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What's a Winter Rental in Spain Like?

November 24, 2009

landscape, vacation home, costa del sol, andalusia,pool, Med sea

This is the stunning view from the Spanish rental home in the Andalusian country side that we almost moved into for the winter. It was breath-taking in person including a huge expanse of the Med sea, but too panoramic to be able to include it all or really capture in one photo. Almost all the places in our area have spectacular Med sea and mountain views

Recently I wrote about how to find a winter rental in Spain, so thought I should follow through with some more specific details about our experience, as many seemed to have interest. The first year I just made up a process and found it all just by using google, guessing, negotiating with various home owners and jumping in a bit blind. We knew little about Spain and had never been to this area ( or any of Spain for me and it had been over 20 years since DaVinci had visited the Madrid and Barcelona areas).

Thankfully it worked out really well and we just love our little white village and the people here. We are thrilled when we return to our "home away from home" and doing our world tour in this way was absolutely one of our wisest choices. We've avoided travel burn-out, along with homesickness and added the considerable joys of deep immersion including going to a local school!


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It is such a small white village that everybody knows everybody, so you can't help but run into lots of people that you know as you go about your business of daily life. Most people walk their kids to school and most errands can be handled within the town. As soon as we arrive back to town, the news spreads like wild fire and it is such a joy to see old friends as excited to see us back as we are happy to return!

The kids excitement to see Mozart ( and hers for them) is especially endearing. She could hardly wait to call her best friends and let them know that she was back. She was surrounded at one point by almost a dozen kids from her class on bikes after school who were shouting out her name in glee (with the odd Spanish pronunciation that we have grown fond of)  as we happened to pass by. We gave them time to catch up on the latest and had to giggle at one boy teasing her about her "novio".

It is amazing what these kids notice as quite a few times (once even in the dark) they spotted her at a great distance from their terrace high above and it took us a while to figure out who was calling! Also when DaVinci was separated from us to park our RV, he ran into a young boy he didn't recognize, but who did know exactly who he was as he asked if "Mozart" was back. Ah, the many small joys of life in a little hill town near the sea.

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The three of us could hardly keep the grins off our faces as we strolled around "our" village once again in the gorgeous, sunny late November weather, taking in all the familiar beauty. After seeing a bunch of rental homes, village houses and apartments (ALL worthy candidates for a low budget, luxury winter stay), we had a delicious lunch at one of our favorite restaurants here ( at bargain prices).

The hardest part was deciding which one to pick because all of them were great. As is our habit, we picked them all via the internet and phone ( free Skype calls) from Barcelona. Then we take a few days to do the 15 hours drive south, setting up all our appointment times while in Granada which is just an hour away. We knew after our first year that there were tons of places available for the winter, thus there is no worry in doing it at the last moment in late November. It makes it easier for us not to have a specific date to return so that we can just play it all by our whims and that allows us more freedom.

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There are basically three styles of places to rent:

A) Brand new (built in last 5 years with every modern convenience & new Ikea-like furniture)

B) Older Spanish style ( most conveniences but dated)

C) Old Spanish style reformed/remodeled to artistic perfection (every modern convenience but expensive)

The first winter we rented an older village house that slept 8 in it's 4 bedrooms. It was huge, charming and perfectly situated on the main cobbled street in the oldest part of the village where we could watch all the festivals begin out our shuttered windows with little balconies facing the ever present action. It was the perfect place for a first year and helped us connect and immerse deeply with the people, culture and history of our village.I highly recommend a similar one for a first winter!

Every winter home that you pick will have pros and cons as there is no absolutely perfect home at rock bottom prices in any country or place.The downside to our first winter's place was the dated kitchen and bathroom, but that was also the reason we got it for such a low price (plus expert negotiation).

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We don't use dishwashers or microwaves (it had one) so we didn't mind the kitchen which did have lots of storage space. The bathroom was only a challenge because it was that common European type that had no shower curtain and we never mastered the fine art of keeping the water off the floor, thus that got old.

The next two winters we picked a type A new style 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom village house that was near the school and countryside. We never got around to doing a specific here-is-what-it-looks-like post, although we took the photos, but there are lots of pictures of it from the posts from that time period.

Both rentals had fabulous large terraces and stunning sea and mountain views, but the newer one had less authentic charm and was further away from the center of the action (not too far and there are both pros and cons to that).Since we live in an RV for half the year, the modern kitchen, bathrooms and flatter walk were all things that were appreciated after our first winter of bonding.

This year we had more requirements because I have a severely injured arm which even affects my walking, stairs and bathroom/shower choices, but we still found many choices and it was hard to narrow our "must-see's"  down to 9 rental places to see in person.

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We arrive early and like to see them all in a day, then make a choice, move in and handle the paper work all at once in one day. Mozart usually starts back at the local school on that same day or the next. By lunch time we had it narrowed down to two places and didn't even finish seeing our whole list (some were great two bedroom places that were much cheaper, but we prefer more space).

The photos don't fully convey this approximately 2000 square foot, 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom place, but gives you a rough idea about what 600 euros a month gets you in winter in a special white village near the sea in Andalusia, Spain.There are tons of similar style two bedrooms (most common size) that go for around 400 euros per month and almost all have beautiful views, balconies, plus every convenience from dishwashers to washing machines and British Sky TV, etc. (Yes, fridge and dishwasher are built into kitchen cabinetry).

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There are basically two types to rent in rural areas:

A) Attached Village houses or apartments within the white village

B) Villas or separate houses in the country side

There are some spectacularly beautiful places in both locations, but the nicer the place, the higher the cost. All are bargains during the winter, so much just depends on your budget. We could afford to pay more and sometimes have been tempted by the highest end places ( as well as highest end motorhomes), but being frugal pragmatists, we tend to settle for the most luxury that we can obtain at the lowest price. Considering that we rented a not-nearly-as-nice unfurnished two bedroom place in California for 1700 dollars a month before we took off on our world tour, we find these great bargains!

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The downside to any country home is that one is very isolated, a car is a must (so more money on fuel and more restrictions on time) and there are often added costs like for garbage collection etc.

There are a few villas that are within walking distance to the village, but they are rarely available and price is usually at a premium as they give you a bit of a view of both ways of being. Albeit, "within walking distance" has different meaning in Europe than it does in America as most are at least 2 kilometers away which we are use to walking now, but a distance that is rarely walked on a regular basis in the U.S..

We almost took the one with the spectacular view shown in our lead photo as it was a huge indoor/outdoor home that slept 8 and we negotiated it into our price range. We know the village well now and wanted to try one winter in the country side. There was even extra temptation because besides the view, space, pool, acreage and a large garden for us to plant and use, they were willing to throw in 3 kittens and a few chickens. Mozart was sold and squealing with joy. 

Alas, just as we were about to close the deal, they told us the Spanish owners had it booked for the weekend, so we could not get into it until Monday. That turned the tide because it was an older dated, somewhat funky place inside and there were lots of unknowns and really many more stairs than I needed. It was on the bus route, but being totally dependent on the buses for school everyday might become a daunting task when we have gotten so spoiled by a short quick walk to everything.Given the added burden of my slow healing paralyzed arm this year, it seemed chancy.

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Thus, we went for the safe choice that is in the same exact building we have been in the last two years, so we know it well and will not have any surprises. This one is on the ground floor so no steps to deal with ( a real rarity in a hill village) and everything is like brand new as it's never been rented in the winter. It is very cheerful, modern and convenient with good storage space, high speed cable internet, excellent mattresses ( something to ALWAYS check in a rental), air conditioning/heating, pool, views etc.

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We're happy to be "home" for the winter! The only added cost is electricity that averages out to around 70 euros a month the last 3 winters. Every place that we have rented so far has had British owners and either they or their caretakers handle any problems that might come up. Each bedroom has a large built in closet like the one shown in the picture, shutters for the windows which is part of Spanish life, bidet in the bathroom and quality bedroom and kitchen supplies well beyond what one needs.

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Is there anything else that you would like to know about renting a place in Spain for the winter? Please leave it in the comments and I will address it!

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Christina

What would it cost to rent a two bedroom home for two weeks in the winter? We're looking for a three week stay, with one house switch during that time, somewhere in Europe in two years. We have three year old twins. We're trying to narrow down which country would be the best place to stay. We'd like it to be low cost (we'll get the tickets free), so we can affort to stay at least three weeks. Thanks!

Lisa Bergren

Thanks for the great article! Curious about your Top 5 favorite villages (other than the one you're in, which I know you'd rather not disclose) and if the rentals include bedding. Thank you!
Lisa @TheWorldCalls

Traci

Wow, those are amazing pictures. We spend 3 mos. in the winter in Costa Rica, i'd love to swap our vacation home in CR for a place in Spain one year. If you know anyone that would like to do that pls let me know. Thanks :)
Have a great winter & keep us posted.

soultravelers3

@Christina I don't know off hand, but weekly rates are always more than monthly. Check out websites like Homeaway so you can do lots of price comparison. If you're coming in the winter, I'd stay in the south of Spain or Algarve..best weather & cheaper in winter. Lots to explore..maybe check what we did when family came for 2 weeks or other ideas under Spain or Portugal here,other wise you almost cetainly run into cold/rainy weather in Europe that just makes travel harder-especially with kids!

@Lisa Bergren Thx! Yes, rentals include bedding, towel and really everything one might need as they are 2nd homes usually rented out to people who arrive with just carry on.

I did pick my 5 top villages from that sight when I started & was willing to live in any. Mijas, Casares, Ronda,and Vejer de la Frontera are all suppose to be special but I've yet to see the first two in person.

@Traci Thanks! I'll keep my ears open, but you could also go on websites like Homeaway and contact owners directly about your idea!

Vacation Deals

wow!
a very beautiful place with a great ambiance.
very relaxing and will really endure peace of mind..

tricia

Hello, great write up. Which part of southern spain do u recommend for winter. Also I cannot tell when this was written, was it 2009? Also in your experience of winter rentals from say Nov to April, is the weather warm enough to use a pool that isn't heated?

Thank you for your help Tricia

soultravelers3

Thanks Vac & Tricia!

Did you see this post? http://www.soultravelers3.com/2009/11/lifestyle-design-a-winter-in-spain-extendedtravel-digitalnomad-miniretirement-4hww-travel.html#more

That gives specific info about where I think it's best & is the companion piece to this that is linked.

No it is not tropical weather, but Med weather, so although Mozart & many kids swim in unheated pools in Nov & Mar on hot days, most don't during the winter.

It is usually T-shirt weather during the sunny day, but can get a little chilly when the sun goes down!

The date is directly under the title, it was written November 24, 2009!

Lots in Samara Costa Rica

That place looks so beutiful, thanks for the information, is very useful.

Bella

What a fabulous site. Thank you so much.
I have been wandering around the world without any roots and suddenly I feel as if I have a possible home-away-from-home available to me. You have no idea how good that feels. Much appreciated.

Bella

Having been inspired by your warm writings here, I wandered off to see if I could find places to stay in white villages similar to the ones you described. I have only been able to find places for 200 pounds per week (1 bedroom). Could you possibly point me in the right website direction to find some affordable places in the villages themselves? Thank you so much.

Jeanne soultravelers3

Thanks Bella, glad to help! Did you read the companion post that goes with this one? http://www.soultravelers3.com/2009/11/lifestyle-design-a-winter-in-spain-extendedtravel-digitalnomad-miniretirement-4hww-travel.html

There are simply TONS of places available, so I am shocked that you can't find any. MANY do list the monthly long term winter prices, but if not just write to them and ask what is a long stay monthly price.

Usually they give the same price for a long-stay month, that they do for the weekly rate in high season.

August is the high season ...and a horrible time to be in Andalusia due to unbearable heat...so I would not suggest now. Many places will be booked by the week then.

Since it sounds like you are just a single, I would even just look for a studio. If you speak Spanish and can try the Spanish rental places, they will be even cheaper ( although it happens we always did UK owners).

On the ground it is even easier to find than on the internet. Talk to any agent in any village....they will help you find it in within an hour or two.

This was easy to do in 2006 and with Spain's financial problems it just gets easier and easier as there are MANY more flats and rental homes available than people who want to rent.

Good luck!

chantelle Lan

hello! thank you for an inspiring bit of information on renting in winter a place in Spain. I live in London and have commitments but am thinking of spending next winter - from early Jan to March in the warmer parts of Spain i.e. costa brave or sol. I speak Spanish and there would be only me as far as I know. Any tips? I don't have a car or drive but I walk or cycle and am used to public transport. Hope to hear from you soon and I think it is terrific how you live! Kind regards, Chantelle

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