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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 @ 16:46

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? 


Like 2


foresternige said:
05 February 2016 @ 17:26

ah man, sorry to hear that. I have a suggestion for you if you can email me at foresternige at gmail dot com

Hope something works out soon with the UK house though.

Dee12345 said:
06 February 2016 @ 08:35

Can you please tell me what time is the programme you mentioned on Channel 5?

Charlietwice said:
06 February 2016 @ 11:11


The Brits in Benidorm programme is on ch5 on Tuesday evening. 8pm uk time, 9 pm Spanish time!

elinspain said:
06 February 2016 @ 19:15

Re your last comments. La Mata is a lovely place to live, it has most things you need, 2 x regular buses to Torrevieja, a good Wed. market & you are only 5mins from the beach wherever you choose to live. Hope you sot out your housing dilemma very soon.
Im not a fan of Benidorm but Bargain loving Brits does make me laugh & reminds me why I don't like the place haha

broadsword said:
07 February 2016 @ 15:32

Re your comments about the small lift...I have had that problem before at some hotels when I have been mountainbiking,and I have wheeled the bike in on its rear wheel only and stood it upright and have yet to find a lift (so far) that its not got in (27.5" wheels and 23"frame)....hope it works :)

quizzie said:
08 February 2016 @ 17:23

Hi, I still enjoy reading your updates, but sorry to hear your plans re your home in England has not worked out yet. La Mata is lovely as you know, but having been there on Friday to see my estate agent, a lot of properties are on a very steep incline, so no good for me. I looked at a property in July when the euro was better than now, viewed it again, decided to have it, and have left a small holding fee. Now my process begins. Scary a bit, left it too late to open a Spanish bank account, but fingers crossed it will all work out. Best wishes

Charlietwice said:
09 February 2016 @ 15:38

Thank you for your comments. I really like La Mata but of course it's getting the right property at the right time. I've also tried my bike as per suggestion, but the lift holds 4 at a squeeze and the handlebars just stick out too much. Just need to sell the house then things will look a little better but the market is not quite as good in northern England as the popular press make out.

MichaelAR said:
13 February 2016 @ 09:36

Hi Charlie,

Most modern bikes come with a quick release mechanism for the front wheel - both axle and brake.
Whip off the wheel, stand the bike upright on the rear wheel and away you go!

Works fine even in our Liliputian lift.

Good luck with your plans.


topsyjkv said:
13 February 2016 @ 09:55

Have you thought about long term renting your UK property, then just rent over here.
We are renting 2bed flat out in UK, live in 4 bed villa with pool over here.

Roberto said:
13 February 2016 @ 10:40

"We are also reliably informed that house prices on the Costa Blanca increased by about 5% last year following 7 years of reducing." Don't believe the hype.
The best decision you made was renting first. The worst decision you could make is selling your UK property. Things can get a lot worse than a bike not fitting in the lift. Find another long term tenant and keep renting in Spain - even swallow your pride and try Benidorm if there's work available. But if you burn your bridges, there may come a time when, for whatever reason (health as you get older being a common one) you may want to return, but find yourself priced out of the UK market. We have lived happily in Spain for nearly 20 years, but now for various reasons want to return to the UK. If (not even when) we can sell our property here, we'll not be able to buy a similar place for the same money (we're looking at Southport, which you will be familiar with). House prices in the NW may not be rising at the moment, but believe me, the gap is only going to get wider.
Also, I would suggest you don't make any rash decisions until Brexit is out of the way. There are too many unknown possibilities at the moment. Sit tight, and enjoy life! Good luck.

fireblade900-1 said:
13 February 2016 @ 10:42

Hola ...Yes I agree with renting your prop in UK and renting in Spain, La Mata beech is one of the finest I feel for walking, sunning, very clean and no lager louts! I signed for my 12 month to build my off plan property in Rojales July 2003 at the height of prices, rate was 1.45 Eur/Gbp and was ready to move in October 2004 ...they even paid compensation as the build was 2 months over their completion date of 2000 euro!!! Im very happy with the house and its still in great shape.

Due to my circumstances I spend 8 weeks working in UK and 10 days in Spain over the year... Cant wait to return for some blue sky !!

With regards to learning Spanish ...I thinks its absolutley essential, yes you can get by with some locals....but not when it comes to formal situations..Ive been studying Spanish now for over 10 years and still learning ..Try this great APP on your phone or tablet ... DUOLINGO best used while on wifi, the app will remind you every day for a 10 minute to 30 min lesson

Best of luck with your decision, hope all goes to plan.


wodger said:
13 February 2016 @ 11:17

Sorry to read that you are medically retired but as you are able to ride a cycle then hopefully you are able to enjoy retirement.
Our cousin & her partner sold up in England & bought a house in Greece, it was the worse thing they ever did as her parents in the UK are now old & infirm, & they have to keep flying back to look after them. The Greek house has lost 65% of it's value in the recession, so they are unable to return & buy another house. Renting out the house in England would have been their best option.
I was given good advice by an older friend re retirement which I am happy to pass on although I don't think it applies to you. he said that you need to have paid off your mortgage, have no credit card bills or loans,own 2 almost new cars, be in receipt of your company pension & if possible old age pension. Good luck I hope it works out well for you.

maggs224 said:
13 February 2016 @ 12:30

I can recommend Duolingo it is an on-line language course that is free. There are a variety of languages to choose from including Spanish and the format is excellent.

To tune your ear I recommend a Youtube channel called Easy Spanish this is a link to one of their videos

You get to hear native Spanish speakers talking normally and the videos have English and Spanish subtitles.

marelison said:
13 February 2016 @ 13:29

Good article - In this story you all can see how important it is to DON'T go or try to look at work without having the language of the country you move to. - This is arrogance or kind of stupidy but very like most of (only) english speaking people to act. - The rule is, If you travel, pick up most and best lines which can make you survive during the holidays, but if you are going to settle done, then you - por favor - learn the language before you go. Other is rude, stupid and arrogance. -

kennyfisher said:
13 February 2016 @ 20:27

English Bar :
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Avenida de La Mancha
Commercial Center,
Alamedia 15B, Aguas Nuevas,
Venue Type
Opening Hours
Food Served
Same as Opening Hours.
Drinks served
Same as Opening Hours.
Drink Promotions
Yes, we have drink promotions.
We accept cash only.
Contact Details
Tel. Number: 667 329 772

MikeandHelen said:
13 February 2016 @ 22:24


An interesting Blog.

It illustrates my long held view, never give up a home in the UK and only buy in Spain if you have spare cash.

Whilst you may think that It would be good to spend your retirement in Spain, what about your Old Age? two completely different things, and there is a real possibility for anybody that they may need to return to the UK.

If you buy in Spain when the pound is strong against the Euro, yes you will get more Euro's for your money.

If you sell in Spain when the Pound is weak against the Euro, Pounds will cost less then you will get more Pounds for your money.

But it's a dangerous game - buying now in Spain means that when the pound strengthens against the Euro, and buy less pounds.

With an always going up housing market, you may never be able to purchase again in the UK.

Property rents in Spain are still very low, significantly less than the UK, do the sums very carefully.

Unfortunately your dream may be over. But be aware if many people whose lives have been shattered due to living their dreams in Spain.

Pasha01 said:
15 February 2016 @ 11:08

I agree with Roberto. Don't sell your UK house, rent it out long term. I know so many that sold in the Uk to move to Spain to retire, when illness arrived they all wanted to return home, where they had to stay with family as they could not sell the Spanish property, some have still not sold, legalities in Spain take even longer than in the UK. Rent in Spain, your house in the Uk will fund the rent in Spain and some. Prices are only on the rise in Spain for the new builds, some are ridiculous prices. Most of my owners who have sold to return home have lost 20,000 to 40,000 euros. Great for buyers but one day if you buy you will be a seller.

dorothyh said:
16 February 2016 @ 12:54

Just found your blog and enjoying it very much, we owned an apartment near Puerto banus for 10 years, sold it at a bit of a loss during the recession,however enjoyed holidays over that time and had rental income to cover most of the taxes and fees but not the mortgage, hope to spend time in Spain upon retirement but would never ever sell my house in Dublin, I'll rent when the time comes, there are quite a lot of taxes to pay in Spain, property and local tax, plus community fees if you are buying into an apartment complex, then there can be a lot of hassle with the community management, Don't buy in Spain, rent out your house in the UK, we were lucky to get out of the market there but I can't forget the anxious feelings while we waited for a buyer via a local auction, good luck, enjoy the sun, looking forward to my next trip in June

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