Recent press reports would have you believe the Spanish housing market is on the decline. However, it seems not even the recent high profile property scandals can dampen the enthusiasm for this wonderful part of the world.
According to the 2005/2006 UK Housing Report the number of Britons buying overseas has risen by more than 60% over the last five years and Spain happens to be their favourite choice. And it’s easy to see why!
First and foremost, Southern Spain enjoys an exceptional climate and is the number one reason why people holiday and live here on the Costa del Sol. With over 320 days of sunshine a year, mild winters and no extremes of weather, it really is the perfect place to enjoy the outdoor life.
It’s also easy and relatively inexpensive to get here. Many low-cost airlines operate regular, direct flights from major Northern European airports to Málaga; the gateway to the Costa del Sol. You can literally travel door to door in under three hours. And once you are here, it’s also easy to get around. The Costa del Sol boasts a modern and sophisticated infrastructure with fast connections from the main airport to all areas of the coast. A forward thinking government helped by EU funds is continuing to improve the transport network.
Due to the increasing number of visitors - not decreasing as some quarters might have you believe - Málaga airport is currently undergoing a large-scale extension plan, which is due for completion in 2010. The airport will then easily service the estimated 27 million annual visitors that will pass through its doors and an estimated €900 million is allocated for the expansion.
The capital of Andalucia, Málaga - once a working class port town - has undergone a dramatic transformation in recent years with major improvements to its main thoroughfares and tourist attractions, including the opening of a wonderful Picasso museum. A new Metro system is currently under construction which will hopefully extend the existing railway - linking Málaga airport to Fuengirola - to connect to Marbella, San Pedro and as far west as Estepona. If the plan comes to fruition, the coast will be connected by a fast metro system by the year 2012.
This December, Málaga will also see the arrival of the fantastic high-speed Spanish train (AVE) which will connect Madrid - the capital and financial centre of the country - to Málaga; a journey that will take a mere two and a half hours. This offers an excellent alternative to flying and will also further strengthen trade and commerce links to the country’s capital.
With all these exciting new developments set to transform the southern coast, it is important to note that the Junta de Andalucia has long since recognised the economic benefits residential tourism brings to the province, and has always sought to provide the right services to attract old and new visitors to the area.
The Costa del Sol already boasts excellent medical facilities with international hospitals and new modern health care clinics. There are also many excellent international schools, kindergartens and crèches as well as sophisticated shopping centres, sports complexes, cultural and leisure attractions.
Along the superb coastline means you will find a variety of water sports, many tennis and paddle clubs and of course magnificent golf courses that challenge and delight golfers of all abilities. The Coast’s buzzing nightlife is also hard to beat with many acclaimed restaurants, sophisticated bars and exclusive nightclubs to choose from.
However it is hard to ignore the corruption scandals that have formed a cloud over the Costa del Sol in recent times. The notorious Malaya Case made headlines around the world when it transpired that there were thousands of illegal developments on the Coast. It turned out that developers were bribing everyone from the mayor to top planning officials, councillors and lawyers. Fortunately, the government was quick to act and many of the high profile perpetrators are now either behind bars or awaiting trail.
Thus, the arrival of new Mayoress, Angeles Muñoz to Marbella - the hotbed of much of the corruption - signaled a new beginning for Marbella. A former doctor and “Partido Popular” member, Ms. Muñoz has introduced many fresh ideas and operates a zero tolerance policy to any form of political corruption. She has also recently introduced a new town plan that deals with illegal developments, and although there have been complaints from some quarters; the plan is widely accepted as a positive step towards ending the current instability in the property market and winning back the confidence of prospective buyers.
Ms. Muñoz also plans to create new hotels, conference facilities, technological parks and sports centres. She is also overseeing the improvement and expansion of various leisure marinas and is introducing new cycle lanes and pedestrian walkways. Attracting new industry and business to the coast are all part of her agenda. With such a progressive outlook, it is clear the new Mayoress is determined to make her mark.
Irrespective of the recent property scandals, it is still hard to beat the Costa del Sol for sunshine, golf, shopping, infrastructure and accessibility. And now with a stable and forward thinking governor, the future certainly looks bright for the sunshine coast.
Written by: Louise Gannon
About the author: Sunseeker Homes are specialists in the sale of Polaris World property in Murcia in Costa Calida.
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