Marvellous Marbella has been largely immune from Spain's financial woes
It sounds harsh to say it, but the current state of Spain’s economy doesn’t really matter to many of you. Yes, millions of Spaniards are unemployed, austerity is biting hard on public services, wages are falling and young professionals are leaving. The situation is termed a ‘crisis’ for many reasons.
But there’s an irony at play here. The negative headlines are having a snowball effect on the economy. People with money are staying away. Despite the welcome news that one million more tourists visited Spain in 2012 than in 2011, not everybody is getting the message.
And that message is: if you want to buy a property in Spain, the country’s wider economic turmoil doesn’t matter to you. Not really. And here’s why…
1. The property market is different today
Poor economic performance is usually enough to scare off investors. The flip side is that should a country be performing well financially, property investors are attracted in their droves. Most of Eastern Europe was at one point deemed the next ‘hot spot’ for property during the Noughties as their economies stabilised and EU accession became an achievable reality.
But where are they now? Where are the Bulgarian brochures, the Estonian events and the Romanian roadshows? Nowhere, because their property boom was unsustainable. Spain, however, remains the most solid, safe bet for property. Not, you’ll note, for property investment – the country has never really been the land of the fast-buck – but rather, for home buying. Yes, homes are for living in first and foremost; the money making should always be a secondary concern. And Spain is blessed with the widest choice, the fairest prices, the best quality and the most robust and transparent home-owning laws in Europe.
So if you can afford to buy a home in Spain, what does it matter what the wider economy is doing?
2. Tourism remains strong
In the run up to the millennium, Spain’s economy hit top gear. EU investment in the country’s infrastructure was incessant; construction was everywhere, jobs were plentiful. They were the good times. Since the crash in 2008, this has all but ceased. But one constant that was in place long before the boom, and will remain forever and a day afterwards, is tourism.
The typical image of the stressed but accomplished Spanish waiter dates back for decades. Spain has always been a top choice for sun-starved northern Europeans, and it still is. Before the crisis, Spain made sure it catered admirably for all types of tourist – and it will continue to do so even as austerity bites. The reason? Tourism is essential for the economy.
For prospective homeowners, this means that flights will always be affordable and plentiful, roads in tourist areas will be well maintained, beaches will be clean and bars, restaurants and cafés will continue to cater for all tastes. Which is all great news for potential expats.
3. Things are unlikely to get any worse
If you really cannot help but be spooked by what’s happening in Spain, here’s one crumb of comfort: nationally, things are unlikely to get much worse. Sure, individuals will continue to suffer – to plough on in poverty, to lose their jobs, to look abroad for work – but the wider economy has, it is largely agreed, reached its nadir.
The government’s reforms and austerity measures are bitter pills for the populace to swallow. But victims take their medication after their illness or mishap – the damage has been done already. There may be setbacks and dark days ahead, but the final goal now is that chink of light on the horizon.