So, which cave house to choose ? Today we were going to be viewing some of the caves we had checked out over the previous months on the SIP website. Using our ‘must have/would like‘ checklist had helped us to narrow down which cave house to choose and we had ended up with 7 potential caves ranging in price from 35,000 – 70,000 euros.
When we met up with Sean he advised us that 2 of the properties we had wanted to see were now under offer, reducing our list to 5, all of which we would view that day.
We immediately hit it off with Sean, we shared a similar sense of humour which made for great company and his manner put us instantly at ease. We chatted away as we headed to the first and most remote of the 5 cave houses in the rural village of Carramaiza . Boasting a population of little over a 100, it was a small community made up mainly of farmers and agricultural workers.
Cave House in Carramaiza
Our first thoughts were ‘wow’, the views were breathtaking, certainly the most spectacular out of all the areas we ended up viewing, it’s no surprise that the area is known as the ‘Balcony of Europe’. Lake Negratin was on the doorstep and It would have been an amazing place for both us and our dogs to roam.
We loved the unique stonework of the cave exterior, there was a walled and gated garden (complete with fig tree) and a good plot of land above the cave which would have been perfect for a terrace. To top it all off, opposite the house there were 3 good-sized terraces of land, complete with olives trees, which would have been perfect for a vegetable garden and place for keeping chickens.
On the downside (for us) it was a little overly isolated and rural. The nearest shop or bar was in Baza de Cortes, which was 15km (20 minute drive away), whilst Baza, the main town in the region was over 40 minutes away by car. The interior layout of the cave didn’t really work for us and the price was a little high for us considering that it needed a kitchen fitting.
Cave House in Barrio Cantarranas
The next cave we viewed was in the neighbourhood of Cantarranas, on the outskirts of Baza.
The selling point of this cave was the garden, it was a good size with lots of potential and totally enclosed, there were a whole variety of fruit trees and plenty of space for a large vegetable plot and chickens galore. It had the benefit of being on the edge of a small neighbourhood which gave us the privacy we were looking for, again it had no services (bars etc) but being only a few kilometers from Baza, everything we needed was on our doorstep. The cave needed no work, came furnished, had a reasonably sized kitchen, several good-sized bedrooms and could be moved into straightaway.
The main downside was the lack of a view plus the neighbours had erected a huge wire fence between the properties which made us feel a little too enclosed.
Both properties we had seen so far had different things going for them, we were already beginning to realise we may have to compromise on what we wanted when deciding on which cave house to choose.
Cave House in Barrio Del Perchel
Our third viewing was in Perchel, another neighbourhood on the outskirts of Baza.
This had been my favourite (based solely upon what I had seen on the internet) and I was keen to see it in the flesh. It was actually 2 separate cave houses with one shared plot of land, that had been renovated for rural tourism. For reasons unknown to us they had been left both unoccupied and unmaintained for about 7 years – even from the pictures we had seen we knew that work would be needed to get them back to their best.
As with the previous two viewings, the neighbourhood had no local facilities, however, once again Baza was only a couple of kilometers away and could offer all our daily needs. We liked the idea of 2 separate caves as we could have friends and family visit whilst still giving us the privacy that you sometimes lose with visitors ! It also had the potential of providing an income from their rental. It had a reasonable sized plot of enclosed land (perfect for the dogs) and was located opposite an almond grove. There were plenty of walking opportunities on the doorstep and no through traffic to bother us. Whilst the view from the property at ground level was minimal, there was the potential to build a terrace above the cave which offered a panoramic view of the area. The inside of each cave was more open plan than those we had previously viewed and the bathrooms were smaller than we would have liked. Being built for rural tourism meant that some features were more aesthetic than practical. We had to look beyond its somewhat dilapidated state to see its true potential. In addition two properties meant 2 of everything – IBI (local property tax), electric and water meters. If we chose this cave we would need to invest to make them habitable once again.
Cave House in Pulpite
Viewing number 4 saw us in the hamlet of Pulpite (population of about 60), so you guessed it there were no bars or shops within walking distance. However, the village of Cullar was only 7 kilometers away and would provide basic daily needs, whilst Baza was under 30 kilometers away.
This was the cheapest out of all the properties, but the one that would need the most work – we already knew that it needed ‘finishing off’, which meant that it needed a kitchen fitted and the floor and walls tiled, and door frames and doors needed fitting in a couple of the rooms. There was no water heater, it needed a wood burning stove fitting in the lounge (and probably another upstairs). There was also some wood worm in the ceiling beams which would need to be treated. That said, this place grabbed our hearts more than those we had previously viewed. We loved the overall layout of the cave, the size of most of the rooms and the upstairs summer lounge was a real gem. A small terrace led off from the upstairs and the views were captivating.
The downsides for us (apart from the work required for completion) were that unless you turned the upstairs into a bedroom (which would be cold in the winter and restrict people’s access to the terrace) then it only really had 2 bedrooms and one of those was quite small. There was a patio to the front but it also was quite small and although there was some land opposite it was only really suitable for parking a vehicle. This would mean no real enclosed space for the dogs, no vegetable plot and no chickens – all things that we really wanted. We were really torn despite this as we could really imagine ourselves living in this cave, it was going to be really difficult to decide which cave house to choose.
Cave House in La Alqueria
And so onto the last cave property which was in the small hamlet of La Alqueria (population just over 100). As with all the other places we had viewed there were no local services, it was however less than 10km from Huescar (largest village after Baza).
This place looked stunning on the website but just didn’t live up to its expectations. To give it credit it had nice views, good-sized terraces and quirky rooms – it had been totally refurbished and too a high standard. The problem was it felt too new and almost clinical compared to charm and uniqueness of those we had previously seen. It was too similar to those either side (also refurbished by the same builder) and didn’t have any real character. Add to that it was the most expensive we were viewing and we felt we could get so much more for fewer euros.
Which cave house to choose ?
We really couldn’t decide upon which cave house to choose. That evening though we narrowed it down to 2 cave properties – Barrio del Perchel and Pulpite and visited them ourselves the next day. The following day we viewed them again with Sean and decided that much as we loved the cave at Pulpite, the benefits of owning two caves at Barrio del Perchel and the flexibility it offered us tipped the balance. We put in an offer, which was accepted and the rest as they say is history. But to be honest we would have been over the moon with either property and if our offer had not been accepted we would happily have bought the cave in Pulpite.
So … Who are one foot in the cave ?
We (Danny and Josie) have spent the last 10 years living and working in the Caribbean. In 2015 we decided we wanted to move closer to family and friends so bought a cave house in the Granada region of Andalucia, Spain. We moved there full time in January 2017. Now we write about our experiences of cave living and how we are adapting to life in Spain.
We also have a Facebook page full of pictures, experiences and information that we have found useful along the way. If its your thing, you can also follow us on Instagram 🙂
5 words related to this blog entry …
View – La Vista
Vegetable Garden – El Huerto
Dogs – Perros
Neighbourhood – Barrio
Terrace – La Terraza