Buying a house in Spain can be a dream come true, but how do you make that daydream a reality? The key to longevity is to pare down exactly what you want out of the move before you fall in love with a property. Use this guide as a prompt to ask yourself what you’re really looking for.
1. How many people will your move effect?
Even if you’re buying by yourself and you intend to live alone, there may be extended family and friends who will want to travel to see you. It might be worth discussing your move with them. If you’re searching to move into a property with other people, be they a partner or spouse, children or parents, everyone in your household needs to go through this process. Ensuring everyone is on the same page before you start the property hunt will smooth the transition to owning a new home.
2. Is this an investment or wish-fulfilment?
People tend to buy in Spain for one of two reasons, the first is to relocate and the second is to have a holiday home. But beyond that, it’s worth asking yourself whether you want or need to make money out of this property purchase. Whether that’s through resale at a later date or through rental income. A lot of people choose a property purely for the lifestyle change but if you can’t afford to lose money on your investment it’s worth knowing that now.
3. How often will you visit?
Think about whether you need to be near an airport and if so, how frequent and affordable you need the flights to be. The same goes for cars, trains and buses — are they affordable and available?
4. Time and distance.
How much time are you willing to spend travelling? Is there a time zone difference that will make communication difficult? What are the walking distances in the patterns of your daily life and are they manageable?
5. How much integration do you want?
Spain is a huge country and the vastly diverse regions have different appeals to international travellers. Some parts of Spain remain completely entrenched in traditional Spanish culture and other parts have local governments run by expats and in those areas English is more commonly spoken than Spanish. If you’re relocating children do you want them in a Spanish school or an international one? Do you speak Spanish or want to learn? What about fiestas and food? Do you need the comfort of a full English breakfast nearby or does the thought turn your stomach?
6. What will you do with your time?
Work, childcare and education all follow different daily schedules depending on where you choose to live. Some parts of Spain honour the siesta Break and others don’t. What will you do in your spare time? Are there new recreational activities you’d like to take up or sports you’d like to continue playing. What kind of infrastructure do you need from your town? A public pool? Play parks? Open spaces? Accessible activity areas? Established teams or tournaments? Whether it’s lawn bowls or competitive diving, think about what you can’t live without.
7. Tourism…Good or bad?
Are you happy to live in an area that has heavy traffic in the summer months? Some people like the excitement of visitors and want to use the provisions that attract them. Others want a quiet life. Tourism can affect the minutiae of daily life; tourists create noise pollution, traffic jams, parking problems and litter. On the other hand, tourism injects cash into areas giving residents opportunities they might not get elsewhere.
8. City, town or village?
Spain has every kind of property you could imagine, from rural cave dwellings to inner-city boltholes. Villages vary in size from tiny white-washed hamlets to sprawling urbanisations. Towns vary massively too. Coastal towns often have great beaches, busy ports or large commercial centres whereas inland towns offer cultural heritage sites and tranquil public gardens. The cities have distinct personalities, many have old town quarters, architectural marvels and large-scale public events like the Falles in Valencia or the bull-runs in Pamplona.
9. How important is the sea?
For some, living near the coast is non-negotiable. But a sea view comes with a price tag. Inland properties offer better value for money and for the sake of a short car journey, a significant amount of expats are relocating to inland towns with good transport links to coastal hotspots.
10. What do you need?
Think about the amenities you will use on a regular basis. Is education or health priority for you? Do you want to be near international shops and restaurants? Do you need a post office, bank, pharmacy, hairdresser or gym nearby? What about in 10 years time? It’s worth looking at the property with your growth in mind.
If you’d like to hear from people who’ve already bought a property in Spain, then listen to our Spanish Property Podcast series. We ask people what they thought they wanted, what they changed and what advice they would offer others about to make that change themselves. Once you’ve answered the questions above, why not look at our Buyer Insights blog to see what to do next.
Explore more areas of Spain with our Guides to living in Spain.