Or live in Spain?
The housing market in Gib is odd to say the least.
1) Rent government housing
2) Rent privately
3) Buy government housing
4) Buy privately
As with any small heavily populated space, the usual maxim holds true. You don’t get much for your money, whether you are renting or buying.
After all, on a couple of square miles of land housing 30,000 people (more or less, depending on the ones who are illegal, and the ones who say they live here but are actually living in Spain) you can’t really have a palatial residence unless you are millionaire status.
Let’s start with renting. Standard private rent starts off at five or six hundred – if you are lucky. It’s more likely to be seven, eight or nine hundred a month. People in our not remotely flash block – no gym, no swimming pool, no parking, well not much really – are paying those prices.
An older tenant pays around four hundred a month, but he’s been here for ages and is probably on protected rent.
But what about government housing? A dream come true. Around £20 a week, or around £100 a month. No wonder Gib is full of Range Rover Evoques owned by tenants in government housing.
Of course, when you are unemployed and living in government housing, it’s a couple of quid a week and no need to pay electricity/water bills. Or so we were told.
You may need to wait a while for one of these cheap flats though. One of our neighbours was on the housing list for nine years before she traded her £700 a month private flat for her £109 a month government one. She’s also since swapped to a far better estate.
Flats in the private sector in Gib are often small, poky and badly maintained. So, many people opt to live in Spain. Cheaper cost of living and better value for money in terms of rented accommodation. People we know pay four or five hundred euros a month for much more space in Spain.
Buying a house is cheaper in Spain too. Even moreso now with the recession/crisis.
In Gib, prices of flats and houses vary hugely. If you want a house, a quick glance at Bray Properties suggests a cheap house is available for a quarter of a mill, while the most expensive one (looks ghastly) is somewhat over £4.2 mill. You do get six bedrooms, six bathrooms, a pool, garage, parking for four cars and views of the tankers in the Bay of Algeciras.
A house we worked on – the one in the pic above – detached, great views, pool, double garage, was on the market for one and a half mill, but is now under offer for one point three something. I wouldn’t buy it for £1300. OK, I would, but only to sell on or rent out.
Working on a house gives a huge appreciation of faults. Steep staircases, gardens difficult to maintain. Especially the ones where you are perching 20 foot in the air on a ladder or a ledge, I know, I did it. Grappling with bougainvillea or that stinky lanterna shrub. Then, internally, there are the damp problems, water ingress into the staircase. And the swimming pool that seems to lose water.
Back in plebland where I live, ie small flats, prices vary amazingly. You can buy a larger flat with more rooms than you can for a small one in the right area. What’s new?
Now, I mentioned government housing for renting. But, there is also government housing to buy. However, you can’t buy into these properties unless you have been a Gib resident for three years. Invariably, these properties are good value, ie larger properties for less money than on the open market.
Government housing here is not like council housing in the UK. Oh no.
There are some prestigious rental blocks. There are some shit holes – the ones that are full of drugs, crime, fast cars, the usual. One of our decorating clients (a lawyer) sold her private flat to buy in a new government development.
In fact, the only people who could afford to buy into the block had to be professional because when the minimum wage is £5.70 an hour how the hell can people afford to buy a flat costing more than £100K out of that?
You ain’t going to get much of a mortgage on less than twelve grand a year.
Of course, there are always the hostels. Toc H, charges around £40 a week, usually full of Moroccans and Portuguese. The youth hostel, Emilio on Line Wall Road, anywhere between £15 and £20 a night, used to include breakfast, no idea if it still does, although it was only toast anyway. Then there is the one in Devil’s Tower Road, no idea about those prices, but it is about to be redeveloped and current residents are being shipped out. To a former prison ship. About which they are not happy.
Don’t come to Gib without money. People do. But it isn’t cheap and the jobs don’t come easy.
My partner was talking to a fellow Welshman this morning, they were but a few valleys apart in South Wales. The name Abertillery came up which I always wanted to pronounce – Abber- tillerry. A bit like distillery. But no, it seems it is Aber – till – airy. That’s the Welsh for you.
However, seems you can buy a house in Aber-till-airy for £35K. There’s no work, but the housing is certainly cheap. Same Welshman also said he thought it had rained every day last year.
‘That’s why I left,’ said Partner, sagely. (Probably 30 years ago by now and it’s still raining there).
But bottom line – £2 a week for rent, if you are unemployed (allegedly), £20 a week in government housing, £500 a month and upwards for private rental. You can pay well over a grand. All plus bills.
Buying – £100K to nearly five mill.
And all this in just over two square miles of land.