Michael and Margaret...
It's always good to hear of people having their cash (the bulk of it) back and even more heartening to know that your experience didn't put you off buying in Spain. In fact, it made you rethink ie; in my opinion you were wiser the next time around! So, the following is directed towards new buyers or, like yourselves, those buying again....with sympathies for anyone that is stuck in a place they can't sell or who is fighting to get back monies 'lost' that was paid out in good faith.
I have to agree. When looking at buying a place in Spain, how much better to buy somewhere amongst the Spanish rather than on a 'Little Britain' urbanisation. Most of the newer urbanisations built along the coastline or at the edge of a town a little inland have been built with us foreigners in mind. Yes, the Spanish live within urbanisations too, but it's very easy to spot the difference between property that was built with local buyers in mind and property that was built with us foreigners in mind. AND, of course, advertising plays a huge part ie; if it's directed towards 'us' you'll find it on English-speaking sites with British/English speaking sales teams. Almost all of the problems you read about or hear of, when it comes to buying property in Spain, concern properties that have been built with foreigners in mind. As it's been said many times before...they saw us coming!
I have never been able to get my head round the idea of moving to Spain, living amongst the Brits and making little effort to learn Spanish. When other Europeans come to live in the UK, how many times have you heard the locals say, 'I don't mind them being here it they're prepared to work for a living but they could at least learn the language!' And, 'They don't seem to make much of an effort to join in'. And we wonder why the Spanish make little effort to get to know us....unless we live amongst them and learn the bloomin' (beautiful) language!
But, of course, there are many British buyers living very happily amongst each other with very little interaction between the Spanish but it's usually on well-established urbanisations where folks have had time to build up good facilites and communities. If you really want to live amongst your fellow Brits (elderly folks often find it difficult to learn Spanish, others don't want to be bothered, some don't want to be in Spain full-time and can't see the point) go for an established urbanisation. There are plenty around. Otherwise...live amongst the Spanish and get to know them. After all, it's their country. We all know the saying, 'When in Rome...etc'.