Welcome everyone Sandra in Spain - FlamencoI’m Sandra Piddock, and I’m a freelance writer, dividing my time between Spain and the UK. I’ll write about anything that interests and/or challenges me, and I like to focus on the lighter side of life whenever possible.. Read more
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Why I’m sorry we bought a property on an urbanisation

Our corner of our urbanisation - beuatiful but problematical too

Our corner of our urbanisation – beautiful but problematical too

When we came to Spain on our bargain £25 property inspection trip in July 2007, we were very nervous about parting with our hard-earned cash, because at the time, the furore about the Land Grab Laws and corruption on the Costas was at its height. We really wanted to live in Spain, but we didn’t want to wake up one morning with the bulldozers at the door, or find ourselves landed with a beautiful but unsellable property because the right planning permissions were never obtained. We discussed this with the property agent who was assigned to us for our visit, and she suggested that maybe we should consider buying on an urbanisation, as it was less likely that we would face problems in the future.

After living here for twelve years, the first piece of advice I’d offer to anyone thinking of moving into a property on an urbanisation is ‘Don’t do it!’ We love our ground floor garden apartment, and we have some lovely neighbours – although most of them ony use their properties as holiday homes – but we wish we hadn’t been so nervous when we bought our home in the sun.

The big disadvantage of urbanisation life is that you’re cut off from real local life. Most urbanisations are full of expats from all over Europe, but you don’t find many Spanish people living on them – or at least you don’t in our area. If you want to learn Spanish and integrate with the locals, buy in the village. It will probably be cheaper, you’ll be nearer to the shops and services, and you’ll be living like the locals.

Another major drawback of life on an urbanisation is the way the Communities of Owners are administered. Under the Horizontal Law, urbanisations are divided into smaller groups of properties known as Communities. Our community on La Finca consists of 57 properties, and basically all the owners have a say in how things are run, and how the community budget is spent. That’s a great system if all the owners are interested, but of course, it doesn’t work that way in practice. So major decisions which affect every owner can be taken by a vociferous minority.

I’ll have a lot more to say about life on an urbanisation, but I really wish we’d have known all about the downsides before we signed on the dotted line. Don’t get me wrong – I love our life in Spain. I’d love it even more though if we were down in Algorfa, living amongst the locals.

4 Responses to Why I’m sorry we bought a property on an urbanisation

  • Martin McMerkin says:

    We bought our first place in a community and made some good friends but is is difficult.
    When we first bought we knew nothing about the “community”, we thought the gardens and pool were managed by some company or maybe, looking back, magic.

    Once we got to know what we were involved it it started to become frustrating for the reasons in the article. We had 12 homes and 24 opinions and they all wanted it to be done by someone else with little small exception.
    I got so frustrated after a few years that I became the president and for the first year we got a lot done.

    The second year was frustrating, having done so much, more was wanted but I was no longer not left alone to get it done, whatever I did they wanted more and it done in a different way and they they objected to actually carrying out any work. I spent so much time getting quotes and meeting people to kick of the AGM voted for actions and in the end after all the work the originators of the projects voted them down.
    Oh, and the rules of the community only apply to someone else?
    I sort of gave up and stepped down finally selling up and buying a home that was not part of a community. What a relief.
    We still have many friends from the old community and visit often.

    Since I left the presidents have been co-opted in the main, the fees have risen and there is still the “They don’t do what we want” attitude.

    Once I found out what a community was and who owned it, i.e. me and all the other owners! I was always at a loss as to why they never wanted to actually take more part in the community. the community was a large part of what they owned and paid for but to go to an AGM and vote or discuss, no way.

    Glad I saw if from both sides but if I had my time again, no way would I buy on a community, sorry folks.

    • Sounds very much like my own experiences on our 57 home community. I did a year as President and was then voted off because some people didn’t like the way I did things, even though before I stood, they all agreed with everything I proposed. I’ve been asked to stand again, but no way will I put my head back in that noose! We’re still here, because we love our home, but no way would I buy on a community again, nor would I advise anyone else to do so.

  • Patsy says:

    We have a president that seems to not want to stand down, is there a time limit when if someone else is willing to do it they should be given the chance. He does not live here only on site about 6 weeks a year thanks

    • As far as I know, the President can stand as often as they like. If someone else wants a shot, there needs to be a vote among the members. If nobody wants to stand, the Administrator puts everyone’s name in a hat except anyone who has already served as President, and whoever is drawn is obliged by law to serve for a year. Hope this helps.