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Time to move to Spain

Medically retired at short notice our plans to move to Spain are brought forward by a few years. With little time to spare, this is our story.

Prepare for Spain
22 September 2015

Paul & Sue Prepare for Spain. 

We have decided to rent for a year before selling up completely. The sign goes up outside the house and tickets for Alicante booked. We actually booked a holiday in Mallorca in 2014, before we knew anything about my retirement. This means we will tag a couple of days onto the start of the holiday for house hunting. That was easier than it sounds. We try and change our original flight from Palma to Alicante and bring it two days back. No chance. It's cheaper to book a whole new fight and not use the original flight than to change the original flight. 

Arranging viewings is a nightmare. Dozens of websites with properties to rent, make a call or send an email, arrange a viewing, turn up. Simple! No! Most of the properties we looked at had already gone without having updated the websites. Some are booked then we get told they have now been let. Despite weeks of arranging we have five properties to view over two days. Three in El Campello, one on an urbanisation in Gran Alicante and one in Torrevieja. We have been watching 'A place in the sun' religiously and attended the exhibition in March so of course the next two days will be a breeze! To top it all, on checking flights to Alicante, the prices are rising daily so we plunge and book single flights on 20th July, hoping we have done the right thing.

Having arranged to meet an estate agent in Alicante we didn't factor in the festival that was due to take place the next day. Every time our sat nav said 'turn left' the road was closed. We got to see a lot of the town centre that morning. Our first stop was Gran Alicante. The estate agent left the office a couple of minutes before us we arrived at the urbanisation 20 minutes later at 11am. No sign of the estate agent. We waited and waited, over half an hour before ringing the office back. The only person we could speak to knew no English and the agent who,did speak English had gone out. After nearly an hour we had to leave as we had our next viewing in Torrevieja soon. 
Our first visit to Torrevieja and we liked it. The apartment was near to the beach, 50 metres if I have to estimate. The nice, clean three bed apartment was  better than expected and although very built up, we liked being near the centre of things. After  a short dinner, we take a phone call from the estate agent from this morning. The representative is at the house on Gran Alicante waiting for us. "Where are we?" To this day, other than the language barrier, how did we miss the agent by three hours? The arrangements were made by the English speaking agent, we left at similar times but three hours? Is it the famous Spanish laid back approach? 


We move on back to El Campello, a lovely place. Two apartments a few streets back from the beach are very dismal and disappointing. We could be in a deprived inner city area of the UK with neighbours a few yards away if it wasn't so warm. One of the apartments had extended their living space to incorporate their terrace, enclosing it completely. It made the living room bigger, that's all, and very warm too. The final property was on the eighth floor of a complex and although reasonable it too, was a bit soulless and to cap it all it was the victim of a flood from the apartment above. 20th July is now looking a concern to us and we wonder if we have jumped the gun a bit. 

We revisit the following day and decide to take the plunge. After all this, it's the apartment in Torrevieja that we choose. We have some dinner, phone the owner of the apartment and drive back to our hotel ready to fly to Palma for our weeks holiday. Before we leave however, Sue has left her sunglasses in the restaurant. We return and Sue tries to show off her Spanish lessons with a "Boligrapho de sol?" which loosely translates to 'sun pen' or something similar, not sunglasses.
Until we leave on 20th July we find someone to rent our house; have a leaving party; arrange shipping of our personal items; say goodbye to family and friends and wonder when the British summer will actually start. I said wonder, but not really bothered. Spain here we come! 

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Time to move to Spain
17 September 2015

Time to move to Spain

26th April 2015. A date that will live in my memory for ever. My last day at work. My medical retirement starts tomorrow. The dream of my wife Sue and I to retire to Spain is on and there is little time to waste. The list of priorities is endless but the main ones involve renting out our house and finding somewhere to live in Spain. One piece of advice I received form a well-intentioned friend when I announced my decision on Facebook was not to make too many changes too soon after retiring - Oops! 

There will be those who will be critical of many things we do during our move, but despite our lack of knowledge (until this year I had only visited mainland Spain once, my wife, never); our poor timing (we plan to go on 20th July, the first week of the summer holidays) and despite my small pension (we will need to make a living somehow) we have decided life is for living, let’s just do it. 

A short fact finding mission is quickly arranged. We have decided on the Costa Blanca and we are going to stay in Calpe. We have to be within about 45 minutes of the airport and, well, Calpe looked lovely. To add insult to injury, we don't speak Spanish. We download two courses and attempt to learn as much as we can before we leave.

On arrival in Alicante we collect a hire car and have to negotiate the increased costs that aren’t mentioned in the brochure. Within ten minutes of parking on Alicante sea front, the car is damaged by another car and a nasty scrape is the result. It leaves a bit of a sour taste. Our attitude is ‘it can happen anywhere’, thankfully the hire company are reasonable about it, the insurance will cover the damage. Isn’t it strange how things you take for granted in normal circumstances become a concern otherwise. Of course the insurance will take care of it.


In contrast to the UK the temperature is a pleasant 23C and a little chilly in the evenings. We try out our new 'Spanish' and are quite impressed with ourselves. I notice quite quickly how, when negotiating words I've never used before my arms and hands move to compensate. Thankfully my 'el servicio de caballero' is near enough for me not to have to do the actions.

Ive never driven outside the UK before and we both have a few anxious moments over driving too near to the kerb. I'm wary where we park up and air conditioning, even in April is a godsend.

We are loving Alicante itself, together with El Campello and Sant Joan with its fabulous golden beaches. Decision final – Its Alicante! And we haven’t tried anywhere else? 


If you have ever moved house before you will understand the stress it causes. I would say double it for moving to Spain, and double it again if you haven’t anywhere to live yet! Bearing this in mind we plan another two day inspection trip in June. In the meantime we have the small matter of putting our house up for rent.





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