San Pablo de Buceite is a gorgeous Andalusian village located in the province of Cádiz, Spain in the area known as the “Campo de Gibraltar.”
It is in the northwestern part of the Jimena de Libar municipality and the village is right next to the Alcornocales Natural Park and is surrounded by citrus groves. Nearby is the village of Jimena de la Frontera.
Below we have an amazing interview with expat resident Tracy Thomson of TMT Spain Real Estate. If you are thinking of moving anywhere near this area of Spain, you just have to read this!
Tracy, what would you say would be the advantages to living in San Pablo de Buceite compared to other inland towns?
The biggest advantage is its lack of tourism. Villages either side are better known: to the west, Jimena de la Frontera, up from Sotogrande. To the east, Gaucin, accessed via roads that start off from Sabinillas or Estepona and cut through the fantastic valleys and Andalusian Foothills. San Pablo de Buceite used to be a small hamlet; people started settling the lands of the Larios family – (yes, the ones famous for their gin) about 100 years ago. These days there are about 2,000 inhabitants and it’s a sub district of Jimena de la Frontera. People who live here are in tune with the environment and always on the lookout for something to celebrate. I’ll give you an example. The Christmas tree and decorations on display in the main square each Navidad, are made from plastic bottles, painted green or red or white and yellow flowers. All cut and shaped into festive scenes that combine respect for the environment with an opportunity to have fun.
Another advantage of a small place, if you go to one of the wonderful restaurants and find you’ve forgotten your wallet, you’re told, ‘Don’t worry we know where you live!’ The village sits in a valley with its own microclimate at the foot of Los Alcornocales Natural Park and the Guadiaro River. Just as in Jimena, Romans and Moors settled here and left their own mark in terraced hills and archaeological finds. If you’re a bird watcher or lover of country walks, you really need to visit any time of year. Spring time is fantastic with the smell of orange blossom and almond blossom permeating the air and if you don’t want to venture far, just stand in your garden and enjoy. In the summer there’s always the chance to join the local yoga group that decamps to the alluvial plains to enjoy mindfulness. You can join the group all year round, it only costs about 15 € a month. Not bad for something proffered as close to the elixir of life.
Would the area not suit certain types of people, i.e. are there any possible downsides?
There is good infrastructure, with a health centre in the village and a bigger out-patients hospital in Jimena, 10 minutes away. All of life’s luxuries are on hand, too. Fibre optic for the most part and where it’s not available there is 4G or good old ADSL to connect to the internet. This place would not suit people who can’t drive or who need to conduct everything in English, apart from that, you’ll love it here!
What proportion of the local population are Spanish?
Most people in this village are Spanish. In the whole borough of Jimena de La Frontera – including San Martin and Secadero – about 10% are extranjeros, of which Romanians slightly outnumber Brits.
What are your favourite things to do in the area?
There’s so much to do, where do I start? Well, the simple pleasures, lighting a fire with kindle picked from the cork oak forest. Visits to the village fountain to fill up with spring water filtered naturally through limestone and granite. (Obviously, we have mains water, too. But this is special.) Gastronomic splurges of Menús del Día which push the boat out at 10€ a hit for a 3-course meal including wine. Cooling down in summer by taking morning dips in the pool or taking the dog to the river to splash around. Streaming a Netflix series whilst drinking local wines and eating the best Iberican hams and cheeses. Wow, it’s a great place to live.
Can you give us some insider tips to the best bars or restaurants?
Cachollas Restaurant is a must visit with a Menu del Día with choices as long as your arm. Then there is Las Acacias by the banks of the Guadiaro River and El Cantina in the village. Plus, no visit to San Pablo is complete until you’ve taken in the joys of the Estacion Restaurant. It’s a Bistro located at the train station and offers a touch of something special. Buyt then, the best advice is to try them all, Sonia’s, Placido’s, the list is surprisingly long for such a small place!
Are there many facilities such as doctors and dentists, shops etc?
A health Centre, two main supermarkets, Ruiz Galan and Carrion’s, a few small convenience stores, but no dentists. You have to go to Jimena for that. Best to go therefor the post office too. The one here is only open one hour a day from 9a.m. to 10 a.m. Hardly civilised!
Are there smaller villages nearby that you might also recommend?
Cortes de la Frontera, Benaojan, Jimera de Libar are all wonderful. You can catch the train and enjoy the astounding scenery and applaud the engineering feats of cutting through granite and limestone.
What are the nearest international schools and how good are they?
Sotogrande International School is the best around.
Is crime an issue for expats?
Nowhere is 100 percent crime free, but San Pablo de Buceite is one of the safest places. Locals often have mosaics or tiles of a religious icon, like the Virgin Mary, for example. Not so much because they are religious – the church is not in high demand except for First holy Communions. Icons are placed on walls to stop burglaries. It seems to work. 😉
Coming onto buying property, what is the market like now in terms of prices going up, or down or staying the same?
The Rural Inland property market is slowly rebounding. It is a particularly good time for people looking for bargains coming in under the true market value. You can buy with a mortgage, fixed or variable, and it works out cheaper than renting a property. As you would imagine, this is because rentals have gone up as demand increased. There are a few reasons for this, but BREXIT has to be the main one. We still haven’t left the European Union, but business pulsates to its own heart-beat and the Mediterranean Climate remains as alluring as ever. Expats who look for the Good Life fit right in here. (Home-made marmalades, jams, free range eggs, keeping a few chickens, picking your own lemons, squeezing your own oranges). I squeeze my own oranges and slice lemons from my tree for my Larios . . . and my friends give me jams! Not all of us are perfect!
We also have properties on the coast east and west of Sotogrande and there is a difference. Property prices are slowly starting to go up for sales. Rentals have increased a lot more and we are not far off people choosing to buy with a mortgage rather than rent because the monthly costs are pretty comparable. Especially if you get one of our bank repossessions which come with a 100% mortgage.
Is this a good time to buy and are there any repossessions or very cheap properties still available to buy?
We have some properties available in Cortes de La Frontera, all the way up to Ronda that are rural, in need of reform and on the market for very little. A little closer to home, it’s getting harder to pick up that bargain, especially if they want a little plot of land. Having said which, the bargains are still out there! As are the luxury country residences with land and views and complete privacy. Properties can vary in price from 75,000 € right up to a few million. Take a look at our website. We have a 3 bed 2 bath apartment in Gaucin, modern, with a lift, but no swimming pool. This is a repossession and you can get a 100% mortgage. Views aren’t the sweeping ones across to Africa, they are of the Serrania. Peaceful. Great opportunity at 95,000 €. Another charming location, already registered as a Casa Rural, is in Colmenar – near Gaucin Train Station. Only 295,000 €
What urbanisations are there and can you describe each one and how they might differ from each other?
There aren’t really urbanisations in the sense of a coastal urbanisation. The ones here tend to be little pockets of residential areas peppered amongst farms and Natural Park. The communities pay their town hall taxes, have the rubbish collected, have street lights and mains water, but may not form part of the official Town Planning designed and implemented in Madrid (The PGOU). Where I live, for example, is an area where technically you can’t build. But people have bought and sold properties for 6 generations. That is one of the idiosyncrasies of rural life; town planning happened very organically, not always according to the designs laid down by Madrid. The town hall gave out planning permission, provided services and will continue to do so. But if land is technically designated as non-urban, you take the risk.
How much are the typical property prices in San Pablo de Buceite for apartments, villas etc?
You can get a bargain apartment for as little as 50,000 euros right up to the other end of the market where a Finca would set you back millions of euros. Plots of land with swimming pool and fruit trees are around 160,000€ to 800,000€ depending on size, location etc, from 1000 m2 to 35,000 m2. It depends on many factors.
Any tips and advice to people looking to buy in San Pablo de Buceite or surrounding area?
Consider taking on a short let to get to know the area and put yourself in the hands of registered estate agents that go the extra mile. Like us for example, if we do not have the exact property that our client is looking for on our own books, we contact other agencies until we find that wow factor property. It takes the stress out of your property search whilst allowing you the freedom of knowledgeable insight and support into the rural property market. Don’t buy a lemon, buy a property with a tree or two!
Tracy, thank you so much for taking the time to help our readers with your experiences in Spain.
Here are Tracy Thomson’s contact details…
TMT Spain Real Estate
Ctra del Corchado, 2
San Pablo de Buceite
Type of Business: Estate Agent
Towns or Areas Covered: Jimena, Sotogrande, Alcaidesa, Estepona, Benahavis
Work with Banks for Distressed Sales
Contacts with Developers
Land and Developments to Reform for Investors (please send letter of intent) Private Resales Properties Inland: Jimena, San Pablo, Gaucin Properties East and West of Sotogrande
Our goal is to connect the Seller with the Buyer and to support each party on the journey. There is something very special about buying and selling properties. Normally, it is the Seller who pays our commission, but without the Buyer there is no sale – so it is our aim to create an environment with mutual respect and transparency. We empathise and strive to use our connections and know how to make your Real Estate experience a trustworthy and rewarding one.