On walking through Sitges city centre it is abundantly clear that real estate is a big business in this town. There is not a single street that does not house at least one estate agents. Their windows are crammed with photographs of dream homes - with shimmering pools, white washed walls and views of the sea. All of this makes Sitges a very expensive but very lovely place to live.
If you are thinking of making a move to Sitges, either to rent on a long term basis or to buy, it is helpful to gain as much of a feel for the town itself and for how the property market works here as possible. I met with Alexandra Dekker of the successful estate agents - Sitges Real Estate. With nine years of experience in the Sitges property market she is an expert on the topic.
This page provides an overview to Sitges from an estate agent's perspective - why property in Sitges is so sought after, what to consider if you would like to move to the area and what practical measures you need to take when starting out.
Sitges is one of the most expensive places to live in the whole of Spain. This is largely due to its coastal location and all of the other benefits to living in Sitges (see below for more details).
This is also due to the fact that the population here tend to be young. Older people who might be retiring to Spain are more likely to move to the South coast. Therefore, those moving to Sitges often have their own businesses or are in employment, making it a very affluent area.
Sitges is a popular place to live for a number of cumulative reasons. Firstly, its location is prime. It is situated in-between Barcelona and Barcelona airport - a twenty minute drive from both. This makes it convenient for those who require or wish to travel and it also allows for a relaxed lifestyle whilst remaining close to cosmopolitan Barcelona.
Secondly, many people are attracted to the weather in Sitges - due to its location it is protected by mountains that create a microclimate- Sitges has an average of 300 days of sunshine every year. The sunshine, next to the water also creates a beautiful light in the area - a light that is said to have inspired lots of artists and still brings creative types to the area.
For a beach town it also has a wide selection of cultural events all year round. It is important that the city remains alive not just during the summer months. As house prices have risen in the past four or five years less and fewer people have been able to afford to use houses in Sitges as their second home. This creates a nice atmosphere in the town, as it is vibrant all year round.
The schools in the area also have good reputations. Alongside the local public school there are also two international schools - a French one and an English one.
If somebody contacts you to help them to purchase or rent a property, what is your starting point with them?
The first step is to get as many details about their priorities and their budget as early on as possible. Before contacting an estate agent I would recommend that you sit down and think through the factors that are important and relevant to you. Most importantly, of course, how much money are you able to invest?
After this you need to consider what your main wishes are with the money that you have. Do you want to live in a house or in an apartment? Is there a particular area that you wish to live in? Are there a particular number of bedrooms that you require? Do you want a pool? Do you want a sea view?
Of course, with priorities, there are normally sacrifices that need to be made. For example, if you require more bedrooms or more square metres you may need to look at options further from the seafront. Whereas if you are willing to live somewhere with less space you may have the option of a more prime location.
I think that it's important to make people aware of how steep in height some of the areas in Sitges are. This has both pros and cons. It means that some of the areas towards the back of the town and further from the beach front can still offer stunning views of the sea. However, if you do not have a car you may find it difficult to get around in these areas where roads are sometimes nearly at 90 degree angles - a car or scooter is essential!
What are the first practical steps that should be taken for somebody wishing to purchase or rent a home from abroad?
I tend to advise people to find both an estate agent and a lawyer who speaks their language. Our company have English-speaking estate agents and we can provide details of English speaking lawyers. This will make dealing with all of the legal aspects of moving into your home simpler - as contracts will all be in Spanish.
The two first basic steps that need to be taken after finding a lawyer and estate agent who speak your language are to open a Spanish bank account and obtain an NIE number. This is a number that proves that you are a resident in Spain and is required under lots of official circumstances. It is easily acquired and you do not need to have a job in Spain to get it.
If people are looking at property whilst based abroad, we put aside a couple of days for them to come to stay in Sitges. We take them around the different areas so that they get a sense of the sort of place where they would like to live. After this introductory visit, a large majority of the work can be carried out via e-mail, fax and telephone.
For further details of the interview with Alexandra Dekker, see our specific and detailed guide on the various areas of Sitges and what they all have to offer: Real Estate in Sitges, Spain - Area by Area.
Real estate is huge in Sitges and is particularly popular amongst an international clientele.
This is encouraging if you are thinking of making a move to the area - many estate agents are equipped to deal with those looking to buy or rent property from abroad. It seems that they do everything within their powers to make the process as smooth and stress free as possible.
Alexandra Dekker owns the company Sitges Real Estate.