Guide for buying or renting a second home in Spain


This study, carried out by Suomma, aims to be a useful guide for the owner who is interested in knowing what is the best option for a second residence. Approaching a second residence, and therefore the enjoyment of vacations, can be done, mainly, through the acquisition of a property and its different modalities, through tourist rentals or in the supply offered by the hotel sector.

In this guide, all these variables will be analyzed, taking into account aspects such as investment, expenses, use and enjoyment, services, etc. But above all, these variables will be analyzed, combined with the cultural change that is currently taking place, where second homes are no longer for life, because much more relevant concepts such as life experiences are taking priority.

We will try to answer basic questions such as: what model should I choose to enjoy a second home; what suits me as an investor; what is currently being looked for in the market; what can be found and where are the most interesting assets.


Some background data:

  • 14.3% of Spanish households own a second home for personal use, twice as many as in France (6.4%) or Italy (7.5%).
  • Most of these second homes are in Valencia and Andalusia, with 1,142,000 and 1,108,000, respectively. Catalonia has about 730,000 and Castilla y León about 700,000. Galicia exceeds half a million and Castilla-La Mancha is just shy of the latter figure.
  • In 2019 alone, more than 30,000 Madrileños bought a home outside their Community.
  • From the age of 35-40 years the proportion of households with a second residence gradually increases, reaching around 20% of households near retirement age (65 years).
  • Most second homes are located on the Mediterranean coast. Alicante is the province with the highest number of second homes (326,705 homes, 8.9% of the national total). It is followed, at some distance, by Valencia (223,885 homes, 6.1% of the total) and Malaga (170,438 homes, 4.6% of the total).
  • Spain is, together with France and Austria, one of the three European markets with the highest number of holiday homes in foreign hands.
  • German owners are the Europeans who invest the most in Spain and account for 55 % of the properties owned by foreigners.
  • Spain accounts for 15% of German investments abroad and 21% of Belgian investments. Those French owners who choose to invest outside their country choose Spain 44 % of the time. Ten percent of Italian investments abroad go to Spain, ranking third behind France (51%) and Croatia (14%).

*Sources: Caixabank Research, Cinco Días (MITMA), Bellvilla by OYO, SUOMMA.

2.1 Culture change: 

We want to continue being owners, but we want to buy experiences.

All the opinion polls in Spain point out time and again that Spaniards are still rooted in the concept of “being an owner”, especially if it is the first residence. Although residential renting has increased considerably in the last 10 years, with almost 25% of households renting (30% on average in Europe and 50% in Germany), a large majority continue to opt for home ownership (Source: Eurostat).

Second residence seekers are looking more on the rental market (60%) than on the property market (40%). According to these data, it is likely that this demand is not finding in the property market the type of offer it needs.

Moreover, we live in an environment where the collaborative economy is growing rapidly, in sectors such as: coworking, shared kitchens, co-living, carsharing, etc. Where new experiences are sought.

The second residence in fractional ownership, is a fairly recent model, which is incorporated into the existing vacation offer. This new modality is focused on two segments, luxury and premium housing, the latter offered by the company SUOMMA. This vacation option aims to solve the equation of: being able to continue being an owner, but in a different way, without the anchorage of the old model that this implies, and at the same time satisfy the need to live new experiences.

2.2 Comparative table between the different vacation models:

(*) Estimate for an average property of 400,000 €.
(**) In order to analyze the characteristics of fractional ownership, SUOMMA’s specific data and services have been taken into account.
Note: This comparison could include a model, which is now practically in disuse, and that is the “Right of use by turns of real estate for tourist use (DAT)”, popularly known as timeshare. This consisted of obtaining a right of vacation enjoyment over a real estate asset, typically a hotel room, but without real property. The investment in this model, in about 10 years, was between 20,000 and 140,000 euros.


At the time of going on vacation we have the following questions to clear, before making a decision:

  1. The budget that we have, and if we take into account the investment that can be.
  2. The time that we have for our vacations, so much the sporadic ones, as the routine ones.
  3. The management and the profitability, so much those that we have to do if we are owners, with added services and the type of management that they offer us in rent and use.
  4. The type of housing: owned, fractional ownership, vacation rental or hotel, mainly. The type of housing has to do with something very deeply rooted in Spain, which is the feeling of ownership, that is to say, if I want to spend my vacations in “my home”, as owner, or as tenant/user.
  5. The style of vacation. If we want a vacation always settled in the same place and without changes in the future, where we can establish a “vacation routine”, similar to the daily routine. Or on the contrary we want to live new experiences, always in different places, with a lot of mobility, or in vacation areas that until now were practically inaccessible.

The following table shows the four most common types of vacation, combined with the five elements we have highlighted, so that we can make a good decision and know what suits me best as a user when it comes to satisfying my vacation time.

(***) In Europe this option is only offered by SUOMMA.


Buying or renting a second home in Spain? Which is the best option?

  • Of the 4 models we have seen, the first two, full ownership and fractional ownership, correspond to buying and the other two to renting (tourist and hotels).
  • Each model has its pros and cons, as detailed in table 2, so each user can click on their options and finally see the model that best suits their needs.


If we are going to acquire a property in its entirety, as a second residence, there is a cultural aspect in Spain, which is usually very important, and that is that we want to be the owners of the property where we summer or rest.

Therefore, we must have enough money to buy the property, usually with a mortgage to be paid in 20 or 30 years, and be aware that we can also add value with a reform, both to be better in it, and then sell it.

For the purchase to make sense, we would have to use it for more than 2-3 months a year, both for ourselves and for family members. This aspect is something that the immense majority does not take very much into account and normally the use of these houses is of 1 month, or at the most 45 days a year.

Another aspect to take into account is that a property needs time. Will I have time to manage the property: maintenance, repairs, cleaning…? Well, many times we do not have it and it is usually something problematic in the second residences. It also depends on the time we have if we want to rent the property and obtain a profitability. This is a very interesting option, the tourist, seasonal or residential rental, which offers the acquisition of a second residence.

In general, when buying a second home, we have usually done so by maintaining a difficult balance between what we would have really wanted and what we have finally been able to buy. After the years, this purchase is like an anchorage to a place and a concrete space, which is maintained as a “fixed photo” from the first moment of the purchase and which has practically no capacity of adaptation. In this way we must be aware that the model of rest and vacation that we acquire with this option is a traditional or conservative model.


If we are going to go for this model, which is somewhat newer in the market, we must first inform ourselves in detail about how it works, all the advantages and options it entails, and which are the main operators that offer and manage these properties.

In Table 2, if we click on all the options in green, it is because our vacation model is as follows:

  • I want to be the owner of the home where I spend my vacations.
  • I have found a luxury or premium property, i.e. a very special property, spacious with a good location, good interior design, sea views, etc.
  • I need a property where I don’t have to worry about anything and everything is ready when I arrive.
  • It is a property where I don’t have to worry about anything, when I arrive everything is ready to start my vacation right away.
  • The time for my vacations is really adapted to what I have every year, that is to say, about 6 weeks a year.
  • And as far as the economic investment is concerned, there are two models. Almost all operators offer luxury homes, as second homes in fractional ownership. So, for this case, I could access if I have between 300 thousand € and 600 thousand € to buy a fraction of a luxury home between 2-3 million €. The other market option offers high quality premium homes where the economic effort is much lower and you can access a fraction of these premium homes of 500 – 700 thousand €, if you have between 50 thousand and 80 thousand € to access a fraction. This second modality, at the level of economic investment, competes directly with the total property, with the advantage that the housing will be of much higher quality and performance.


When I opt for a tourist rental is because first of all, I do not mind that my vacation or rest will be through the rental option. Clearly my budget is better adapted to this model, where I can say every year, for example, if I spend or not on vacation. It’s a greater feeling of freedom and not being anchored to a property.

It can also be a transitional period to opt for the tourist rental, because at the moment I do not have enough savings for a second residence or fractional ownership.

To opt for this model, one must know that it takes quite some time to find the desired locations in advance, and that one must be conform or adapted to the management models offered by the platforms.

Finally, this model is ideal for people who want to change their destination every year and live new experiences.


For those who want to spend their vacations or breaks in hotels, this model requires a good economic budget to enjoy 1 or 2 weeks a year.

It is a model of payment for the use and services offered by hotels, with which I am very familiar and I feel very comfortable in their facilities.

Also, vacations in hotels are usually preferably for people who do not have children and that also allows them to change destination, if they want, every year or even in the same year.

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