Ernie Enver

Valencia to Murcia: Spain’s Costas compared

4 min read


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Lots of Brits love the Costa Blanca. It’s not hard to see why when you consider the sandy beaches and sizzling temperatures. Valencia saw a record-breaking 7.1 million tourists in 2016, with 765,000 in October alone. A third of these were Brits, enjoying autumn temperatures of over 40°C.

After years of popping over for holidays, it’s only natural that people start to think about buying their own place. With the booming expat communities, it’s easy to slot right in – even if you don’t speak Spanish. For many single expats, living abroad without an established community would be pretty isolating – but with volunteer groups like the Lions and the Masons, expats can quickly settle into a sociable life.

Costa Blanca: Immigration made easy

Thinking about moving to Costa Blanca? There are loads of online forums that have information from expats on the ground who are always willing to help newbies. The region is also featured in English papers like Costa News, The Olive Press, Spain Buddy, Spanish News Today and Valencia International. Before moving, it’s easy to get local knowledge on where to rent or buy, or find the inside scoop on local schools.

Pros of Costa Blanca:

  • The airports in Alicante and Valencia are both about an hour away by car.
  • Local transport includes coastal trains, trams and buses, in built-up areas.
  • There are loads of golf courses and other outdoor activities all year round.
  • Established expat communities offer English friendship and support.
  • There’s good potential for buying a holiday let.
  • Some towns are sheltered from cold winters and scalding summers by microclimates.
  • Cons of Costa Blanca:
  • Valencia has 12% purchase transaction costs, higher than the 10% elsewhere in Spain.
  • Popular tourist areas can get loud when tourists descend in peak season.
  • Benidorm and other budget holiday areas can be expensive places to buy.
  • High humidity in some areas can make summer suffocating, and winter damp and windy.
  • Many resort areas become ghost towns in winter.

Where to buy in Costa Blanca

Costa Blanca Northnorth (north of Alicante airport) is more expensive and less touristy than the south. It’s slightly cooler, hillier and – thanks to the rain – greener. The north is a better investment because it’s more established than the south and prices are stable, but the property prices could pinch your lifestyle. Towns slightly inland, like Amoradi, Xativa and Pego are more affordable, and only a short drive from the beach.

Orba is a rural village where bulls are run through the streets in June and July. On the outskirts, affordable urbanisation appeals to Brits who make up half of the population. Denia is an established town with all municipal services, plus ferries to Ibiza, Menorca and Majorca. Swanky Altea is whitewashed, picturesque and pricey.

Costa Blanca Southsouth (south of Alicante airport) has cheaper properties, but the coast is Spain’s third most popular tourist destination so it’s built up and crowded in summer. Torrevieja has lots of property and plenty of Brits – and, like Santa Pola, it stays lively all year round. Property prices in El Campello and Peñiscola are a bit lower but on the rise.

If you’re hoping to retire to this popular area, we recommend that you rent long term so that you’ve got time to explore your options. Make sure you ask expats for insight on estate agents and lawyers, and find out more about which areas they like.

Better bargain hotspots: Almeria and Murcia

Further south, Murcia features the unspoilt 250km coastline of Costa Cálida. Murcia can be a brilliant bargain holiday or retirement destination for three reasons:

  1. The average property price is €130,000, way below the average in Costa Blanca’s Alicante (€210,000) and Málaga (€295,000).
  2. A third of buyers are foreigners looking for second homes, but many are moving to Murcia with families. Ten years ago, the average age of buyers was 55 to 65. Now, it’s 45 to 60. This gives Murcia (and neighbouring Almeria) a more family-oriented, English expat community than Costa Blanca.
  3. Murcia’s served by two airports: Alicante and Murcia, both offering budget airline flights from the UK.

South of Murcia, budget-conscious Brits are making Almeria the Costa del Sol’s latest property hotspot. 2016 sales rose by 93% over 2015, while sales fell in Costa Blanca. Albox, Mojacar and Carboneras are popular for all-year living.

The region recently assimilated 30,000 homes previously classified as ‘illegal’ because the proper permits weren’t issued. Now, buyers can legally register them, making Almeria a safer investment with these bargains suddenly appearing on the market.

If you’re looking for a lower-priced property, try a holiday south of Costa Blanca to get to know these two reasonably-priced destinations.

Moving abroad is exciting but it can be pretty overwhelming, too. We’d love to help you secure a new property in Spain by transferring your funds – with great exchange rates and minimal fees. Get in touch if you have any questions.

The information in this article is correct at the time of publishing (October 2019). It could change depending on the outcome of Brexit.

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