva Andalusia, Golden Mile, Puerto Banús, San Pedro de Alcántara and Torremolinos.
Residential complex with communal pool
Hacienda del Sol – gated residence with apartments and a communal pool in Estepona
Property prices start at €2000 per 1 sq.m. Luxury properties are usually flats with sea views and villas in gated communities. The main advantage of the coast is the incomparably high level of service, perhaps the best in all of Spain. Besides, the strong points are magnificent beaches, clean air and water (no production facilities), first-class infrastructure and exceptional facilities in residential communities.

5. Balearic Islands

The Balearic Islands are an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It includes four islands: Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera. Mallorca and Ibiza are the most popular places for property buyers. Mallorca is one of the most popular and visited resorts in Spain. This island is wildly popular with the Germans, who spend their holidays here and buy real estate. The island is about 250 kilometres east of Valencia so that you can get here by water from the Spanish mainland. However, there is also an airport in Mallorca so that you can get there even faster by plane.

It is the largest island of Balearics and can be crossed in one hour by car from one part of the island to another. In Mallorca's relatively small territory, you can get acquainted with the vast diversity of flora and fauna: mountain ranges, caves, rocks and plains. Mallorca is considered a privileged area to buy a home, with stars owning property here such as Rafael Nadal, David Beckham, Tom Cruise, Paris Hilton and others. The number of new plots is limited here, making Mallorca's property prices one of the highest in Spain (€3050/m²). The water around the island warms up to +26°C on average in summer. Popular resorts are: Palma de Mallorca, Santa Ponsa, Andrach, Calvia, Sa Rapita, Llucmajor, El Toro, Palmanova and other coastal villages.
Ibiza is first and foremost known for its club culture, DJs and nightlife. But apart from hangouts, the island is in high demand among wealthy Europeans. They buy accommodation in exclusive gated communities overlooking the sea. In winter the temperature in Ibiza is +12 degrees Celsius, in summer it is up to +30.

6. Canary Islands

The Canary Islands are located far from mainland Spain, in the Atlantic Ocean. The water around the archipelago offers approximately the same temperature throughout the year: +23-24°C. The islands of Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Palma, Hierro and Lanzarote have their airports.
Tenerife is the most famous island of the Canaries. It is called "the island of eternal spring" because it is always spring there. Like other islands in the archipelago, Tenerife has volcanic origins: in the middle of the island there is its highest point, Mount Teide, and the surrounding natural park of the same name (since 2007 it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site). You can get to know some endemic animals that live here, as well as unique plants. Popular resorts are Las Americas, Los Cristianos, Los Gigantes and Bahia del Duque. The average property price on the Canary Islands in September 2020 is €1810/m².

7. Property prices

To summarise, here is a comparative table of Spain's most popular regions among foreigners for buying properties.

8. Conclusion

The primary advice for those who choose a property is to decide on the main criteria. It is crucial to understand what is most important in a property for you, as it will help you to cut out unnecessary options and approach your search wisely.

There are many criteria for choosing a property: purpose (summer residence, investment, place for children to study, apartments for renting out, etc.), climate, surrounding infrastructure, etc. It is difficult for a newbie to understand all at once, so it is better to look at the facts and trust professionals. We have experience in selling real estate for any purpose in various regions of the country. VirtoProperty specialists are ready to take into account all the wishes of the buyer and assist in making the right choice!
Specialists in our office
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