REAL ESTATE 101: Location supercedes everything.
Don’t like the exterior? Paint it. Kitchen outdated? Gut it. Office space too dark? Drop in a skylight. You can fix almost anything if you’ve got the cash, the know-how or somebody else’s know-how but the one thing you can’t do much about is the location. The greatest landscaping in the world can only go so far in covering up the strip mall that goes in across the street or the neighbor’s unmentionables blowing in the March wind on their backyard clothesline.
After 4 years of living in a small Andalusian town where the power went out routinely, where either the local goat herder (rogue goats) or the priest (funeral processions) were to blame for most traffic jams, and where the kids had honed their Spanish to a fine tuned Andalusian ‘deje’, we knew it was time to look beyond the pueblo. And after two years of searching, yes, TWO YEARS, we finally found it: Granada.
Most people, when they think of Spain, think of one of the three major capital cities: Madrid, Barcelona, or Seville. But let me assure you, Granada is one of Spain’s best kept secrets. If you’re into sports (ME!), this is a dream place to call home. You can be on the ski slopes or the bike trails of the Sierra Nevada within 30 minutes or if you prefer the beach, your toes are buried in sand at the edge of the Mediterranean in under 25 minutes. And don’t even get me started on the tapas, just ask Mr. Bourdain.
On our third or fourth trip to Granada, we took a wrong turn on the way to meeting our real estate agent and ended up on an undeveloped section of golf course lots. A year later and a long story short(er), we are now the owners of two adjacent lots on a golf course less than 10 minutes from Granada’s city center: a dream location because we back to the fareway (no backyard neighbors) and have an unobstructed view of the mountain range behind us. Now so you know, Spanish lots are strange little beasts to me: they’re long and narrow, kind of like what you’d expect to see for a brownstone property out east or a row house in San Francisco. And Spaniards apparently aren’t much into yard work so the house is typically built all the way out to the limits of the property line. There is little, if any, green space (that would mean mowing/maintenance) and if they can slap down some tile, trust me, they will.
A killer yard is practically genetic for me, a birthright some might say. I was born and bred in the midwest, driving a tractor before I could really ride a bike and with my own lawn mowing business before my baby teeth had all dropped out. My dad taught me how to weedwack, edge, trim and cut. Cut, mind you, always last. So I respect a well-groomed yard and while the potted flowers of Andalusia are pretty to look at, they’re just eye candy because for me nothing – and I mean nothing beats the smell of freshly cut grass. And it was that memory of freshly cut grass that sold me on buying the two lots in Granada. Well, that and the awesome panoramic mountain views of the Sierra Nevada.