Foreigners are not only interested in buying homes in Spain They want to rent them as well!

12th February 2023
Foreigners are not only interested in buying homes in Spain They want to rent them as well!

Foreigners are not only interested in buying homes in Spain but are increasingly looking for houses to rent.

15% of rental applicants are already foreigners: where are they looking for apartments?


Germany and France are the countries where most searches for rent homes come from. However, foreign demand has the most weight in the Mediterranean and the islands.


According to national statistics data, 14.9% of the demand for total rental housing came from abroad at the end of 2022, the highest percentage of the historical series that started at the beginning of 2019. To contextualize this figure, it is enough to remember that the average of the last four years stands at 11.2%, 3.7 points below the last previous label data, and that, in December of last year, the demand for renting a house in Spain from citizens from other countries exceeded by four-tenths the searches related to the sale (14.5%). In other words: foreign citizens already have more weight in demand for rent than in purchase.


As far as the source of the demand is concerned, changes have also occurred in recent years. If in 2019, the country from which the most searches were carried out to rent real estate in Spain was the United Kingdom, now Germany and France, while the British are relegated to third position. For their part, the United States and the Netherlands have taken the lead over Italy, which has gone from fourth to sixth place this time.


Poland, Canada and Norway have recently replaced Venezuela, Colombia and Morocco, and other countries that have gained strength as applicants for rental housing in Spain. The Dominican Republic has also been removed from the countries where more searches are made to rent a home.


Specifically, these nationalities are looking for more apartments to rent in Spain, the most prominent in 2019. Behind the upturn in the interest of foreigners to rent homes in Spain, there are several factors.


In addition to the traditional attraction aroused by the climate, quality of life, culture or Mediterranean gastronomy, and comparatively more affordable housing prices than in the surrounding countries, other reasons stand out, such as the paradigm shift that the health pandemic has entailed, with a boost of teleworking and a growing interest in spacious properties with an outdoor area. And also, the rise of the baptized 'digital nomads', those professionals who can develop a highly qualified job remotely, which allows them to change their place of residence.


The provinces with more and less foreign demand for rent


Even though the interest of foreign citizens in renting homes in Spain is growing in the market as a whole, the truth is that the demand varies a lot depending on where the homes are located. They generally want to rent a house in Spain in the same areas they want to buy: coastal and tourist enclaves.


In some provinces of the Mediterranean and the archipelagos, without going any further, the demand for rent from abroad exceeds 20% of the total. In comparison, in the provinces located in the centre of the Peninsula and some areas of the north, its weight does not even reach 5%.


Alicante tops the national ranking and is the only province where more than 30% of the demand for rental housing comes from abroad. The second most prominent province is Santa Cruz de Tenerife, where foreign demand for renting a house reaches 29.6%, ahead of the Balearic Islands (27.8%), Malaga (26.9%) and Las Palmas (24%). These five provinces are the only ones in the country where the searches of foreigners account for more than a fifth of the total.


The next ones on the list are Barcelona, Valencia and Almería, where foreign demand for rent represents 19% of the total, followed by Girona (17.1%).


Already below the national average but with a double-digit weight are Huelva, Granada, Cádiz and Castellón (all of them with more than 14%), Tarragona (13.8%), Murcia (12.5%), Melilla (11.1%) and Madrid (10.4%).


In the rest of the country, on the other hand, foreigners are less interested in renting a home, and their weight on total demand already drops by 10%.

In Jaén, Salamanca, Seville, Lleida, Córdoba or Badajoz, demand is above 7%, while in more than twenty provinces, the weight of foreigners on the total rental market is below 6%. Most of them are located in the centre and north of the Peninsula. At the bottom of the table are, for example, A Coruña, Asturias, Navarra, La Rioja, Álava, Cáceres, Ciudad Real, Albacete, Cuenca, Zamora, Burgos, Segovia, Zaragoza, Ávila, Toledo, Valladolid, León or Huesca. Guadalajara is the province that occupies the last place in the national classification, being the only one where foreigners account for less than 4% of the demand to rent a home.


The most prominent nationality in each province


Beyond the weight of foreign demand on the entire market of each province, there are also differences in the nationality of foreigners who are more interested in renting a home in each province. The residents from France, for example, are those looking for more homes to rent in Cantabria, Navarra, Álava Zaragoza, Barcelona, Girona or Castellón; provinces, in short, that are close to their borders. The same happens with searches from Portugal, which are the most prominent in provinces as Ourense, Lugo, Pontevedra, Salamanca, Zamora, Cáceres, Badajoz and Huelva; and with the demand from Andorra, the most famous country of origin in the case of Lleida.


In Malaga, on the other hand, the reference country is the United Kingdom, while in Madrid, Valencia, Granada and other inland provinces close to the capital, such as Toledo, Segovia and Guadalajara, most of the searches come from the United States.


In the case of Germany, some of the provinces that arouse the most interest are the Balearic Islands, Murcia, Almería, Cádiz, Jaén, Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife.


As a curiosity, in Teruel, the reference country in the foreign demand for rent is Poland; in Ávila, it is Colombia and in Soria, Argentina. On the other hand, Searches from Italy are the most prominent in Córdoba, Seville, Burgos and Valladolid. At the same time, Morocco is an excellent reference in the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla. In the case of Alicante, the province with the most demand, the country from which the most searches come in the Netherlands. 


Provincial capitals with more and less demand


Let's look at the demand in the provincial capitals. First, we discover that Alicante is still at the top of the national ranking since foreigners account for almost 26% of the total demanded rent. However, the most prominent cities on the list are Barcelona, Valencia, Palma de Mallorca and Malaga, which move between 22.2% and 24.8%.


Santa Cruz de Tenerife, whose province is the second in Spain with the most foreign demand to rent a house, falls to the sixth position, with 19.7%, followed by Tarragona (17.5%), Girona (15.3%) and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (15%). Above the two digits are also Cádiz, Granada, Madrid, Castellón de la Plana, Almería, San Sebastián, Seville, Jaén, Salamanca, Santander and the autonomous city of Melilla.


On the other hand, in more than half of the provinces, the weight of foreigners in the rental demand is below 10%, with a total of 32 large cities. In this case, Soria, Guadalajara, Zamora and Huesca are the capitals where foreigners look for fewer homes to rent and account for less than 4% of the market.


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