Spain Guide



Spanish Holiday Villas

When you buy a Spanish holiday villa don't assume it will be suitable as a permanent residence because often this is not the case. Holiday homes in Spain are built for a specific purpose and are geared to the needs of short term visitors, most of whom spend their days lounging by the pool or down at the beach. Your needs if you plan to live permanently in your Spanish property will be quite different. Don't wait until you've purchased the property to find out what the difference is!

Except for properties in northern Spain, most holiday villas are built in such a way as to be totally unsuitable for year round living unless you invest a considerable amount of money upgrading them to a standard which will make them comfortable during the colder winter months.

The stereotypical image of Spain is one of endless beaches, year round sun and eternal eating al fresco. Whilst this is (almost) true of the most popular southern and eastern coastal areas, temperatures can plummet below freezing on occasions and most holiday villas simply aren't geared up to cope with the cold. They usually have tiled flooring throughout with no wall to wall carpeting or central heating. That's great in the hot summer months because the tiles are wonderfully cooling to bare feet but it's decidedly uncomfortable in the winter when you'll find yourself longing for a shag pile carpet and a few radiators.

About two thirds of Spain is warm and dry with very scarce rainfall most of the year. When the rain does come it's often in short, violent bursts with fierce thunderstorms, raging seas and high winds. That's when you'll wish you'd installed double glazing, guttering and a good drainage system in your beautiful garden which has just turned into a muddy swamp! Of course the more upmarket holiday homes are fitted with all these extra facilities and comforts but they're rare to find in standard holiday properties so it's important to check exactly what you're getting for your money if you have any intention of making your Spanish villa or apartment your permanent home. Don't wait until your first winter in the property to find out that you're going to have to spend thousands of pounds making the place habitable out of high season.

Another point about most holiday properties is that they don't have any storage space simply because holidaymakers don't need it. But it's one thing to arrive with a couple of suitcases and quite another to turn up with a removal truck full of the furniture and possessions you've acquired over the last 25 years. Many buyers have found they're had to set about building garages, outhouses and extensions in order to transform a holiday let into a permanent residence.

Location is another factor. If you're planning to move to Spain on a permanent basis, try to rent in your chosen area before you buy. If you're buying a holiday villa, chances are it'll be in an area which is full of life from June September with plenty of people around and a good choice of bars, restaurants and shops nearby. But visit in January and you might find a completely different story. Many holiday complexes turn into ghost towns out of season the seaside apartments and villas are boarded up and everything's closed until the summer madness starts again. You could suddenly find yourself feeling decidedly lonely and isolated.