Meerkat House

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Here’s something a bit different: a new-build. Spain has a surplus of new-build properties – well over one million unsold units. Most are in new urbanisations, built before the bubble burst in 2008, for young professionals who now can’t afford them. There are grimly empty towns in Murcia, Valencia, and within commuting distance of Madrid, but also empty urbanisations overlooking golf courses in Huelva and mountains in Malaga built, one imagines, as second homes for Spanish families, and holiday and retirement homes for expatriates. I don’t want to live in an urbanisation, but particularly not an empty one. I feel sorry for the people who bought a property not realising they would be the only family in their block, or street . . . or town.
There’s an attractive urbanisation on the edge of Iznajar with wide empty streets lined by empty homes and a big empty car park. We often pass another smaller project – a couple of rows of dream homes, nicely done, in Atajate, south of Ronda. The builder must have expected to make a tidy profit on these. I don’t know how many are occupied now, but when we had a poke around about a year ago there were signs of life – flowerpots, a tricycle – outside one or two, and nothing doing anywhere else. Tumbleweed. The price on the Atajate townhouses has dropped and continues to drop. I think if ten units were bought, it might tip the balance and everyone would rush to nab one of the remaining bargains. Right now this end of the village is sad and soulless – despite knockout views.
The new-build we went to see, however, was on its own. Really on its own, at the end of what passes as a track, at the top pointy bit of a steep mountain, rather high. We looked at it with the builder. It was refreshingly complete with roof and designer hotel bathroom, new plaster and features like a bit of exposed stone here and there, and big too – all for €70,000 something. I started to feel unreasonable. This – surely – had everything (including as Dave pointed out) space to hang pictures; a real important factor. What was not to like? Answer: the house. It was just a little bit . . . home counties. The bit I liked best was the rocky ridge above it. If I bought this, I would spend all my time outside and above it sitting on a boulder on the ridge, looking down over fields and white dots of houses. I’m not sure that’s the best use of life savings. I’m starting to get apologetic about not buying places.

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