Described as one of Andalucia’s ‘hidden treasures,’ Jaen (pronounced "ha-en") is a province located in the eastern part of the autonomous community of Andalucia.
Located in the hills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, the historical capital Jaen (city) is surrounded by lush vast countryside and quaint rural towns. Jaen’s countryside transforms into fields and olive groves. This vast amount of olive trees makes Jaen the number one olive oil producer in the world.
Historically, Jaen was a strategic post and it remains somewhat undiscovered compared to the heavily tourist-oriented coast. The province is certainly unique in style and many Brits have fallen head over heels in love with it for its lack of crowds and value: you can a lot of traditional houses for less than €30,000. The region is served by three airports: Granada, Cordoba and Malaga.
Where to Buy Property in Jaen
The medieval Jaen city oozes grandeur, with its fantastic monuments and architecture - including Jaen Cathedral and Santa Catalina castle – and striking Renaissance palacios, churches and convents in the surrounding cobbled streets. It has been likened to cities such as Milan in Italy and Rouen in France. Against the backdrop of the spectacular Sierra Jabalcuz mountain range, the landscape is impressive.
Slightly surprisingly it’s hard to find properties advertised in the city and British buyers instead head for two main property areas – the rural towns of Martos and Alcala la Real. The cost of living is cheap and with both swim (the beaches of the Costa Tropical) and ski (the resorts of the Sierra Nevada) never more than about an hour’s drive, properties in these areas are ideal for a bolthole in the sun and give good rental potential.
Martos is a large town in Jaen known as the ‘cradle of the olive tree orchard’; there is even a local variety of olive: Marteña (Picual). Many say the town feels like several villages rather than one town with a distinct centre.
It has great restaurants, parks and a leisure centre, and is home to the village of Las Casillas de Martos, which has a lake for swimming, sailing and swimming. There is also a beautiful church, castle and even an exercise area.
You can buy a two-bed townhouse with two/three floors, a basic kitchen, a bathroom and terrace for around €15,000 to €30,000. These properties may need some renovation and a lick of paint but if you plan to rent out long-term, you could see returns of €230 to €300 per month. You can even get a five-bed townhouse for €50,000.
Properties are mainly bought (or rented long-term) by Spanish locals who are on the lookout for an affordable place to call home, usually young couples and families. These homes also appeal to those who are looking for a bolthole or weekend retreat in the sunshine.
Alcala la Real
On the borders of Cordoba and Granada, this historic city is well located and boasts an amazing Arabic castle that is hard to miss. It’s only 30 minutes from Granada airport or an hour from the beaches of the Costa Tropical.
Alcala la Real is smaller than Martos and is more upmarket. As well as good restaurants and supermarkets, there are plenty of small butchers and fishmongers, plus a weekly market offering food, clothes and home ware. There is a larger British ex-pat community in Alcala la Real, and even a shop selling treats like Yorkshire puds!
The town may not be coastal but it makes up for it with three stunning lakes ideal for fishing, sailing and swimming - and all located within a 30 mins’ drive. The town is becoming increasingly popular as a ‘rural tourism’ spot on account of its expansive and beautiful countryside, but is still only an hour’s drive from beautiful beaches and great skiing resorts.
Prices are a little higher than in the other locations mentioned here. You can still buy a townhouse for around €35,000 that needs upgrading – or a four-bedder in the old town for around €75,000. For this same budget you could get a lovely three-bed farmhouse 10 minutes out of town. A country house with land starts at around €55,000 but for one that has been renovated to a certain standard, €90,000 to €100,000 will provide a few options.
Castillo de Locubin is also worth a mention. A lovely pueblo blanco (white village) with a ruined Moorish castle, it is famed for ceramics and its cherry festival. As with Martos, you can get a lot for €30,000. A three-bed townhouse that needs renovating can be found for €20,000, or one that has already been done up for €30,000.
In contrast, Alcaudete is a city – with twice the population of Castillo de Locubin, with a commanding Moorish castle on a hilltop. It’s less than an hour from Granada, but your money goes much further: again, you can get two or three bed townhouses for €20,000 to €30,000.
There are many other popular villages, with beautiful cortijos dotted around – nicely renovated properties with land can cost around €215,000 - €300,000 – look at locations such as Montefrio, Las Casillas and Mures.