The Unique Property
Buying property in Spain
OK, let's get specific. Let's assume you want to buy somewhere
in Spain either for retirement or for investment purposes. How
would I go about analysing the proposal?
First I would clarify why I was thinking of buying. My own
thought processes would proceed along these lines, but do note,
yours may be different:
1 I like Spain, and have been living there off and on
since I was 13. I know the country from end to end, speak the
language, am conversant with their customs, literature and
history. I also spent a lot of my formative years there so I
feel comfortable and at home pretty well anywhere in the
country. Presumably very few of you reading this can say the
same. That means you will need to adjust to different customs,
and a different language. How does that appeal to you?
2 I am aware that Spaniards are, generally speaking, a
very parochial lot. Things have improved over the decades but
someone from Cadiz will have a totally different set of beliefs
from someone from Valencia, and be almost incomprehensible to
someone from Barcelona. Probably none of them will have a good
word to say about Madrid, and yet they will adopt Madrileņo
customs without thinking. The province of Cadiz is certainly the
most authentically Spanish, while many parts of Spain have
embraced a more European attitude to life, although they would
probably fiercely deny that.
3 The weather is be no means uniform. Madrid can be
seriously cold in winter and very hot in summer. The North-West
can be mild and wet. You also have snow on the Picos. Generally,
Northern Spain is rural, and gentle, with a countryside similar
to the UK. Move south of the Picos inland and things change
rather abruptly. Go south to the west of Madrid and you are in a
kind of landscape that will require that you speak Spanish and
adapt to local customs. In short, you will be in Spain, and out
in the sticks. This is the first zone that would suffer from any
4 The second zone to be hit by economic difficulties is
the east coastal region, and as a result of the lunatic
shutdowns, this part of Spain has in large part become a no-go
zone. Tourists are not coming, ex-pats are leaving, and the
local economies are on skid-row.
As regards economic problems you will find the northern
agricultural areas and the province of Cadiz to be the most
If you are reasonably conversant with Spanish mores and the
language you will like Cadiz the best, but anywhere within the
triangle of the towns of Cadiz, Jerez and Gibraltar would be a
wonderful, varied, and interesting area to call home.
5 What about real estate prices? Ah... At the moment it is
probably a buyers' market, but that doesn't mean there isn't
more room to fall. And that has to lead us straight into the
mire of politics.
6 God knows what is going on. Spanish politics still leans
heavily on aggressive moves towards the regions. There is
supposed to be some breathing room allowed, but in reality that
doesn't mean much. When the chips are down, and they certainly
are at the moment, then the Guardia can be in your face. Some
people dont like that.
Economically the country survives by leaning on the successes of
Catalonia, together with the tourist boom along the east coast.
At the moment the tourist industry is on its knees. How long
that will last is beyond my ken. I have no crystal ball. This
means that I would choose to live somewhere that does not depend
on the vagaries of erratic trade. I'd choose opposite ends of
the country: the Provinces of Cadiz and Jerez, or coastal
Catalonia. Those areas are likely to remain relatively stable.
Politically Spain is not a free country, it is a satellite of
the EU with all that entails. Moving there means investing both
in the country and the EU. Both entities are, at the moment, at
a low ebb. It depends whether you think there will be a bounce
back. I am doubtful. Spain as a country is inherently unstable,
but it is far from breaking up, but there is always that risk.
More of a risk is the mess that is the EU. The various states
within the region are at each other's throats. Economically the
area is on a slow-motion crash. Every year the region's share of
international trade goes down. The area is sinking under an
influx of migrants, and the general mood is one of resignation.
It is as if Europe as a whole has lost its ideals, and it's
vitality, and is beginning to feel tired and directionless. Can
you switch off from all that?
At the moment you have to deal with the corona virus hysteria.
How much longer that persists is beyond me, but it is
systematically destroying the economy and social life. You also
have to deal with the political tennis match that seems to be
forever being fomented by the Americans. I mean, of course, a
fiasco that is the legacy from the fall of the Berlin wall. The
Russians made what would normally appear to be a suicidal
agreement with the West about how that should develop. Sadly for
the rest of us the US reneged on their part of the deal, and the
EU has sided with the US, or pretended to. That may well lead to
further confrontations. Who knows how that may pan out? Russia
has effectively said that Ukraine is a red line. Over the past
ten years the US has done everything it possibly could to break
that line, and the current administration is up to the hilt in
underhand dealings with the Ukraine administration. That means
with the Biden administration in power the likelihood of a
confrontation is more likely than not. No doubt most people have
forgotten that President Trump agreed to respect that line, but
the Biden family is heavily involved in the political elite in
Kiev. How broken is the current US administration is another
matter. It's not a subject I follow, but all is not well. That
may be the saving grace in this farce. One thing is interesting.
Kiev has not asked for help. Work that one out.
The 64,000 dollar question is: what will be the next farce?
There's bound to be one.
So how do I sum up? Difficult. It is clear that the EU is
dysfunctional. It is also clear that Spain is currently both
politically and economically in a serious mess. So what I can do
is try to have a look at the situation from a reasonably
unemotional level, and that means looking at the money. I'll do
that next week.
Any comments or questions, do get back to me.
In the meantime I have written a book about my travels around
Spain way back in the era of the dictatorship. I think you'd
find the book a fascinating and interesting read. You can get a
copy from Amazon here:
Or directly from me. Just ask (email
In fact there are more modern updates on my travels around
Spain, but I haven't gotten around to publishing them yet, but
they are available direct from me. Just let me know
if you're interested.