How hilly is the area?

One thing to take in consideration when choosing where in Spain to relocate is how hilly is the area you are looking. The cities in the Costa del Sol are generally hilly; Valencia area is more flat. There are pros and cons to both situations: in a hilly place, it is harder to walk on foot, but the views are more beautiful and a home with a spectacular sea and city view may be affordable and available; in a flat area, walks will be delightful, but the views, less so.

Now, how to know beforehand how hilly is a place? There is a good way to find out. Check google maps, and pay attention specifically to the fences or walls of the houses / buildings around the streets. If they make a stair-like pattern along  the way, where each wall or couple of walls seem to climb up a step like the one below, you know there is a steep inclination on that road.

Above: picture of a street of Benalmadena. Observe how the walls look like a stair, in the sense that they go climbing up steps along the road.

By the look of the walls, you know it is a hilly place. You can observe the same with windows of contiguous buildings. Google maps is great for showing the places, but the inclination information is not always clear, as the car taking pictures is going parallel to the road, meaning it is parallel to the inclination of the street.

On the other hand, check this picture of Fuengirola, probably the flatter town in the Costa del Sol:

Above: picture of a street in Fuengirola. No stair-like pattern on these walls!

Less stair-shaped walls means this place is more flat. Use this tip if you are buying or renting a home from abroad or even when checking a location already in Spain; check how hilly your future street is going to be, and make a more informed decision.

Talking about that, notice also that information such as ‘5 minutes walk from the sea’, that real state agents love to cut and paste on their adds, can be deceiving. It may look close on the map, but due to a sharp inclination, the only possible path to arrive there on foot may take you 30 minutes, as you’ll have to go around a hill… now imagine the way back from the beach, when that walk is uphill. Yep. Changes the perspective of things, right?

If you are the kind of person that prefers to go by car everywhere, a sharp inclination may not affect you so much, but keep in mind that finding a parking spot in a touristic area may be tricky (honestly, it is hard even in the low season; there are just not enough. These coastal Spanish cities were not made with drivers in mind). So, the more you can do on foot, the better. At the same time, choosing a flat area means your home view will (likely) be the building next to you, not the sea. So its a trade-off you should consider before choosing where in Spain to relocate.

Personally, I chose the view. The 20 minutes walk to the beach is lovely, because it is downhill, but the way back from it takes 30 minutes uphill and makes me reconsider my life choices. I try to keep in mind that I’m doing exercise (silver line, right?) but it is tough. And lately I’m going to the beach by car (I found a paid-parking place near the beach and I’m conformed to use it). But the view from my windows, boy, it is great and everyday.

Next: How to buy a house in Spain – the process from beginning to end

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *