The wonderful Marina Alta, Alicante Province

The wonderful Marina Alta area of Spain falls within the Northern half of the Costa Blanca and sits within the easterly projection of land adjacent to the Balearic Islands. Everyone has their preferences, priorities and indeed – prejudices too, so we can only explain why we chose to settle in this area.

Our rationale is best explained in the context of comparisons to other parts of the coast: The Costa Blanca is much drier, warmer & sunnier than its more northerly costa neighbours, and the weather is, of course, a key motivation for moving to Spain! Likewise, as one looks further south along Spain’s Mediterranean coastline, the landscape beyond Alicante immediately takes on a parched and more arid character. Development has come late to this region and the recent tendency has been to overwhelm the traditional Spanish infrastructure with vast developments of cheap housing and golf courses. The Costa del Sol comes closest in appeal. However, it’s relative sophistication (brashness, some will say) comes at the expense of vastly higher property prices, and lots of concrete! Ultimately it is a matter of personal perspective and priorities.

1) The Marina Alta is a striking blend of sandy coastline, majestic mountains and fertile valleys. In terms of lifestyle it’s a perfect example of the harmonisation of a traditional Spanish lifestyle and totally cosmopolitan conveniences. We are blessed with some real gems of inland villages and low cost/high quality rustic mountain restaurants and at the coastal resorts we have every state of the art resource and facility we could wish for, and shops & restaurants to rival Europe’s best.

2) The greatest appeal to us when moving to the Marina Alta was the relatively ‘soft landing’ in immigrating here. Essentially, one can ‘go totally native’ from day one, or take the soft option which the coastal towns facilitate – of enjoying the comforts and familiarity of an Anglo-cosmopolitan community, as and when the need arises. We are privileged to be able to enjoy UK style shops, sat tv, English doctors, nurses & dentists, broadband communications, and of course language schools where we can develop our Spanish. In short, one can live here to whatever degree of ‘Anglo-Spanishness’ one feels comfortable with.

3) Spain in general is notorious for its microclimates; a few hundred metres can make a difference! Our area is no different with indigene claiming that, by virtue of our headland location, our regular climate is more closely aligned to that of the adjacent Balearic Island of Ibiza. That generally means slightly more comfortable summers and milder winters than some neighbouring areas. Underlining this, the World Health Organisation has identified the Javea area as having one of the top three healthiest climates in the world.

5) The property choices in this area are manifold. Whether you are seeking the coast or inland option, town, village, urbanisation or rural, every taste is catered for. Thankfully, we do not have huge urbanisations here. Most buyers favour detached villas – new or resale – set in plots of at least 800/1000m2. Moraira’s character is almost unique by virtue of its strict ‘low-rise’ planning policy, with the bulk of the market in desirable villas being shared with Javea. All the coastal towns and rural villages of the Marina Alta offer the choices of villa (detached or linked), finca, townhouse or apartment.

6) Property prices have risen relentlessly here for thirty years! The last three or four years have seen something of an exodus of German owners which, together with the steady momentum of current development, had caused a temporary drop in prices, particularly between €400,000 and €1m. Over the winter period the buyers seem to have sensed a buying ‘window of opportunity’. Shrewd purchasers are wasting little time in taking advantage of this situation.

8) Whilst the social mix here is dominated almost equally between Spanish & British, followed by the Dutch; the cocktail is diluted with a liberal sprinkling of representatives of most northern European countries, together with those of developing Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, America (north, south and central), Canada, China and Japan. Surprisingly, many of our British friends here moved to Spain from other parts of Europe, Africa or the East where they had lived and worked, but chose to opt for early retirement here, rather than return to the grey and damp of the UK.

9) We are fortunate to have the option of two first class airports equidistant from us – Alicante and Valencia. Each of which is within one hour’s drive along the nearby A7 Autovia.

10) The Marina Alta remains an unspoilt area but enjoys a vibrant economy. This situation provides great scope for all to flourish here, whether your intention is to work, retire or to invest in the area. We have noticed a strong recent tendency for younger couples to move here from more northern climes, often with young families; seeking for their children the twin virtues of a better, safer and more wholesome upbringing and education, together with the opportunities of learning several new languages. We are very fortunate in this region to be blessed with a comprehensive infrastructure, not only in terms of transportation and communication but also regarding health, education and sports facilities. We have excellent local Spanish schools supported by several international schools in the Calpe/Moraira/Javea area. Beyond that level, both Alicante and Valencia have highly regarded universities.

11) In terms of leisure and recreation we are really spoilt for choice! For nightlife the closest mecca is of course Benidorm from its specialist bars to the excellent Benidorm Palace cabaret. Not only can Benidorm cater for the multitudes seeking high voltage entertainment – it also securely contains them all! We are left to enjoy the quieter life; Javea and Calpe enjoy a measure of nightlife of a more modest scale, but sufficient for the most hyperactive of fun-seekers. For those seeking nothing more than a fine restaurant, maybe followed by a drink or two at a waterfront café or in a bar with live music, Moraira may be more to their taste.
Spain is the land of the siesta so, given the climate, relaxation is almost an art form here. For those with the interest and energy there is much to do with your time. There are clubs and associations for just about everything: from barbershop singers to mountain walkers, and toastmasters & UFO spotters to Salsa & Flamenco lessons! Apart from the more obvious golf and water sports of every kind, we have excellent opportunities throughout the region for hill walking, mountain biking, bowls, tennis, karting, horse riding, ad nauseam. Wonderful sandy beaches, together with secluded rocky coves can, of course, be assumed. For culture vultures we are blessed with many clubs and auditoria providing concerts, opera and music for all tastes, supported by several very good amateur dramatics groups, flamenco shows and of course, the local fiestas, fireworks and bull running.

Author:  Chris Garwood – Partner, Estate Agents Moraira, Select Villas of Moraira
December 2010


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