Featured Location – Villajoyosa, Alicante, Spain

Located 30 kilometres north of Alicante on the Costa Blanca, the town of Villajoyosa lies at the mouth of the River Sella. Colourful, vibrant and decidedly Spanish, Villajoyosa (literally ‚joyful town‘) is situated just south of Benidorm and is sandwiched between the mountains and the sea.

A bustling fishing port, the distinctive, brightly painted facades of the town’s houses were designed to guide the fishermen home from sea. Steeped in history, this is one of the few towns on the Costa Blanca that remains undiscovered, and property here is some of the most competitively priced in southern Spain.

Why Villajoyosa?

Villajoyosa has a colourful history, with the Romans building the first settlement here, but today the feel is overtly Spanish. The town has retained many traditional features, such as its fish market, and there are a number of restaurants along the harbour that serve some of the best seafood in the region. The town is also known for its production of chocolate. The old town has been declared a historic site, and it’s here that you’ll find the multi-coloured houses, Villajoyosa’s gothic church and a number of Roman bridges.

Only 10 kilometres from Benidorm, residents can enjoy the perks of being close to such a major town, while avoiding the tourists that inundate the resort in summer. Couple this with friendly residents, a welcoming local community and the fabulous weather (the temperature rarely falls below 16 degrees Celsius) and you’re looking at a fantastic destination.

The scenery is stunning, with a mountainous backdrop and surrounding citrus fruit plantations, as well as olive, carob and almond trees. The town is home to one of the region’s best fiestas, the festival of the Moors and Christians, which culminates in a colourful parade with fireworks. There are also a number of picture-book beaches, with talcum powder sand and clear blue waters. These include Playa Centro de la Vila, Playa Paraiso, Playa Bol Nou, and further afield, Torre and Estudiantes.

Where to buy

In Villajoyosa itself, average house prices range from 170,000 Euros to 300,000 Euros, depending on proximity to the city centre or beach. Villas are fetching roughly 350,000 to 800,000 Euros, again depending on the location. It’s possible to pick up a one bedroom apartment for as little as 85,000 Euros, while a two bedroom townhouse will cost you 110,000 Euros, and a country house as little as 133,000 Euros. Travel further north and you’ll come across Cala Finestrat, a cove in the borough of Villajoyosa that’s close to Benidorm’s Poniente Beach.

Cala Finestrat is a stunning resort, with a wide, sandy beach and shallow waters, making it perfect for families. It’s beaches have won the EU coveted Blue Flag every year since 1998. Enjoying its own special micro-climate, Cala Finestrat is sheltered from the southerly winds by the El Puig Campana Mountains.These are just a few kilometres away, so as well as snorkelling, scuba diving and beach sports, you can also enjoy mountain activities such as rock climbing, cycling and hiking. It’s also only one kilometre from Benidorm and three kilometres from Villajoyosa, although there are more local amenities and attractions close at hand.

In terms of property, there are mainly apartments and villas for sale. The cost of a two bedroom apartment varies from 146,000 Euros up to 150,000 Euros, while an average two bedroom villa close to the beach will cost around 255,000 Euros.

The property market

The town offers a range of properties to suit every budget, from inexpensive apartments to luxury cliff-top villas. There are a handful of developments springing up in the town, but not enough to damage the environment or spoil the coastal area.

During the last five years, property has more than doubled in value, and in some cases tripled, appreciating by as much as 100 to 150 per cent in some areas. Thanks to its proximity to Benidorm, with all its golf courses and attractions, there’s no sign of this trend slowing, especially as more people discover the area. It’s predicted that the market will continue to grow by between 15 to 20 per cent over the coming year.

Typical properties

In this area you will find something to suit every budget, with prices ranging from 115,000 Euros in Villajoyosa to over 1,000,000 Euros for a villa in Cala Finestrat. Apartments and villas are much more abundant than townhouses. Restoration projects are currently underway to repair and maintain traditional village houses, and a scattering of new developments are being built on the outskirts of the town.

The rentals market

Being close to Benidorm, there’s scope to secure a healthy rental income from a property, depending on where it is located and how close it is to the beach and amenities. If a property is well marketed and in a premium location, for example on the beachfront, it’s possible to secure an annual income of roughly 10 per cent of it’s sales value. For the average property, a yield of 7 per cent is more likely.

There’s been a rise in the number of people investing in buy-to-let property in and around Villajoyosa. Given that the tourist industry is growing, and that there are major renovations and development works being carried out on the seafront and old town, including the building of a theatre, swimming pool and football stadium, it’s likely that the next few years will see a rise in rental demand.

Living there

Villajoyosa is more popular with Spanish buyers than foreign investors, although the demand from overseas buyers is increasing. Those who purchase here tend to be mostly British and Norwegian, along with some Belgians. Buyers tend to be aged between 40 and 60, and are looking for apartments and villas.

The town is dominated by its local Spanish residents and life is very traditional, with fishing and the fish market central to Villajoyosa’s economy. Tourism is a growing industry, but for those looking to buy, be aware that despite being very close to Benidorm, life here is a very different proposition.

The town’s amenities are currently limited, but the development of the seafront and other investments means that facilities will improve. However, this situation is easy to endure – it’s reputed that the sun shines more in Villajoyosa than in any other part of the Costa Blanca.

The expat community is also on the increase, and given that Benidorm is just down the road, you shouldn’t feel too isolated. Couple this with it’s unique Spanish features and traditional lifestyle, it’s easy to appreciate why Villajoyosa is a ‚joyful town‘.

Steve Murphy and Christine Dawson moved to the Costa Blanca in 2004. They left behind their pub, ‚The Rising Sun‘ in Sidmouth, and moved to Venta la Nuza, close to Villajoyosa, where they purchased a villa. At first they found it difficult to settle and adjust, having been used to running a business and keeping busy.

However, this all changed when they purchased ‚The Bodegon‘ in Villajoyosa itself. This hole-in-the-wall pub helped them settle into life in Spain, and they now spend their time with Christine working behind the bar and Steve beavering away in the kitchen, producing his British ‚pub grub‘ of liver and onions and a ploughman’s lunch. „The pub has taken off really well,“ says Christine, „not only do we attract the tourists, but many of our clients are locals.“

Costa Blanca statistics

Population Villajoyosa: 23,430

Population Alicante: 1,300,000

British Homeowners: 350,000

Foreign population: 15-20%

GDP Growth: 1.8%

Inflation: 2.4%

Unemployment rate: 3%

Length of coastline: 160kms

Languages spoken: Castilian and Valenciano Spanish

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