Southern Spain and the Costa del Sol
Andalusia has long been one of Spain’s most attractive regions, thanks to the 3000 hours of sun per year, kilometre upon kilometre of golden sand beaches, beautiful natural ports, rich history and deep influences from different cultures. The region is also home to beautiful mountain ranges and the famous ‘white villages’, rich in artisan traditions, as well as offering a wealth of possibilities for sports – from skiing to surfing, depending on where you lay your hat. It is the home of much of Spain’s folklore, such as bullfighting and Flamenco, and the myths of Don Juan and Carmen.
What is the property market like on the Costa del Sol?
It comes as no surprise that the market is booming here! House prices have risen steadily since 2014, but they have yet to recover to pre-2008 highs. For investors and people buying somewhere to live alike, this means you have the rare opportunity to enter a buoyant but still affordable market. With a huge amount of increased interest in rentals from Belgians, Scandinavians and Germans – and tourism figures in total being up 2.7% from last year – there is a big potential market to tap into for anyone looking at letting out a holiday home.
Many of the classic areas – Marbella, Málaga, Fuengirola – are still hugely popular, but we’re seeing some new shifts in property trends, too. The ‘new golden mile’, around Estepona, is attracting more and more buyers, and prices are predicted to rise fast. Plus, towards the western end of the Costa del Sol, there are signs of some really exciting developments coming along. Pre-crisis, there were quite a number of sites planned out in this area, but they were never built when the recession hit. However, they were already connected to services and have lain ready to be developed ever since. We’ve recently seen some positive signs, including the big supermarkets like Lidl moving in – which can only mean that something positive is on the horizon!
In 2014, Málaga was declared the best place to live in Spain and this is really no surprise as it is at heart an unspoilt city with a beautiful old town, newly refurbished promenade and wonderful museums and restaurants.
Its airport lies just 8km outside the city limits and flights come and go from right across the world. There is a new express bus service to the city centre for just €2 and takes about 25 minutes. The A 7 motorway is free but very busy with traffic while the AP 7 is a toll road but easier to negotiate.
Málaga remains an essentially Spanish place, more so indeed than some of the other towns along the coast. Although it does get hot in the summer, it doesn’t suffer from the scorching heat faced by some Spanish towns.
Expats will also be attracted by how easily accessible the area is from the UK and the rest of Spain, as well as the multiple ways to spend time here – such as visiting the cobbled streets of the old town, the many museums across the city, and eat traditional tapas at numerous fantastic little bars.
Mijas Pueblo and Las Cala de Mija
22km south of Málaga is the lovely white village of Mijas nestling in the mountains behind the coast. The climate is pleasant and the views from numerous vantage points, including some good restaurants, are stunning. Owing to the number of non Spaniards who have settled there, the Town Hall has a special “foreigners department” and there are English-speaking doctors and other professionals. International schools are located within easy reach too.
Down the road, by sea the sea, is La Cala de Mija. As well as being home to one of our Spain Property Guides offices, it is a bustling hub set on the coast from Marbella to Fuengirola. The area is popular with expats, yet still retains its traditionally Spanish charm, with a wide range of tapas restaurants and beautiful beaches. People come from all over the surrounding region every Wednesday and Saturday for the market, selling fruit, veg, clothing, flowers and souvenirs. Many of the local urbanisations have their own beach, so you can be just steps away from the sound! Mijas is also a top spot for golfing, with courses including Mijas Golf, Mijas Los Lagos and El Chaparral. In short, you’ll be spoilt for choice for things to do!
Find out how to access healthcare while living abroad with our guide, Healthcare Abroad 2018.
For traditional-style apartments, have a look in Mijas Pueblo around the Plaza de la Virgen de la Peña and Plaza de la Constitucion. For modern homes inland, look further east towards Calanova Golf, or head down to La Cala and look around and west of the Jardin Botanico urbanisation. To the east, around Calle Butiplaya, you’ll find more traditional homes again, until you reach the Boulevard de la Cala roundabout, where you’ll start seeing a lot more new builds mixed in with properties from the 80s, 90s and early 2000s.
Fuengirola is a pretty, relaxed town which became popular in the 1980s and has 5 miles of wonderful sandy beaches. The Tuesday market there is one of the best along the whole coast and on Saturday there is a flea market with around 400 stalls to pick over. The town’s fishing port of Los Boliches is more traditional with cobbled streets lined with bars and restaurants. If you’re looking to take up a new hobby to make the most of the great weather when you move, don’t miss the wide range of watersports on offer.
Around the Puerto Deportivo, you’ll find more (relatively) high-rise apartments, mixed in with typical Spanish modern homes – perhaps less popular among overseas buyers – and the occasional older-style property. One thing that surprises many is how far inland you can go and still have seaviews – looking around areas like Calle del Pensamiento in the Torresol area, prices are lower but you still have those wonderful views of the blue Mediterranean.
Estepona grew from a traditional Spanish fishing village and is located close to Marbella. Despite its close proximity to the ever popular Marbella, Estepona is quieter in terms of tourists, with a relaxed atmosphere. Full of all the traditional charms of Spain, a highlight is the enormous weekly market, which stretches across the whole harbour. The fishing heritage provides plenty of opportunity to sample locally caught, fresh fish and shellfish.
The property market here really is booming, and it’s been nicknamed the ‘new golden mile’. As Kimberley McKenna from our Costa del Sol team says, ‘This is the perfect location if you want affordable property within a few minutes’ drive from Marbella! It’s growing in popularity among buyers and there’s a fantastic mix of affordable and multi-million properties. Most buyers are looking for a more contemporary style and, with a pause on building during the crash, there is high demand versus supply.’
If you’re looking for an area with the convenience of a purpose-built, high-specification development, have a search through the complexes in the Atalaya area. Las Terrazas, Arboleda, Cataleya and Marques de Guadalmina all have developments in a modern style, while more traditional, Andalusian-style homes can be found in areas like Benatalaya, Marques de Atalaya and Monte Biarritz. Some exciting developments for investors include Selwo Hills, built like a Mediterranean village just minutes from Estepona itself. To be by the beach, Guadalmansa and the urbanisations on the very edge of Estepona could be perfect – have a look at Cabo Bermejo, Las Dunas, Mar Azul, Valle Romano and Alcazaba Beach.
San Pedro de Alcántara
In recent times, San Pedro has become more popular but it still retains a traditional, tranquil, unspoilt atmosphere as people who want round-the-clock entertainment go to Marbella which is very close by and which provides excellent shopping opportunities. Life here is quite ‘Spanish’, with a touch of ‘expat’ thrown in for good measure. The weekly market on Thursdays, by the Plaza de la Iglesia, is perfect for bargain-hunters.
The long seafront promenade (and its accompanying cycle path) is a pleasant place to stroll, and is wide enough that it rarely feels crowded. The sandy beach has another Spanish favourite in the form of chiringuitos – pop-up bars selling drinks and snacks. The Arte Sano Festival celebrates healthy living and lifestyles, and is the biggest of its kind on the Costa del Sol.
For anyone moving with children who would rather keep them in the British education system, the Urbanización Nueva Alcántara has its own international school. The N340 road can get busy, so looking for a property slightly further away is advisable – but being on the inland side of it will see property prices drop quite a bit, so you can find some great bargains.
Sotogrande is really in the province of Cádiz but nowadays is taken to be part of the Costa del Sol and is now similar to what Marbella became well known for from the 1950s. Affluent, it attracts many celebrities and also royalty. A stroll around the port reveals some superb yachts quietly bobbing in the water.
As well as a big sailing community, there are some expensive golf and tennis clubs for entertainment. Some of the top courses include Valderrama, the host to the European Tour’s Volvo Masters and the Real Club de Golf. The Santa María Polo Club also owns six polo courses around the development. Boutiques and classy shops complement the upmarket restaurants but all with sophisticated glamour rather than glitz.
Puerto de la Duquesa
Approximately an hour’s drive from Málaga and 45 minutes from Gibraltar airport, La Duquesa has a very different feel from most of the resorts along the coast. It is certainly quieter with upmarket golf courses and world class sailing on offer. The area around La Duquesa is natural and unspoilt and the town itself is authentic Spain. The marina is lined with smart bars and sophisticated restaurants and it’s the perfect place to sit and enjoy a glass or so of wine of an evening.
In the summer, you can pick up some local craftspieces from the market, or you can use the Tourist Office’s bicycle hire scheme to go on a bit of a tour. There are two sandy beaches, Gaviotas and Castillo, the latter whose castle is still sometimes used for local events. fo course, you’re not far from other Blue Flag beaches like Sabanillas. The number of Gibraltarians living here (and working back on ‘the Rock’) help to keep it busy year-round, rather than just being a summer resort.
La Duquesa is small enough that isn’t that much variety between areas, but, generally speaking, you will find more modern builds towards the Torre del Castillo and around the marina, with the area between the two home to late twentieth-century properties.
Moving to inland Málaga, Coín, a once quiet, traditionally Andalusian town, has enjoyed considerable growth in popularity in recent years, with a strong expat population and plenty to see and do.
The natural surroundings are impressive – the town lies to the north of Fuengirola amongst stunning olive and citrus groves, picturesque walks and pretty streams. It’s a great base from which to explore the local countryside, with a network of popular walking trails, particularly through the well-known forests, La Fuente and El Charco del Infierno.
Most houses here are detached or, towards the centre and especially around Calle Conjunto Victoria, apartments in traditional whitewashed buildings.
Considering its size, Almería is popular with expats and seen by many as a charming town, thanks to its winding cobblestone streets and the lived in historic architecture. It has long been popular with tourists, which has ensured it is home to good support services for English-speakers and has a good infrastructure. Of course, this also means there is a surge in numbers of holidaymakers in the peak season, so many expats choose to live a little further inland. In these areas you will usually be able to find a good value country property that needs renovation – varying in requirements!
The history of the town, and indeed province, is self-evident, and there are many popular sights visited by tourists and locals alike – the medieval fortress Alcazaba that was begun in the 10th century, the longest air raid shelter open in Europe, and the Almería Cathedral with its fortress-like appearance that began life as a Mosque and was converted into a Christian Church before being destroyed in the 1522 earthquake and rebuilt.
The landscape and climate of Almería are also attractive to expats – there is a dry, arid landscape (used for the filming of Lawrence of Arabia, The Wind and the Lion and many spaghetti westerns among others) and the city is home to the volcanic Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park, the largest and environmentally important marine-terrestrial park in the Mediterranean Sea. Almería is also the driest city in Europe, and the only region on the continent to host a hot subtropical desert climate.
Nerja is an area growing in popularity with expats and overseas buyers, approximately 50 kilometres along the coast from Málaga. Formerly a tranquil fishing village, the population has grown considerably over the years, thanks to its length of unspoiled sandy beaches and clear sea. This also makes the region popular for water sports, with ideal conditions for scuba diving and other maritime pursuits. The old town retains all its traditional charm, with windy, cobbled streets, whitewashed buildings and the mountain range guarding the town to the east.
In the 10th Century, Córdoba was thought to be the most populous city in the world and was capital of the Islamic Emirate. Today, however it is a moderately sized city and its history has ensured its place as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the largest urban area in the world with this title. One of the most important buildings here, flocked to by visitors, is the Great Mosque of Córdoba, alongside the Roman bridge.
Its appeal to foreigners is evident, as the city has been described as having the warmest summer high temperatures in both Spain, and indeed Europe itself – average temperatures are around 37˚C in July and August.
In addition to the historical architecture, those living here can enjoy numerous garden, parks and natural environments – such as Jardines de la Victoria and Jardines de la Agricultura. Tourism is especially big in this city in May due to the climate and the three festivals that take place here – the May Crosses Festival, the Patios Festival and Córdoba’s Fair.
In the 10th Century, Córdoba was thought to be the most populous city in the world and was capital of the Islamic Emirate.
The World Capital of Olive Oil, as Jaén is known by the locals, is found deep in the hills of the Santa Catalina mountains. More olive oil (or liquid gold) is made here than anywhere else in the world. Almost every square inch of land outside the cities and parks is covered in olive groves.
Further out into the province, you will find two Renaissance cities, Úbeda and Baeza – both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The province’s location, out in the mountains, makes it a very different and beautiful location. 20% of the land here is protected by a Natural Park – meaning life outdoors can be a great adventure, with hiking trails and wildlife walks all on offer.
It is a popular location with expats, mostly for the reasons highlighted above, especially those who love the rural and country areas – and as we know, rural areas are much cheaper to purchase property than the cities!
A popular province with expats, much of the new developments in Huelva are aimed in the main at those buying second homes from overseas. Prices here are fairly low, although (as you would expect) they do get significantly higher as you move closer to the close. The town of Ayamonte here is particularly popular with retirees, thanks to its relaxed way of life.
One of the most well-known tourist resorts in Spain, Málaga is for many the entrance to the Costa del Sol.
The province is popular due to its variable landscape of mountains, forests, unspoilt countryside, and beaches with backdrops of pine and juniper woods. There is a subtropical Mediterranean climate, which of course attracts people from all over the world (especially the colder countries!), and the numerous popular fiestas that take place throughout the year are very well attended by expats and locals alike.
Huelva is also close to where Christopher Columbus began his journey to America, with many historical artefacts and reconstructions still visited by tourists and locals alike.
The province of Seville is the capital of Andalusia and is popular with expats, thanks to its traditional Spanish buildings, full to the brim with culture, history and celebrations. The town has a relatively small population, with an urban centre but rural-like outskirts – giving expats space and freedom to explore their new surroundings.
Seville is one of the more traditionally Spanish towns popular with expats, and while it has become more cosmopolitan in recent times, the locals hold on to their conventions and authentic Spanish life. Here you will find numerous historical artefacts, multiple tapas bars and plenty of flamenco shows. Other reasons for Seville’s popularity with overseas buyers include the area’s year round blue sky and sunshine, and the low cost of living in the area.
The province of Seville is the capital of Andalusia and is popular with expats thanks to its traditional Spanish buildings.
Landscape-wise, Seville shares the Parque Nacional de Doñana with the Huelva province, and is home to the Sierra Norte de Sevilla Natural Park – Andalusia’s largest protected area.
Costa de la Luz (Cádiz)
Translated in English to the Coast of Light, Costa de la Luz is popular with expats thanks to its rich history, hidden coves along the coast, vast beaches, and sand dunes. Traditionally this was the holiday destination of the locals, but there are more foreigners here now than ever before – both visiting and living here! This has had a significant effect on those interested in developing urbanisations here, and we expect this to continue.
The nature is incredibly popular here, particularly due to the birds that migrate here from Africa, and the Doñana National Park- home to the endangered Spanish Imperial Eagle and the Iberian Lynx. The climate is mild, hitting a warm 16˚ in February – but the town of Tarifa in Cádiz has often been nominated the windiest town in Europe. Cádiz itself is one of the oldest cities in Spain, home to whitewashed houses and tropical vegetation.
The region of Andalusia is easily accessible from both the UK and the rest of Spain.
Steeped in history, Granada is popular with foreigners thanks to its rich Roman and Moorish history, splendour and the antiques that remain in excellent condition – particularly UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Alhambra Palace. The province also boasts 30kilometres of rugged coastline and small bays, as well as tropical and fruit farms. The climate here is tropical, and influenced heavily by the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the north – this is the highest point in Spain, and the second highest in Europe after the Alps, making it popular with skiers.
Work for expats here mainly consists of teaching English or working in the tourism industry. Property prices are fairly low, and many offer the same high specifications and facilities you would receive in close by Málaga – but its proximity to this popular city makes a great place to commute from.
Average property prices in Andalusia
|Province||Avg. price||1 bed||2 beds||3 beds||4 beds||5 beds|
|Almería||€ 126,000||€ 75,000||€ 95,000||€ 139,000||€ 149,950||€ 189,995|
|Cádiz||€ 230,000||€ 94,000||€ 135,000||€ 199,950||€ 450,000||€ 674,750|
|Córdoba||€ 119,000||–||€ 79,000||€ 119,000||€ 149,900||€ 122,500|
|Granada||€ 185,000||€ 104,500||€ 148,000||€ 200,000||€ 265,000||€ 367,500|
|Huelva||€ 155,000||–||€ 137,500||–||–||–|
|Jaén||€ 56,500||–||€ 39,000||€ 54,000||€ 65,000||€ 69,000|
|Málaga||€ 295,000||€ 121,500||€ 199,500||€ 295,000||€ 525,000||€ 933,500|
|Seville||€ 120,000||–||€ 87,600||€ 99,750||–||–|
|REGIONAL||€ 249,000||€ 112,100||€ 160,000||€ 249,950||€ 420,000||€ 650,000|
The region of Andalusia is easily accessible from both the UK and the rest of Spain. There are numerous public airports here, all of which can handle international flights. The most dominant of these is Málaga Airport, the fourth busiest in Spain, and there is a daily link from here to twenty other cities in Spain, and over 100 cities in Europe as well as North Africa, the Middle East and North America. Other airports in or within easy access of the region include Seville, Gibraltar, Jerez, Granada and Almería. From the UK you can access these through Ryanair, Monarch, British Airways, easyJet, First Choice, Air Scotland, Jet2.com and Flybe among others.
In terms of other transport links, there is a strong network of both road and rail infrastructure, connecting Andalusia to the rest of Spain – and beyond!