MARY ROULSTON takes a stroll around Nerja – the place mass tourism forgot. In this pleasant coastal town, she discovers a surge in the buy to let market
IN the late 1950s, Nerja discovered its caves; at about the same time tourism started to discover Nerja.
In the interim fifty years the tourist boom has continued apace but, to its credit, the town has not lost the charm, magic and, of course, the caves that drew the masses to begin with.
When I was based along the coast in Málaga, Nerja was always the place I went if friends and family wanted to go to the beach. There were closer beaches (in fact, there was a beach 10 minutes from my doorstep). However, I always opted for this resort or nearby Maro for my costa sujourns.
There is just something about the rocky coves that sets it oceans apart from its neighbouring resorts.
Also the fact you look east and see that it really is the last port of call of the Costa del Sol is somewhat appealing.
Endless miles of developments come to an end in Nerja. When you look east from the Balcon de Europa viewpoint, you see the foothills of the Sierra Almijara meet the clear blue of the Mediterranean Sea. There is not a trace of concrete to spoil this idyll.
If you fancy experiencing what the coast of southern Spain was like before mass tourism moved in, bypass the new high-speed E15 motorway and take a drive along the old N340 road between Nerja and La Herradura.
Pull in to any one of the unspoilt coves by the roadside and you will find the best beaches this side of Cabo de Gata. The waters are crystal clear and the sands pristine.
It would be hugely inaccurate to claim that Nerja itself has not grown or developed throughout the past 50 years.
It has, however, developed in such a way as to still give the town some sense of scale and restraint and maintain a character which many of its neighbours to the west have long lost.
Chris Matthews of Nerjamar estate agents agrees that this is a huge factor towards Nerja’s continuing popularity.
“With strong rental demand, due to the relatively low level of development in comparison with other parts of the Costa del Sol, Nerja remains a top destination for the “Fly to Let” property investor.
“Residential tourism also continues to grow due to the town’s traditional architecture, warm micro-climate and welcoming nature.
“This all contributes to make it easy for new residents to integrate themselves within the community,” he said.
Chris, who has seen the town retain its charm in the 20 years he has been living in Nerja, adds the huge variety of property available is another key factor.
“The current wide choice of properties, with good offers being accepted on many of them, makes it an excellent time to purchase.
“Remember, a buyers’ market means it is a good time to buy!”
Nerjamar is offering a one-bedroom, front line beach rental apartment with a proven letting record for 209,999 euros.
For those who prefer the seclusion, how about a three-bedroom, residential villa complete with private pool for little less than 400,000 euros.
Growth for 2008
Christine Armstrong of Dream España agrees that buy to let properties are still a valid long-term investment in the area.
“Last year was a very difficult year for the rentals market, but recognising the early signs allowed us to adapt accordingly and fend off any downturn in our business. With all things considered, we have seen a large increase in forward bookings for 2008.
“We are now prepared for growth in the rentals bookings. We are extremely fortunate to continually receive excellent properties to support our high-quality, extensive client base.
“The key to buying a sucessful rental property, apart from it being well-maintained and presented, is without doubt location, location, location.
“If you brought for example, an apartment with communal pool in the town, you may well find that you achieve a greater percentage return than buying a villa with pool in the country,” she told the Olive Press.
It is getting more and more common for potential buyers to rent before they buy.
It certainly makes sense to do this to avoid buying an unsuitable property in haste to start your life in the sun.
It can also give you a real feel for life in a place you may only know as a holiday destination and give you the leisure to really shop around for your dream property.
Christine agrees and has seen changes in her rental business accordingly. “The other substantial growth in our business has been Long Term Rentals, which due to demand have resulted in our new website www.nerjalongtermrentals.com.
“Many people relocating are not quite sure of what they are actually looking for in their new life. There are even those who are sitting and waiting to see how the housing market performs.
“A long-term rental is the perfect answer, a secure base without the financial commitment,” she said.
Why the town remains such an attraction for those seeking their place in the sun is simple. It retains the same charm and elegance it had in the days before the caves were discovered. Stand on any of the beaches to the east of the balcony viewpoint, close your eyes and listen to the sound of the waves rushing in to meet the sands. The concrete nightmare of further west seems a million miles away.