Murcia, and its coast known as the Costa Cálida, “warm coast”, is becoming more well known as its year-round warmth, affordable property, attractive coves and generally relaxed vibe wins fans among holiday home-hunters. Even the city of Murcia itself is Spain’s largest least-known city, with 440,000 residents including a large number of students who certainly keep the atmosphere lively.
Murcia starts just south of the Costa Blanca but is considerably less developed. It has some classy, purpose-built resorts, however, both on the coast and inland, some of which were planned before the financial crisis and are still both highly desirable and affordable for property hunters.
The Polaris World developments such as La Torre and Hacienda Riquelme, or the Mazarron and Camposol golf resorts, offer a ready-made holiday lifestyle and social connections, all with swimming pools that the management looks after and golf courses within putting distance. They are also very affordable indeed, with property prices as low as £30,000.
Murcia’s most interesting feature is a 22km long spit of land called La Manga behind which is the Mar Menor, a huge, warm and shallow lagoon at the most south-easterly tip of Spain. It’s the perfect spot for sailing and watersports, with many adventure holiday companies operating from around it. Nearby is the famous La Manga Club, a golf resort with three courses, 28 tennis courts, 1,600 homes and a private beach, very popular with retired British sports stars.
You don’t have to buy on a purpose-built resort though. There are some delightful villages around the Mar Menor that have gradually become more touristy and welcoming without losing their traditional appeal. They include San Pedro del Pinatar, Santiago de la Ribera, Los Alcázares and Los Urrutias.
Further west beyond La Manga is the old Roman city of Cartagena, with 220,000 people and a major naval base. The city grew rich 100 years ago from silver mining and you can see much of that money went into its grand Art Nouveau buildings.
Further west you come to some of the last long stretches of undeveloped Mediterranean coastline in Spain at the end of long and winding roads. There are also fishing villages and marinas such as Puerta de Mazarrón and Aguilas. These attractive seaside settlements are packed in summer but can be very quiet off-season, and the local countryside has been given over to agriculture behind plastic polytunnels.
The countryside can certainly look arid, but every few months after the rain falls the plains are suddenly carpeted in flowers and the hillsides are bright with oleander.
Where to Buy Property in Costa Calida and Murcia
Situated in the hottest and driest corner of Spain, like Almeria, Murcia is a region that has been steadily growing in popularity as a more affordable and less developed option to the Costa del Sol. Sandwiched between Valencia and the southern Costa Blanca to the north, and Andalusia to the south, it includes the Costa Calida and the Mar Menor, a salt-water lagoon bordered by a 22km sandbar or “Strip”, La Manga.
The two biggest stories about Murcia in recent years have focused on the new international airport at Corvera (the main one is at San Javier) and the much hyped new Paramount theme park nearby (that will rival Euro Disney and draw millions to the region) – both a long time in the pipeline. It is hoped that at least the former will open in 2016.
Either way, bargain hunters will find plenty of choice of homes near good beaches and golf courses – so where to choose?
La Manga Club
The region’s principal city is Murcia, but it also includes the ancient city of Cartagena, yet the region’s flagship resort is the La Manga Club, a well-established and prestigious sporting destination. Visitors have included most of the world’s best football teams and where former players such as Paul Gascoigne and Stan Collymore have been famously badly behaved.
But the world-class facilities are superb and include three golf courses, 28 tennis courts, professional football training centre, cricket, horseriding and sailing club. The resort continues to evolve and within the past year there are new communities being launched – such as La Princesa, with a new hotel and residential offerings, the Acacias and Las Mimosas.
There are currently over 1,600 private properties as well as the hotels and homes have retained their value relatively well (for the region) although there is a fair amount for sale right now: entry level for a studio apartment is around €80k, two beds around €225,000 and a new four-bed villa around €550,000 – with a lot of different options in between, or luxury homes for several millions.
Polaris World is another big name in Murcia, with a total of six golf resorts, many of which offer homes at prices drastically reduced from their 2007 peak. They passed into the hands of the banks yet are now being managed well – and the Nicklaus Design courses are an attraction.
The resorts include Mar Menor, La Torre and Hacienda Riquelme – between the Mar Menor and Murcia city and the most popular trio – but also El Valle, Contado de Alhama and Terrazas de la Torre.
Prices very between the resorts but at Mar Menor, the most established resort, apartments starts at €140,000 and villas at €160,000. At La Torre, apartments start at around €70k, villas at around the €130k mark. Hacienda Riquelme golf course – apartments from €75,000 - is very close to the small inland village of Sucina that has become popular with the British market, partly because it also close to another golf course resort, La Peraleja.
A two-bed villa or townhouse in Sucina centre can be bought for €100k - €120k, or an apartment for €60,000 - but there’s much more available to buy on the two golf resorts, with some modern luxury detached villas for sale in La Peraleja for €350,000 plus.
Mar Menor beach towns
Turning to other hotspots around the Mar Menor, at its apex there’s the busy town and lively tourist centre of San Pedro del Pinatar, with a long promenade, marina and extensive beaches, including Lo Pagan. Two-bed resale apartments cost from around €95,000 – or new-build being sold offplan for €120,000. Prices are similar in the next stop south, the former fishing village and popular sailing resort of Santiago de la Ribera, which also hosts the San Javier International Jazz Festival.
Then there’s Los Alcazares, another lovely seaside town and popular watersports centre with 7km of beach with spas and golf featuring strongly. A budget of €130k will buy you a two-bed apartment, sometimes three.
Those seeking somewhere smaller might prefer the little town of Los Urrutias, which manages to retain an old-world feel with its famous weekly market. A three-bed finca there costs around €150k. Also definitely worth a mention is the village of Mar de Cristal with its little marina, good sandy beach backed by an attractive promenade. There are a fair few holiday complexes with apartments available, two beds at around €85k, three-bed duplexes or townhouses for €150,000.
Gulf of Mazarron
South of the Mar Menor, there’s the Gulf of Mazarron, with 35km of beaches backed by the foothills of the Sierra de la Almenara, with the port, or Puerto de Mazarron its sea-faring hub.
Property prices near the sea tend to be higher than inland, where options include the Mazarron Country Club (three-bed villas or a detached two-bed villa for around €130,000), where there seems both plenty of available stock and owners receptive to offers.
There’s also Camposol golf resort, a purpose-built resort 10 minutes from Mazarron where there are nearly 4,000 properties. Entry level is around €45,000 for a two-bed property, or you can get a two-bed villa for €100,000, or a three-bedder for around €200k. But the average price is around €120,000 for buyers, reports a local agent.
Much less inventory is on the market in the attractive Roman port city of Aguilas, a popular resort area with town beaches, great scuba-diving and famous lighthouse at the lower end of the gulf. A traditional four-bed townhouse in the centre might cost €180k.
If you go inland, your money goes far in the attractive old spa town of Fortuna – four-bed villa for €150,000 or five-bed farmhouse amongst the olives groves for around €275,000; or Albacete seems to offer a good choice for those seeking an inland base close to an historic city.
The areas around the town of Totana and Lorca (inland of Mazarron) have also been attracting interest, especially Purias, Aguaderas and La Parroquia – character properties from €100,000.