Craig Smith, 39, in his new home in Torremolinos. A. P.
Making the move to the Costa del Sol
Property and Investment

Making the move to the Costa del Sol

A new home. Swathes of buyers from northern Europe are going south to find the perfect property and capitalise off it as the province continues its exponential growth

Anthony Piovesan

Monday, 26 February 2024, 13:52


Before the Covid-19 pandemic Brit Craig Smith wouldn’t have looked twice at Malaga as it appeared on the long list of flights at Heathrow Airport’s departures lounge in London. Today, after a quick trip visiting family in England, it’s the first thing he looks out for as he prepares to board his flight back home: to Malaga. “The city pitched to host the World Expo, Torremolinos is looking to be the scene for EuroPride 2027, it really feels like the province is going places so I thought if I wanted an investment, why not Malaga,” Smith told SUR in English.

The 39-year-old from Cambridge is just one of many new home buyers in Malaga province who are snapping up homes not only to enjoy life along the sunnier shores of southern Spain, but as an investment to capitalise off a destination that is quickly drawing extra attention from all corners of the globe.

Smith said he had always wanted to live somewhere warmer than the UK, and so Malaga became a candidate city for the graphic designer to call home. While it boasted miles of golden beach along the Costa del Sol, consistent sunshine and year-round warmth, Smith could never expect from his small, cold town north of London, it is what Malaga is transforming into that convinced him of his future there and to purchase a home in Torremolinos.

“You have digital nomads coming in from all over the world, Google setting up its headquarters here - everyone seems to be investing in Malaga, residentially and commercially, so I wanted to be a part of that,” he said.

Long-term investment

In May 2023 Smith purchased his home, a three-bedroom property with a terrace that looks out to the nearby Parque Batería in Torremolinos, the mountains and Mediterranean sea. While he pointed out how much he enjoys the space day-to-day, he also said the house would be a long-term investment, and has applied for Andalucía’s new tourist permit so he can one day turn the home into an Airbnb.

“When I left the UK and decided to make Spain my home, I sold my flat there and I feel like property is a good form of investment so I wanted to take the money I earned from the sale of my flat and put it into another property rather than leaving it in the bank,” Smith said.

“With a destination like Malaga, it’s in hot demand and so many more people are flocking here each year so I see the house as definitely my short term home but also a long term investment. I also thought buying a home here would make me feel more a part of Spain and a part of the community if it was a house that I owned and I’m investing in. Living here helps me really integrate in many aspects rather than just feeling transient if I’m renting - I’ve chosen Spain and I want to invest in it and keep my money here,” he added.

A place to unwind

Brit Mark Coup wanted somewhere sunny he and his family could escape to over school holidays and so he purchased a two-bedroom apartment in Duquesa in June 2023.

The 57-year-old from Hebden Bridge, a small town in England’s West Yorkshire region, runs a jewellery and homecare business and fosters three children in addition to his own three birth children and said he was looking for a place he could unwind. He had never been to the Costa del Sol other than one weekend in Malaga city six years ago, but started researching properties and suddenly considered it as a prospect. “I didn’t really know what I wanted to buy and what each purpose would be, whether it would be a holiday home for our employees, ourselves and our foster children or whether it would be to rent out as an investment,” said Coup, who engaged The Spanish Estate Agent to help him find his dream property.

Mark Coup and his family bought an apartment in Duquesa within two days of arriving on the Costa del Sol.
Mark Coup and his family bought an apartment in Duquesa within two days of arriving on the Costa del Sol. SUR

“We were taken to Estepona and Duquesa and looked at two or three properties and we ended up owning an apartment from that visit that day,” Coup said.

“We got in touch with our lawyers and did all the paperwork and within 48 hours after having never visited the Costa del Sol before, the purchase was finalised.

“The thing that made us buy in Spain and in that area, besides the glorious weather and the very child-friendly atmosphere, was the importance of having a place to relax. In my business during the Covid-19 pandemic we did 3,000 care visits a week in the middle of the UK, we’re responsible for 120 employees - it took a toll on everybody’s health and wellbeing - so if we’ve got a holiday home in Spain, we have to go and use it and enjoy it and that warmth in winter, when things are dark and dreary in the UK, has already made an immediate difference for me,” Coup added.

To live and work

Sales director at Gilmar real estate on the Costa del Sol Alberto Bermejo said a boom in house sales in Malaga province in recent years had created two markets: those buying in Malaga city and those purchasing houses along the Costa del Sol and in greater Malaga province.

“The Covid-19 response has shown to many people that the Costa del Sol and Malaga are quite set up for people to work and to live very well,” he said.

Property sales in Malaga province soared from 2,251 in 2020 - the year of the global health crisis - to 3,218 in 2021 and then 3,331 in 2022, according to figures from the Spanish INE national statistics institute.

“The province since the pandemic has increased its capabilities to attract talent and boost its human resources, its connections by train and plane have improved and it has a very good climate so it’s become the perfect place to work from distance.”

Bermejo said in addition to Brits, who predominate the market when it comes to foreign buyers in Malaga province, the past 12 months has seen an increase in buyers from Belgium, Netherlands, France, Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania and Slovenia. He said the majority of them are pre-retirement age, choosing Malaga province to live long term, and often starting out by using their property as a holiday home before turning it into their forever home when they enter into full retirement.

A new home in the sun is a place to relax.
A new home in the sun is a place to relax. SUR

Bermejo also pointed out an increase in Spanish buyers in Malaga province, with many buyers coming from Madrid and Barcelona.

“Many of them are coming to Malaga to work, but also Malaga is increasing its university and educational offers so we are receiving more demand from Spaniards in Andalucía coming to study in Malaga,” he added.

Scandinavian buyers

This is also backed by director of Hansen Real Estate Andreas Hansen who had also noticed an increase in Spanish buyers in the past 12 months.

“This is a surprise, but it could be that they have the same push to buy as the Danes and Brits and Germans have: if they are fairly well off from Madrid, Barcelona, or north of Spain and can work from home then they might as well work in the sun rather than in the rain,” he said.

Hansen, who has noticed “undoubtedly” the rise in house sales in the past five years in Malaga province, said most buyers are in the pre-retirement age bracket, above 50 years old.

While still lacking Norwegian buyers compared to a few years ago, Hansen also pointed out plenty of new Danish, Swedish, German and Dutch buyers, with a handful of Belgians and a sprinkling of French and Italians.

“The interest in general just seems to be multiplying even more and since there’s a lot of interest there are fewer properties available,” he said.

“There’s more demand than there is on offer, especially post Covid-19, since people have started working from home and they thought, well if I’m only expected to be in the office once or twice a month anyway I might as well live in Malaga where there are cheap flights to Berlin or Copenhagen or wherever flights are offered.

More for your money

“Climate is very important but I think people choose Malaga because they get a lot for their money in comparison - you can get very nice properties here for much less than you can up north usually,” the director said.

Hansen said typical hot spots for buyers are still parts of the western Costa del Sol such as Estepona, Marbella and Mijas, but Torre del Mar has emerged as a recent area of interest.

“It has had an amazing boom the past few years with the amount of people living here, the amount of properties being built and the quality of services,” Hansen said.

The real estate agent also said Nerja, on the eastern part of the Costa del Sol is still as “popular as ever” but believes it is “starting to reach its ceiling”.

“You can only build so much before you run out of space,” he said. Hansen said Caleta de Velez is currently booming, especially among those prepared to spend a bit extra on their home, while Rincón de la Victoria was also experiencing an increase in house sales.

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