Property for sale on the Costa del Sol
by Chris Chaplow and Sam Pulman-Slater
Buying property on the Costa del Sol has been a popular investment with Spanish and international buyers alike for years. Many decide to invest in property for use as their second home, perhaps with holiday rental opportunities in mind, whilst others decide to relocate to the Costa del Sol and make this popular destination their primary residence. With around 60,000 quality villas and apartments for sale along the coast from Nerja to Sotogrande at any given time, this comes as no surprise.
The property market on the Costa del Sol has been growing steadily since the financial crash in 2008, but prices have never reached those of the 2002-2007 boom.
Costa del Sol
The Costa del Sol is the official name of the Mediterranean coastal strip of Malaga, one of the eight provinces of Andalucia, southern Spain. It stretches 160km from the town of Nerja in the east to the provincial boundary with Cadiz in the west, just past the village of Sabinillas, and includes the resorts of Sotogrande and La Alcaidesa. Málaga (population 1 million) is the principal city of the Costa del Sol, and Malaga - Costa del Sol (AGP) airport saw almost 10 million yearly passenger arrivals in 2019. The smaller Gibraltar Airport (GIB) at the Costa del Sol’s western end also provides several flights a day to the UK. The AVE High-Speed Train, reaching top speeds of 300 km/hr, brings people from Madrid and Barcelona into Malaga - Maria Zambrano city centre train station in 2.5 and 5 hours respectively.
The Costa del Sol developed as a tourist destination in the 1950s when the French invented the ‘Petit Tour’ from Málaga along the ‘Costabella’ via Torremolinos, Marbella and Gibraltar to Tangiers. However, the real tourist growth occurred after Malaga airport’s runway was extended to the 3,200m needed for a Boeing 707 jet to land after a non-stop trip from northern Europe. Read Torremolinos history. The property market experienced a growth period in the 1980s, followed by a lull in the 1990s. In the 2000s, Spain and northern Europe underwent strong economic growth. Combined with more liberal town planning rules and a subsequent construction boom, this was a peak period for the property market. The area was therefore doubly hit by the economic recession that followed and recovery was gradual well into the 2010s.
All the Costa del Sol’s resorts are linked by the ‘coast road’, which also provides easy navigation. In the 1941 Plan Peña, the N-340 Coast road was overlaid on the Roman Via Aurelia and Via Augusta to become officially the longest road in Spain, joining Cadiz and Barcelona. Today, it is largely bypassed as the A-7 and AP-7, and the N-340 has downgraded to a string of municipal roads. The Costa del Sol toll motorway AP-7 was built parallel to the N-340 but further inland the 1990s. Property for sale is still referred to as being on the ‘beach-side’ or the ‘mountain-side’ of the ‘old coast road’. Some housing estates such as Guadalmina are known as alta (high) and baja (low) in this respect.
New developments such as Real de la Quinta are being built on the mountain side of the motorway, offering some of the best views on the coast.
Long term trends
It is a long-term trend for people living in the north of Spain or northern Europe to seek a second or primary residence in the sunny south. The Costa del Sol is a firm favourite in this respect. English is widely spoken, making visitors and long-term residents feel comfortable. The second generation children of foreign residents are now working age and bilingual school programmes are advancing. The infrastructure and services available in the area are constantly improving, visible in the beautification of walkways, town centres, roadsides and parks with palm trees and flowers. The costa is very international, with more than 15% of the registered population non-Spanish nationals in most of the coastal towns. The fast fibre-optic and 4G internet connection rates are some of the highest in Europe, facilitating easy international communications.
The summers on the Costa del Sol are hot and the winters are mild, which is an ideal climate for most people. Whilst it is not true that there are 360 days of sunshine a year, the Costa del Sol enjoys around 2900 hours of annual sunshine. The coastal towns are protected by the mountains and the temperature extremes are moderated by the sea breeze, keeping average highs at a comfortable 30ºC.
The lifestyle is relaxed, and most are spared the traffic jams one takes for granted in cities. However, public transport infrastructure along the coast is lacking. The Malaga local train terminates at Fuengirola and, strangely, its first and last services don’t correspond with the first and last 20 flights at the airport it serves. Successive governments have carried out studies and concluded that the construction of the Costa del Sol rail link would be complicated and expensive. On the plus side, this lack of public transport has led to one of the most competitive car hire markets in Europe.
Flights are plentiful and relatively inexpensive, however, the magazine articles of high-fliers commuting weekly between London and Malaga don’t paint the tiresome reality of an 8hr door-to-door journey. It remains to be seen whether the coronavirus-led trend for online working could drive a new wave of buyers moving to Spain without quitting their jobs elsewhere.
For those interested in history, the countless small fishing villages on the Costa del Sol are like a window into the past. Whether buying property in one of the white-washed ‘pueblos blancos’ or visiting one on a day-trip, they are atmospheric spots where time appears to stand still.
Property for sale on the Costa del Sol comes with a very attractive range of prices, offering everything from small apartments to luxury villas in secure gated communities. There are consistently some 60,000 properties for sale at any one time.
Like any coastal zone, properties with a sea view always sell faster, and for more. There is more to see from a waterfront property on the Costa del Sol than sea and sky – depending on the visibility, Africa can be spied on the horizon, and, from some spots, the mythical Pillars of Hercules, which seem to hold up the sky and mark the proximity of the two continents.
Eastern Costa del Sol
At the eastern tip of the Costa del Sol, 40km east of Malaga city, is Nerja, a major coastal resort town, along with Torrox Costa and Torre del Mar. Two-bedroom apartments are available from 80k € in Nerja, and small villas for twice that outside of town and in the countryside. The popular villages of Frigiliana and Torrox are slightly inland with easy access to the coast.
Further inland is a mountainous wine-growing area called La Axarquia, where village houses and rural Cortijos (farmhouses) and modern villas are popular and start at 180k €.
Western costa del Sol
Heading west, the resort towns on the Costa del Sol include Torremolinos, Benalmadena, Fuengirola. Apartments and townhouses tend to be available in these towns from 120k € and villas on the outskirts heading inland. The tourism boom started close to the airport in Torremolinos and hotels and apartments grew westwards to Fuengirola by the late 1980s. Here, affordable apartments were constructed in the 1960s.
The pretty village of Mijas Pueblo is located 6km inland and is popular with both foreign buyers and tourists. The large rural hinterland and coastal strip of this municipality provided new construction opportunities in the 2000s, resulting in lots of newer apartments and villas. Many villas and apartment blocks in Mijas Costa and Marbella are built around golf courses, increasing their value. The Costa del Sol is also known as the Costa del Golf due to the popularity of the sport played all day at approximately 100 courses along the coast.
Marbella has a population of 140,000, which includes the municipal areas of Puerto Banus, Nueva Andalucia and San Pedro de Alcántara. The area was known as the jetsetter’s playground in the 1960s and 70s but had become rather unloved until 1991, when Jesus Gil became Major. His 11-year tenure was marked with controversy and corruption, resulting in all the 10-year urban plans since 1986 being invalidated by courts. The upshot of this was a clean slate for Marbella to lead the Costa del Sol’s construction boom and ‘Marbs’ regaining its reputation as the ‘place to be’.
There are plenty of apartments in the town’s beachside area from 200k €, as well as larger villas with private pools on the mountain side.
Marbella’s Golden Mile is sought after for its convenient location. The most expensive areas are Nagüeles and Sierra Blanca where villas start at over 1m €. An apartment in Puerto Banus will be upwards of 350k €.
East of the centre of Marbella but within the municipal district is Elvira, where prices are more affordable, starting at about 175k € for a two-bedroom apartment.
Some of the most luxurious villas in Benahavís are found in the gated communities along the Ronda Road that leads up to the mountain town from San Pedro de Alcántara. This area includes La Zagaleta, the most expensive housing development in Spain. It also has traditional estates such as El Madroñal and La Heredia as well as the newer Los Arqueros and Monte Halcones. Benahavís itself is a pretty village, located at the end of the gorge, and is one of the wealthiest villages in Spain, thanks to these new property developments.
To the west of Marbella is the traditional fishing town of Estepona. The municipal boundary is the river Guadalmina and there are many property developments on the 20km strip between the river and the town centre. Apartments and villas are plentiful both near the beach and slightly inland, at attractive prices. Estepona is often overlooked, with many buyers choosing to pay a premium for the Marbella postcode, but the old town centre has retained its ‘pueblo blanco’ charm perfectly. With pedestrianised streets and the famous coloured plant pots that have inspired the town’s nickname as the ‘Garden of the Costa del Sol’, it is an Instagrammer’s dream.
Outside the old town, there are plenty of apartments for sale, many brand new. Construction is underway for a large new sector called Las Mesas.
Outside the town along the coastal strip are plenty of villas and apartments constructed in an ‘urbanizacion’ (a term which roughly translates to English as complex or estate). Some are gated with full 24/7 security and other just give the impression of it to deter the curious. An urbanizacion is more than just a community – the term refers to a legal entity of which the householders own a share and pay maintenance fees for common areas like gardens and swimming pools.
West of Estepona, the major coastal developments are more spread out and include the municipalities of Casares and Manilva which encompasses Sabinillas and the charming Puerto de la Duquesa . Some consider the good hour’s drive to Malaga airport too far to buy property here, but others prefer that tranquillity to Marbella, and access to Sotogrande, Gibraltar and Tarifa is a huge plus.
Whatever your requirements, there is a wealth of property for sale on the Costa del Sol. Do take the time to research the area on the pages of this website before signing on the dotted line!
In this section you will find examples of properties for sale through real estate agents or property developers.
Costa del Sol Property
Apartments for Sale in Marbella
|Property on the Costa del Sol, Spain.|