Each year thousands of foreigners buy a bar in Spain, all with varying degrees of success and the whole process can be a nightmare if not done properly. Although sometimes it can work on your own, it is normally a disaster if you buy a bar in Spain without using a qualified agent to help you. You have to remember that the laws are very different in Spain and over the years, especially on the Costa’s, a very dangerous breed of crook has evolved; there are thousands of conmen itching to get their hands on your money and the scams they pull are endless and complicated. There are even unscrupulous agents with no morals that can cost you thousands.
The choice of bars available varies considerably from little back street watering holes to full music venues and quality restaurants. The prices vary too from a few thousand pounds up to millions.
If you choose the right agent who should give you clear and honest advice, providing you purchase in the right area, you stand a good chance of making a good living. Do not however, think that running a bar in Spain is going to be an extended holiday ! Be prepared for long hours and lots of little problems - all of which can be solved quite simply and most can be prepared for well in advance.
By no means is this page intended to be a full guide; the idea is that we give you a little insight into the way things work in Spain and things to be aware of.
Important things to consider when buying a bar in Spain;
If you intend to serve to a tourist market then the coastal strips such as the Costa del Sol are perfect. If you find the right location on the coast you may also tap into the huge foreign resident market. Sea front bars are not always the best choice. They may be busy in the summer but can be quiet in the winter. Back street bars are often the locals for residents, providing that you can give them what they want. The main thing is that you must have passing traffic to stand a chance. There are too many bars in Spain for people to simply go round looking for you [unless you are offering something unique].
The bigger the bar, the bigger the expenses, the more staff you need. Only buy what you can cope with. You may be advised to buy small to start with then maybe move on later.
Set your budget and stick to it. If you buy a bar in Spain for 30,000 pounds, make sure you have at least 10,000 more for the first few months. Don't over commit yourself or you will fail.
Every bar in Spain must have a licence to open. Make sure that your agent checks this. This is vital. If you buy a bar without a licence [this happens a lot when you buy without an agent], you will almost certainly be closed down within a short space of time. The police are very strict on this and non-compliance can cost you everything. To stage live music in a bar in Spain you have to have a music licence. These are rare and very difficult to obtain. The EEC regulations for such venues are strict and complex.
On top of your purchase price you will have other expenses;
Your legal fees - check the amount
Rent in advance - normally 3 months
Stock - Initial stock may be included but needs topping up
You will normally not have any problem staffing your bar in Spain, especially if you need seasonal staff. Be careful though; if you employ staff on a cash basis you stand the chance of being prosecuted ! Talk to your Gestor (accountant) about contracts.
For more detailed info, get my book at:
This article was posted on Aug 5, 2005