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How to ..... ?

This blog is intended to be helpful to English-speaking foreign residents in Spain by explaining "How to ... " do certain things. "The Crazy Guy" has lived in Spain full time since 2008. A fluent Spanish-speaker he reckons he knows his way round the bureaucracy, the indifference and sometimes downright rudeness of "funcionarios".

HOW TO ….. get an eco-sticker for your car?
Monday, January 16, 2023

By The Crazy Guy

 

From 1 January 2023 if you want to travel into a town or city in Spain, you are supposed to display an eco-Sticker in the windscreen of your car. From the end of the year all towns in Spain with more than 50,000 inhabitants must have the infrastructure in place to monitor cars entering their municipio. From that date it is also compulsory for drivers to display the appropriate sticker for their vehicle.

Older vehicles are not eligible and must not enter these urban ZBEs (Zonas Bajas Emisiones – in English Low Emissions Zones). But you may still drive your car outside of these areas.

These restrictions do not apply to foreign-registered vehicles.

 

Background

This initiative, which has already begun in cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Sevilla, as well as Valladolid, Alicante and Murcia, is designed to clean up the polluted air in inner-city areas.

All of a sudden, car owners are getting concerned. I first heard about it when a friend posted a link to a WhatsApp group before Christmas.

Since then The Olive Press has published an article (current edition Issue 410 or www.theolivepress.es).

Lenox a blogger at EyeOnSpain has also covered it in a very witty article. See below.

 

The Stickers

There are five categories and four stickers. Category A is for vehicles which are too old and have high exhaust emissions and MAY NOT ENTER A ZBE. Petrol vehicles registered before 2001 and diesels before 2006 fall into this category.

The other categories are colour-coded:

B, yellow, is for petrol vehicles registered from 1 January 2001 and diesels from 1 January 2006.

C, green, is for petrol vehicles registered from 1 January 2006 and diesels after 1 September 2015.

Eco, green and blue, is for hybrid, natural gas, CNG or LPG vehicles

Zero ‘O’, blue, for electric, hydrogen or fuel cell vehicles.

 

You can find out which sticker is for you by going to the DGT website and entering your registration number. My car is relatively new, so I get a green sticker.

 

Please note: Foreign-registered vehicles are not required to display a sticker. But you would be advised to make sure the vehicle is legal in Spain.

 

How to get your sticker

There are several ways:

  • Online at the DGT website (Direccion General de Tráfico)
  • At any post office – Correos
  • At selected car parts distributors – in Ronda at Sierra Sur Recambios Ronda in Calle Río Guadalteba in the Polígono Industrial.  

A sticker costs 5€.

***

I went to Sierra Sur today to get mine. All I needed to show were the car’s documents and my ID.

Five minutes, five euros. Sorted.

 

With thanks to:

Jill La Peche

Jo Chipchase

Lenox Napier

The Olive Press

 

© The Crazy Guy

 

Other useful links:

Correos               www.correos.es

DGT                    www.pegatinas-dgt.com

                           https://sede.dgt.gob.es/es/vehiculos/distintivo-ambiental#

EyeOnSpain       Eco Stickers and How Long Have We Got? (eyeonspain.com)

N332                   www.n332.es

The Olive Press  Spain is introducing low emission zones in city centres that will prohibit 75% of vehicles. Does this affect your car? - Olive Press News Spain (theolivepress.es)

Upsticks              https://upsticks.es/driving-in-spain-eco-stickers-all-you-need-to-know/

 

 

Tags: CNG, Correos, Crazy Guy, DGT, diesel, dirección general de tráfico, eco-sticker, fuel cell, LEZ, LPG, Olive Press, petrol, Sierra Sur Recambios, ZBE



Like 2        Published at 1:07 PM   Comments (7)


HOW TO ….. FLY?
Wednesday, January 11, 2023

In these difficult economic times, brought about by Covid-19, Brexit and the war in Ukraine, it’s perhaps worth taking a look again at HOW TO FLY.

The Crazy Guy is a triple-F, ie a Fairly Frequent Flyer. When he went abroad, to the UK or Germany, he would drive to the airport – Malaga, Jerez, Sevilla or Granada – and valet-park the car until he returned.

 

In the years BC – before car – I either used to get the bus or get picked up by friends. After that, we used to drive to the airport, and park the car until our return. Nowadays, with prices of everything rocketing – flights, fuel, car parking – I am looking at ways of flying more cheaply.

I shop around for flights being prepared to use any of the “local” airports, even Gibraltar. Being retired, I can be flexible on dates. Some days are cheaper than others, eg mid-week and on Sundays. I try to travel light, so as to avoid checked-in luggage charges. The small free carry-on bag is adequate for short visits. When my daughter comes to visit with her two young children at half-term, she intends to travel light, buy stuff here and leave it at our house for future visits.

Fuel has gone up in price and, since January and the disappearance of the Spanish government subsidy, costs 20 cents a litre more.

Car parking charges have also increased. Not really sure why, since they have no fuel costs, as they use the client’s car to get to and from the airport. Profiteering?

So, for our most recent trip, to Germany for Christmas and New Year, we decided to use public transport as far as possible.

We got the coach from Ronda to Malaga (6€* each) and stayed at a hotel near the airport (Royal Costa 40€) - our flight was very early in the morning. The local train wasn’t running at that time of the morning so we had to get a taxi to the terminal, but it only cost 15€.

Our return flight was to Sevilla, but landed too late for a bus connection to Ronda, so we stayed in a hotel (IBIS Budget 60€). The following morning we took an Uber to the bus station (10€ - 2€ more than the bus) and caught the coach to Ronda (6€* each) and a taxi home (17€).

By the way, the airport legs in Germany (Baden-Baden to Heilbronn and back) were done by public transport also, namely bus, S-Bahn and train (36€ each for the entire return journey).

It all worked perfectly fine. It was more relaxing and less exhausting than driving in the early dawn and late at night, and we saved money into the bargain.

We paid just under 230€ for both of us for everything in both Spain and Germany, except the flights. If our flight timings had been more conducive we could have skipped the taxis and the hotels and saved even more. In that scenario we would have only paid just under 80€ for both of us!

By comparison, normal taxis to and from the airport would be around 300€. Paying a friend would cost, say 180-200€, if you can find one willing to do it at that time of day.  Driving and parking at the airport would come to about 110€, but that only works if you fly from and back to the same airport.

Conclusion? On this occasion, we chose the best option in terms of comfort and cost. I think we will do the same in the future.

How to fly? USE PUBLIC TRANSPORT. DEFINITELY!

 

* discounted price with tarjetasesentaycinco

 

Further information:

www.booking.com

www.damas-sa.es

www.skyscanner.com

www.uber.com

 

 

© The Crazy Guy

 

Tags: Baden-Baden, bus, coach, Crazy Guy, Germany, Gibraltar, Granada, Heilbronn, IBIS Budget,  Jerez, Malaga, public transport, Royal Costa, S-Bahn, Sevilla, taxi, train, Uber



Like 1        Published at 8:40 AM   Comments (2)


“WHEN I’M 65…”: HOW TO ….. get a tarjetasesentaycinco
Sunday, December 11, 2022

The Crazy Guy

 

Recently in the post I received my tarjeta sesentaycinco from the Junta de Andalucía. I’d applied for it only a week or so previously. It entitles me to a range of benefits, namely

  • Permanent telephone support from the Andalusian region 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
  • 50% discount on interurban bus tickets
  • 30 – 55% discount on spectacles, frames and varifocals
  • 30-35% discount on hearing aids
  • Discounts on cultural and leisure events
  • Free legal consultation
  • Luncheon vouchers
  • Domestic grants

Applying for the card

The card is applied for online or by printing off the form here (in Spanish). There is a helpline which can be answered in English (Monday to Friday) on (0034) 900200165.
 

Eligibility criteria:

  • over 65
  • resident in Andalucía
  • empadronado (on the electoral roll)

What to do:

  • you apply at your local town hall.
  • You have to provide a recent passport photo and copies of an identity document, residence (NIE or TIE) and padrón certificate.
  • The card is free and lasts five years at which point you can renew for free.

***

I’m off now on an interurban bus to get new glasses and a hearing aid. If the bus crashes, I can ring the 24-hour helpline and get free legal advice!

 

© The Crazy Guy

 

Tags: 24-hour, card, certificate, crazy guy, discount, document, empadronado, free, grant, hearing aid, helpline, identity, interurban, junta de Andalucía, legal advice, NIE, online, padron, passport, photo, resident, sesentaycinco, spectacles, tarjeta, TIE, town hall



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How to ….. SAVE MONEY
Wednesday, November 9, 2022

In the midst of the cost-of-living crisis currently raging through Spain, Europe and the world, The Crazy Guy recommends the following 13 money-saving tips. Maybe he's not so crazy after all?

 

Air conditioning

Avoid using it. There are other ways to keep your house cool in the summer. Click here to find out how.

Air conditioning in your car increases fuel consumption. Open your window instead.

 

Airport water

Once through baggage control, most outlets at Málaga Airport charge 2.40€ for half-a-litre. At the newsagents FOYER you can get two bottles for 2.90€. All rather expensive.

TIP 1: After you have gone through passport control you only need to pay 1€. The dispensing machines are clearly marked.

After you have gone through passport control you only need to pay 1€. The dispensing machines are clearly marked.

TIP 2: If you take an empty plastic bottle through the baggage control (permitted) you can fill up for free.
 

Banks

TIP: Shop around for the best deal. You should NOT be paying maintenance charges. Check this article here

After carrying out this research I switched to CaixaBank where the criteria for free banking are easier to meet. In fact, we both switched from Unicaja Banco, who had started charging, to CaixaBank and are each saving 240€ per year.

 

Car use

TIP 1: Use public transport instead.

TIP 2: For airport runs consider parking at the airport, which saves two legs over somebody taking you by car.

 

Electricity
 

TIP 1: Shop around for a better deal, We just switched to IBERDROLA where we are guaranteed 14% saving on the bills from our previous supplier.

TIP 2: Use the cheapest tariff, typically from 00.00 to 08.00, for certain devices, eg washing machine and tumble drier, dishwasher, ironing, pool pump and watering system.

TIP 3: Install solar panels – there is currently still a 40% discount available, but hurry!

TIP 4: Install LED bulbs.

TIP 5: Don’t leave devices like TVs, computers, charging cables, etc on standby.

TIP 6: If you have electric heating, turn it down or off and put on warmer clothes.

 

Firewood

TIP: Cancel your logs order. Scavenge wood from the tip, eg pallets, and saw or chop it up. Sure, it burns quickly, but at least it’s free.

 

Flying

TIP 1: If you can fly midweek and/or at unsocial hours, you can save a fortune.

TIP 2: Travel light, if possible with just the small carry-on bag (free). It’s surprising what you can fit into a small mochila.

TIP 3: Avoid buying food and drink on the plane. Take your own food from home or buy a meal deal at the airport (eg WH Smith). Buy 1€ water at the airport (see above) or fill up an empty bottle free-of-charge.

 

Fuel

TIP 1: Shop around for the best price in your area. Avoid the big chains like BP, Cepsa, Esso, Galp, Repsol and Shell. AGLA (Asociacion de Gasolineras Libres de Andalucía) are often the cheapest.

TIP 2: Consider going by public transport, eg bus or train. We recently went to Sevilla by bus and it only cost us about 26€ return for both of us (with a tarjeta sesentycinco, a discount card for over 65s). Way cheaper than fuel and parking charges.

 

Haircut

TIP 1: Go to Vicky’s, C/ Pozo, 6, 29400 Ronda (Malaga). After 6.00 pm every evening gents can get a free haircut. Your barnet will be cut by a trainee, but to save at least 10€, why not?

TIP 2: Let your hair grow, like I am.

 

Hotels

TIP: Carry out your research on, say booking.com, then contact the hotel of your choice direct for an even better deal. We’ve done it twice recently in Chiclana and Sevilla and saved money.

 

Insurance

TIP: Shop around at renewal time. We recently saved a load on our monthly private healthcare insurance premium by switching from DKV to Sanitas.

Our current car insurer still offers us the cheapest premium, so we stayed put. CASER via Abbeygate.

 

Shopping

TIP 1: Shop at ALDI, Día, LIDL and Supeco instead of at Al Campo, Carrefour, Hipercor and Mercadona.

TIP 2: Buy marcas blancas (own-brand goods).

TIP 3: Shop late in the day – perishable goods are often marked down in price.

 

Water

TIP 1: Shower instead of having a bath.

TIP 2: Don’t leave the tap running , eg when cleaning your teeth.

***

With energy, food and transport costs soaring, not to mention services like banking and insurance, it pays to make savings where one can.

Good luck!

 

©  The Crazy Guy



Like 1        Published at 4:42 PM   Comments (0)


HOW TO …..apply for a replacement TIE
Thursday, June 9, 2022

You’ve lost your wallet or had it stolen. That means you’ve probably got to apply for new bank cards, ID, TIE, driving licence, health cards, discount and loyalty cards, senior citizens card, and many more.

Most are straightforward, but the most tricky to replace are your TIE, your driving licence and your passport, if that’s gone too.

 

I recently lost my wallet in Germany. I expected it to show up in a bin somewhere minus the cash, but three weeks on there’s no sign of it.

I was able to cancel bank and health cards and order new ones easily either online or by calling the dedicated phone line.

I discovered that some entities no longer issue plastic cards, eg Amigos de Paradores, Leroy Merlin and IKEA Family; it’s all done digitally/virtually.

Most replacements are free. Up to now the only entities to charge a fee have been Banco Sabadell (4€), Costa Press Club (15€), TIE (12€). I expect to have to pay a fee to the DGT for a replacement driving licence, but I don’t know how much yet.

***

This week, now back home in Spain, I’ve spent hours on getting a replacement Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero (TIE).

Now I know how to go about it. Here’s how:

  1. First step is to make a denuncia to report the loss. You do this at the Comisaría de la Policía Nacional if you live in a town or city; at the Guardia Civil if you live in a village.
  2. Get a cita previa at your local Extranjería, which is usually in the Comisaría de la Policía Nacional. Do this online at https://sede.administracionespublicas.gob.es/pagina/index/directorio/icpplus
  3. Go to https://www.immigrationspain.es/en/duplicate-nie-if-lost-or-stolen/#3_Request_a_duplicate_at_your_closes_immigration_office, and fill in form EX-17 and print it off.
  4. Go to  https://www.immigrationspain.es/en/duplicate-nie-if-lost-or-stolen/#3_Request_a_duplicate_at_your_closes_immigration_office, and complete modelo 790 and print it off.
  5. Go to any bank with the denuncia report and modelo 790 and pay the fee of 12 euros.
  6. Take the following to your appointment with Extranjería:
  • Form EX-17
  • Modelo 790
  • Denuncia report
  • Passport and one fotocopy of it
  • 3 passport photos (although they didn’t take mine, as my photo is stored on their system.
  • They will take your fingerprints (huellas)
  • They will give you a resguardo, a chit stating that you have applied for a new TIE, should you be asked for it.

 

After a month you have to ring the number they give you to check that your TIE is there (why can’t they ring you when it arrives?).

If it is, go online again to make a cita previa to collect your TIE (recoger TIE).

***

That’s it. It turned out to be quite straightforward in the end.

Hope this helps, but more than that I hope you don’t lose your wallet or get it nicked.

 

Acknowledgements

www.immigrationspain.es

https://sede.administracionespublicas.gob.es

 

 



Like 2        Published at 7:03 AM   Comments (2)


HOW TO ….. buy a house in Spain?
Thursday, May 26, 2022

Most prospective purchasers go through estate agents, either online or directly in their offices. But there are other ways. The Crazy Guy has bought several properties in Spain over the last two decades. Here, he offers advice based on his experience.

 

I’ve bought five houses in Spain over the last twenty years and have sold three. As a result, I’ve gathered some know-how and learned from my mistakes. There are various ways to buy a house. Here are my ideas.

 

Estate agents (agencias inmobiliarias)

Buying via an estate agent is the normal way to purchase property, but it’s the most expensive for the vendor, who must pay a hefty commission (typically 5% or more) and possibly for the purchaser also, as vendors are less inclined to bargain. Some estate agents try to claim a finder’s fee from the buyers. I would always refuse point blank. The estate agent is working for the vendor not the buyer.

We bought our first property in Spain, in Ronda (Málaga), in 2001, via an estate agent, Unicasa (now gone bust).

Normally ultra-cautious at home in the UK, we agreed a deal to buy Piso Blanco within 30 minutes of viewing it (in our defence we had viewed umpteen properties in the preceding 12 months and knew straightaway that this small apartment in a comunidad with swimming pool in the up-and-coming Barrio San Francisco was perfect for our needs – a bolthole from our busy lives in England and also a potential holiday rental).

We did everything wrong. We didn’t get a survey, we used the estate agent’s recommended lawyer and opened an account at their recommended bank, Unicaja. All the advice said, don’t do any of those things. We did, however, and it was no problem - the lawyer was fine and we had an account with Unicaja for 20 years (until they got too big for their boots and started to mistreat their clients and I closed the account).

We got great value from Piso Blanco. Two or three family visits a year plus good lettings when we weren’t using it.

When I sold it after 18 years, I even made a small profit. No estate agents were involved – it was a private word-of-mouth deal.

We bought our second property two years later. I found the house myself and spoke to the vendor direct, but he insisted on using an estate agent– I don’t know why, because it will have cost him more, but it was his choice. That estate agency, Interrealty, also went bust.

This time we were a bit more streetwise. We found our own legal representative, a procurador, similar to a conveyancing solicitor. He was much cheaper and more diligent than many a lawyer.

We didn’t bother with a survey, as we could see with our own eyes that the place was falling down. I exaggerate slightly, but Casa Blanca needed a lot of work, which I mostly did myself over the next couple of years with help from friends and family. Take a bow Alan, Tom and Johnny, Amy and Jeryl.

I sold Casa Blanca after five years and made a decent profit. I used an estate agent, A & B Inmobiliaria in Ronda. The fee included the legal work. B has since retired, but A is now Emme Inmobiliaria.

The third house, bought by my then girlfriend Maud in 2004, was also via an estate agent, the aforementioned A & B Inmobiliaria. El Rincón was small, beautifully formed, but needed a lot of work, which I threw myself into enthusiastically. I was retired by then so had the time.

After my relationship with Maud ended, the house went up for sale. I sold it on Maud’s behalf by word of mouth. No estate agent involved. That was in 2010. We went to the notary on the same day that Frank Lampard’s spectacular goal for England against Germany in the World Cup in South Africa was inexplicably disallowed. (No VAR back then).

House number four is our current home. We spotted it on the website of Olvera Properties. We fell in love with Villa Indiana at first sight and soon agreed a deal with the English owners who were moving back to the UK. The estate agent, Thom, was excellent, very attentive to us as purchasers also. We chose not to use a lawyer (I felt confident after three previous property purchases that we did not need one. As it turned out, the vendor’s lawyer was also helpful to us for no charge).

 

Housefinders

There are companies that offer a house-finding service. In this case they are working for you, the prospective purchaser, so it’s right that they should collect a fee from you if they find you somewhere to buy. Their commission is similar to that charged to property vendors.

 

 

 

 

Corredores

Literally “runners”, these are local folk who have a portfolio of properties for sale, many of which are unknown to estate agents. The Spanish are very suspicious of estate agents (their reputation is on a par with lawyers, second-hand car salesmen and timeshare sellers) so local folk will not work with them. They are happy to work with corredores, however, and to pay them between two and three per cent of the sale price. The corredor will expect a similar amount from the buyers.

Despite this charge to the buyer, it usually works out cheaper through this system, as the vendor is more likely to lower his sale price because he is not using an expensive estate agent.

When we were looking for our first property back in 2000/2001, we were shown umpteen houses by corredores in Ronda, Arriate, Benaojan and Montejaque. Fascinating!

How do you find a corredor?

Simply go into the busiest bar in the town or village you have chosen and ask if there are any houses for sale. By the time you’re halfway down your first caña, there will be a local guy standing beside you, jangling keys from his belt and offering to show you a range of properties.

This system works on trust and a handshake.

I know several professional people who worked as corredores in their younger days, including my bank manager, Carlos, and two guiri hoteliers, Iain and Andy. The latter, recently retired from the hospitality industry, is still active, I believe. Another friend of mine, Pablo, does it too. He’s long retired and sees this as a way of topping up his pension.

 

Private sales

You see quite a lot of handwritten se vende signs on properties, with a phone number. If you speak Spanish or have a friend that does, give the number a call.

That’s how I found my fifth house.

I’d just viewed a house in Montejaque (Málaga) that I’d discovered by word-of-mouth when I spotted a sign on the house next door. “That’s Armando’s house,” said my companion.

“You mean Armando, mi amigo, del bar?”

I went straight to the bar, spoke to Armando who was about to close for the siesta, and he agreed to show me the house there and then. It was his family home, his parents were long deceased and the house was now owned by him and his three siblings who all live in the village.

Long story short, I bought the house, which I named Casa Real in their honour (their surname is Real).

A private sale, no lawyers involved, just the notary to legalise everything.

That’s the way to do it.

 

Word-of-mouth

This tends to happen by chance, although you can try to engineer a word-of-mouth situation by asking in a bar or at the tourist office. Or by talking to other foreigners already living in the town or village. Nowadays you can also use social media, eg Facebook or Twitter.

I remember back in 2001, when we were on a 'recce', my then wife, Jeryl, and I asked the landlord, Juan, in the now defunct Bar Alemán in Montejaque, if he knew of any houses for sale.

“Yes my mother’s.”

“Can we view it?”

“Sí. Next week?”

“No it has to be today. We fly home to England tomorrow.”

“Oh, that’s a bit tricky.”

“Why?”

“She doesn’t know yet that her house is for sale! I have to ask her if it’s OK”

Well, we got to see the house and liked it but took no decision at that point. However, when we returned a couple of months later, the house had been sold to a retired British couple, Philip and Sandra, who were later to become good friends of ours.

So, the clear message is: Strike while the iron’s hot!

No matter, later in the year we found Piso Blanco in Ronda, as referenced above.

***

So, dear reader, these are my recommendations. Most transactions still occur via estate agents, but the other methods are also worth considering.

Happy househunting!

 

Further reading:

My God, what have we done?

The Story of El Rincón

How We Found Our Dream Home

A Building Project Nears Completion

The Crazy Guy gets his house finished just in time

The Houses That Jack Built

Was It Something I said?

Cheque (sic) Your Spanish Bank Account



Like 3        Published at 5:08 PM   Comments (5)


HOW TO ..... reapply for all your cards, when you lose your wallet or have it stolen.
Wednesday, May 25, 2022

This is one of the nightmares of modern life. Your wallet is gone, you may have lost a significant sum of money, but the worst is having to block your bank and credit cards, order new ones and replace all those other important documents, like your ID card, driving licence, health card(s), railcard, store cards, etc.

The Crazy Guy has lost his wallet or had it stolen three times in Spain in the last dozen years, the last time this very week. During the same period his wife has been pickpocketed on two occasions. Here’s their story.

 

Wallet gone - five times

The first time my wallet went missing I had apparently dropped it one Sunday morning 12 years ago in the pouring rain in or outside Libreria Dumas, the newsagents in Ronda (Málaga).

I returned to the shop immediately. There was no sign of it in or out. Bugger!

I drove straight to the comisaría de policía nacional. When I announced to the duty sergeant that I’d lost my wallet he asked my name and immediately informed me it had been handed to a beat bobby 10 minutes previously and he was on his way back to the station with it.

Five minutes later I had my wallet again, fully intact with cash present. A passerby had found it on the street outside the newsagents and handed it in straightaway. I was impressed with the honesty.

I had been lucky.

My wife’s first loss was in the La Cañada shopping centre in Marbella. We informed the security guards at the centre, reported the theft to the police online and my wife cancelled her bank cards.

Amazingly, a week later, we got a call – the wallet had been found in a bin – minus the cash of course. But at least she didn´t have to reapply for new documents.

She had been to some extent lucky.

Four years later it happened again, this time on the pedestrian shopping street, Calle La Bola, in Ronda. We went to the policía nacional to do the denuncia. While we were doing so my wife’s purse was brought in, minus the cash of course. It too had been found in a rubbish bin.

Lucky once again that she didn’t have to reapply for her cards and documents.

In 2020 my wallet was stolen in a bar in Montejaque (Málaga). The villagers were so outraged that they started their own private investigation and found the culprit, an 18 year old druggie. His father handed my wallet in to the local hotel. No cash left, of course.

I contacted the mother of the culprit and made it clear that if I did not get the cash back within two days I would do a denuncia to the guardia civil. I got the cash.

I had been fortunate that the village had rallied round and helped to solve the crime.

This week, however, my luck appears to have run out. My wallet went missing after a family party in Germany on Sunday. I spent Monday retracing my steps, but no sign of my wallet.

After a dozen phone calls that night and yesterday I’d cancelled everything and ordered new, with a couple of exceptions.

 

How to do it?

First priority was to check my bank accounts online. Phew! No suspicious activity. But I cancelled all my cards anyway and ordered new ones.

With my UK bank I was able to do that in a few seconds online. In theory that should have been possible with my two Spanish banks, but their apps decided not to play ball, so I rang their 24 hour emergency lines and dealt with it quite quickly.

Point to note: Don’t ring customer service. With CaixaBank I waited 25 minutes unanswered until I gave up and rang the 24 hour line. I was answered immediately. With BancSabadell it was just as quick.

With luck, my new cards will be waiting for me in my buzón when we get back.

***

A replacement driving licence is trickier. You have to pay the tasa of 20.81€ first. Tricky, nay impossible, when you are abroad. You can apparently pay online, but with no bank card ….. how?

My senior citizen’s card was tricky too; the website function was down and the free telephone number does not work from outside Spain. Oh, well, that’s not so urgent.

To order a replacement EHIC (tarjeta sanitaria europea) proved troublesome also. After 22 minutes waiting in a telephone queue listening to atrocious muzak, I eventually got to speak to somebody. We’ll see how quickly they manage to sort that out.

For my tarjeta sanitaria (Spanish Health Card) I rang my local health centre and ordered a replacement in seconds over the phone.

For my private health care card, it was similar. I rang them, they answered straightaway and my card is already in the post.

My replacement press card was dealt with quickly via email and I discovered that Amigos de Paradores no longer issue plastic cards. It’s all done online. At least my accumulated 288 points are intact.

That just leaves my store cards and loyalty cards. I’ll sort those out when I next visit Bauhaus, IKEA, Leroy Merlin, MAKRO, Springfield and the AVIA petrol station.

 

Final word of advice:

DON’T LOSE YOUR WALLET!



Like 0        Published at 7:56 AM   Comments (0)


HOW TO ….. get your house warm?
Tuesday, March 29, 2022

When The Crazy Guy was nearing completion of the reforma of an old house in a mountain village 690 metres above sea level, he realised how cold it was in the house, so what to do?

I bought an old village house in Montejaque (Malaga) in October 2020. 12 months later it was ready for a trial rental. Good friends from the UK tested the house and gave very useful feedback.

In February and March 2022, friends from Germany stayed in the house free of charge in exchange for their labour, mainly joinery jobs.

However, this period of time coincided with the coldest start to a year for a long while in this part of Andalucía and they were cold in this draughty house dating from the 19th century. All they had for heating was a gas fire in the living area and electric radiators in the bedrooms.

So, what did I do?

Firstly I installed a pellet stove in the living area. We took the flue up through the ceiling and through one of the bedrooms, before exiting at eaves level.

Secondly I ordered new double glazed windows with built-in shutters for the front of the house, and a new entrance door.

Thirdly I installed a wall heater in each of the bathrooms.

What a difference!

The downstairs (open plan lounge, dining room and kitchen) is now as warm as toast.

The second bedroom is nicely warmed by the stove pipe passing through it.

It is no longer an ordeal to go to the loo or take a bath or shower.

The main bedroom is easily kept warm with the existing electric radiator.

The thick stone walls of the house ensure that the heat stays in.

And in the summer, these same walls will ensure that the heat stays out.

What a great result!



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HOW TO ..... import a foreign vehicle to Spain and re-register it onto Spanish number plates
Saturday, March 19, 2022

The Crazy Guy recently completed the process of importing a UK vehicle to Spain and re-registering it onto Spanish number plates. He found it extremely straightforward.

When I decided to buy a UK vehicle here in Spain, I knew I needed to re-register it as soon as possible. I asked some friends who’d already done this and they referred me to companies on the coast that do it for you for a pretty hefty fee.

I decided that I probably didn’t need to waste money I didn’t have so I decided to do it myself with the help of a gestor.

Irene, the gestora, told me what I needed to do and how much each stage of the process would cost. Once I’d completed the process, I just needed to bring all the paperwork in and she would deal with tráfico in Málaga. All for a fee of just 80 euros!

This is what I had to do:

Get an independent engineer’s report (una ficha técnica reducida). She gave me the phone number of a local engineer, Natale, and told me it would cost 110€. It cost…110€.

I had to get the headlights changed, as it is a right-hand-drive vehicle. My neighbour Antonio, a car mechanic, did that for 380€.

Next, I had to go to the ITV station to request an inspección técnica de vehículos, like a super strict MOT. A few days later I was contacted with an appointment. They did the test. It passed. 150€.

I returned to Irene, my gestora, and gave her all the paperwork. A week later I was contacted to be told everything was in order with tráfico in Málaga. I just needed to pop into the office to pay some tax and the gestora’s fee.

A few days later I was summoned again to collect my new placas, number plates. Bob’s your uncle! My car was now Spanish and legal.

Here’s my final bill:

  • Ficha técnica reducida €110
  • Change of headlights €380
  • ITV €150
  • Import tax €600
  • Gestora fee €80

TOTAL €1,320

Please note:

My vehicle was imported to Spain before the UK left the EU. From 1 January 2021 onwards, you have to pay import duty on top.



Like 0        Published at 7:52 AM   Comments (1)


HOW TO ….. Dodge the Tax Man (or not): Catastral Values and Tax in Spain
Monday, March 7, 2022

It used to be standard practice when buying and selling property in Spain to under-declare the value in the escritura (deed), in order to avoid tax. Everybody was complicit, vendor and purchaser obviously, but also estate agents, lawyers and even notaries turned a blind eye. In recent years the authorities have tried to clamp down, however. The Crazy Guy who has transacted a few houses in Spain in his time, has had a look at the current situation.

The practice of under-declaring a property’s value to avoid taxes has to some extent disappeared. Once upon a time everybody was at it and it seemed to be condoned. All part of the long-accepted tradition of low-level corruption in Spain.

In the last few years things have tightened up, however. Most estate agents and lawyers are no longer prepared to get involved, as fines can be heavy.

Every property has a valor catastral, a value for tax purposes. This may have nothing whatsoever to do with the real value, as valuations in many areas are well out of date, and certainly does not relate to market value, although, as house prices have dropped markedly since la crisis (the 2008 recession, not the Covid-19 one!) they can be uncannily accurate.

To counteract the fact that valuations are out of date each town/village has a coefficient by which the valor catastral is multiplied to arrive at a more accurate valuation for tax purposes. Hacienda use this to try and prevent loss of revenue through under-declaring the price when properties change hands.

So, for example, I used to have an apartment in Ronda (Málaga) with a valor catastral of just over 17,300€. The coefficient for Ronda is a massive 4.2 because property values have not been re-assessed since 1998. That makes the valuation of my apartment for tax purposes 72,660€. In the mid-80s, ie before the worldwide recession in 2008, the market value was much higher, at around 120,000€. So the system is by no means perfect, because if we had sold the flat then, we could have under-declared massively and presumably got away with it! I eventually sold it three years ago for about 10,000€ more than the valor catastral. Got my timing wrong there, didn’t I?

In nearby Montejaque, also Málaga, the situation is very different. Here the coefficient is just 1.8 because properties were re-valued as recently as 2007. A friend of ours owns a house there with a valor catastral of nearly 92,800€ which makes its value for tax purposes 167,040€. Its market value is probably around 150,000€ in the current economic climate, so, if she were to sell the house at that price, she’d pay more tax than she should!

If the authorities think you’ve under-declared to avoid paying tax, you could be in for a shock. You could be hit by a big tax bill for the shortfall and a fine to boot. So, you have been warned!

 



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