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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 @ 18:15

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?

Like 1


Thistles said:
12 March 2016 @ 09:46

Re: one-way streets. I've an inkling that not so long ago, it became allowable for cyclists to go against the traffic in one-way streets, but check up on this first.

Thistles said:
12 March 2016 @ 09:58

Roundabouts. If you are on "Facebook" you can search for N332. It is a superb source of information from Trafico which addresses all topics - or you can ask the question.
On roundabouts you will see that the broken line from the advancing lanes continues round the roundabout, allowing the inside driver to go round without an indicator! Hence, should you wish to go straight on from the outside lane, he DOES have the right of way!! One has to indicate only when crossing a broken white line ie. when leavingthe roundabout or changing lanes.

Thistles said:
12 March 2016 @ 10:05

Go to N332, the publication of Trafico: There are accompanying diagrams to be seen there.
They are sometimes considered daunting, confusing, frustrating and dangerous, but in actual fact, if used correctly, roundabouts are designed to improve the flow of traffic at busy junctions.


For foreign drivers in Spain, the idea of driving on a roundabout is even more confusing, not necessarily because they are particularly different, but with so many vehicles seemingly following their own rules, and in areas frequented by tourists who may not be as used to the road as the native drivers, all of these factors combine to create a nightmare for many.

However, if we break down the process of driving on roundabouts, we can actually get a better understanding of how they are intended to be driven on, and, therefore, realise exactly what should be going on.

We probably already realise that we have to give way to traffic already on the roundabout, but for now, we are not going to look at the approach to roundabouts, or for that matter driving on them, but we are going to look and examine the situation where most roundabout incidents take place, during the process of exiting the roundabout onto another road.

Firstly, we need to consider three basic principles, two which we know, and one which we may forget, all of which are crucial in our understanding of how we should exit a roundabout.

Firstly, in Spain, we drive on the right. In fact, we should drive as far to the right as possible, subject to any factors which may prevent this. This rule applies irrespective of how many lanes there are on a road, the right hand lane is considered our normal driving lane.

Secondly, although they are classed as a special intersection, roundabouts are treated just like any other road. Albeit a one way street, but a normal road none the less, irrespective of the number of lanes, a roundabout is nothing more than a normal, curved road, with junctions.

The third principle we must be aware of is that, under normal circumstances, we should always exit the roundabout from the right hand lane, the outer lane, unless signs or signals tell us otherwise.

Having established those three principles, let us now move away from roundabouts and consider a normal, straight road. Imaging a road that never ends and is a straight line, with no curves, but it does have junctions. We can consider it to be a one way street to make it easier.

As we drive along this road, there may come a point when we want to turn right, at a junction. As we drive along the road we know where we want to turn and we carry out our procedure we learnt when a novice driver, mirror, signal, manoeuvre, perhaps even remembering position, speed and look, and we turn right from the major road to the minor road.

This procedure is something that we do countless times during any normal drive.

Now, let us consider that we are driving along the same straight one way road, although this time it has two lanes. We still want to turn right, and so think for a moment what would the procedure be?

The procedure is of course exactly the same, the only difference being that if we are in the second, left hand lane for some reason, lane 2 as we will call it, we would normally move back into the right hand lane, lane 1, before we exercise our procedure to turn right.

It would never normally cross our mind in this situation to cut across the path from lane 2 to lane 1 in front of another vehicle, as this is quite obviously a dangerous move, particularly if the vehicle in lane 1 is continuing straight ahead.

We think back to our first basic rule, we always drive on the right.

Now let us transpose this situation onto another type of road, this time the road we are on is not straight, but rather curves to the left, constantly. Other than that, the features of the road are the same, it has junctions and it has more than one lane.

Supposing we are driving along this long curved one way street and we wish to turn right, think for a moment, would the same procedure apply?

The answer is yes, it would. Under normal circumstances we would be driving in the right hand lane, or normal driving lane. If we wish to turn right, we exercise our right turn procedure as we approach, including mirror, signal, manoeuvre, position, speed and look, before we turn from the major to a minor road.

In the event of us being in lane 2, would we cut across the vehicle in lane 1? No, we would first exercise a procedure for us to return from lane 2 to lane 1 and then exercise our right turn process.

Now, if we look back at our second general rule, we must consider that roundabouts are treated just like any normal road, albeit a one way street. In other words, a roundabout is exactly the same as the situation we have just described. Now reinforced by the third principle we looked at in the beginning, that we would normally exit a roundabout from the right hand lane.

Let us look at how we put all of this into practice on a roundabout. Remember, we are not concerned about the approach or process of the roundabout itself, but the procedure for exiting.

If we are on the roundabout and wish to exit at the first junction, we would do so exactly the same way as we would on either our long straight road, or the curved one we described. In fact, this procedure is the same for the second, third or fourth exit, it is the same procedure for any exit in fact, we should normally be in the right hand lane before exiting, and would signal with a right turn indicator before leaving the roundabout.

Although we are not looking at what we do on a roundabout, there are two points we must look at. The first one if that the lanes are marked out for a reason, and so we must follow the lane markings, not cutting across the roundabout, just like we wouldn’t normally cut across lanes on any other road.

Secondly, we may well find ourselves not in the right hand lane, just like we might find ourselves in lane 2 in the previous example. Does that mean that we can cut across in front of other drivers in order to exit the roundabout? No, it does not, in exactly the same way we shouldn’t cut across a vehicle on our straight road. Remember, our third principle is that we should, under normal circumstances, always exit the roundabout from the right hand lane.

One question that always comes up is “why then are there sometimes more than one lane on a roundabout?”, the answer is simply the same as if the question were “why are there sometimes more than one lane on any road?”, because sometimes more than one lane is needed for the smooth flow of traffic, sometimes you need to use that second lane, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that the right hand lane is our normal driving lane.

The DGT answers the question, “Can I exit directly from the inside lane?” with the response “no”, unless the movement within the roundabout is channelled through suitably marked lanes and road markings: in this case, the exit could be made from the inner lane and the right. Although, remember, if the outside lane was not busy, the rule requires you to use it. If the outside, normal driving lane is occupied, then the general principle of security offered this type of infrastructure is that the exit should be from the outside lane, you must not stop in the middle of the roundabout waiting to be let by, nor should you cut in front of other road users in the outside lane, remember the rules of priority and try to move into the correct lane early enough.

What about indicators? Well, once again, that question could also refer to any other road. In our first example of a long straight road, would we indicate to show other road users our intention to turn right? Yes, of course we would, it is part of our procedure, under normal circumstances. But on the straight road, would a vehicle indicate that they are not intending to turn and are in fact going straight on? The answer to this one is no, not normally, and on roundabouts the DGT say that it is not a requirement, however, it is often advised to implement what we describe as a “courtesy indicator”. There is no requirement to indicate that we are going straight on, but as the roundabout often requires quicker responses to movements, indications that we are not turning off, by using our left turn indicator, can be considered courteous and affirms our intentions.

There are some people who say that there is not enough time to do all of this on a roundabout, but as any driving instructor or professional would tell you, when it comes to driving, there is one way in which you can give yourself more time, that is to slow down.

If we put our three basic principles into practice, we will soon see that the process is slightly less confusing than we might have thought. Always drive on the right, under normal circumstances, and always exit a roundabout from the right hand lane, unless signs or signals tell you otherwise.

foresternige said:
12 May 2016 @ 11:35

Hey guys - it's May - give us an update : how are things for you there? xx hope things are well.

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