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Laura Hamilton's Marvellous Marbella

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As well as being one of the faces of Channel 4’s ‘A Place in the Sun’ I’m also the proud owner of a holiday home in San Pedro, close to Puerto Banus on the Costa del Sol. 

During the economic crisis of 2007 (which seems like a life time ago), Marbella was of course hit like the rest of Spain but nowhere near as hard.  Whilst some British buyers put their plans on hold it became an attractive destination for the ‘Scandinavian Snowbirds’ who wanted to escape the cold climate back home. This certainly aided the recovery of the market to what I can only describe now as simply booming.

We decided to purchase our family holiday home in San Pedro over 13 years ago, long before I started presenting overseas property programs.  Easily accessible from the UK with multiple flights year-round into Malaga, San Pedro is on the outskirts of glitzy Marbella but still retains an authentic Spanish charm

One of the things I love most about where we are in San Pedro is that we can dip in and out of ‘Marvellous Marbella’ and Puerto Banus extremely easily, as and when we want to. Taking the ferry from Puerto Banus to Marbella and wandering around Orange Square in the Old Town makes for a lovely day out, with or without the family.  The high-end restaurants around Puerto Romano are a lovely place to spend a special occasion with your loved one or a group of friends, and during certain times of the year they host some great music concerts on the grounds there.  The scenery around Ronda (a 25-minute drive from San Pedro) is stunning and is somewhere I highly recommend visiting.  On the way back, Tehuelche (on the Ronda road) is an amazing Argentinian Restaurant, which is a must-try.  In San Pedro, my ‘breakfast local’ for Avocado on Sourdough is a little place called ‘Urban Chai’. I’m also a fan of a restaurant which has a great wine menu called ‘Impromptu’.  It’s fair to say I NEVER get bored of my place in the sun.  Each time I visit I discover new places and I enjoy going back to my favourites too!  Buying a property in Spain was one of the best things our family ever did.

Occasionally when I am filming in the area I’m fortunate enough to stay in the apartment when I am working. On average, between us all, the family uses the place around 6 months of the year, making it more of a second home than anything else.  We escape for weekends away, have used it as a base to ski from (in the Sierra Nevada mountains on New Year’s Day this year), and in the Summer months, when travel with children becomes expensive, we spend 6 weeks in San Pedro and Rocco and Tahlia get to play with their ‘Summer Holiday Friends’ around the pool. In terms of capital appreciation, a recent valuation was tempting enough to contemplate selling at a healthy profit but on reflection what it gives to us as a family is priceless so we are definitely staying put! 

The buying process in Spain for me was relatively easy and using the services that Judicare Group provide will make the process even more straightforward for any potential house hunters.  I’d say that you should allow between 12-13% for fees and keep this money separate from your fund. If the property you are buying is being sold by someone who is planning on returning to the UK, it’s worth trying to negotiate a deal where part of the funds remain in Stirling which will save you some fees on FX transfer. Certain fees will have to be paid in Euros but this is of course something your expert lawyer can help with.

The property market is certainly starting to pick up in Southern Spain with the area around Marbella, without a doubt an expensive one. However, around 30 minutes-drive either side, there are still affordable properties to be found if you know where to look. Whatever your budget my advice is not to hang around too long and who knows, if you decide to buy near San Pedro I might see you around.

Good Luck.

Laura x