Property on the coast and inland

Costa del Sol, land of diversity

OK, so you’ve decided you want to move abroad. You’ve decided you want to live in Spain due to the climate, affordable cost of living and ease of moving there from your home country. You’ve even narrowed it down to Spain’s south coast. Now the only question marks remaining are where to lay down your roots: on the coast or inland?

Those who haven’t visited before and even repeat holidaymakers who don’t stray from the sunny shores of the Med may get the impression that the Costa del Sol is one dimensional… merely a string of beach resorts lined up one after the other whose skyline is dominated by hotels, tourist apartment blocks and the gently swaying masts of fancy yachts moored in marinas.

Not just a seaside resort

However, this is not the case. Málaga province’s Sunshine Coast also boasts an extensive inland area that takes you far beyond the iconic La Concha mountain to the north of Marbella or the Sierra Bermeja Natural Park that separates interior Andalucía and coastal towns like Estepona, for example.

And it’s not like this is anything new. Homebuyers from all over the world have been purchasing inland Costa del Sol property for donkey’s years; preferring it to coastal property because it fits their lifestyle better and provides the peace and tranquility they had been looking for.

With this in mind, and with no bias either way, I wanted to focus on one specific factor that we get asked about a lot at VIVA and that might influence your decision as to whether to buy inland or on the coast. It all boils down to economics…

Property prices for every budget

The difference in per square metre price between coastal towns and inland areas is quite significant, especially for larger family homes where a greater usable space is required. For this reason, you must carefully consider where you’re looking with regards to the limitations of your budget.

In other words, do you want to have “more property for your money” and live a bit further away from the beach or is your priority location, location, location in a lively town centre location near the paseo marítimo?

In order to help you make that decision and to give you a better idea of what – and, importantly, where – you can buy, it’s important to know where property clings onto its value and where you can pay less than the average house price for the province as a whole, which is €1,664/m2 (as at Q3 2019).

Coastal towns

The following figures come from data published by valuations firm Tinsa regarding average coastal property prices:

Inland areas

Although different sources vary slightly with regards to the exact figure, property prices in inland areas tend to be reasonably low when compared against the provincial average.

Alhaurín el Grande, for example, is a very attractive location for foreign buyers, since it offers two golf courses, well-established amenities, quality residential complexes and is just 20 minutes’ drive from the beach. Despite this, its property was valued at an average of between €1,400/m2 and €1,530/m2 for the month of October, depending on where you get your information from.

In the case of Alhaurín de la Torre, this mean value was somewhere between €1,550/m2 and €1,700/m2 last month; while, by contrast, the average price in Coín was in the region of €1,200/m2 – €1,405/m2.

*Please note that the average property prices stated above are indicative values only. As such, they may not coincide with sales prices for properties advertised on the VIVA website.

A practical example

Let’s say we indulge, for the moment, in a possible real-world example.

You’ve decided you want to move abroad. You want to move to Spain. You love the Costa del Sol and want to invest there, but you’re torn between Fuengirola and Alhaurín el Grande as they are both roughly the same distance from the airport. You have €250,000 to spend.

If the above averages are taken as gospel, your money buys you a property with a built area of 179m2 in Alhaurín el Grande compared to a 131m2 property in Fuengirola.

For illustrative purposes only, I’ll suppose that this could buy you a two- or three- bedroom apartment in Fuengirola, while you might get something substantially larger and with a garden in Alhaurín el Grande.

I must stress that these calculations do, in no way, represent the actual market price for said property types and there are many other factors in play that determine a property’s value... but you get the idea. In general, the more you move into the countryside, the more square metres you get for your money.

Get to know the market

It’s pretty clear to see, then, that the cost of real estate is different wherever you go on the Costa del Sol. As does the type of property you’ll find in each area, of course. Detached homes and fincas with large plots and fruit trees will be most commonly found in the province’s interior, while apartments, townhouses and chalets in private urbanisations will dominate the property landscape in more densely populated areas.

If you’re looking to buy a place and rent it out when you’re not there, it stands to reason that yields will be high on the coast given the attraction of the beach. However, bed and breakfast businesses also do very well in harder-to-reach areas, so you shouldn’t rule them out as an investment opportunity.

The moral of the story is this: do your research thoroughly before discounting either inland or coastal properties on the basis of their potential economic return and make sure you’re looking for the right property to fit with the lifestyle you envisage yourself leading.

Other factors

If your motive for living either on the coast or inland is not driven by finance but instead by lifestyle choice, you have a different set of circumstances to consider.

Perhaps the ideal of purchasing an inland finca, having your own land, living self-sufficiently and escaping the hustle and bustle of city life sounds like a dreamy retirement plan? Perhaps you won’t live there all year round, so an apartment inside a residential community near the beach makes more sense than the upkeep and maintenance of a country house?

Maybe you like long walks off the beaten track or prefer pedalling up the mountain to pedalos? Or maybe you hate the idea of having to drive anywhere and need to be within walking distance of the beach and all amenities?

Take a look at VIVA’s Area Guides to get a feel for the different towns, urbanisations and areas of outstanding natural beauty that make up the Costa del Sol, as well as information about surrounding provinces for great day trip ideas!

Did you find this article about the price difference between buying on the coast and inland useful? If you have any questions on the subject of where to purchase property on the Costa del Sol, either leave me a message in the comments below or ask a VIVA expert directly!