I have lived on the Costa del Sol for 17 years and want to return to the UK. I am stuck with a property that will lose money if I go now, but would love to return as my partner has had to go back to work there. I understand the feeling of ´even cleaning the loos´ as we love it so much in Spain, but believe me, the reality of living here is so different.
Gazing at the sea soon loses its novelty value when you are worrying about paying the bills, and the 6-8 months of sunshine largely go unnoticed when another job application goes unacknowledged. I speak fluent Spanish, and worked in the real estate business until the end of 2007, when, largely due to corruption and over development, the whole business came crashing down, not only on the Costa del Sol, but also in Los Alcazares and Murcia (I used to work there also).
Of course, everyone´s situation is different but I firmly believe now, Spain is a great place for a holiday or to retire to (if you have made your money elsewhere), but I would never advise anyone to come out here and chance their luck at making a good living. On the Costa del Sol, there are no jobs to apply for, only telesales which pay a pittance in commission. If you are earning a good living in the UK now, my advice would be: stay where you are .. Spain has never been in such a poor state, and things look bleak for 2012 also.
If you do decide to come over here, I would rent for 6 months, and investigate the job situation for yourself ... far too many people have come out here, blinded by the romantic image of g&t´s at sunset, and fantastic lives for their children, only to be sorely disappointed.
Sorry to put a downer on your plans, but this would be my true and honest advice .... oh and if you decide to buy here, make sure you get a very good solicitor/gestoria, or you are likely to be ripped off. And if the solicitors don´t get you, the tax man will, however hard you try to be legal.