Ibiza, Menorca or Mallorca, which island suits you best?

The Balearics, along with the Canary Islands, have established themselves as one of the major European expatriate destinations although the three main islands differ extensively from each other.

Stephanie Claudia Müller, Palma de Mallorca

Mallorca, Menorca or Ibiza: which island suits you best?

Mallorca, Menorca or Ibiza: which island suits you best?

Deike Werner lives in Berlin but often dreams of Spain, in particular of Menorca:

”I have fallen in love with the island”.

Whenever she feels under pressure in her everyday life  she searches the internet for interesting properties for sale on the island:

”To have a home somewhere else is a very attractive thought”.

The Balearics continue to be the hotspot for foreigners who want to live in Spain, even if it is only for a few months each year. Some rent a property for the time on the island, and others buy something to be able to come more often.

The latter, despite the high prices on the island, has become a trend. While the house is not occupied by its owners it is rented out – an additional source of income. In 2018 foreigners purchased a third of all real estate sold in the Balearics according to the Spanish property register.

Nowhere else in Spain are so many foreigners interested in purchasing holiday properties. The Balearics are addictive, proved by the fact that the average time a buyer keeps his property is now almost 15 years – double as long as 10 years ago. This is supported by the fact that more and more people, like Deike who is an online language teacher, are able to work on the move:

”In addition the flight connections to the islands are getting better and cheaper”,

says the 40-year-old.

The Balearics are still the favourite destination of the German middle classes

Nevertheless, the Balearics are still primarily a leisure and holiday destination where you can also work. In 2018 only 12 % of real estate there was purchased by companies, according to the ownership register, which means that the islands still live primarily from tourism.  Many vacationers are also pulling a strong holiday real estate market. The share of foreign real estate buyers has been around 30% for years, the largest foreign buyer group are the Germans.

Tourism is booming on Mallorca!


Contrary to widely-held views the luxury segment forms only a small part – last year only 6% of real estate purchased by foreigners in the Balearics were transactions with a value of over a half a million euros. This shows that to live in the islands is primarily the dream of normal earners like Deike.

Holiday properties in Majorca are well equipped above average. Every seventh offer can be assigned to the luxury segment; in total, upscale or luxury properties make up just under half of the market.

Unlike Marbella and its surrounding areas, therefore, the segment of luxurious villas and pompous properties is not large. Even Mallorca or Ibiza are not sufficiently attractive for the Sheiks or rich Russians, who prefer the Costa del Sol.

Nevertheless, in Mallorca and Ibiza astronomical prices are still to be found in certain places such as Andratx where, at the present time, a 12-room villa is being offered for a monthly rent of 40.000 euros. This does show, however, that the Balearics are till interesting as an investment location despite years of increasing prices.

According to the Professional Association for the Register of Owners (Colegio de Registradores de la Propiedad) more real estate transactions take place in the islands than any other place in Spain, which explains the high number of brokers operating there.  With 13 sales per every 1000 inhabitants is only beaten by Valencia with 16. It is also interesting to note that 85% of the transactions carried out in 2018 were in the second-hand segment – in the Balearics there is very little new construction although the demand for housing is enormous, further strengthening these tendencies.

Which island is right for me?

All three islands have become more expensive, and although bargains can still be found in Mallorca and Menorca, in Ibiza it is more difficult.

According to the current Balearic market study from Porta Mallorquina the average sqm prices in Ibiza are now as high as in Mallorca in the high-price regions south-west and Palma. In Menorca, on the other hand, prices are at a level corresponding to the more favourably-priced areas of Mallorca such as the east. The largest choice of real estate in differing price classes can be found, however, in Mallorca. In Menorca, on the other hand, It is difficult to find properties at all as only every fifth object offered for sale in the Balearics is there, and even Ibiza represents only 8% of the market.

But which of the islands is the better if I am looking for long-term accommodation, whether for the winter or as an investment? Doubtlessly Ibiza is now the most expensive, the loudest, and in summer also the most overrun place. Menorca is quieter, and in winter many restaurants and hotels are closed. Those seeking parties and social contact are definitely in the right place in Ibiza, whereas in  Mallorca even in winter it is easy to take part in sports, go hiking, and eat in good restaurants.

In 2015 the ‘Sunday Times’ chose Mallorca’s capital Palma as the best place to live. Sea, mountains, biking and hiking trails, but also parties are all close by. Central Palma, however, has now reached a price level comparable to Munich and suffers from serious traffic problems due to the growing economic activity.

Love is found in the details: Where is best for me?

Menorca – the quiet one                    

The real estate market in Menorca is experiencing a perceptibly increasing price growth. The Menorcan village of Es Castell at the entrance to the harbour of Mao saw a rise in prices of second-hand properties of 42% in 2018 compared with the previous  year, setting a new record in Spain.

Menorca enchants with its small bays and idyllic villages

Es Castell is not only the most easterly locality in Menorca, but also of all the islands and guarantees sensational sunsets. Over the past  two years alone the prices for residential properties island-wide have risen by approx. 15 percent. The reason for this is the growing demand for second homes of which there are only a very limited number on offer here. On the second largest of the Balearic islands there are no built-up beaches, high-rise buildings or huge hotels to which the tourist from Mallorca or Ibiza is accustomed. The largest price increases are registered by villas and classic country estates in exclusive seaside locations.

Large house on the first sea line in Es Castell

Large house on the first sea line in Es Castell

Potential for new construction currently exists in tourist regions around the capital and in Ciutadella, where coveted town houses cost from 350.000 up to 1.5 million euros. Although that is certainly a lot of money intellectual nature-lovers like language teacher Deike Werner are enormously attracted to the magical island and she is already considering an investment there:

”Here you can find yourself, concentrate and enjoy everything more intensively due to the non-existence of mass-tourism”.

She says that Menorca is ‘pure beauty’.  Together with her partner the lady from Berlin has also made a video about the island which can be found on youtube under Beautiful Menorca.

Menorca is  a place for nature-lovers with ‘niveau’

Many locals buy town houses and turn them into bed & breakfast or small hotels, as in the case of the Petit Mao, a place where interested investors can pick up tips and ideas. Holidays can be spent here as in a very exquisite Menorcan family, with breakfast taken in the small garden and where the reception is in the living room.

These new businesses are also a compromise solution as the labour market in Menorca is very limited. For this reason in winter a lot of locals work elsewhere, perhaps making the island a little boring for people seeking entertainment. Theatres, exhibitions and concerts are not easily found here.

The prices in the interior of the island are generally lower than those nearer the coast, and apartments can be found from 100.000 euros. Particularly desirable for real estate buyers is the area in the south-east of the island easily accessed from the capital of Mahon, and the residential areas around the harbour of Ciutadella.

‘Adults only’ concepts are the trend in Menorca

Menorca, due to the pronounced aesthetic feelings of its inhabitants particularly attracts sophisticated and intellectual tourists who want to read , dine well and also find themselves during their holidays. On the island there are not too many discos or clubs, but there are a lot of places which radiate a special kind of magic such as the  lighthouses, the numerous small coves but also the wonderful starry sky at night.

Children, however, are not catered for as much as in Mallorca for example, and families should take this into consideration. The Menorcan is also not quite as tourist-friendly as the Mallorcan, and the ‘adults-only’ hotel concept is quite successful here.

The temperatures here are a little lower than on the other islands and there is an average of 60 days during the year when it rains. Menorca is, therefore, not the typical sun, sea and beach holiday island. Holidaymakers here prefer to hike or go for bicycle rides or horse riding, or simply admire the wonderful sunsets in places like the Cova d’en Xoroi and the Isabella Beach Club.

Menorca has style almost everywhere, and embarrassing bowling clubs or bachelor parties are not to be found. The island is very flat and has very little traffic making life here very relaxed. Flight connections are, however, somewhat complicated – whereas Mallorca and Ibiza can be reached direct several times a day, Menorca can only be reached in the winter with a change of connection, either with a connecting flight from Mallorca or from there by ferry.

Also recommended:

Book tip: Menorca-island of balance


Ibiza – the capricious


Panoramic view of the old town of Ibiza!Ibiza is a place you love or hate, a place of extremes and with the most expensive real estate area in Spain. In Sant Josep de sa Talaia  a square metre already costs around 6200 euros and is thus on the same level as Munich. Within a distance of 80 kms there are 32 different bays, popular with sailing boats. Offers are sparse, but nowhere in this area is cheap and the prices on the island have experienced the biggest increases over recent years.

Ibiza town and Santa Eularia are also amongst the most luxurious areas, and holiday real-estate investors are already paying well over 3000 euros per square metre. Ibiza is the DJ-centre of the world and for years has been the trendsetter for electronic music. An apartment costs on average 38% more than 11 years ago, and the criteria for the equipment and amenities of properties makes Ibiza the absolute luxury island. Around 80% of real estate on offer has superior and exclusive furnishings and fittings.

Without a car life on the island does not function

Life without a car in Ibiza is difficult, as its public transport system is rudimentary. It pays to be careful, however, as the roads are not in particularly good condition and are often narrow.

A popular time for long-term holidaymakers is during the months of January and February when the almond trees bloom and the climate is mild. The summer can be almost tropically hot and the island and its country roads are clearly too crowded. In February, however, in the almond valley of Santa Ines there are unique walks under the full moon and the glittering starry sky when the almond blossoms appear spread out like a silver blanket.

The almond blossom in Ibiza is definitely worth a visit.

Ibiza is also the island where lovers of art and culture are at home, and even when not as much is sold as the gallery owners boast about many important exhibitions and art events take place here, and there are still some museums and galleries. In Ibiza town the art world meets, and international musicians, painters and actors live here.

Networking is possible everywhere – in bars, clubs or restaurants, and the beat from Pascha’s, the first really big disco in Ibiza, is still in vogue, and the hippy-party in summer still attracts hundreds of people. The German journalist Clementine Kügler is not a party animal and she knows the secluded places on the island – ”They exist!”. That is why she has now decided to live permanently on the island and not just come for visits:

”There are many contrasts here now, but Ibiza still has its own magic”.

Book tip: Ibiza Bohemia


Mallorca – the versatile

Mallorca’s southwest has the biggest and the most expensive holiday properties on offer.

When the Spanish media mention Mallorca it is usually because the royal family is there or transactions for millions of euros are taking place. Otherwise not much is written about the largest Balearic island, although it is home to the fashionable shoe manufacturer Camper and the large Iberostar hotel chain.

The south-west of the island is the most expensive part, together with Palma and its surrounding area. Son Vida particularly stands out and is referred to as the ‘Millionaire’s Hill’. Golfers are  very much at home here. In the central part of the island, on the other hand, are people who who are really building their life in Mallorca, are seeking tranquillity, or who run a business already. It is not the classic holiday homes which can be found here, but rather fincas, village houses and town villas.

Well-maintained finca with pool and renting licence in a quiet location near Santa Maria del Cami

Well-maintained finca with pool and renting licence in a quiet location near Santa Maria del Cami

The high quality-of-life on the island makes it a magnet for young, successful people from all over the world who are able to choose where they want to live. Mallorca is ideal with its climate, its security, its international schools, the medical care, the infrastructure and its good connections to the most important cities in Europe. Many men and women work in Europe, the Far East or the Emirates and their families live in Mallorca.

It has become one of the most international islands in the world, and there is a multitude of professional possibilities to be found here although salaries are generally much lower than in countries like Germany. The cost of living, however, is now almost the same.

The real estate market is very diverse

According to Porta Mallorquina’s study most of the luxury properties are located in the south-west of the island, in Andratx, Portals or Santa Ponsa, while only 12% of the offers in this category are to be found in the central part of the island. Ten per cent of the offers are in the region of 6000 euros per sqm and upwards.

The average price per square metre for holiday properties in Mallorca is currently about €5,400, around 8% higher than in the previous year.

Building permits are presently issued only to investors buying several hectares of land, in order to avoid the selling-off of the island and to keep land prices artificially high.

Even if central Mallorca is becoming more popular with foreigners, the normal Mallorca fan still wants to enjoy his views of the sea and that now costs fortunes as there are hardly any building permits being issued, and the proximity to a beach is still very important.

Around 15% surcharge is due for the sought-after view of the Mediterranean, and if the property is in the first line of development, it is on average about one-third more expensive.

The Centre for Real Estate Studies in Freiburg has determined that properties in the north-east of the island in that category can already cost up to 9000 euros per sqm. The German businessman Matthias Meindel, who owns a house near Inca, Mallorca is still the best of the islands for real estate investment:

”Simply because of its accessibility to almost all European countries”.

He purchased his property very favourably and is one of the relatively few Germans on the island who speaks good Spanish. The investment consultant, who actually lives in Leipzig believes that village houses in Mallorca are still an interesting niche market and is considering buying another property.

”Life in the country in Mallorca can not be compared to a remotely-located mountain village in Bavaria. If you have a car here everything is close by”.

Readers Tip: Mallorca Clasica

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