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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.

Is the Spanish dream over?
05 February 2016

Is the Spanish dream over?


“Hey now hey now/ Don't dream it’s over” 

Crowded House (1986)

Im not sure about the rest of the lyrics, but these two lines from one of the great pop songs of the 1980s seems to sum up our last two weeks. 


Its mid January and we’re looking forward to the next episode of our Spanish dream. The weather is mixed but mainly sunny, culminating in a week of warm weather at the end of January / start of February. The front line of Torrevieja is still busy with the bars and restaurants bustling, especially during the weekends. Last weekend, with the weather in the early 20s there was hardly a spare seat along the front. The local press is reporting the warmest December, and now January in years. What could possibly go wrong?


When we planned our move out here, our aim was to rent a property whilst our own home in England was rented out. After six months we would look at selling our home. Our tenants told us that they would be very interested in buying our house so long as they liked it there. Their rent would pay our rent and contribute towards our living expenses. A phone call in mid January was fairly positive as our tenants loved the house and wanted to stay. Unfortunately our joy was short lived and they were unable to buy. We have two options open to us at this point. Keep on renting or put the house up for sale wth the obvious danger of our tenants moving out before we sold. This is what we did and our tenants have now found somewhere else to live. This was always going to happen whenever we put the house up for sale be it now or in a few years time. 


Since we arrived last summer, the exchange rate for the Euro has gone from 1.40€ down to 1.26€. We are also reliably informed that house prices on the Costa Blanca increased by about 5% last year following 7 years of reducing. this meant we had to sell sooner rather than later given the possible increased price in the future. So we have lost a main source of income and wonder if we will be able to afford to keep on two properties at the same time if our own house does not sell. The thought of going back to England is unthinkable for both of us as we love the lifestyle here. We may have to return until the house is sold, or think of other ways of supplementing our income. Jobs are hard to come by here, especially if you do not speak Spanish. There is work, most of it is not very well paid. 


We of course have our insurance policy. When we first came out here we made sure we had a years rent to cover us in case of emergencies. This would also cover the mortgage on our own property, should problems occur. We have my small pension to live on but we are now dipping into our savings. Interestingly, we have been watching ‘Bargain loving Brits in the sun’ the TV series on Channel 5 based in Benidorm. based on what I've seen, Torrievieja is as far away from Benidorm's lifestyle as its possible to get. However, many of the people shown have decided to go and live in Benidorm with hardly a Euro to their name. Thats either a very brave or very stupid thing to do depending on your outlook. I would never criticise anyone for just coming out here without a back up but its not us. Benidorm has a much larger population of British people and British businesses based there so there will be more opportunity for work for non Spanish speaking people. This is not the case in Torrevieja where the English speaking businesses are few and far between. I would like add however that I'm very impressed with the ingenuity and hard work that most of those on the ‘Bargain Brits’ programme display. Coming over with nothing means hard work and mainly in the hot sun. 


One example of how difficult it can be not being able to speak Spanish is the ‘Irish bar’. Coming from Liverpool where there is a very strong Irish connection and there is no shortage of Irish bars. What we have found in Torrevieja since we arrived is that there are no English bars here. Im sure someone will probably prove me wrong but based on our knowledge of the town near the coast where we live, we have only found one near to the harbour. That one is closed and up for sale. It happens to be owned by a well known English actor, so not even his name was enough to keep it open. 


We know of at least five Irish bars in the local area. I saw a satirical post recently on social media that an Irish bar had been found on the moon. This may be far fetched but I expect you don't have to go far to find one in Spain. The problem with trying to find work in an Irish bar here is that three of them are Spanish speaking Irish bars. They appear to be Irish in style and the drinks they sell but all the staff are Spanish speaking. Obviously the bottom line is that you need to be able to speak Spanish to work there. I would always suggest it’s respectful to speak the local language whether you need it or not. It certainly seems to irk English people if people who come to England don't speak English. Some people have commented on the afore mentioned ‘Bargain loving Brits in the sun’ that you don't need to speak Spanish because everyone speaks English. Our Spanish is limited and locals are accommodating to a certain degree but as soon as we try and speak Spanish, they recognise our language and speak back in English. Only today, we've bought yet another language course in the hope we can get there but we are finding it difficult, however we are not giving up. 

My new bike on the road to La Mata

Just prior to the bad news about our house, I was debating about what to do about my fitness levels. The summer months meant we swam pretty much every day but nothing has replaced the gym I attended before i came out to Spain. I eventually decided to buy myself a new bike. Theres no shortage of bicycle shops in our local area and we visited them all at least once. I eventually decided on a mountain style hybrid bike. My experience of local roads both here and in England are that they aren't in the best of repair. Bike lanes I've found often are the worst part of the road. I lost count of the times I punctured with my road bike so i’ve gone with something that is a bit more substantial, especially in the wheel department. My first problem though was when I returned home with the bike. It doesn't fit in the lift! I was convinced it would, it’s a lift that holds at least 4 people! But not a bike! And I live on the 5th floor! At this point I will apologise for appearing to shout as i type my words. Would I still buy the bike if I knew then what I know now? Yes i would. To put a positive spin on it all, It’s quite an intensive workout getting the bike up the stairs at the end of a ride. So there’s nothing to dislike, is there? 


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