Love Affair With Costa Del Sol May Be Over

Published on 17/05/2010 in Holidays in Spain

Is the Brits love affair with the Costa del Sol over?

I have been coming to the Costa del Sol region of Spain since the late eighties, mostly staying within the triangle formed by La Cala de Mijas, Fuengirola and Mijas village.

Brits in SpainThis area has the stunning hills of Mijas as a backdrop with miles of beautiful beaches stretching from Bellamedena to Marbella.

With a flight time of only 2 ½ hours from either East Midlands or Birmingham airports, I can leave home in the morning drive to the airport and be on a beach in the afternoon and for years the lure of fantastic weather with over 300 days of sunshine and a favourable cost of living it became the number one destination.

Nearly a million Brits at one time lived in the area with many more having second homes on top of those visiting the region using one of the many hotels; self accommodation or time shares.

As I write this article, I am staying in a friend's apartment in La Cala Hills and for the first time in living memory I am able to look out of the window and not see a single crane. Although the recession in the early eighties saw many apartment blocks and villas unfinished for many years there were still signs of activity and a sense of optimism.

This has all changed and the first evidence of this was when we first got to the airport, while the off airport car park we used was pretty full many of the on airport car parks furthest from the airport were virtually empty. Whilst the recent disruption by the ash cloud will have had an impact for late bookers, the current recession is hurting.

The next indication was the flight over that was only two-thirds full and once again a new experience and when we arrived at Malaga, albeit it was early evening, the place seemed very quiet and the same at the car hire.

Whilst this is only the first week in May everywhere is pretty much deserted from the bars, miles of promenades and beaches, restaurants and the golf courses. I spoke to several people and the response was the same, "they had never known it so quiet and that it was affecting all businesses".

Whilst the world wide recession is definitely having a major affect, the biggest change is the cost of everything from a beer to a game of golf. The going rate for a round of golf is 70 euros and a small bear 2.5 euros. A round of golf on a quality course is about £35.

The cost of living has risen dramatically which has led to many Brits going back to the UK and there are for sale signs every where. The property market appears to be in free fall with the value of pound falling from 1.40 to around 1.13 being a major factor.

The days of a cheap holiday in Spain appears to be over.

Written by: David Cook

About the author:

Provider of airport parking and airport hotel parking.

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Sue said:
11 August 2010 @ 22:27

Get a life and stop moaning, Spain has got more expensive, but what about the council tax in England, the transport system expensive, the utility bills aren´t they more expensive in England. The crime rate is frightening, the imigrants have more rights than English people. We live in the Murcian region where it is not commercialised, I feel safe here and walk around and feel free. We know some people who say they hate the Spanish, they are a funny lot but so are of lot other nationalities in some English are, so if you want to go back to England good luck to you go and sit watch television all the time and sometimes go to the pub and have your sip of drink for a fortune. Don´t get me wrong I go back about twice a year for a week or so I love it but I can´t wait to come back home. (Spain)

Carole said:
24 May 2010 @ 13:11

I have just spent a couple of days in Los Boliches where I lived from 1972 -1982. Then it was a little fishing village and a lovely place to live and bring up children. Now it is swarming with tourists, mostly British. It seems that the only residents are British and Finnish. Most of the reastaurants along the paseo are British. If the Costa del Sol is losing it's appeal, it must be because it is no longer spanish. Thank heaven I still have a few spanish friends with little backstreet bars (with the best tapas ever) We then visited breifly, Arroyo de La Miel, where we lived from 1991-1994. The same scenario. It was lovely to get back home and it will only be a day trip now and again to visit old friends on the costa. Incidently, "home" is a tiny village in the Granada province.

Ryan said:
21 May 2010 @ 18:15

We have a house in a spanish mountain village, but only 15 mins from the coast. Because we're in Granada province, the tapas are still free with every drink and very good so no need to spend loads eating out - at the beach bars we get great sea food, again free. The things that are more expensive than the uk are luxuries, including ready meals etc. Lots cheaper in the shops (and better) where we are than the UK, are fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, fresh fish/sea food and beer and wine etc - all our favourite things. If you live well but simply (a bit like the locals), things are nice and cheap and better quality than the UK

michael buttery said:
20 May 2010 @ 13:28

some interesting views,but it depends on what you want,if you come to Spain and moan about the price of a roast dinner then your gonna be upset eat where the spanish eat,they wont pay big prices,the beach bars still give good value for money,yes exchange rates have, in real terms increased prices,if you like a drink happy hours last four hours along the coast,property prices are plummeting,the reality is they've gone back to the level they should have been in the first[its a good time to buy]you can get some amazing deals for long &short lets,just look around,me i cook more at home sit on my balcony,as for food shopping,yes if you want english food of course it costs more, your in spain.

Martin Ward said:
19 May 2010 @ 16:53

I, together with a friend, bought a holiday home on the Torreblanca urbanisation, also in the early eighties, and I have been a regular visitor, as a tourist, to Fuengirola ever since - firstly as a bachelor, then as a family man, and now as a Dad approaching retirement. I have seen, and been highly cheesed off by, the incredible amount of building over the years, some of it still unfinished, and on numerous occasions have bored my wife to death banging on about every new development as we drive on along the coast road. I thought of these developments as an infringement on my "comfort zone", and to a degree, I still do. However, a couple of years ago, we considered selling up and buying in the town of Ayamonte, on the Portuguese border. It reminded me of Fuengirola thirty years ago, quiet but probably with some fun if you knew where to go. I took my older daughter, by now 19, there to see what she thought. She said simply "Don't do it Dad....Fuengirola has everything we want!"............and, on reflection I realised that she was right. As a bachelorI used to have a fantastic time out till the early hours every morning, then the kids had a lovely time, holiday after holiday for twenty years, as did my wife and I in their company (where but Spain has a play park with a bar in the middle for Mums and Dads!) and now my teenage daughters are at an age where they are out to the early hours of the morning while the old man watches TV and goes to bed early! Yes, the Costa del Sol is a lot different to thirty years ago.....but so am I, and I have now stopped moaning (apart from the "new" port, which always inspires me!.....and I miss the wooden beach bars!) and enjoy Fuengirola for what is - because despite all the changes, some bad but also some good, it is still my comfort zone, and it now looks it is for my kids as well.......and grandchildren? Who knows! I still love it. Oh........and the prices.........yes they're higher...........locals bars still cheap but more than before, premium establishments still expensive and also more than before.........but "Viva Cape Town" is correct.....try St. Tropez and you'll find out what high prices really are! Have a good day everybody.........and enjoy the coast!

Janice said:
19 May 2010 @ 16:00

Good to see all of your positive answers!! I am in love with Spain..have been since my boyfriend "dragged" me there in 1970. We rented an apartment in Tarifa..I thought I was going to dislike it, and want to move on..I fell head over heels in love, and can't shake it..not that I want to. We keep going back every year, even though we have traveled the entire world...always keep realizing that Spain is where we want to be. Everything about it is very seductive. And the incredible peace and happiness we feel when we step out on to our balcon overlooking the Med after endless hours of travel from just cannot be compared to anything...

viva cape town said:
19 May 2010 @ 14:28

coming to the costa del sol on Holidays since the early 80 I have seen some changes.Prices have risen charply since Spain is in the Euros zone,but nothing to compare with the cote d'azur.After the crisis in the mid 80 The costa del sol did gain s ome affluent holidaymakers at the expense of charter tourism For the better .Spanish restaurants where the locals eat are still extremly good value for money,prices in supermarkets are not out of hand,the sun is here and the beaches cleaner than ever.And for all that I am trecking from Cape town South Africa yearly for the last 3 decades.

shaun chatterton said:
19 May 2010 @ 14:17

We have been visiting the Marbella region for over 30 years and for the last 10 years owned (and enjoyed) timeshare weeks at Alanda Club, Marbella. Not too long ago, timeshare (albeit much maligned) still represented good value if it was originally purchased at a sensible cost, now rising management charges have negated any remaining attraction and value, we have reluctantly relinquished five weeks with an original purchase cost exceeding £15,000 back to the developer. In July 2009 we decided to purchase a property at La Quinta Golf and to date do not regret that decision creating a wonderful second home in an area we continue to enjoy. Have things significantly changed in terms of general costs compared to the UK? Dramatically would have to be my honest answer....meals, groceries, golf, almost everything is significantly more expensive. Owning our own property in Marbella has also brought home the additional costs of sourcing tradesmen and services, 60 Euros an hour would seem to be the norm in my experience. The obvious cost disadvantages must always be judged against the benefits of spending time in a wonderful climate and in an incredibly cosmopolitan is unfortunate that the benefits are no longer inexpensive to enjoy.

John Brewster said:
19 May 2010 @ 14:10

I have lived 6 months each year in Spain and 6 months in the UK for almost 25 years, running a UK company brokering marina berths in Spain, and feel I am perhaps in a position to see both sides of the coin from a business and personal level. I have seen several recessions come and go and although this one has been very bad for everyone, us included, I personally prefer my stints in Spain rather than the UK. Yes it is bad in Spain at the moment, and much worse than the UK, and it will most probably take several years before the property market finally recovers, but when comparing Spain to the UK, at least I am not in a 10 mile holdup on the Autopista, like I am on the M25 sometimes. The population in the UK has increased considerably, which has meant almost another 1m vehicles on the road in the past 4 years, so trying to get anywhere now takes much longer due to the weight of traffic. Big brother, health and safety regulations which now prevent teachers from helping a 6 year old pupil stuck up a tree is just one example, Government regulations on businesses, taxes, petty officials, bin inspectors who tried to fine me £1,000 for putting 15 old company letterheads in the bin (the correct paper bin out of the 5 that we now have) because they said it was commercial rubbish. To avoid paying, my wife and I had to attend a meeting with two jumped up little Hitler’s who appeared no older than my 20 year old granddaughter, sit there and listen to a 15 minute lecture on 'conservation' , apologise and sign an agreement that we would not be 'naughty children' again. Then there is the political correctness, which has now gone to such silly lengths, the law which is now an ass, fining old age pensioners more for not being able to pay their council tax, than a yob who stabs someone, and only yesterday, our courts prevented the UK Government from sending back to Pakistan a terrorist who had planed to blow us all up, as it would be an abuse of his Human rights. What about our Human rights? I could go on, but will save you from the frustration I feel about almost everything that is now occurring in the UK. Yes, Spain is not the Spain we might all have once known, but neither is the UK. As for the cost of living, yes the Spaniards do seem to have to philosophy of putting up prices when business levels fall, and we have witnessed this with the rental prices of marina berths rise upwards despite the recession. But price have risen in the UK as well, and especially on petrol and diesel, which in every other European country has gone down and is making life very tough for most of us. On balance, Spain seems to me to be a much better place to live, has a more relaxed attitude and on top of that has the better weather. If I had to put a percentage on which place is best, I would say Spain has 55% and the UK 45%.

Freddie said:
19 May 2010 @ 09:34

I have just bought in Spain , not because i wanted cheap - Because i love the country and the people. I can not say that abouut the UK.On the pricing structure we have the problem of a weak pound, if it was near 1.4 euro we would not feel it quite as much. Cost cutting too far will only mean that business's will fail - Fair rpicing will win in the long run , most Spanish adopt this policy.Anyway who goes to Spain and wants a roast dinner !!

s30asb said:
19 May 2010 @ 09:10

i have to agree with mo, you must look beyond just what it costs to live in spain but look at the much better quality of life, we have an apartment on the costa blanca and it has proved to be the best thing we ever did, the beaches are clean and safe, the children have made friends with local kids and holidaying families alike and if you look around you can find cheap 3 course meals and drinks at much lower prices than the uk, viva espania!

Janice said:
18 May 2010 @ 23:45

Oh dear..what is the world coming to?? The US is a cesspit of communism and corrupt politicians (ALL of them, or pretty much)..where in the world, honestly, is there a congenial, HONEST, above board place to live?? This is scary and demoralizing.....

Laura said:
18 May 2010 @ 22:43

I have to agree with Rondeau, the spain of today is very differnt to the spain I arrived at some 7 years ago. I do go back to the UK quite regulary for my business and can honestly say it IS far, far cheap to live in the UK now so much so I am considering relocating back there. This decision is not made purely on the cost of living but due to the fact spain is so corrupt and hard to do business in.
I am losing the will to do anything in spain anymore and would rather pay higher taxes in the UK and sleep at night, sorry but the truth is the truth, even my spanish friends say they have had enough and want all things to be out in the open.

Adra said:
18 May 2010 @ 20:29

I have to agree, Spain to me is much more exspensive than the uk, you can have a roast dinner buffet for 3.50 in a ot of places, and a lots of shops are cutting prices to try to get custom, but I have to say, even before the crisis, if a Spaniard didn't sell his house for a while, he just put the price up even higher, must be some logic in it for them somewere :)

mo said:
18 May 2010 @ 19:13

oh don't you just love the Spanish ..recession what recession they just put up their prices to cover their losses, but hey I didn't just buy here cos it was cheap,I love their philosophy on life, and there are many places you can go where the lunch time menu is under 10€ for a 3 course meal and in the evening there are so many tapas bars .. so do as the spanish do have your main meal at lunch time and partake of the wonderful tapas in the evening, people watching is free have a glass of wine 2.50€ tapas at 1€ and you are set for many hours of entertainment.

Janice said:
18 May 2010 @ 18:46

I am wondering if prices for such things as cafe meals will be going up. As someone mentioned..that would be an odd would expect lower prices and competition for the available trade, no? In March 2009, many cafes had "anti-crisis" menus for 5,6,7 euros for a nice 3 course meal. We have planned a vacation in Sept/Oct..and we are wondering if things will be affordable or higher than on our last visit. Thanks for any info.

Rondeau said:
18 May 2010 @ 18:35

Nice response from Ben which was posted whilst I was putting my comments together. It re-iterated a lot of what I said on my post some weeks ago. So I am not alone in my thoughts!!


Rondeau said:
18 May 2010 @ 18:33

Nice article David which I firmly endorse, even though you have only touched on some of the reasons.

I put an article on this website some weeks ago regarding the differences between Spain and the U.K. now compared to 4 years ago and was somewhat lambasted for my views.
Many people responding quoted "not done your homework", "failed to learn the Spanish Language", "typical Brit, holidayed over here then came and spent all his money, now having to return to the U.K.". You will know who you are!! Never at any stage did I say I was returning to the U.K.
Obviously people did not read my article correctly and, in fact, my comments were pure observations. My partner and I are very successful Businesspeople and I do feel that many Brits go into a very defensive mode when faced with FACTS on the differences I DO speak from fact, I DO speak fluent Spanish, I DO have money and I DO have many Spanish friends!!
Keep these articles coming, don't gloss over the problems, DO NOT go into denial and ADMIT that things are very different here now to some 4 years ago.


Ben said:
18 May 2010 @ 18:26

Spain is far too expensive - everything is better value in the UK. It's not only the exchange rate, prices have been increased all round to make up for less business - a strange response to the recession. Surely prices should reduce to encourage more people to visit rather than stay away to avoid being ripped off!!

Ioan Edwards said:
18 May 2010 @ 18:17

very sad. We were last in Malaga last October. I hope things start to pick up soon as I want to bring my business to the area in 2015.

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