Our unusual perspective on renting vs buying after arriving

Last updated on July, 06, 2023

Renting vs buying: after your initial days in Spain, spent probably in a hotel or vacation rental, you will most likely have to choose between renting or buying a place to live. Everybody recommends renting before buying and there is a lot of sense into that recommendation as you can get to know several places before committing to a specific area.

renting vs buying
View of the houses in Pueblo Evita and surroundings in Benalmádena. Photo by MamaMalaga.

If you don’t have school-aged kids, if you are not bringing all your possessions and if you are not sure about what place in Spain suits you best, renting for a while would be a good way to go. But that is not always the case, is it? If you have a kid in school, things change a lot.

You don’t want to move the kids around every school year, and put them through a permanent adaptation process. Some stability is desirable. For that reason, mainly, I decided to buy right away. But there were more factors inclining us to buy right away, and maybe you’ll have some in common with us. So here goes our full list:


I knew I wanted to live in the Costa del Sol, preferably in either Torremolinos or Benalmádena, so I wasn’t considering moving around to experiment other places in Spain. If you are not sure about where you want to settle, either travel for exploration or research a bit – you can find a lot of useful information online!

Talk to community groups on Facebook, asking what they like (or dislike) about their area; check google maps to do a virtual tour of the place – on that matter, check our tip on how to know how hilly is an area with google maps; for a lively view of the places, watch MorningNhu videos on youtube (I watched so many before moving!) and if you are considering moving to Torremolinos, I got you covered with an overview of all 11 neighborhoods of the city. 😉

Prices survey

I had been looking for houses in the Costa del Sol for about 4 years before I actually moved, and I knew the prices were going up, therefore I was afraid that delaying the purchase would probably result in buying something worse later, or maybe not being able to buy anything at all. If you don’t want to spend years checking prices, check this good, reliable and free way to do it on Cost of life in Spain.

Extra costs associated with renting vs buying

Renting would imply extra costs, because on top of the renting itself there would be the need to hire a moving company later to go from the rental to the owned place, plus the possibility of needing to buy furniture to the rental that would not fit my own property later, and/or giving up pieces now that would fit later.

School changes

As mentioned before, I feared that if I rented first and then chose a place to buy that was far from the rental, my kid would need to move to another school. I was keen to avoid it, as I was already feeling guilty for moving him far from his friends, to a new country, new home, new language and so on; moving him more while in Spain is something I would prefer to avoid.

There is no place like (our own) home

I had been renting my whole life and was looking forward to having a permanent place that I could make personal. Buying would also give me the feeling of “mission accomplished” and I wouldn’t need to be concerned about that anymore, while with renting first I would be delaying the matter. On top of that, there is always the chance that the landlord requests the place back, and so renting would risk putting us on the move time and again.

Despite all that, we tried to rent…

All of these reasons made me chose buying as soon as I arrived in Spain. Now, if I didn’t have a school-age kid, if I were not sure about where in Spain I wanted to live, if the prices were not climbing up and if I were not bringing all my goods, perhaps I would indeed have preferred to rent for a while before buying.

Despite my conviction, I didn’t know how long it would be to find a place I liked and to close the deal on the buying, as, after all, I was yet to have even my own documents ready. So I tried to rent a place for our first months in Spain, while we were still in the USA. I could find places that agreed to rent to us – foreigners living abroad without a job or credit history in Spain, everything Spanish landlords dislike – but I couldn’t find one that would give us the padrón.

So we opted to stay on a vacational rental first, to try to either rent for a few months or purchase a home while already in Spain. We ended up staying on vacation rentals for our first 3 months in the country, while dealing with the purchase of our home. The fact that we moved to Spain in the winter saved us a lot, because 3 months on a vacation rental during summer in Spain would have costed at least twice more!

I don’t regret at all the decision to buy instead of renting; on the contrary, I feel relieved that we did it, and I like my home more and more as the days and seasons pass, partially because of the personal touches that me and my family are adding to it. As an added bonus, now I can share with you how the property buying process works in Spain. 😉

Next: Finding our home in Spain

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