Overseas property buyers who are looking at the Mediterranean often have to make a choice between Turkey and Spain. Here we compare the countries in terms of investment, lifestyle, and natural wonder
From 2004 to 2008, house prices rose a staggering 44%. During the height of Spain’s real estate boom, developers worked round the clock to build more houses, which in turn led to a massive oversupply. This, coupled with the global recession, meant that the Spanish property market collapsed in 2008. More than seven years on, Spain has still not recovered. According to the government figures, the average property price is €1,458 per square metre and this is down 36.3%, adjusting for inflation, since the peak of the market in 2008 when it was €2,100 per square metre.
Strong economic growth, healthy consumer confidence and rapid urbanization have led to Turkey’s housing market thriving in the last ten years. In fact, figures from the Knight Frank Global Housing Price Index show that Turkish property prices are the third fastest growing in the world. However, it is still possible to buy a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment with sea views in the region of £60,000, unheard of in Spain. But as well as the bargain property prices, the rest of the world has taken notice of Turkey’s property market and today apartments are built to superb specification and designed by international brand names.
Spain: Although reports suggest that the Spanish property market is slowly starting to recover, the reality is that there are still thousands of unsold properties. Reports show that Spanish house prices rose 1.8% in 2014, the first rise in six years. However, in real terms, house prices since 2007 have still fallen by 44%. The country’s major banks have large portfolios of property on their books. Figures show that banks still hold approximately 65,000 residential property as well as many commercial premises. The banks are selling them at a hugely reduced price and although signs show a slight upturn, what must not be forgotten is there is still a huge excess of supply so investment in Spain for a foreigner must be for the long-term.
Turkey: Growth in the property market has also been fuelled by a recent change in rules governing property ownership. Now foreign buyers can get the title deeds, known as TAPU, faster. Residency laws and visa applications for temporary visitors, such as second homeowners, have also been changed and now allow foreign nationals a year-long short term residency permit when they buy property in Turkey. Also, the visa can be extended indefinitely if the buyer keeps the property whereas previously they were only allowed to stay up to a total of 90 days. Changes to Turkey’s reciprocity law has also allowed buyers in the Middle East and Russia to purchase, giving a huge boost to the investment potential in Turkey.
Spain: There are currently 4.5 million people out of work in Spain, or about 25% unemployment. With unemployment benefits only available for two years, the number of beggars on the streets of Madrid and Barcelona is growing. An estimated 1.5 million Spaniards are now also relying on soup kitchens for food. Although the Bank of Spain announced that economic growth for 2015 would be 2.8%, the reality for many Spaniards is very bleak.
Turkey: Strong and steady growth over the last decade has led the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), to say that Turkey is expected to be one of the fastest growing economies of the OECD members during 2014-2016. Significant improvements in such a short period of time have registered Turkey on the world economic scale as an exceptional emerging economy, the 16th largest economy in the world and the 6th largest economy when compared with the EU countries.
Spain: Gaudi's wonderful eight-spired fantasy of La Sagrada Familia cathedral can be found in Barcelona. The shopping street at Las Ramblas attracts tourists and locals alike although its charm has not been tarnished with the number of visitors.
Turkey: In Istanbul the Blue Mosque's six minarets dominate the skyline and are of great architectural achievement. Shopping paradise can be found throughout the city. The Grand Bazaar is perfect for bargain hunters and those that like to rummage and there is plenty of designer retail therapy at Galatta Bridge on Istiklal Cadessi.
Spain: The Picos de Europa and the Alpujarran foothills of Andalucia's Sierra Nevada, provide breathtaking Spanish mountain walks. Spain has over 5000 miles of coastline and some of the most unspoilt and ultra-white are found on the shores of the Balearic Island of Formentera.
Turkey: The Lycian Way stretches over 500km around the Tekke Peninsula from Ölüdeniz to Antalya providing striking views including many ancient Lycian sites. One of the most popular reasons for visiting includes Turkey's cascading terraces of natural thermal pools. Those at Pamukkale, located close by the ruins of Byzantine Hierapolis, have drawn bathers for centuries.
Spain: Spain has a huge expat population, which makes settling in easy. However, the excitement of being somewhere different may be slightly diminished with so much familiarity. Food is good value and the weather is favourable although away from the southern regions it can be more unpredictable.
Turkey: Warm long summers and temperate winters give an average 300 days of sunshine a year. Good value cuisine is fresh and very tasty and there are lots of ways to occupy your days with plenty of outdoor leisure pursuits. There’s interesting ancient cities to explore and lots of expat clubs and activities if you are planning to live year round.