Villa in Spain: $120,000

Tucked between the southern regions of Andalucia and Valencia, Murcia delivers the best of Spanish essentials: mild winters, wine villages, tapas bars, fantastic beaches and (for Europe) relatively low living costs.

You may ask “why Murcia”—a region that’s almost unknown to North Americans. Especially when Spanish property values have slumped. In many places, prices have plummeted 50% and more below their pre-crisis level. Some commentators suggest they may have even further to fall.

But in my view, properties are unlikely to get much lower here. This seems exactly the right time to stake a claim—and here’s why.

You see, this October, Paramount Pictures got the final go-ahead for a $1.5 billion theme park in Murcia to rival Disneyland Paris. Planned opening is in 2015 and the construction will deliver a huge amount of employment. I heard figures of 20,000 jobs mentioned. To serve the expected number of visitors, a brand new international airport is coming into operation next summer. The runways and terminals are built.

There’s a palpable feel of excitement, but at present you can still bag bargains. One place I visited was Camposol, a 15-minute drive from the beaches at Puerto de Mazarron. The new airport is 20 minutes away—around the same distance as the Paramount Park site. Small terraced bungalows (around 645 square feet) are on the market for 49,995 euro ($65,000).

This two-bedroom detached villa-style property with its own pool could be yours for 116,000 euro ($152,000). But that’s the asking price, not selling price.

The agent says an offer of 90,000 euro to 95,000 euro ($117,000 to $123,000) will probably be accepted. Back in 2007, such a property would have cost more than twice that…maybe a lot more.

Camposol is an urbanization—a 15-year-old residential village similar to North American suburbs. With something like 5,000 homes and 3,000 permanent residents, it’s a large and well-established village with its own golf course.

Unlike some smaller urbanizations, there’s almost everything in Camposol for day-to-day living: banks, bars, restaurants, a large supermarket, a computer repair store, hairdressers, real estate agencies, a veterinary surgery, a translation service, a health clinic and a dentist—and undoubtedly much more.

Camposol’s wine store and supermarket are Spanish, but I thought the overall vibe was British—there’s even an Indian restaurant. But if you were thinking of renting a property to those theme park visitors, it’s a sociable and friendly community where many British holidaymakers feel at home. As do the numerous retirees who rent properties and over-winter in this sunny part of Spain.

That said, it’s not only Brits who live at Camposol. It’s an international community and the neighbors are as likely to be Spanish, Scandinavian, French or Russian.

For a town with a more traditionally Spanish feel, I’d suggest Puerto de Mazarron on the coast. It’s still only 30 to 40 minutes away from the theme park site and new airport, and is a favorite with Spanish summer vacationers. Many apartments with sea views are around 1,200 euro to 1,500 euro per square meter. For example, a 70-square-meter (752-square-foot) apartment with a splendid lookout over the port is 99,000 euro ($128,000). And it’s acceptable to make a lower offer on properties here, too.

My full report on Murcian property to buy and rent—and my recommended contacts—will appear in an upcoming issue of International Living magazine.

Editor’s note: Steenie will be at IL’s Ultimate Event in February, along with more than 100 speakers, experts, and IL writers and editors. Every question answered, all plans devised. Find out more here.