If you're looking for the 'real' Spain where the culture, customs and the traditional Spanish lifestyle have been preserved - a Spain long ago lost and forgotten along the Costa del Sol - consider Northern Spain.
Northern Spain has always been a popular holiday destination for southern Spanish tourists, but until relatively recently it was largely unexplored and undiscovered by foreign tourists and those expatriates seeking a new home overseas.
As the southern Spanish coastal regions become over priced and over populated the charm and beauty of Northern Spain is becoming more popular and more fashionable, and those in search of a better quality of life away from hectic city stress and cramped tourist towns can find a wealth of affordable property in Northern Spain as well.
The main property hotspots in Northern Spain are centred around Bilbao, Picos de Europa, Santiago de Compostela, Vigo and the Mino Valley. Property hunters in Northern Spain will be rewarded with stunningly situated properties ripe for renovation, well located properties offering massive investment potential, sprawling country residences with plenty of space for those in search of a little peace and then right at the upper echelon of the market there are incredibly luxury and chic city dwellings offering the very best in interiors, location, facilities, accessibility and amenities.
Beginning with the port city of Bilbao, which is the capital of Spain's Basque region, the main entry point into Northern Spain and Spain's most significant commercial port, this city boasts an impressive spectrum of property in its portfolio.
The city is a commercial, financial, historical and cultural centre and thanks to massive regeneration and renovation Bilbao is now a significant Northern Spanish real estate hotspot offering everything from top end luxury apartments to traditional and ancient dwellings in the old quarter.
Property investors will benefit from the fact that the city is currently receiving significant financial investment designed to raise its profile as both a main business centre and an interesting international city break destination. Bilbao it is well serviced in terms of local accessibility and international travel links, it is beautifully located in one of the most stunning regions of Northern Spain and culturally it has a lot going for it ? from the impressive Guggenheim Museum to the Casco Viejo.
The Picos de Europa National Park offers a completely different range of properties and opportunities for both the property investor, those seeking a second holiday home in rural, beautiful Spain and those in search of a new lifestyle altogether. The 40km wide National Park is breathtaking and rich with flora, fauna, stunning views and opportunities for active outdoor pursuits from skiing to hiking, mountain climbing and cycling. Prices across the region are on the up as the destination increases in popularity with tourists and those seeking the cheap renovation property projects the area has become equally popular for.
In complete but complimentary contrast to the wild and natural beauty of Picos de Europa is the city of Santiago de Comostela. This UNESCO world heritage site with its impressive and world famous cathedral is actually one of Spain's most incredible cities. It is also a site of pilgrimage and a centre so rich in art and history that it draws thousands of visitors every year. The city is known as the religious and cultural heart of the Celtic Galicia region and it has the added attraction of a micro-climate which affords it beautifully warm summers. Of course with all these features, attractions and benefits the city is not only a Spanish property hotspot it is actually an expensive hotspot and property prices in the city have been significantly increasing with 10 ? 11% increases across Northern Galicia last year alone. But don't despair; prices in the city are still far more affordable in comparison to properties in southern Spain, the city is directly accessible from the UK and it offers impressive property investment potential and real estate rental return potential.
The lively and affluent coastal town of Vigo is a popular resort and is proving a consistently attractive prospect for foreign real estate buyers. Formerly famous for having Europe's biggest fishing fleet the area is now as famous for its tourism and all it offers its visitors and residents ? from its incredible Atlantic swept beaches to its funky and cosmopolitan caf? culture and nightlife. If you're attracted by all Vigo has to offer - and who would blame you ? and you're looking for real estate in the area you're probably assured good investment potential as property is still very affordable but more and more massively in demand.
Finally, the Mino Valley region of Northern Spain which is located on the Portuguese/Spanish border is an incredibly lush and beautifully unspoilt area of Spain. It follows the Mino river, is about 35km from great beaches and is as yet a relatively unknown tourist or expatriate area. That is all about to change however and the area is gearing up for an influx of both tourists in search of an active but peaceful destination and those expatriates seeking a brand new Spanish world. The region has so much to offer, it is incredibly lush as mentioned which makes for breathtaking natural scenery, it enjoys a healthy and warm climate and offers the property hunter everything from rural rundown renovation treats from around EUR 70,000 to luxury and expansive chalet developments reaching prices in the region of EUR 750,000.
When it comes to bargains, real estate investment potential and a diverse and rich mix of property available for those in search of a second home in Spain, a Spanish home from home or a buy to let or investment opportunity, Northern Spain has it all in abundance.
Rhiannon Williamson is the publisher of http://www.shelteroffshore.com/ - the online resource for investment property abroad, offshore investing and living overseas articles, guides and resources.
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