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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.

What a difference a month makes!
09 March 2016

What a difference a month makes

These are very uncertain times for a lot of people who either live in Spain or are planning to live out here. I’m referring of course to the EU referendum in June. Where do I stand? it seems a no brainer really that we vote to stay within the EU. It will have a direct effect on our travel, our status and the Euro but apart from them, I don't know much further. I am not an expert on all things European Union but I believe, perhaps naively that we are better together than apart. I’m reliably informed it will affect jobs for British people and I've yet to hear any argument that would suggest we are better pulling out. Therefore we stay! We have registered to vote and urge others to do also. 


In my last blog, I expressed my concern about selling up in the UK and buying in Spain. I would like to thank everyone who posted a reply with advice. We have made a decision over our future. Partly driven by the uncertainty over the EU vote and partly due to circumstances. Our house was up for sale for a month with very little interest culminating in a couple of viewings, both negative. With a mortgage to pay and rent to pay in Spain, coupled with the fact our current rental agreement is up shortly, we have decided to re rent our UK home and rent a little longer in Spain. 


How difficult is it to rent a house on the Costa Blanca? Our previous attempt at finding somewhere to live out here was last June. We found it difficult then because we were approaching the summer season. So of course, February will be a lot easier? Not quite! The rentals out here are generally for 11 months because of the law that allows the rent to be fixed for a five year period if a tenant signs for a year. (A rough description of a law that is no doubt quite complicated). In our search we found that many if not most properties only rent for short periods so that the summer is kept free. We have also encountered some oddities. None more so than the property where the advert stated you can rent for 11 months but had to leave August free each year. So where do you live in August?  Its easier to find property the further from the coast you go, unsurprisingly, and properties for rental are snapped up very quickly indeed. That leaves the dilemma of how late do we leave it before we accept? We still have three months to go on our current agreement and if we leave early we pay rent on two properties, if we leave it late, we may not find anywhere suitable given summer will be upon us. A kind of ‘deal or no deal’ situation. The upshot of this dilemma is that we have gone for the first option and we are now paying rent on two properties. We are therefore so glad we had a little cash to fall back on when we came out here. For anyone coming out here to live I would always recommend coming with rent money in advance, just in case. So this time next month we will be living in a Villa on an urbanisation away from the coast (although not too far). 


The TV programme about Brits in the sun, based in Benidorm has now finished its run. We are still to visit Benidorm but intend to do so at some stage. We found it very entertaining and have a few, tongue in cheek observations of our own as follows...


  1. Most Brits appear to live in Caravans. 
  2. The 'must have' accessory appears to be a mobility scooter
  3. People get a lot of their possessions from bins, either in or next to them
  4. There are a lot of drag artists/acts in Benidorm
  5. Its bloody hard work to make a living in Benidorm
  6. Everyone seems to know each other and raise a lot of money for charity
  7. The local language is English
  8. The local food is the good old ‘Sunday roast’
  9. If in doubt about what to do, buy a pub.
  10. Everything is cheap, and everyone is always saying so.


Of course its only a TV programme and it did only focus on a small cross section of the community but the same message did seem to come out every week. It would be interesting to hear what those who took part in the programme thought of its final edit. What it wasn't is typical of the Spain that we have encountered since we arrived. Everyone on the programme seemed to work very hard to make it work for them. Common themes were how cheap you could get a bottle of wine and a full English breakfast for. Compared with Torrevieja, where we are, they are so different. Torrevieja is very Spanish (given we read somewhere it was very British before we arrived). As you go away from the coast you get more non Spanish. It suits us and we prefer the Spanish feel rather than a British feel, and why we came here in the first place. 


I’ve returned to the joy of cycling in recent weeks with the purchase of a new bike. Its very interesting to note the differences between cycling in Spain v the UK. Actually there are more similarities as far as I'm concerned. Before I start I will point out that even though I've cycled a lot over most of my life, I've never ever taken it fully seriously. You’ll never see me in full lycra kit although I do have the padded shorts, a must, as is the cycle helmet these days!


Unfortunately most of the problems exist with car drivers in Spain that exist in England. Where i’m living the roads are much quieter that the city of Liverpool where I've lived most of my life. I do seem to get more room here and I see a lot of cyclists about but its hard to say whether I get more room because the roads are quieter or whether its the oher road users.It does appear to be a universal trait however of cars wanting to turn right in front of you or pulling out from junctions in front of cyclists. Negotiating your way out of Torrevieja is made difficult because of the one way system which sends you all over the place, together with the zebra crossings which are every few yards until you leave town. Because the cars are parked right up to the edge of the crossings, its hard to see pedestrians and most people don't wait for you to stop, instead appearing to jump out on you. I make a point at stopping at every red light as I'm aware of the reputation some cyclists have in this respect, it often means you spend more time static at crossings and lights as you make your way out of town. That of course applies to cars as well. There seems to be more cycle paths here than in England although they do seem to attract pedestrians for some reason. The main difference of course is the weather, its much more comfortable cycling with the sun on your back rather than sleet and snow. 


Im gradually increasing in confidence with my cycling although virtually every route out of town takes in the N332 which is pretty intimidating. Its often a one lane carriageway which leaves little room for a bicycle, and the two lane version means an increase in speed. Are there any other cyclists on this forum who have advice regarding negotiating such roads? At some stage, in order to get anywhere, I'm going to have to negotiate these roads.


Car driving has also thrown up some issues. When we arrived it amused us that most parked cars had bumps and scratches. Most people we speak to tell us this is normal and a daily hazard. Locally in Torrevieja I've already spoken about the one way system but it has come in to its own in the last two weeks with the roadworks taking place. Not just one or two roads, but about 10 roads. Its been like Hampton Court maze trying to get around town especially on market day. Id also like to make a point about roundabouts. Again, someone with more knowledge than me may be able to give an answer as I've looked online without success. Are there any rules in negotiating a roundabout? Or is it tourists and visitors who seem to negotiate them as if they've never seen one before. Let me explain… You approach a roundabout to turn left, which means 3/4 of the roundabout. Why do drivers enter in the right hand lane and go all around the outside? They also use the left lane, which makes it ‘interesting’ when exiting. We've seen many a near miss on roundabouts and it seems that there are no rules in negotiating them. This is not the odd occurrence exaggerated for impact, it happens every time we drive. Does this explain the aforementioned bumps and scratches? I would point out also that where we are, vehicles are parked in the road and not half on the pavement like in the UK and cars seem to have a switch that enables the driver to turn off fog lights when its not foggy, something I feel UK cars should have.


So the days are getting longer, the weather warmer and we’re moving house. We have family visiting in April and May, and I’m about to become a Grandad for the first time. whats not to like?

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