Everything you need to know about accommodation and the housing market in Spain, whether you want to buy or rent.
If you’re thinking of moving to Spain, the most important thing to do will be to find somewhere to live. Finding good quality housing in Spain is not difficult if you know where to look. Before you can decide whether to buy or rent, and whether you want a house or a flat, you need to know a bit about how Spanish people live!
How to buy a house in Spain
Levels of home ownership in Spain are much higher than in the UK. At almost 80% they’re the highest in Western Europe. House prices have been rising steadily since a low in 2013 though they’re still a long way off pre-2008 levels before the global economic crisis. Property prices are lower in Spain than in many other Western European countries. That means, among other things, that it’s a great time to find a house in Spain and make it your home!
The major cities of Madrid and Barcelona are the most expensive places to find property, though there’s not much variance across the country as a whole. Apartments in these cities will cost an average of €1409 per square metre. The average price in the whole is Spain is barely lower at €1385 per square metre.
This is very cheap compared with, say, Germany or France but on the other hand wages are also lower. There is currently a glut of housing in Spain, though the recent rise in demand has started to take care of that. Estate agents and websites can help you learn how to find a house in Spain.
Types of housing: What to expect
The Spanish are overwhelmingly a nation of apartment dwellers. Two thirds of Spanish people live in flats. Whilst Spain is a very large country, the population is very much concentrated in the urban areas. Many Spaniards also have second country/holiday homes and will escape the cities at weekends.
Properties in Spain will fall into one of the following categories.
Apartment (apartamento) – These provide much better security as there are always people around but on the downside, they can often be noisy. They’re great for single people or young couples but don’t really provide the lifestyle that British families would expect, despite most Spanish families being happy to live in them. Outside of the cities they usually provide communal facilities such as pools and gardens.
Villa (vivienda unifamiliar / chalet) – The classic Spanish property – comfortable, spacious and private, these detached properties are perfect for living the good life. Maintenacne costs can be high, especially if they come with a pool, and they can be hard to keep secure if you plan on spending lots of time away or if you’re buying to let.
Modern semidetached (casa adosada) – These offer a great halfway house between an apartment and a Villa. Usually cheaper to buy and maintain than Villas, they often have either small private pools or communal facilities making them easier to secure and giving a more communal feel.
Village house (casa de pueblo) – These older, semi-detached townhouses can offer a great investment though they may well require modernisation.
Country house / farmhouse (cortijo / masia / casas rural / finca) – These are more and more in demand as they offer the rural dream of citrus trees and olive groves. While still cheap, they are in shorter supply as people look for ways to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
Where do the Brits in Spain live?
With over 750,000 Brits living in Spain you’ll find them pretty much everywhere. The southern coastal areas are home to huge expat communities but the cities also offer many Brits so you’ll never be far from feeling at home.
Spain offers great opportunities for a comfortable retirement and for cheap holiday homes. Job opportunities may be low, as are wages, but the standard of living can be fantastic.