In 2016 and early 2017, while looking to invest in a property, I surveyed many countries in Europe. I visited the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Qatar. In each country, I searched for suitable properties, mixed with the locals, and experienced the culture.
Finally, after a long deliberation, I decided to buy in Spain. Although I came across many cheaper investments, Spain was my favorite for many reasons, and here I will list the top four. First, you can get what they call a golden visa, which allows you to travel the whole of the Schengen Area (26 countries in Europe). The second most important reason is the friendly culture that welcomes tourists and foreign investors. The third reassuring factor is twofold: the stable legal environment and promising growth in the property market. Finally, the fourth reason is the vast tourist attractions and stunning natural features, particularly the Andalusian heritage and history of the country that presents interesting architecture and artifacts.
Spain’s Costa del Sol (“Coast of the Sun' in English) has yet to be tapped by many people from Qatar and likely others from the Gulf States. In this article, I will share my experience, reflect on what it is like to buy a property, and address all the formalities, from A to Z.
Travelers can easily access Costa del Sol via the Malage Airport. The area includes the city of Málaga and the towns of Torremolinos, Benalmádena, Fuengirola, Mijas, Marbella, San Pedro de Alcántara, Estepona, Manilva, Casares, Rincón de la Victoria, Vélez-Málaga, Nerja, and Frigiliana and Torrox. It is comprised of ancient, stunning Mediterranean towns, national parks, beach resorts, an amazing coast, delicious food, and interesting culture and traditions. It is also the birthplace of Pablo Picasso.
Costa del Sol is part of the Andalusia provinces. The Andalusia consists of the provinces of Malaga, Granada, Almeria, Jaen, Cordoba, Seville, Huelva, and Cadiz. I was really fascinated by Cordoba’s cathedral mosque, knowns as the Great Mosque of Cordoba. I explored the amazing historical city by foot. The Alhambra Palace in Granada is a top tourist attraction. Alcazar, in Seville, is yet another attraction, one that resembles an old-but-functioning royal palace. Seville is also famous for having the best flamenco dancers in Spain. In short, Spain is a haven for tourists. The Andalucía is a must, as are Barcelona and Northern Spain.
I loved the country, particularly Costa del Sol, for its year-round temperate environment. I decided to buy a property so I could visit regularly. I could not resist the golden visa benefits that come with investing a minimum 500,000 EUR. The investor gets a two-year visa and the ability to renew later for five years, after which one becomes a permanent resident. Applicants must have a medical insurance and sufficient resources for themselves and their family members; they must also submit a certificate proving that they do not have a criminal record.
I contracted a lawyer to help me buy the property and act on my behalf to fulfil the legal requirements of the golden visa. After a hectic search, I selected a beachfront apartment and a separate plot near a golf course, which came to a total that slightly exceeded the 500,000 EUR threshold. The lawyer took me through the buying process one step at a time. First, I took the property off the market by paying 6% of the value, plus tax. Meanwhile, the lawyer performed due diligence to make sure the property was absolutely legal. Then, I signed a private-purchase contract that legalized the sale by paying 10% of the total value. My property was a resale; otherwise, I would have had to pay 20–30% as a down payment. The final steps were paying the remaining balance and having a notary sign the deal in order to receive the public deed of purchase. The lawyer fee was 1%; the notary fee was 1%; and the transfer tax was 1–1.5%.
Maintaining your property requires additional spending. You need to register it with the electricity and water department and set up a debit account. You will also need to pay a monthly community fee (“comunidad”) and an annual property tax called the IBI ('Impuesto sobre Bienes Inmuebles'). Furthermore, you should have home insurance. If this is a burden, your lawyer or an administrator can help sort things out while you enjoy your stay in Spain. Finally, you must open a bank account. I also signed a Spanish will to ensure that the succession and inheritance processes of my Spanish assets are quicker, easier, and less costly. The golden visa was processed next, and to this end, the website explains thoroughly what must be done.
When I reflect on all these experiences, I think to myself: I have never been to heaven, but I have been to Costa del Sol.