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Shall I stay or shall I go?

Here we are in soggy Tunbridge Wells, in a house we hate, but still we can't quite make the decision to leave. This is the story of why we are in this position, and hopefully how eventually we'll change life for the better. Maybe it will ring a few bells with some of you!

The story so far.
Saturday, October 28, 2023

As some of you may remember this move to Spain has been a long saga, culminating with our arrival just before Christmas last year on a Non Lucrative Visa.

We've just started the ridiculous process of resubmitting all the stuff we submitted before to renew our visa. Between the Spanish and British government departments I reckon it'll take at least 3 months, and a lot of unnecessary expense.

I thought I'd try and put into words how I feel about this move, it may ring a bell with some people, others might well think I'm an ungrateful, miserable old bat. 

The thing is, I'm bored.
There I've said it! 
I miss my world, my tribe, and my life.
I know people will write in suggesting U3A, volunteering, travelling, etc. and believe me I've seriously considered all these, in fact I do volunteer for a charity, but it's not enough. I've been self employed all my life, living on my wits, working literally 7 days a week, and loving it, and loving the financial independence and freedom.

I'm not allowed to work here, and if I went automno which I have considered, I wouldn't be able to earn enough to satisfy the demands the Spanish state would put on me, especially after the first year.

My Husband who was also self employed all his life, is delighted to live somewhere warm and inexpensive and without the pressures of going to work every day. He has offered to sell up and move back, but I can't ask him to do that, and I do mostly like living here.

Does anyone else wake up every morning with the depressing thought, 'what the hell am I going to do today'?

I'm going to have to commute I think.

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So, this is retirement?
Saturday, June 3, 2023


We've been living here now for about 5 months.

Everything is up to date, we have imported one car, and bought another secondhand car. We have our TIEs, and just need to exchange our driving licences.

I've learnt that even if there is a deadline to do something, the Spanish are aware that it's usually not possible, so it's not worth getting stressed about, as long as you're trying to get it all done they're very forgiving.

I've met so many interesting people, from all parts of the world, not just Europe and I've not found anyone I didn't like. 
My main gripe is the lack of purpose in my life. I've always been self employed, an avenue which is not an option on a Non Lucrative Visa. 
I find mysel coming to consciousness every morning, lying there trying to figure out which day it is and wondering how to fill that day.

I know all the options. The possibilities for charity work, for education, for exercise and exploration.

I never was any good at formal education, you can ask my teachers from my grammar school.
I still have my second year report, the first word of which is ATROCIOUS!  It goes on to say that, 'her work, if given in, is rarely on time and never satisfactory'. 
....No, formal learning isn't my thing.

Exercise? Now, I DO like hard physical work, but not exercise just for it's own sake.
There has to be a point to it. For the last 14 years I've worked in the charity shops. I was clearing van loads of junk, moving furniture, hauling sacks, happy as a pig in muck, but running on a treadmill? No thanks.

Exploration and travel? Nah!
Not that interested in what's the other side of the hill. If I really want to know I can watch a travel show.

So, this is how things are at the moment . I'm sure in time I'll find my niche, but at present, -  I am a bit bored.

Not completely sure retirement is my thing.


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Never believe an estate agent.
Friday, February 17, 2023

So, we've been residents here a couple of months now, still 'bedding in', but okay. We're new residents but we've owned this house for about 5 years, and a flat before that for about 12 years.

The brief we gave our estate agent when we were looking was that we wanted a detached place, with our own pool, and we wanted something a bit tatty, no right angles and grey decor. You get the point?

Well, our estate agent, who had sold our flat knew us quite well and showed us this place, and the minute we saw it, we knew it was 'us'.

One of the main selling points, despite the fact that it's on a steep incline and was cracked inside and out with a skew wiff pool, was that the plot next door which was abandoned, was 'too small to be developed'.

Our neighbour was also sold her house on this promise by a different agent.

You know where this is going, don't you?

Three weeks into our big move here we awoke to the sound of big machinery, knocking down all the trees that gave us privacy from the (thankfully very quiet) road.

At present here on the Costa del Sol there are a number of big companies, obviously unaware of the big crash in the late 2000's who have been trying to cover every square centimetre of land with rectangular piles of bricks, and making up silly prices for the gullible to fork out based on a computer image.

One such company, has littered the other side of the road with about 8 identical boxes, luckily not in view from our property, and they had its sights on our piece of peace and quiet.

So, three weeks in the privacy has gone, the land is clearly not too small for development, and now..... one week after this devastation, the company who knocked all the trees flat has gone bust and the directors have done a moonlight flit!!

Honestly! They could have waited a week!!!

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Well, we did it!
Saturday, January 14, 2023

To those of you who read my earlier posts from the U.K., dithering about whether to move or not, it must be good to know that we actually arrived at a decision.

The decision was prompted by a number of factors.

The first one came from a young friend of the family who texted me while I was here in our Spanish home for a couple of weeks. She said 'Hi Jo! Would you rent me your house?'


I explained that we didn't rent out our home here in Estepona, we just liked to keep it for on the impulse trips away.

'No', she said 'I mean you English home'.


We hadn't thought of that. I passed it by Himself, and we pondered, and pondered, and pondered.

Meanwhile, we we're getting older, my state pension was coming up, he was finding the heavy lifting his work involved more onerous, and the thought occurred that one day we may lie in our bed in the U.K. wondering whether we should have given it a go.

Two months more dithering, chatting to grown up Sons etc. and we decided to apply for a NLV.
We knew it took ages, so we felt quite safe and carried on as usual apart from being asked every five minutes by everyone we knew when we were moving to Spain.

It was a bit frustrating not having a passport for 4 months, but nothing monumental had changed so we pushed it to the back of our minds.

3 weeks before Christmas, 'OH MY GOD!', the visas have come.

Now we really have to step up to the plate, - best not to think it over too much.

We agreed it would be nice for our tenant to be in by Christmas, so that she and her 10 year old daughter could have a proper Christmas in their new home, so we booked for the Chunnel, the oply feasible option with a cat and a dog to transport. 

So that's what we did. Packed up, moved out in 2 weeks and drove down the length of Spain arriving 4 days & 3 nights with a howling cat arriving 2 days before Christmas Day. It was not fun.

3 weeks in, it's going okay. Different, but I think it's going to be okay! 

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I’m leaving on an airplane
Saturday, September 15, 2018

This must be the most protracted move to Spain ever.

We have completed one more small step by downsizing even further into a nice little house in perfect, as new condition, with tiny running costs, and excellent rental potential.   .....tick!

James has spent two months at the house in Spain doing maintenance and seeing whether he likes being retired. It turns out he does, BUT, doesn’t like the lack of income, and when his finished the DIY what can he do all day?

That’s a bit of a sticking point....

James brought Tilly, our  black Labrador with him, and was looking forward to long ‘yomps’ around the countryside, but in the first week in she tore her cruciate ligament and had to undergo a repair operation, which meant a 1000 Euro bill and a dog that could only hobble along the road for about 50 yards or so. Sods Law!

Still, on the plus side it would have cost £5000 in the UK.

We went dog walking for the local stray dog charity a few times, but you can’t wander off with a dog, they don’t like it!

I popped out a couple of times whilst he was in residence, but someone had to stay home with the cat and earn some  money, and it was a busy time for me, and that’s the trouble....I have a busy, reasonably sociable work life in the UK which would take me a long time to to replicate in a Spain. I love it, but all my contacts are in England, and in my trade we need a lot of good contacts.

Perhaps I should explain, I am a dealer in ladies designer and vintage clothes and accessories, and I love it! 

I know there are some dealers here and in fact I know some of them from home, but the market here is much smaller and not as far reaching. In and around London there are buyers and sellers of every style and quality and there’s the possibility to work literally every day if you want to, not that I do, but I’d miss that buzz.

The other thing of course is my Sons and my Grandchildren. I’m not a terribly maternal person, both my Sons  will tell you that, in fact my eldest told me that he likes me lot better now he’s grown up, and I told him I like him better grown up too!

However, I do like to see them every couple of weeks. Not for ages, a couple of hours is plenty, but it’s not going to happen if we live in Spain full time, and I’d feel a bit as though I was deserting them. 

So, at present I’m sitting here in Estepona by myself looking at a television with the sound muted, while James is in the UK.,  trying to make a life here, without losing my life at home by whizzing back and forth as often as possible, and hoping it will all come together.

I suppose it would help if I wasn’t an introverted teetotaller as well. 

Time for another cup of tea!



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We’re almost there.
Saturday, April 7, 2018

June 2017

Well it's happened.

We've both been back in the UK now for a couple of weeks, and James is really struggling to re-acclimatise and has told me he doesn't want to be here any more, and I almost agree.The problem is that we can't afford to retire......

April 2018

The above paragraph was written last year as you can see, but a lot has happened since then.  

Number 2 Son has moved out to a house share, Number 1 Son has declared that he and his Japanese wife and 3 kids are going to live in Japan for 3 years, and James and I find that apart from earning a living, there is little to keep us in Blighty all year.

So....... we have sold our house and we move into an even smaller one next week, and hopefully will be really able to live in both countries. The house we have bought is perfect for letting out if we decide to move permanently to Spain, which will give us a small but regular income. 

I still can’t quite bring myself to leave my life in the UK permanently, but the ties are loosening. 

I’m currently sitting in our bungalow in Estepona next to the gas fire in APRIL! So I’m not delusional, about life here, I know it can be blooming cold and boring, but that applies, wherever you are really.

James comes down here on a one way ticket via ferry with dog early next month, and will stay until he gets too bored or broke, I’ll come and go, but the clincher is where the cat lives!

You can move a dog back and forwards, but cats are territorial, and they hate change, especially mine who had a hard kittenhood.

The day the cat comes to Spain is the day we become resident, simples! 

p.s. I buy and sell designer and vintage fashion for a living, have done for 30years, would like to continue, but I don’t really want to do outdoor markets, (been there, done that), any advice on how to continue with my hobby/ trade would be  very welcome. I do a bit online, but mainly supply other dealers nowadays.


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Leaving on a jet plane
Friday, June 9, 2017

I'm starting this post on Saturday evening prior to flying out tomorrow to join my Husband at our new little home in Spain. As I feared he has gone completely feral. We spoke last night and he has really got into the Spanish life and does not want to come home. I pointed out that we had a mortgage to attend to and he reluctantly agreed to start looking at booking a ferry home. The dog is happy too after being rather put out at first, and really likes her new home and the long beach walks, despite the large number of ticks she has aquired over the last 4 weeks. I have been keeping the home fires burning here, but I must admit I am really looking forward to my 16 days away. There is one thing I hate about going away though, and it's the thought that I'll be missing out on my life here. It's a bit like feeling that you have died, there is a gap where life goes on without you, and quite frankly I feel as though everything should be put on hold until I get back and can take up the reins again. I'll continue this post when I've been in Estepona for a few days and see how I feel then.........

.......I am writing this part of the blog on my iPad overlooking the pool. I won't be able to upload until until I'm back in Blighty because we don't have wi-fi here yet. This is a good thing on the whole because there is no temptation to check emails and therefore 'just do a bit of work', and no TV either.

I am at the beginning of my second week, and James is in his fifth week. He has been very happy bumbling around with the dog doing the renovation work, but I can already see the tension creeping up on him as he nears the end of his stay.

I have also been very happy and unstressed, but in the last few days I have begun to feel I need a bit more to do. I'm quite surprised because I really am excellent at doing nothing at all, and I've read a lot of books, but perhaps I'm not quite ready to retire fully yet.

...Well I'm back in Tunbridge Wells again, it's cold and wet and windy, - God, I miss Spain!!


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We are Sailing
Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Phew! It's been a rather fraught couple of weeks here in deepest Kent.

My Husband James has just left on a ferry to Santander in a van full to bursting with furniture and household goods, all his trade tools, and a black laborador. He forgot to pack the sunloungers, and packed the curtains destined for his office here, but never mind.

Getting everything done and making sure all our customers are reasonably satisfied before he left, made him so stressed he was almost climbing the walls, which in turn had an effect on myself and the dog who was very worried. She knew something was going on and has spent most of the last week in the garden looking aprehensive. The dog is currently 10 decks down in a cage on the ferry, she'll probably need councelling when she gets home in six weeks.

The idea of this trip is twofold. There is quite a lot of work to be done on our little bungalow, and it's the first time we have spent any more than a couple of weeks in Spain. We have engaged a talented Polish builder called Julian to do the heavy work, but Husband is going to try his hand at tiling amongst other things. We tried to get our friend Graham who is a professional tiler to come out for a few days, but no go!
I say 'we', but of course I mean himself as I'm still here.

I'm going for 5 days next week, but someone has to earn a living and feed the cat, so I shall be mainly sending instruction from here, although I hope to go at the end of May when our Son, his wife and 2.5 kids are going to rent a villa along the road with her Brother, his wife, and his FIVE kids. I'm so glad we don't have the room to accomodate them all!

The downside of self-employment is that James will not be earning anything for 6 weeks, so it will take at least about 3 months to get our finances back to anything like normal, it's a foolish thing to do, and the stress it adds to our life is immense but we only have one life and we have to live it even if it means doing foolish things sometimes.

I'm sort of half hoping he'll love it so much he wants to stay and decides to throw the towel in here. Half hoping, half scared in case he does. 

I think women generally finding moving more difficult than men. We have our local support network, the familiar everyday people and places we go to that we don't really value until we are presented with the threat of losing them and then it gets scary.

I have an unexiting, but full life here. I see people in the street I have known by sight since I was a girl. I feel very comfortable when I go to a market and chat with the same people each week both buyers and other traders. I'd miss that life.

I don't want to have to make a choice.............

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Like a circle in a spiral..............
Sunday, March 26, 2017

I had spent so long working, right up until I left for the airport that I wasn't really looking forward to my break.  

On the way to the airport I was thinking that it was a stupid waste of time and money which could be better used.

Even when I had landed and collected my hire car, all the way to Chez Nous, I wasn't feeling exited or even particularly happy.


As soon as I had entered our Spanish home, and made that first cup of tea, I found that I was almost euphoric. All the tension around my neck and shoulders disappeared, and I felt relaxed almost to the point of horizontal.

I wandered around opening everything up, making sure all my bits and pieces were where I wanted them and relaxed onto the sofa with a good book. I was in heaven.

Knowing that I was going to wake up to a bright sunny day, with no-one and nothing to attend to I slept better than I have for ages, without any sleeping tablets.

Writing this down it becomes clear to me that we really should up sticks and move out, - but then all the doubts crowd in.

How will we live with very little income?

I'm quite shy, I can seem a bit offhand and it takes me a long time to make friends, although when I do they are friends for life. I'm not a joiner of clubs, and I don't drink alcohol and want to party. I like to read, I like buy and sell quality clothes and other 'girlie' stuff, these are quite lonesome activities, basically I'm an introvert.

Will I feel very cut off from the life I have always known? I've lived in the Tunbridge Wells area all my life. I see people who I recognise (not necessarily friends) everywhere I go and it makes me feel secure.

Then there are my Sons, one not yet quite standing on his own feet, the other married with 2.5 grandchildren who I won't see as often if we move to Spain.

These are the things I can't quite leave...yet.................even though all the time I'm in the UK I want to.

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Life in the fast lane
Sunday, March 26, 2017

I have spent the last week or so working my socks off to allow me to be able to afford a few days in our little house in Estepona this weekend.

My Husband, I'll call him James from now on to save being so formal, went out for a few days the week before last, but my passport was being renewed with an even worse picture than the previous one, so I wasn't able to go with him. Anyway, we have a cat and a dog here, and someone has to feed them.

He arrived with some trepidation in case some other mishap had occurred whilst we were away, but apart from the damp musty smell from the floods, all was well. Our gardener Ancelmo has been keeping the place in good order and the pool man has finished repairs to the pool, so hopefully it's all Happy Days!

In fact, apart from slightly disappointing weather, which is not unusual at this time of year he looked forward to a nice time bumbling around looking in DIY stores for the things that we'll need when we go out in summer to start more serious renovations. 

Unfortunately...the hot water went off. On inspection, there was a strong smell of gas and the pilot light wouldn't.

He called in Julian. Julian is a Polish tri-lingual builder recommended to us by our estate agent Victoria. He and his team can do anything. Julians' man had a look at the boiler, fiddled a bit, and said it was okay,- but it wasn't. The next day it went out again and so it was decided that it would be best to spend 400 euros on a new one.

I suppose that's another thing we can cross off our 'to do' list!

So I'm looking forward to a few days in the warmth with nothing to do.

Here's hoping!

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