Overview of Spanish regions

Deciding where in Spain to buy is a key part of the your overall decision. Most people have a good reason to choose one destination, such as familiarity due to holidays or the presence of family and friends. If you have no compelling reason to choose one region over another then you may have to visit several different regions until you find the one that best suits you.

Opinions of Spain’s different regions are highly subjective and depend upon different people’s tastes. Some people find the heat and year round uniformity of the climate on the Costa del Sol unbearable, and prefer the milder climate, seasonal variations and greenery of Catalonia. Others find Catalonia too cold in the winter and prefer the dry air, desertscape and endless sunshine of Murcia. Everyone has different preferences and standards by which they judge different regions, which makes a short review of each region difficult to do in any meaningful way. Buyers who are open-minded as to which region to choose need to clarify their priorities (climate, development, services, community, prices, etc, etc.) and then research potential regions in considerable depth, including visits with time to explore wherever possible.

Overview of the 5 most popular regions in Spain.

Catalonia has, in the Costa Brava north of Barcelona, one of Spain’s most beautiful Mediterranean coastlines, where the hills run down from the Pyrenees into the sea and hide pretty coves and sandy white beaches. The Costa Dorada, to the south of Barcelona, is flatter, with dramatic long sandy beaches, but this terrain also means that, unlike the Costa Brava, much of this coast has been overdeveloped. Inland the countryside is green and attractive, well kept with farms, orchards and vineyards or natural parks. However Catalonia is Spain’s most northern Mediterranean coast, which translates into colder winters and shorter summers than, for instance, the Costa del Sol. It is also a difficult region for expatriates to establish a social life.

The Autonomous region of Valencia, being long and thin and running north to south, has a varied coastline that changes noticeably near Benidorm, south of which the landscape turns increasingly arid. The coast north of Valencia has been largely overlooked by British buyers to date but will slowly grow in popularity. For now, though, most Brits focus on the area around Denia and Javea – attractive and green and with a solid expatriate community – or the area south of Alicante – arid, horrendously overdeveloped, but offering cheap housing, cost of living, expatriate ghettos and sunshine.

Murcia has only emerged as a serious destination for British buyers in the last few years, but with the local government’s solid support for residential development, it looks likely to consolidate its growing status as a British homebuyer’s destination. The landscape is arid but dramatic, and property prices and the cost of living are very reasonable. A lack of water is Murcia’s big challenge for the future.

Home to the Costa del Sol, the Costa de la Luz, and the lesser known Costa de Almeria, Andalusia is one of Spain’s biggest regions with an astonishing wealth of landscapes, microclimates and cultural attractions. Despite its vast size, most Brits are concentrated on the Costa del Sol, between Malaga and Gibraltar, drawn there by Spain’s warmest year-round climate, golf and well-developed industry catering to expatriates. The features, plus the social life to be had in such a large expat community, will always make the Andalusia the favourite destination of British buyers.

Though Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera are each in their way highly attractive, the biggest and most popular island of all with the British, not to mention the Germans, is Mallorca (Majorca). Generally an upmarket destination, with prices to match, both the interior and coast are stunning, and the island is increasingly becoming a relocation, rather than simply holiday destination.

The following table lists the advantages of the main regions and may help you focus your search.

– Near Barcelona
– Good infrastructure
– Reasonably well-controlled development in most areas
– Proximity to South of France
– Most efficiently run region of Spain
– Noticeable change of seasons, but winter mild & sunny
– Excellent beaches
– Excellent golf
– Great variety in surroundings
– Rich local culture & cuisine
– Skiing in Pyrenees
– PRICES: Mid to high (Barcelona factor)

– Near Barcelona
– Good infrastructure
– Areas close to Barcelona are heavily developed, but further south development is lighter
– Most efficiently run region of Spain
– Excellent beaches
– Limited but reasonable golf course selection
– Beautiful wine regions
– Mild winters
– Good family location: theme parks & beaches
– Ebro delta nature reservation
– Rich local culture and cuisine
– PRICES: Mid range

– Large international community
– Very beautiful coast & countryside
– Mild climate but noticeable seasonal variations
– Excellent beaches
– Fantastic marinas and water sports facilities
– Strict environmental controls
– Further development is restricted
– Glamour factor, upmarket
– High quality rural property stock, and general quality of housing stock high (German influence)
– PRICES: High

– Good year round climate
– Large international community
– Excellent beaches
– Central location for trips to north & south
– Wide range of activities & entertainment
– Large offer of properties & developments
– Great variety in surroundings
– Good family location
– PRICES: High on the north coast, cheaper on south coast

– Very dry climate
– Region in development
– Cheap cost of living
– More a retirement than family location
– PRICES: Cheap

– Fantastic climate
– Large international community
– Largest selection of golf courses in Spain
– Glamour appeal
– Enormous selection of properties & developments
– Good international services & facilities
– Skiing in Sierra Nevada
– Tourist opportunities in Andalusia
– PRICES: Medium to high, on west coast, medium on east coast

– Good climate, though cooler & windier than Costa del Sol
– Not over developed
– More of ‘real Spain’ on offer
– Fantastic beaches
– PRICES: Medium

– Best winter sun destination in Europe
– Extraordinary variety of climates and countryside
– Lower property purchase taxes
– Consolidated international community
– PRICES: Medium


© Mark Stucklin (Spanish Property Insight)

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