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How do the different types of property in Spain compare?

The Local Spain
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How do the different types of property in Spain compare?
Most people in Spain live in flats. Photo: Emilio Sánchez/Unsplash

Thinking of making the move to Spain but can't make sense of the property market here? Don't know your 'pisos' from your 'adosados'? Here's what you need to know about the different types of property on offer in Spain and their pros and cons.


Villas/chalets (detached houses)

When Spaniards refer to a villa or chalet, they may well mean a luxury property but it’s often used to mean a detached house, something relatively rare in Spain compared to other countries.

Chalets are generally found on the outskirts of towns or cities or in the countryside, whereas villas are more common on the coast.


Basically, these are detached, single-family homes distributed across one or several floors on their own private plot of land. They may or may not be located in a bigger residential complex or compound, or could be stand-alone houses, but people generally go for them because they are more spacious and have more piece and quiet than the bustle of Spanish city living.

However, these detached properties also have higher running costs and their locations, depending on where it is, could be a little more isolated than other forms of living. 

For many moving to Spain, though, buying their own villa is the dream.

Villas are usually upmarket properties in Spain. Photo: Adam/Pixabay.


Adosados and pareados (Terraced and semi-detached houses)

Townhouses, terraced and semi-detached housing in Spain are generally referred to as casas adosadas. These are slightly more private than living in an apartment block (more on that below) but often much more affordable than buying a chalet or villa.

They are often located on the outskirts of towns and cities, so can have good transport links and connectivity, depending on where exactly you're looking, while offering a blend of both urban and rural living.

Many casas adosadas have shared facilities such as parking, gardens, or pools, but that means you won't have the privacy of a chalet or villa.

Pareados (semi-detached houses sharing only one wall with another house) are less common in Spain. 

READ ALSO: Why you should think twice before buying a coastal property in Spain

A row of waterside 'casas adosadas' in Spain. Photo: Joaquin Carfagna/Pexels


Pisos and apartamentos (flats and apartments)

If you live in Spain, the chances are you live in a flat. These are homes located in a block that share a front door, foyer, and lift (if you're lucky) and maybe other common areas in the building such as a roof terrace. 

Flats are by far the most common type of housing in Spain. According to figures from Fotocasa, 7 out of 10 people in Spain live in an apartment, a figure that rises to 9/10 in cities.


Flats also usually have lower running and maintenance costs than a chalet or adosado, due to the size, although you will have to join la comunidad and pitch in with some communal costs.

Spaniards tend to use piso and apartamento interchangeably, but technically speaking a piso refers to a person's main home whereas an apartamento is second home.

Flats are generally more secure than other types of property because of the central location, abundance of neighbours around, the shared door and, in some places, even a doorman or concierge (portero).

However, if you're looking for the quiet life, maybe don't consider buying a flat in a Spanish city. Spanish apartments (especially the older builds from the 1960s and 1970s) are notorious for their lack of privacy and paper thin walls that mean you can hear every argument, furniture rearrangement, hoovering session, burp (and much worse) from your neighbours.

Living in a big Spanish apartment block really is like living on top of one another.

READ ALSO: What property owners in Spain need to know about homeowners’ associations

Áticos (Penthouse apartments)

Áticos are apartments located on the top floor of a block of flats. Even though they are penthouses, they're not always as spacious or upmarket as the English name evokes, but they will almost always have a big terrace. Tiny top floor studios are called buhardillas, they often have low ceilings and are located in older buildings. Áticos are a good choice for those who want to enjoy the Spanish sun from their centrally located homes, but they do tend to get hotter than the flats below during the summer months. 


Dúplex (Two-floor apartment)

Duplexes generally occupy the two highest floors of a building and they share a staircase and lift with the other neighbours. They're often centrally located yet offer more space and privacy than other types of flats, with the main disadvantage being that they tend to have steep spiral staircases connecting the two floors.

Bajos (ground-floor flats)

Bajos are apartments or flats located on the ground floor of apartment buildings and therefore closest to the street.

Obviously this means a downside is the noise, as you'll be living closer to the street and traffic but also the front door, meaning you'll hear your neighbours coming and going at all hours, but the upside is that many bajos in Spain have private patios or gardens, a real luxury in the city.


Casas rurales and fincas (Country homes, rural properties and farmhouses)

If you are after the quiet life, consider a rural property. Referred to in Spain as casas de campo, casas rurales or fincas (though these are often bigger farmhouse type properties with lots of land) these properties offer real rural tranquility, no or very few neighbours, and more of an authentic Spanish countryside experience.

Land in the country is also usually cheaper than in the coastal areas, though many properties are much older and need repairs if not large-scale renovations. Still, if you search for rural properties in Spain, you'll find some real bargains.

However, that sort of life also means you could be disconnected from urban centres, and, depending on how rural you want to go, you could be a drive away from the nearest village or shop or hospital.

Also keep in mind that casas rurales, for all their spaciousness and land, also require a lot more maintenance than in other properties.

A typical Valencian farmhouse in Jávea, Valencia region. Photo: Espencat/Wikipedia


Estudios (studios)

Studio apartments usually have a single space or two at the most, with the bedroom, kitchen and living room all in the same room and a separate bathroom. These sorts of properties are most popular among young, single people looking to save on costs, usually renting, and can be most often found in big cities. Many are as small as 30 or 40m/2.

Unless you're a young professional or student, or wanting to buy a property to rent out to these sorts of people, you'll likely be able to get much more bang for your buck on a different type of property.

READ ALSO: Where can I rent a studio for a good price in Spain?


Urbanizaciones (estates and urbanisations)

Residential estates (known as urbanizaciones) are basically housing developments consisting of a combination of flats, townhouses and villas.

These are incredibly popular in the touristy areas on the Spanish coasts (particularly the Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol) and are well-known attracting clusters of foreigners. In the Costa Blanca area, for example, it's not uncommon to find entire urbanizaciones made up of Germans or Swedes or UK nationals.

Due to the number of neighbours, urbanizaciones are safe and secure, though that also means you'll have less privacy and prices can, depending where you are, fluctuate quite a bit.

Many urbanizaciones also incorporate 'quad houses', which is basically a property connected on two perpendicular sides to two other properties, each with their own private entrance. 

Residential estates (known as “urbanizaciones”) are basically housing developments consisting of a combination of flats, townhouses and villas. Photo: Anna Sulencka/Pixabay.




Also popular with foreigners but not as common, bungalows in Spain aren't just detached, one-storey properties like they are elsewhere.

What Spaniards might call a 'bungalow' can sometimes be a small two-floor property, often with a veranda or terrace, and even a bit of land. 

As you might've expected, they are cheaper than buying flats or chalets, but can be pretty tiny. That's why many bungalow buyers do it for the location, rather than the property itself.

READ ALSO: What will happen to property prices in Spain in 2024?



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