One of Murcia's most important tourist destinations, Lorca sits on the banks of the Rio Guadalentin, with the Sierra de Espuna mountains to the north west and the Parque Natural de Sierra Espuna only 40 minutes north. Surrounded by vineyards and only a short drive from eight kilometres of coastline, the Lorca area is renowned for its secluded beaches and expansive, pine tree filled valleys.
Why buy there?
The town of Lorca itself is a relatively new area for British buyers and has seen even higher price rises than the 30 per cent experienced across Murcia. Despite this growth, Lorca has been protected from the mass development experienced across the southern Costas.
Lorca town is only 20 minutes from the coast and only two hours from the ski resorts of the Sierra Nevada. Its many traditional buildings and cobbled streets blend with a cosmopolitan area that offers shops, modern pisos and apartment blocks. There are hundreds of bars, plus restaurants, a theatre, a cinema complex and sports and leisure facilities.
There are also plans for the construction of several golf courses. Nevertheless, it manages to uphold its reputation as a Baroque city, and has a swathe of cultural attractions, not least of which is the 13th century Moorish castle.
The coastal town of Aguilas is also very popular. This pretty fishing village is surrounded by tomato plantations and boasts sandy coves and beaches, as well as a favourable year round climate. With a selection of fine fish restaurants, there is also a fabulous daily fruit and veg market.
Further inland, Lorca boasts many quaint villages, such as Totana, Calasparra and Caravaca de la Cruz, which is the fifth holiest city in the world. Transport links to the region are excellent, with three international airports within a 90 minute drive of Lorca and a new airport planned for Corvera, a mere 35 minutes away by car. Road, rail and bus links will also bring you right into the heart of the town, with the A7, which serves as the main artery through the region, easily accessible.
Where to buy?
The best buys are in areas just inland of Lorca town. Five acres of land can be purchased here for as little as 60,000 euros, and townhouses in some areas are selling for a mere 30,000 euros. Totana, in the north east of Lorca, enjoys 3,000 hours of sunshine each year, with temperatures exceeding 30 degrees centigrade for 100 days of the year.
The 25,000 inhabitants follow a traditional lifestyle, which is reflected by the wonderful architecture and many religious monuments. Property here can be picked up for as little as 80,000 euros. A three bedroom finca costs between 100,000 and 120,000 euros, while a four bedroom villa averages 300,000 euros.
Calasparra lies to the north of Lorca on the banks of the Segura river. With only 10,000 residents, it offers an intimate atmosphere, life continues in a traditional way, with lots of fiestas and large Friday morning markets. It offers stunning views over the countryside and rice fields, and is perfect for nature lovers.
Property here will also suit many budgets, with a three bedroom apartment costing 84,000 euros, and a small finca only 125,000 euros. A four bedroom country home with a swimming pool can be bought for as little as 169,000 euros.
Caravaca de la Cruz has 22,880 inhabitants and is the main town in north west Murcia. 60 kilometres from Lorca, it's dominated by its Castillo, and the church of Santuario de Vera Cruz.
Slightly more expensive than the other inland towns, a two bedroom log cabin starts at 162,241 euros, while a three bedroom country villa with 2,500 square metres of land costs 190,000 euros.
The property market
Lorca province represents excellent value for money. Prices appreciated by 30 per cent last year, with some investments increasing by 60 per cent. However, as a new kid on the scene, it's still possible for buyers to discover bargains, some plots can be snapped up for under 15,000 euros!
The Lorca region is ideal for a retirement location, with fincas abounding in the countryside surrounding Lorca town and Totana. There are also many detached houses on the edge of the towns, which are ideal for renovation. These properties offer amenities close at hand, but are still peaceful and tranquil.
The cost of building a luxury three bedroom, two bathroom villa with five acres of land is around 200,000 euros. Many people who buy in this area end up with 20 times the amount of land they could expect in a coastal urbanisation, and at a lower price. The region still offers prices 35 per cent cheaper than the national average, and 54 per cent of all properties throughout Murcia sit within the 35,000 to 100,000 euros bracket. Of course, this is set to rise as government investment in infrastructure opens the region up.
The most popular properties among foreign investors are fincas and village houses, and there are also many people buying plots of land. The most popular property is the villa, which represents 23 per cent of all purchases. However, country houses follow closely, at 18 per cent, and are the more commonly found properties in Lorca. Due to the increased interest in the region, fincas and village houses are steadily declining in number, and more people are seeking new build properties.
The rentals market
This area isn't popular for short term rentals, which are generally more common along the coast. However, there's a burgeoning long term rentals market, and if you have the right property in the right place, you can get a good income.
Expect to secure an average of 925 euros a week for a six bedroom villa, while a two bedroom apartment can generate between 250 and 450 euros a week. The market looks set to grow, and although Costa Calida's facilities and infrastructure aren't as advanced as in other coastal regions, the Spanish government is investing heavily in new roads, runways and high speed rail links.
The area is also gaining a reputation for its excellent golf facilities, and these factors are set to have a huge impact upon both the short and long term lettings market, making the area ripe for investment.
There are very few Brits in the area, although the development of infrastructure and tourist facilities, along with 6,000 new houses, is likely to attract more. There are also very few English residents within the town of Lorca itself, most prefer to live in detached properties offering some land, rather than in the smaller urban pisos.
However, the city is surrounded by farmland, and this has been developed over the last two years, attracting a large number of English buyers. Children are typically enrolled in one of the Spanish schools in Lorca, and seem to integrate well and surprisingly quickly.
As this is still a new area, it's only recommended for those seeking to integrate themselves fully into a traditional Spanish way of life, buyers should be prepared to learn the language and make an effort to socialise with the local residents.
Thanks to their desire for a sunny climate, cheaper living and a healthier and more cultured lifestyle Jozsef and Sheila Csiszar moved to Lorca to retire. They wanted a three bedroom detached property with plenty of space and 1,000 square metres of land, and their budget was 200,000 euros.
They were keen to avoid urbanisations and what they described as ‘England in the sun’. After initially searching the Costa Blanca, they were disappointed to find that prices were more than they had budgeted for. “It was recommended that we went south to the Murcia region, in particular to Lorca, where we were told prices were much cheaper, " Jozsef reveals.
They will soon be moving into their tailor made, top quality villa with a large swimming pool, set on five acres of land. “We had hoped for 1,000 square metres and we have ended up with 20,000 square metres!" Sheila says. “Not only that, but the views of the mountains and pine forests are spectacular, and we really feel we've designed and built our dream home. "
Lorca town is within 20 minutes’ drive of the beach and offers the Csiszar's everything they need, from hypermarkets and bars to town squares with traditional restaurants. “More importantly, " enthuses Sheila, “we feel safe here and the town has remained truly Spanish. " Jozsef adds: “We're very excited to be moving into the property and enjoying our retirement in this beautiful part of Spain. "
Population: 1.2 million
Population density (inhabitants per square mile): 108.4
Unemployment rate: 11.9%
Length of coastline: over 250 km
Area: 11,317 sq. km
GDP per capita: 12,600 euros
Average days of sunshine per year: 320
Average water temperature: 10.2 degrees C
Martin Dell is Managing Director of Kyero Media S. L. - publisher of the largest English-language property portal in Spain, http://www.kyero.com