How much did my Spain property cost... really?
A full cost accounting: more than I'd hoped, for a variety for a variety of reasons
When I first visited the townhouse I would eventually purchase in Cornudella de Montsant, near the climbing cliffs of Siurana, it was November 2022, around the Thanksgiving holiday. The late Fall weather was glorious, the climbing was steep and technical, and—notably for someone who was interested in buying property in Europe—the dollar was at a near-all-time high vs. the euro.
This had only happened once before in my adult lifetime, but that was long before I paid attention to such things.
My formative experience of the dollar vs. the euro was in College when my sister and I took a grand tour through Europe. We subsisted solely on baguettes, cheese, and Red Bull & vodkas, which I have never drunk since.
Back then, it was 1.2 dollars to 1 euro. Whenever we looked at prices, from Amsterdam to Paris to Barcelona, we simply added 20 percent. That was the rule.
My whole life, one euro had always been worth more than a dollar. Except, these were no ordinary times. Times had not been ordinary for a while.
The Fall climbing trip to Spain coincided with extreme economic uncertainty in the world. Investors rushed to the dollar. Speculators wondered whether Europe might run out of fuel that winter. The war in Ukraine ground on, and we climbed.
I’d been searching for a property in Europe for a long time—years. I wanted something near a climbing or a kitesurfing destination, or ideally both. The year before, I’d been house hunting around Arco, Italy. In the years before, my travels had brought me to Tarifa, where you can see Africa from the beach, the Andalucian cliffs of El Chorro near Málaga, as well as to Galicia, up and down the Alentejo coast in Portugal, and finally Crete.
I loved a lot of those places, but something had always been missing, or wrong, or off.
Now, here I was in Cornudella de Montsant. My Catalunyan friend’s dad was a real estate agent there. He and his wife had taken me to look at properties. I liked one of the townhouses I’d seen. I liked Cornudella. I liked the steep cliffs, the climbing, the region, the food, and the climate. Plus: the euro.
The dream was starting to become more than just a dream. But how much was that dream going to cost me, really? Let’s get into it.
The list price on the property was €43,500.
At the time, that meant the same in dollars.
But there would also be the transfer tax, the notary fees, the cost of travel back to sign the papers, and things perhaps I wasn’t thinking of or didn’t know about—plus, how did commissions in Spain work anyway?
At the end of the day, how much did the property actually cost me?
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