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10 questions to ask about location when buying in Spain

costa del sol and malaga province property

“Where?” is ultimately more important than “What?” and “How much?”. To help you get the “Where” right, ask these ten questions about location when buying in Spain. 

They say that location, location and location are the three most important features of any property. While other factors such as price and type of home also rank as major considerations, a well-priced, perfect property is nothing in the wrong location. So, it follows that location will be uber important in Spain. The ten questions will help you find the right one. 

Can I get there easily?

If you’re buying a second home or a holiday let, ease of accessibility is a key concern. If getting from A to B takes more than half a day, the journey could become an issue for you and prospective holiday guests. 

To avoid this, research flights and their availability at all times of the year. If direct services from your nearest airport are seasonable to Spain, look at the feasibility of another airport. Think also about the viability of airlines – some smaller airports rely heavily on just one carrier and you shouldn’t presume that the service will be permanent. 

Find out how long it really takes to get from the airport to the property. Don’t believe the estate agent’s glib “it’s an easy 30-minute drive”; test it yourself. Factor in at least half as much time again in high season. 

Top tip – many airlines publish their flights at least 12 months in advance. Look at the calendar and work out if flights are frequent enough for your needs. 

What’s the property market like in your chosen spot? 

Try to get a picture of recent activity, say for the last five years. Look at price trends, selling times and what property was worth at the height of the 2007/8 property cycle. Property in most parts of Spain has yet to recuperate peak prices (and some may never do so). A good estate agent will be happy to share this information with you but make sure the facts are from bona fide sources. 

Top tip – the Notary and Registrar Associations publish property market statistics and you can find asking price figures on portals like Idealista and Fotocasa. The SPI Market Insight news feed is another good source of information.  

What’s the location like out of season?

Many parts of the Spanish costas and all the islands are as quiet as church mice during the winter. While established resorts on the Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol are more year-round destinations, others on the Costa de Almería or Costa de la Luz, for example, are as quiet as church mice in January. 

What’s the location like in season?

Almost no stretch of the Spanish coastline or any part of the islands enjoys a tourist-free summer. On the contrary, the population on the costas and islands burgeons up to six-fold at Easter and during July and August. 

Top tip – to find out the answer to both the above questions, visit your chosen location in and out of season. 

How good are local amenities?

The definition of “good” will depend on you and your needs. Write down a list of must-haves and calculate how far away they are from the property you like. Don’t forget to think about changing needs – you might be happy to drive now, but want public transport on the doorstep in a future. 

Top tip – if you’re buying to let (holiday or long-term), don’t forget to consider what your guests or tenants will need.

How much are local taxes?

Local taxes (known as IBI in Spain) vary hugely from one council to another, even in localities that are next to each other. For example, local taxes in Marbella are higher than those in neighbouring Mijas Costa. 

Top tip – ask the estate agent or seller for a full breakdown of all running costs and factor these into your budget. 

What’s in the pipeline for future development?

Unless you’re buying in a town or city centre with no room for further development, take a look at plans for your area. Find out if the current clear view to the sea is likely to stay or what’s earmarked for that vacant land at the end of the road.  

Top tip – research local plans for the next five years to find out if amenities will improve. You might find that there isn’t a health centre nearby, but that one is earmarked for imminent development.

Who are my neighbours?

Most foreigners in Spain buy on the costas, islands or in the largest cities. The former two usually have large foreign populations (sometimes more than Spanish), but some resorts and most cities are overwhelmingly Spanish. If you don’t plan to learn Spanish, choose an area popular with fellow foreigners. Likewise, if you want to get as far away as possible from your compatriots, go for somewhere as Spanish as possible. 

Top tip – take a stroll around your chosen area to get a picture of how Spanish it is (or isn’t).

How noisy is the neighbourhood? 

Spain ranks as the world’s second noisiest country, so expect a cacophony of sounds almost anywhere. These could be man-made – traffic, people, machinery, music… – or more natural such as barking dogs and chiming church bells. 

Top tip – check at different times of the day because a seemingly quiet spot in the afternoon could become the noisiest street in town when nightclubs close. 

How well-managed is the community of owners? 

And lastly, a very localised question. Most property in Spain forms part of a community of owners, responsible for the maintenance of communal facilities such as the pool, gardens, lift and general upkeep. Take a good look at the state of the amenities and ask to see copies of the most recent community of owners meetings to get an idea of complaints and problems.  

Top tip – get your copy of Your Guide to Buying Property in Spain, 12 comprehensive chapters that contain everything you need to know. From the first steps (such as those above) to that moment when you finally become the proud owner. Via everything in between. The guide (available as a full-colour pdf download) costs just €9.95 and is fully updated for 2023Buy your copy now and get that location, location, location right first time!

* This article has been written by a third party not owned or controlled by Spanish Property Insight (SPI).
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