Advantages and disadvantages of house versus apartment in Spain

Before you can secure a spot under the Spanish sun, you need to make some decisions. Thus, you need to decide in which region you will get your vitamin D from now on. Will it be the Costa Blanca or the Costa del Sol? Or any other place in this blood-gorgeous country? Equally crucial is the choice of housing type: house versus apartment.

house versus apartment

Will you choose a detached house, such as a villa, or will you opt for a cozy apartment? Sometimes the decision is made quickly. With a small budget, you may not be able to afford a luxurious villa with direct access to the sea. And a large family, with a pack of hyperactive children and an outgrown labrador or three, quickly languishes in a five-by-ten apartment.

But just as often, you don’t know what to choose right away. To be clear, it is not a matter of “one is better than the other. In fact, both a house and an apartment have advantages and disadvantages. Your choice will then depend on your personal situation, your budget and your preferences. However, with this blog post, we hope to shed some light on the darkness.

The Spanish housing market

Before we compare house and apartment, a word about the Spanish housing market. Two-thirds of Spaniards live in apartment buildings. According to Eurostat, after Latvia, this is the highest rate in Europe. A direct result of the 60s and 70s, when Spaniards left the countryside en masse to work in the cities and many cheap housing units were needed quickly. However, this is not to say that you cannot opt for a detached house. Especially on the Spanish costas, developers created an abundance of quality homes and villas.

An apartment in Spain

Advantages of an apartment in Spain

  • Price

By the tape, an apartment in Spain is cheaper than a house. This rule is not general – there are just as many luxury flats with jacuzzi and sea view – but with a small budget it is best to look in this segment. So you already have a modern two-bedroom bungalow apartment in Murcia for 135,000 euros or a magnificent flat in Orihuela-Costa from 198,000 euros. Or how about a spacious apartment within walking distance of the sea in Malaga, starting at 174,000 euros?

“After our calculations, it appears that your budget is sufficient for this treehouse on the Costa Blanca.”

  • Facilities

On the Spanish costas, most properties come with a communal pool and garden. Sometimes a playground, gym, spa or tennis court is also available to residents. These luxury apartments in Marbella, for example, have a swimming pool, garden, gym and Finnish sauna.

  • Safety

We are not claiming that in a house you should be continuously afraid of armed burglars, but the security in an apartment is usually better. This is certainly true of
gated communities
, where a security guard keeps an eye on things and barbs prevent entry to uninvited guests. Such gated communities usually also have security cameras and an ingenious fire protection system. In less well-equipped apartment blocks, proximity to neighbors provides an additional layer of protection.

  • Sense of community

You will automatically meet your neighbors at the pool, in the elevator or when you take out the garbage bags. This makes it easier to have a chat and make friends, both with other expats and with Spaniards. Locals can also give tips or help you get to grips with life in Spain. This greatly facilitates integration.

Those who live in apartments also get out more. Moreover, according to sociologists, Spanish housing, largely in flats, is the direct reason for Spain’s strong social cohesion. Vibrant social life takes place largely outdoors, in market squares, parks and bars. According to Eurostat, Spaniards eat out much more than residents of other countries. They spend 15 percent of their household budget in restaurants and bars, compared to an EU average of nine percent.

Disadvantages of an apartment in Spain

  • Curious or noisy neighbors

Every advantage has its disadvantage. There is always the chance that your neighbors are nurkers of people, that they have children who start screaming belligerently every time you get ready for your siesta. Or a dog that takes a sardonic pleasure in giving a barking serenade on Sunday mornings. This is not a Spanish phenomenon, even in Belgium there are neighbors who watch from behind the curtain when you come and go.

Old flats sometimes have smaller kitchens and poor insulation, so you may experience noise or odor nuisance from other residents. However, this is not true of the properties we advertise on Gold Estates. We only offer new construction that must meet certain quality standards.

  • Common costs

In Spain these are called
gastos de la comunidad
. You pay a fixed amount each month that goes toward the maintenance of the garden, elevators, pool, improvements to the complex and possibly the wages of permanent staff. Consider it an investment in your property. The better that is maintained, the more it is worth.

A house in Spain

Advantages of a house in Spain

  • Additional space

Both inside and outside. This aspect is not to be underestimated. In a small apartment you will stumble over the beach gear you forgot to put away the day before, in a house you will have plenty of room for all your conveniences. Additional space is also high on the wish list for those who like to play soccer with their (grand)children in the yard.

How much space? That’s up to you. In the 1,000-square-meter garden of these luxury villas in Marbella, you have enough space to host a music festival if you wish. In a manner of speaking.

“To this garden there are no limits”

  • More opportunities for customization

With you your own home you do completely your own thing. You have more opportunities to do structural renovations than in a condo and can feel free to paint your exterior walls pink or green. Or the color of your favorite soccer team.

(Please note that major renovations do require permission from the municipality).

  • Value of the land

Those who buy a house own not only the bricks and the space inside, but also the land on which it is built.

  • More freedom, more privacy

Suppose you want to throw a party to celebrate the end of corona. In an apartment building, an angry lady in a peignoir is banging on your door within the half hour. If you try to drown out her complaining by thumping the bass a little louder, you’re bound to hear police sirens a little later. In a house, you can do your own thing much more. Nor should you have to answer to neighbors who wonder if you washed the sheets drying on the clothesline at 60 degrees. In short: less interference, more freedom.

Conversely, you will be less bothered by noise and odor nuisance from your neighbors. You don’t hear your neighbor flushing the toilet and the house doesn’t smell like burnt onion every time the family next door makes hot dogs.

“Washed at forty degrees again, yes?”

Disadvantages of a house in Spain

  • More maintenance costs and work

A bigger house means bigger costs for water, electricity, garbage collection and municipal taxes. Unlike apartment buildings, which on the costas usually have a communal facilities, you are completely on your own for the maintenance of your pool and garden.

Homeowners must also repair or have repaired their leaking roof, paint the house, trim the hedge and trees, clean the gutters, rake the leaves and cut the grass themselves. Or you just let it grow of course. You are the owner of a house, you do what you want!

  • Larger distance to the center

Depending on your needs, this may also be an advantage. After all, a house in a suburb is synonymous with tranquility. But if you like a friendly crowd, and like to walk to the village center for your daily newspaper and coffee, you are usually better off in an apartment.

Tips to make choosing between apartment and house easier

  • Write all the advantages and disadvantages on a paper. Delete those that would be less important to you. Keep only the most essential aspects. Then think about which of those requirements you absolutely do not want to compromise on. On another paper, list the annual cost of each type of residence. Compare those to your budget.
  • There are also intermediate forms that can serve as compromises. A villa in a residential complex combines the pluses of a single house, such as space and privacy, with the benefits of shared facilities. And in a luxury apartment, you can wallow in opulence without having to shoulder the extra maintenance costs of a house.

Are you still not out of it after that? Then consider that any choice is a guarantee of 320 days of sunshine and beautiful scenery. Thinking carefully is important-no one wants to make a rash decision-but don’t let the stress of choice paralyze you. If living in Spain is a dream, at some point you just have to jump. Or you risk a lifetime of regret.



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