With the demand for Spanish properties continuing relentlessly, there is a huge decision to be made if you are in the market to purchase. Do I buy an apartment or a villa? This choice dramatically differs in the pros and cons of owning an apartment or villa in Spain. So which one is right for you? It pays to look at the legalities of buying in Spain to determine what best suits your purpose.
The Spanish love their apartments, which, outside of the main city centres in the UK, are something of a rarity. In many resorts up and down the coast, your only choice will be an apartment unless you head inland.
Apartments began to be built in the 1960s in Spain and came with problems from that era. They are often constructed poorly, with cramped rooms and outdated electrical and plumbing installations. These properties are difficult to renovate due to poor access for materials and lack of street space for waste skips.
At the other end are the modern-built, eco-friendly, well-insulated apartments in complexes with additional facilities such as pools, gardens, gyms, and cinemas.
Pros of buying an apartment
Price – As a general rule, the supply of apartments keeps prices affordable. With so many on the market, there is an apartment for every budget.
Facilities – Modern blocks have an ever-increasing range of facilities for the homeowner to attract buyers. It is common for a pool and gardens. Still, developers are adding value with gyms, spas, kids’ play areas, tennis and other sporting facilities.
Security – It is fair to say an apartment complex is more secure than a villa. Having secure entry systems and urbanisations are often gated with in-house security personnel. If you only plan short holiday visits, then apartments make a strong case with the ease with which you can lock and leave until the next visit.
Community – Living in an apartment guarantees you lots of neighbours. Whether they live year-round, use their place for holidays or rent out during the holiday season, you are sure to bump into plenty of people. This can be very comforting if you are new to Spanish living and can be a pleasant way to integrate into the community.
Cons of buying an apartment
Neighbours – A significant downside to apartment living is having neighbours. The Spanish are very loud and have no filter for personal space. It can be challenging to embrace the living style when someone parks in your space, let the dogs bark all day, or the kids run riot. Sound insulation is poor to non-existent, so do not expect a quiet night’s sleep, especially in Summer.
Community Fees – These fees are collected monthly and go towards the apartments’ upkeep and renovations. The more facilities your complex has, the higher these charges will be, and the pool and gardens need maintenance constantly. The lifts will need servicing, and interior spaces will need cleaning and painting. Your fees will cover all of this and can be high, especially if the complex is not fully occupied, as the total cost is split between the occupied flats.
Overcrowding – During the Summer months, you can expect every apartment to be occupied. This increase in numbers brings a whole raft of issues. Insufficient parking spaces, no room around the pool, rubbish bins overflowing and blocked sewage pipes are all common.
Villas are available in all the coastal resorts but tend to be slightly inland due to them having parcels of land surrounding them. Again the building of villas started in the 1960s and has similar issues to apartments from that era
1960s villas will most likely need refurbishment, and sometimes their paperwork can be sketchy. This is resolvable but worth mentioning.
Modern villas are either standalone or form part of communities. Community villas are similar to apartments, with additional facilities such as shared pools and gyms being common.
Pros of buying a villa in Spain
Privacy – A villa provides seclusion from others and, if a standalone villa, total privacy. For many people, this is imperative to owning property in Spain. The idea of being able to do whatever they want is a crucial factor in buying. Everyone dreams of outdoor entertaining, and you can party until your heart is content without upsetting the neighbours.
Value – When you buy a villa, you also buy the land it sits on, unlike an apartment. The value of land increases over time as building plots are used up, so this can add additional value to your home.
Extend – As you own the land, with the relevant permissions, you can extend the property to meet changing needs.
Renovate and Upgrade – It is significantly easier to renovate and upgrade a villa than an apartment—more accessible access to materials, skips and the ability to knock down or build as desired. You will need permission from your local town hall and have to pay a small fee, but these are no barriers to remodelling your villa to suit your lifestyle.
Cons of buying a villa in Spain
Running Costs – A villa has significantly higher running costs than an apartment. Even if you are not using the property, the pool and garden will need maintenance. All of your utility bills will be higher, especially the standing charges for electricity. You will have a bill for IBI or council tax for providing street lights, rubbish collection and local police services.
Security – Villa security is an issue, especially the more isolated the villa is from other habitations. This isolation can be mitigated with security gates and monitored alarms, but unless your villa is in a gated community, the costs of security fall on your wallet. You will also find insurance costs for the villa to be high in Spain.
Isolation – This could be a Pro or Con depending on your perspective. You will most likely need to take the car everywhere. Still, in return, you get serenaded by crickets every night, not the local disco and bars as you would in an apartment.
Any property purchase has pros and cons, but villas and apartments are like chalk and cheese.
They both have a lot to offer, and both have negatives. With careful thought and advice from professional property agents, you will be overjoyed with your new Spanish property-owning adventure.