Can a property guide actually be interesting as well as informative? Especially when the strapline is ‘Literally Everything You Need to Know?’ The answer to that is a resounding Yes, because that’s what Joanna Styles has achieved in her comprehensive new book, The Guide to Buying Property in Spain. The book is well researched and well written, in an easy to read, original style that makes you want to read on, even through the sections that aren’t particularly relevant to you.
While Joanna’s love of her adopted homeland shines through every page, this is also an honest, warts-and-all read that pulls no punches. If you get carried away and end up buying a property that doesn’t tick all your boxes, then you clearly haven’t been paying attention. An important point that Joanna makes early in the book on page 14 is to consider who you are buying for. That might seem obvious – you’re buying yourself, aren’t you? However, if you intend to cover your costs by renting out your property, bear in mind that while you might enjoy a two or three hour scenic drive from the airport, holidaymakers want to get stuck in to sun time ASAP, so consider that when you choose your location.
Speaking of location, the book contains a comprehensive run down of every area of Spain, with pros and cons, population, transport links, weather, and even an average price per square metre. This small but vital detail helps take some of the confusion out of property pricing, and helps you to get the most bang for your buck – or rather your Euro!
While the Atlantic coast of Galicia might furnish you with a bargain bolthole and stunning scenery, connections out of season leave a lot to be desired, and Galicia is green because it gets a lot of rain. And if your dream is to buy on the party island of Ibiza, you’re going to need down-to-earth dosh for it, because property there averages out at more than €5,000 per square metre. If all this is making your brain cells hurt, Joanna has provided a map showing the best deals. The cheapest coastal properties are on the Murcian coast of the Mediterranean, if that’s what you want, but maybe thought was out of your range. And there are some real bargains inland away from the cities, as long as you’re not looking for a big expat population nearby.
The Guide to Buying a Property in Spain manages to be encouraging, optimistic and realistic at the same time. Armed with cold hard facts and thought-provoking suggestions based on Joanna’s more than 30 years of living and running businesses in Spain, you will be able to find exactly what you are looking for in your Spanish property. And if you’d rather build your own dream – literally – there’s a section on that too.
This book should be compulsory reading for anyone seriously considering buying property in Spain, for whatever reason. At just €7.95, it’s a real steal, and if you use the discount code WEB you’ll get 25% of this already remarkably low price if you buy as an e-book. The Guide to Buying a Property in Spain could turn out to be your most important investment in your Spanish property search.
Joanna Styles has lived in Spain since 1989, with her Spanish husband, who is a lawyer specialising in conveyancing. Not only has she renovated and sold various properties over the years, she’s a freelance copywriter and author who has written extensively about property investment and life in Spain. Based on the Costa del Sol, her website Guide to Malaga has lots of information about all aspects of life in Spain.
Image credits: Joanna Styles @ Guide to Malaga
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.