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Types of real estate: what one should know before buying real estate in Spain

Unlike the real estate market in Russia, the one in Spain is rather complex and extensive, with various types of house properties, which makes it difficult for Russian vendees to understand the difference between numerous types of real estate items, such as the difference between a duplex, a penthouse and a townhouse or the difference between a house and a villa. 

To clarify it, let’s take a look at all of these types of dwellings one by one. 

Apartments (apartamento) 

Even this seemingly straightforward type of property may pose a challenge. Thus, if you want to buy a flat in Spain, you need to know that a flat and an apartment are not the same. Although they may have exactly the same layout (that is the number of bedrooms, bathrooms and utility rooms), and both a flat and an apartment may have a garage, a terrace or a balcony, the difference is not in the interior, but in the exterior. Flats are in an ordinary tower block, while apartments are in a residential compound that consists of several tower blocks united by a common architectural style. The buildings within the compound have the same floor layout and share surrounding grounds that often have a swimming pool.

 Today, apartments are the most sought-after type of real estate on the coast of Spain.  The specifics of the resort property often involve temporary and seasonal residence of owners or rental housing, which makes the format of ‘apartments’ - convenient in maintenance, safe and comfortable – the most suitable for this purpose. One more nuance that sometimes misleads Russian vendees is the way of counting rooms and storeys, as it differs from the one used in Russia. In Spain, as well as almost everywhere in Europe, storeys are counted not from the first, but from the ground (‘bajo’) floor, so the first floor in Spain corresponds to the second floor in Russia, the second to the third one and so on. As to the rooms, their number is determined by the number of bedrooms. Thus, a two-bedroom flat is a flat or an apartment with two bedrooms, and a three-bedroom flat is the one with three bedrooms. Living rooms, as well as the number of toilets and other spaces are not taken into consideration in the counting. A flat without a separate bedroom, that is the one with an open plan in which a bedroom and a living room are within one space with the kitchen, is called a studio.  

Penthouse (atico) 

A penthouse is one kind of apartments. In Spain, a penthouse means the same as everywhere. It is a spacious luxury suite of rooms located on the top floor of a residential building. Windows in a penthouse usually face different directions. Penthouses often have circular terraces giving panoramic views of the surroundings, the ocean, the neighbouring islands, and mountain peaks. These seaside apartments in Tenerife are the highest level of residential property.  There are usually no difficulties in determining this type of property. Penthouses are widespread and can be found both in large cities and in resort towns. However sometimes due to the nature of the housing development in Spanish resorts, duplexes on the upper floors can also be called penthouses. Strictly speaking, this is not quite right. No matter how spacious a penthouse is, it is a suite of rooms located on one level. Two-level apartments in Spain are called duplexes.  


As was mentioned above, a duplex is a flat located on two levels, and not necessarily on the upper floors of a building. On the first level of a duplex, there is usually a living room, kitchen, bathroom, study or guest room, and utility rooms. On the second level, there are bedrooms and bathrooms.  The peculiarity of the housing development on the coast of Spain is that different types of dwellings are often combined creating various hybrids, such as duplex-adosado, duplex-chalet, or above-mentioned duplex-penthouse. While the latter is more or less clear, the remaining options require explaining because they are special cases of a typical Spanish resort development. The general principle is simple: irrespective of the kind of property, the prefix " duplex" means two-tier housing. For example, while a chalet is a cottage with a plot of land, garage and additional household buildings, a duplex-chalet is a two-storey cottage.  

We should also mention terraced houses (‘adosado’), as this type of dwelling is very common and typical for coastal areas.

 Terraced house (adosado)

 ‘Adosado’ is translated from Spanish as ‘adjacent’ or ‘attached’ and in construction terminology means a house or a cottage for two owners. If you are going to buy a house on the coast of Spain, while searching you will come across such names as casa adosado, chalet-adosado and duplex-adosado. It may be houses of different configurations, with a different number of bedrooms and bathrooms, but with one common feature - the presence of a neighbour and co-owner. These houses are always located within urban areas, that is in areas with developed infrastructure. This type of real estate is both convenient and more economical than a detached house or a villa, which explains its popularity.  


After apartments, a townhouse is the second most popular type of real estate on the Spanish coast among Russian vendees. It is attractive because it is, in essence, a two or three-storey house which has such benefits as detachment and a plot of land, while being located at the territory of a residential compound that is protected, promptly maintained and serviced. Compounds have a car park, often a swimming pool, a playground for kids or a sports ground. With all its benefits, compared to a villa, a townhouse is a much more economical and affordable option.


To buy a villa on the Spanish coast means to buy high-end real estate. In Tenerife and in other Spanish resorts, villas are in high demand among wealthy foreign vendees as these houses embody the idea of a comfortable and deluxe residential property.  In addition to a large living area and surrounding grounds, the clear advantage of a villa is an individual plan, hence, a wide range of choices. The great variety of villas with individual plans offers a possibility to find the one that fully meets your own needs and ideas about beauty. High-end villas in Tenerife are located in different parts of the island. You can buy a beautiful house on the beach or in a more secluded area surrounded by magnificent golf courses and spectacular mountain landscapes. A villa also includes a private swimming pool, an orchard and household outbuildings. There is a subtle nuance that distinguishes a villa from an ordinary house. In most cases, a villa is located near or in the urban area, while a house is usually seen as a countryside residence. In Spain, a cottage or a farmhouse with plantations, fields and other agricultural lands can also be called a house (casa). 

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