Menorca Property: Where Your Money Goes Further

Menorca Property: Where Your Money Goes Further

Menorca Property: Where Your Money Goes Further

If the Spanish Costas are a bit overdeveloped or too full of tourists for you, perhaps you might consider the Balearic island of Menorca for unspoilt beaches, charming fishing villages and a hinterland of lush green fields that is not unlike Devon –  but with guaranteed sun. 

It’s only two hours’ flight from the UK and whilst there’s not as many a direct flights to the island as Mallorca, that does been lower property prices and less crowded beaches.

British and French buyers are the biggest groups of overseas buyers on the island, alongside the domestic market with the Catalans and Madrileños buying again.

The opening of an outpost of the world-class art gallery, Hauser & Wirth has certainly got the attention of a new clientele on an uninhabited islet in Mahon harbour. French buyers have been buying rambling old fincas and renovate, whilst some are contributing to the island’s growing inventory of inventive new restaurants, agrotourismos and boutique hotels.

Tourism is increasing, too, with Spain having a record year in 2023, with demand for the Balearics around a quarter of the 80 million visitors.

So what else appeals and what to buy? The sleepy island is another world from Majorca and Ibiza, its fashionable neighbours that enjoy a much higher profile. Menorca, the furthest west, is similar in size to Ibiza and also full of low-slung whitewashed rural fincas (farmhouses) set among olive groves and vineyards. The fields of Friesland cows (imported by the British years ago) are bordered by drystone walls and the vernacular style of gate made from curved strips of wild olive wood.

Life seems pretty unchanged from 50 years ago, which is what appeals to some people. Tight planning controls on the island have stopped it being spoilt and there is a refreshing lack of concrete. Although the season is relatively short for most of the island, apart from Mahon, rentals are in big demand. Prices more affordable than in parts of Ibiza and Mallorca.

Around the coastline, it has hundreds of tiny beaches, or cales, as well as large sandy ones. Among the best are Cala Macarella and the nearby Cala Mitjana (on the south coast) and Cala Pregonda and Platges d’Algaiarens (north coast).

You won’t find lively beach bars or nightclubs but instead an increasing array of good restaurants, a cricket club (of which the commentator Henry Blofeld  is a big fan), a knitting circle, a Rotary Club, a golf club and walking and painting groups, in which many of the 4,000-strong British expat community  are heavily involved.

The British have been in Menorca for 300 years – the Navy’s periods of occupation spanned 1708-1756 – and the island accommodated them by starting to make gin, an industry for which it is still famed. Menorca’s first road, Camí d’en Kane (named after Richard Kane, the first governor) was part of the legacy of this “golden age” for Menorca, as well as Georgian sash windows that can be seen in towns such as the capital Mahón (or Maó) and nearby Es Castell, where Lord Nelson and Emma Hamilton once lived near the red-brick English barracks.

Proximity to the commercial centre and airport of Mahón is the main factor for most buyers, although not everyone wants the buzz and noise of being in the town or close to the harbourfront road.

Mahón is part of Menorca’s “golden triangle” that includes Sant Lluís and Es Castell, both within a few minutes’ drive of the town. This eastern corner of the island also contains the popular hubs of Punta Prima, Alcaufar, Biniancolla and Binibèquer. In Biniancolla, a quaint fishing village of whitewashed houses on the rocky foreshore, you can get a small house for €550,000 plus. Opposite a small restaurant across the cove, it is only a 10-minute walk to the busier resort of Punta Prima, yet it sits in a peaceful location.

The sluggish market in Menorca of the years after 2008 woke up, fuelled by an influx of French and Catalan buyers.

You can get a three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in a nice complex in these tourist areas, or even a little villa around Cala en Porter – another British hotspot on the south coast, close to the airport and Mahón.

West is Best?

At the far west of the island is Ciutadella, the charming original capital which has a bourgeois elegance that differentiates it from the working-port feel of the commercial Mahón. With old palaces and the opera house, it is the cultural hub, with some great beaches nearby. 

Although it’s the farthest point you can be from the airport and the capital – 50 minutes to the islanders is a long commute – the west offers the best sunsets and is growing in popularity.

Green shuttered townhouses are being bought up by developers to be transformed into boutique hotels (apparently there are nine in the pipeline) although most people prefer to be in one of the beach towns just outside the centre. The areas of Cala en Blanes, Los Delfines and Cala’n Bosch are popular, which are close to beaches, waterparks and all the restaurants and shops of Ciutadella.

Or you can get a two-bedroom apartment for around €140,000, or a three-bedroom modern villa with a pool for€400,000.

Prices increase in the upmarket north-coast hotspot of Cala Morell (north of Ciutadella) where you seafront homes can cost €2m.

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Liz Rowlinson