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Competa news blog

History and news about Competa - what it's like to live there, setting up a business, environment, walking, living in a finca.

LetsGoNorth meets LetsGoSouth
20 March 2015

Competa has become the central point of a new tourism initiative, LetsGoNorth meets LetsGoSouth which aims to explore the historical and cultural links between Spain and Scotland.  The initiative started in 2014 and is already gaining momentum with Competa town hall being the first to allow the promoters to use their logo. 

There is a lot going on in Competa at the moment.  The new car park is being built, there is a great range of events planned for the summer, including the usual fiestas.  One of the local residents, Paco "Sindicato" Fernandez  has recently been intereviewed for the local press.  There are a number of new bars offering great food.  We are working on a tapas trail with a local magazine to promote on LetsGoSouth.

Competa businesses are delighted to be the centre of the LetsGoNorth meets LetsGoSouth initiative and already six businesses have signed up.  We are looking at doing a special event in October 2015 to link the north with the south... so watch this space for updates!

Competa has been selected as the epicentre of the initiative due to the writer's long association with the village - which has become a town.  It has recently featured on another high profile blog, along with Canillas de Albaida and Archez.



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How Competa has changed - the short version!
20 February 2015

Since I helped set up the business association in Competa 2008 and worked with the Competa town hall to develop its walking product, the town has gone from strength to strength.  Most of the work has been done by the tourism councillors, but I am glad that I had input at first.  There are many way marked routes now and the excellent tourist information centre has route maps available.  The routes are walked regularly to ensure that information is kept up to date.  I hear that over 100 people went to the village on one trip.  I wonder, though, if they had any economic impact on the bars and restaurants or whether they just browsed. However it means that 100 more people are now aware of Competa and all it has to offer. 

The long awaited car park is under construction.  No date has been given as yet for when it will be completed, but it is happening.  There are complaints that there is not enough work in the village, but that is true of many villages in the Axarquia and probably other parts of Spain. 

All in all, since I started visiting Competa in 1982, the village has become a town, the agricultural base of its economy has moved to tourism and there are many many more facilities.  I remember once going to the bank to get 20,000 pesetas and was told that the bank manager had gone to the coast (on his motor bike!) to get money for the bank!  I did manage to get the money - but had to wait...!  Oh... the days before cash machines!  The growth of the village does not mean it has lost its charm though.  The people are still as friendly and helpful as they have always been, the Saturday market is still a great day to catch up....

 

Competa is still sweet and charming!

 



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Competa Fiesta
16 March 2014

CÓMPETA FIESTA

The Cómpeta fair is just one of the estimated 3,000 fiestas held annually in Andalucia. The fair celebrates the patron saint of Cómpeta, Saint Sebastian, with live performances of singing and dancing every evening. The atmosphere in the village is electric from the firework display marking the opening of the festivities to the close of play four days later with the pilgrimage from the Plaza Almijara to the festival “HQ” in the new polideportivo (sports centre).

 

The Spanish really know how to put on a good fair – the parking arrangements are in themselves a feat in organisation in this mountain village where parking can be  problematic at the best of times.  With the Plaza Vendimia, the main car park and the Plaza Almijara all closed to traffic from 8am on 19th July to 6pm on 23rd July, local residents had to be imaginative in where to park, as did the many visitors from outwith the village who attend the fair, bringing potential traffic chaos. 

 

The village looked very festive – Plazas Vendimia and Almijara, as well as some of the main thoroughfares, were adorned with little flags of representing some of the nationalities resident in Cómpeta, giving an international flavour.  Baskets and pots of flowers maintained by the town hall and stalls set up in the streets.   There was also an aura of the old village fair in Blighty (the UK)  – dodgems, roundabouts and coconut shies – all perfectly safe but without the manic health and safety rigmarole of northern Europe.

 

Those living in the pueblo were treated to stirring renditions by the local Cómpeta youth band in the early mornings.  Marching proudly round the streets playing the trombone, trumpet and drum cannot be easy, given the steepness of inclines of some of the hills.  Even the flag bearers would have a hard time – at least it wasn´t the heat of the day.

 

The music and dancing continued all night on the Friday and Saturday, and revellers could be found wandering home at 6.30a.m. having started to party at 11pm.  The music was not traditional sevillanas or flamencos, but of a more modern sort, played live at the polideportivo.  Such stamina and energy of both revellers and those providing the entertainment!  I felt sorry for the street cleaners out at 8am cleaning up the debris after they had been partying all night.

 

During the day there were a foam fight for the kids, and a greasy pole for the adults in Plaza Vendimia, a fun bouncy castle in Plaza Almijara, and a number of musical events, all giving a festive flavour.  The idea with the greasy pole is to see how far you can climb up it – a messy business!  In the evening, in addition to the music, was the famous ribbon race for horsemen, cyclists and motor cyclists to show off their prowess in snatching a rolled up ribbon from a wire using a kebab stick. 

 

The final procession from the church was a rather sober affair accompanied by the usual rockets but none of the usual fanfare.  It is always great to see the horses and their riders dressed up, and the beautiful girls in their magnificent flamenco dresses.

 

The fair finally wound down in the early hours of Monday morning, and the amusements were packed up and sent on to the next village.  The village returned to normal until the next time – the Night of the Wine (Noche del Vino) on 15th August – another marathon event when visitors come from far and wide to observe how the wine used to be made and taste it while enjoying the typical songs and dances that celebrate it.

 

 

 

 



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Financing your villa
16 March 2014

Making the decision

 

Having decided that Spain is the ideal location for your retirement, new business enterprise or base for your new life, you will decide on a budget for your property.  You should add between 10% and 11% to cover legal costs, Notary expenses, Land Registry fees, Stamp Duty, VAT (IVA) for new properties only and mortgage arrangement fees (if applicable).  The currency fluctuations between the euro and the pound sterling should be considered to ensure that you remain within budget.

 

Registration documents

 

Once you have found the property of your dreams, you now need to source the finance unless you are lucky enough to have the cash in hand. Before opening a bank account you will need your ‘Número Identidad de Extranjero’ (NIE) number which is a foreigner’s identification number. This is obtainable from the local police station (Comisaría de Policia) and is fundamental to life in Spain.  The relevant form is available from the police station, your passport and a copy of your passport.  The NIE number is required for you to be able to open your bank account and pay the taxes on your property purchase. You will also need to find a reputable legal advisor or asesoria/gestor (conveyancer).  The latter can help you in many ways, including obtaining the NIE number, ensuring that the title deeds are correct, organising the transfer into your name and later helping with filing your Spanish tax returns and making your Spanish will.  Prior to completion he/she will carry out searches and obtain a Nota Simple, an extract from the Land Registry which confirms that the seller is the registered owner of the property and that all taxes have been paid. 

 

Finding the finance

 

Spanish banks are the best source of finance, and, as in the UK, interest rates will vary.  The loan to value (LTV) rate you will be able to raise will vary between financial institutions but most will lend between 60 and 70% of the value of the property, depending on the type of land on which the property stands.  Urban land (in a town) attracts a higher percentage loan.  You will need to pay for a bank valuer to survey the property.  The purchase price will also be taken into consideration when deciding the amount of the loan.  If the purchase price is lower than the valuation, the bank will make the offer on the purchase price, not on the valuation.

 

 

Despite Spain being in the European Union, it is expensive to raise finance in the UK to pay for a Spanish property, given the current exchange rate against the euro although it is possible.  If you do decide to raise a mortgage in Spain, it is recommended that you do not pay the deposit until it has been agreed, as the deposit is non-refundable unless you are lucky enough for the owner to agree that it should be written into the purchase contract.

 

 

Final note…

 

You should be entirely sure that you can afford to purchase your property in the sun before taking the final steps.  Many people in the 1980s mortgaged their family homes in the UK to raise the money to finance their dream and lost not only their UK property but the Spanish home as well as they could not maintain the payments.



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How it all worked
31 July 2013

So, we had a kitchen, a bathroom of sorts, a lounge, a bedroom with a leaky roof....Plenty of storage in the kitchen, a fridge and oven which worked on bottled gas and taps which worked.  Bliss!  With winter approaching, I decided it was probably best to tackle the roof next.  What I thought was a minor leak turned out to be a major problem with rotten beams in the bedroom and part of the lounge... no point in trying to patch it up.  Good thing I was still on a Middle Eastern salary!  So.... off with the roof, timbers and all.  The best ones were saved,  de woodwormed and reused.  Great.  I decided to have a porch put on the front as well with the door facing west so when you opened the door, you didn't get a blast of air - hot or cold!  The porch meant more room to sit in front of the fire as well.... Seemed like a good addition!

I must admit, the builder was very professional.  Everything was fastidiously covered up with plastic sheeting to keep it clean.  Off came the roof, dust, wattling and all.  Tiles were kept where possible.... quite a lot of them. Then came the good stuff - thankfully no rain and the builders worked every day to get it finished.  Just as well really as even to this day over 25 years I remember that they had just finished when there was a mega storm and part of the track went flying down the hill - cutting me off at the finca.  The neighbours rallied round to fix the track so I could drive out.  The roof certainly got a good water proof testing that night and for 3 nights afterwards!

Then came the boring stuff of cleaning everything up, although the builders had done their best, and admiring the new arrangements.  A nice archway instead of the odd shaped thing which had developed when I took a sledge hammer to the "wall" between the kitchen and the lounge and tried to patch it up...., a solid roof and everything tidy.... except I didn't like the concrete floor.  Everything else looked nice and there was this crappy floor.... well, it would just have to come up.

 

 



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Renovations...the first phase!
26 July 2013

Having acquired my little piece of paradise in the mountains, I started to think about what to do next.  It was tempting to just potter around and do nothing but look after the olive and fig trees on the property and make it look pretty outside.   More practical, though, I had to at least make the place more habitable!  I had sort of fixed the water but there was the matter of the sewage so I found a man who was good at digging pits...and had a good reputation for installing septic tanks.  It meant a long run of pipe down the mountain from the "bathroom" but it worked.  The pit was dug and designed to be bacterial - ie no bleaches etc. down the loo or sinks (once they were installed!).  It was a great job - I only had to have it emptied once in the 16 years I had the house and that was only because it was fully tenanted for a year.

Anyway, the toilet, wash basin and kitchen sink were installed as well as improvements to the shower.  Although we now had hot running water (and didn't have to boil the kettle) the shower needed "attention".  My solution was to rip it out and start again - a tactic I used often as the years went by!  Bliss - we could go to the toilet without the hassle of having to empty the chemical loo - neither myself nor my then partner liked that very much.  And then there was the time it leaked in the car.... yeuch!


 



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The search goes on...
21 July 2013

After that first most enjoyable holiday in Competa, I was hooked and returned time and time again for over 25 years.  I eventually found the house of my dreams outside Competa in Cuesta Benamayor - a mile or two down a dirt track.  It was a very small property with no running water or electricity - such luxuries had not reached the valley then!  Water was delivered by tanker to a water deposito under the terrace which held about 20000 litres.  The deposit was also fed by rainwater from the roof and guttering.  The way of getting water into the house originally was via a hand pump in the bathroom.  There were four rooms in total, including a bathroom of sorts and the toilet was a chemical version which had to be emptied at regular intervals - a messy job!

We installed a smaller water tank on the hill to get water pressure to the new hot water tank - a Junkers - and to get water to the taps.  We also installed a new kitchen, shower and wash basin.  Water was pumped up to the small tank from the deposito by means of a cable connected to the car battery and left to run until it started overflowing!  Primitive, but it worked.  Later we installed a float switch inside the tank and a single solar panel to run a 12v pump.  It was heaven - we had running water!

Mains electricity was not to come until much later....

 



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The holiday continues....
18 July 2013

My father had never been out of the UK before and he had a great time chatting with the locals (or trying to!) andeven chatting up the Wing Commander's wife.... I had to put a stop to that.  He was always wanting to call in "just for a quick drink".  The little white houses nestling on the hills were an endless source of fascination and we would spend hours just sitting on the terrace looking over the mountains.  It was heaven.  We quickly found the local wine - 5 pesetas per litre - I'll never forget that as I couldn't believe it!  We managed to quaff copious amounts of the sweet smooth wine - and always paid the price the next day!  In years to come we were to enjoy the Noche del Vino during August - now one of the most famous wine festivals in Spain. 

We went to Nerja - a big mistake as my father "found" Guinness - his particular poison.  The Fontainbleu Hostel in Nerja is long gone, but the memories aren't.  I don't think it was ever the same again and I had to book my father into a room as he refused point blank to go back to Competa - I had promised to meet a friend, so I went and left him enjoying the local hostelry and being looked after by the very friendly English barman. 

The next day I had planned to look at some properties with one of the estate agents but I had first to rescue my father from the clutches of Nerja.  I found him struggling along the road with his head in his hands - determined to walk back to Competa.  I did manage to see some properties, but nothing took my fancy.  It was to be so over the next TWO YEARS until I found the place of my dreams.



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My first holiday in Competa
24 June 2013

I travelled from North Africa where I was working at the time and landed at Malaga airport.  In those days it was a tiny place - just a big shed really - not the big modern building it is today.   Even then there were millions of Brits and other northern Europeans going to Spain so goodness knows how they coped.  I don't remember there being many queues. 

We hired a car and drove up the twisty turning road to Competa - a road I described in one of my articles as "zig zagging crazily uphill".  Arriving in the main square at midnight was an experience.  There were people in the bars enjoying the balmy night air.  We had been booked into a hostel on the square by an estate agent.  We didn't know we weren't allowed to park there, and got our first fine!  It was all sorted out though and in the end we didn't have to pay!  The other experience was trying to explain in our non existent Spanish that my father and I wanted separate rooms!

The next morning we were met by the estate agent and taken to my friend's house where we were to stay for the next two weeks.  The weather was glorious - not too hot even though it was July.

 



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The first move to Spain
24 June 2013

I first went to Spain in 1982 with my father.  We went to Competa, a beautiful mountain village in the foothills of the Sierras Almijaras.  It was recommended by a friend when I was working in Libya.



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