Could someone help us with where to start looking please.

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14 Sep 2007 12:00 AM by NatalieJane Star rating in Accrington, UK. 21 posts Send private message

Hi there,

I wonder if anyone could give us a few clues as to where to move to. I have read most of the 'where shall we move to questions' on the forum, and from the replies I understand that to get the best picture of an area we need to go and visit in person and see it with our own eyes. What I am wondering is if I could tell you a bit about our circumstances, I wondered if anyone could give us a few areas as starting points. The problem we have is that we have limited funds, so I'd rather have a few areas that we know would provide the basics we are looking for on paper so that we don't waste the time and money looking at areas that just aren't ever going to be right for us.

We are a young family, two boys who will be about 7 and 2 when we move, so we need a good number of (Spanish) schools and activities to keep them happy. My husband will need to work, the plan is that he will already have a job offer in place before we actually move, I realise it isn't very easy looking for work, so perhaps this would be an influencing factor in our search for the right town? We would like to be close to the coast (no more than 30-40mins drive away, though the closer the better). The very last place we would like to be is somewhere that gets too busy in the summer and then almosts dies in the winter. And lastly ideally we would like a good mix of nationalities, and ages, our Spanish won't be good enough to live in a totally Spanish area, though we would all like to be able to use our (hopefully improving) Spanish in everyday life so we wouldn't like to move into a 'Little England'.

I hope that isn't too long a check list! As I said, we will be wanting to visit and check the areas out for ourselves, but if anyone could give us some examples of towns/areas that they think would suit, that would be magic. We just need some starting points really, else I think we may have to resort to sticking a pin in a map a few times!!

Thanks very much.

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14 Sep 2007 3:55 PM by bobaol Star rating. 2253 posts Send private message

bobaol´s avatar

I guess a lot of people are scratching their heads on how to reply to this one, NatalieJane.

Areas to look.  Well, Spain is a very big place but you do mention you want to be near a beach so I assume the Southern or Eastern Costas is where you want.  The big problem here is you mention you have a limited budget.  The Costa del Sol, near the coast, is now very expensive.  Average prices there are about £220,000 with the nearer the beach and towns, the more expensive.  The area down to  Portugese or Gibraltar (Play de Luz??) is cheaper but not so well populated therefore they are very seasonal.

Coming round a bit, the Costa Almeria, Murcia region and Costa Blanca South.  Almeria and Murcia were cheap but are starting to catch up with the CB South where average properties (3 bed) are running at £140 to 150 thousand.  You can get cheaper (such as flats and top duplexes) but you're still looking at 90 - 120 k for 2 bedrooms.

All these areas are very highly populated with "foreigners - eg Brits, Germans, Swedes etc.  A full Spanish town is generally further inland with the Spaniards having holiday homes in the Costa areas.  The main employment in these areas is either property (building or selling) or the tourist industry (bars, restaurants etc) which are mainly seasonal.  In fact, if it wasn't for all the foreigners, these places would be akin to ghost towns in the winter months. 

Up to the Costa Blanca North (Benidorm area) where, again, property prices mirror that of the CB South but does not quite have the amount of Brits but is still very high.  For example, Torrevieja on the CB has less than 50% of native Spaniards (population 100,000, Brits 12,353, Germans 3,638 and Scandinavians 5,797 plus 100 other nationalities) whilst Denia (big Brit enclave near Benidorm) has 43% of foreigners.  The closer to the beach in these areas, the higher the property prices.  Also note that the number of people in Benidorm almost trebles in the summer months.

Further up there is Valencia.  Far less foreigners in this area and property prices are cheaper unless you live in the city or the suburbs where average property prices are around the  £140-160,000 mark.  Valencia is not such a seasonal city but it is the most visited city in Spain with some 1.5 million visitors every year.

Further up is the Costa Brava, Lloret del Mar and Calella areas.  Not a great amount of Brits in this area but definitely very seasonal.  This is not a huge building site area like the other costas (yet) and property prices are quite expensive due to the scarcity of property in the area.

The sticking point in your post is that you would be looking for work.  Reading lots of other posts on this, and other, sites, this is very difficult to get unless you can speak Spanish or would be prepared to work in the tourist industry (bars, restaurants etc) but be aware the pay is much, much lower than you would expect in UK. 

I don't really want to rain on your parade as I would be the first to recommend the way of life that Spain offers but I would not really recommend it to anyone without a good financial backing behind them.  To buy a house in Spain (or even rent one) and be reliant on income from Spain can be a very bad thing, unless you have special skills which are in demand in Spain.  Even then, the pay is well below what you'd expect in UK and buying a house from scratch at the prices nowadays could be very difficult.

My advice (for what it's worth) is to study the areas, either by reading posts on forums such as this, having a quick holiday there (not necessarily in the middle of summer when it might be packed) or asking around.  Then rent a place for a minimum of 6 months to see if you like the area.  If you buy straight away and then decide it is not for you, it is getting quite difficult in these days to sell your property and get what you paid for it in the short term.

All the areas above have a good selection of schools and these are discussed on this site as well as more local forums so have a look at what people say about them.

Also remember the health aspects.  If your hubby is working, he will be paying social security so you will be covered for healthcare.  Some areas in Spain provide free health cover but not all of them do so, so do your homework on this.

You may want to go back to UK (for visits, to see family etc) so check you are within range of a cheap flights airport (nearly all the places mentioned above are).

Most of all, make sure it is what you want to do and enjoy.


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14 Sep 2007 4:18 PM by Marksfish Star rating in Vera, Almeria. 2609 posts Send private message

Marksfish´s avatar

I don't know too much about Spain, but we had out hearts set on a few small villages about 10km from Benidorm originally. We looked at the properties available and decided we would quite like to move a bit further down to the Murcia area as you seemed to get more for your money. We booked a viewing trip with a large agent who then took us even further down to the Almeria region. We stayed in Mojacor and had a great few nights there. We explored the countryside and the views in some places are spectacular. We ended up going for Vera as it  still seems very Spanish, although there is some development ongoing. We have only bought a holiday home there, but to be honest, I don't think I would stray too far when we buy our permanent home.


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14 Sep 2007 5:52 PM by NatalieJane Star rating in Accrington, UK. 21 posts Send private message


Thanks for the replies, very very helpfull.

My husband works as a supervisor service engineer, he services and repairs catering/bar equipment, and although he wouldn't really want to do the same in Spain, he would like to stay in the industry, maybe as a service manager or something similar, does this come under 'special skills'? Would anyone know if this would be a feesable idea? He does have a few contacts in the business in Spain and we would hope that someone somewhere may be able to come through with something for him - fingers crossed.

Thanks very much for the run down on the differents areas, certainly given us some food for thought.

So just how bad is it to move to Spain, relying on work, with very little back up fund (We will have a very small amount, probably around 10k-ish after the moving costs and everything) And, for at least the first year (if not forever depending on how things go) renting....?

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14 Sep 2007 6:32 PM by Grazy Star rating in Estepona. 17 posts Send private message

If you really, really want to come and live in Spain, then you must find a way to do it. Can you tell me do either of you speak Spanish? I've been here 20 years and don't regret leaving the UK.
Good Luck!

Spain for a Great Quality of Life! 26inthesha...

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14 Sep 2007 6:47 PM by bobaol Star rating. 2253 posts Send private message

bobaol´s avatar

There's a big thread on working in Spain a bit lower down in Spain  in which there are hundreds of replies with everything from nursing through joinery to engineers being discusse.  You may pick up some good pointers there.  If you think you can do, go ahead as I feel the way of life is now far superior to that in UK.  Mind you, I'm a wrinkly so I'm just retiring there with no thoughts of any work and am in a different position to you.  If I'd thought of it years ago, who knows?   


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14 Sep 2007 7:33 PM by NatalieJane Star rating in Accrington, UK. 21 posts Send private message

Thanks again for the replies - this site is a godsend!

We are really very determined to make it work, somehow! We feel England just doesn't have anything to offer us anymore. We certainly aren't looking to move to Spain so we can get rich and live happily ever after, we are willing to work for it, and if we don't have as much spare cash at the end of the month as we do here, well, the sun and beaches are free!! We are looking for a lifestyle change, we want to be able to relax a bit more, we want our kids to grow up somewhere where the people smile more, and we want to be able to enjoy life.

Neither of us speak Spanish at the moment, but we are very keen to learn the basics before we move, not only for work purposes but our children would be attending spanish schools, and I don't want to find myself not being able to understand what the teachers, or indeed the kids are saying!!

Are we deluding ourselves?

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15 Sep 2007 2:45 PM by bobaol Star rating. 2253 posts Send private message

bobaol´s avatar

Right, NatalieJane.  Was going to reply earlier but my wife dragged me out to do the shopping which always puts me in a black mood.

No, you're not deluding yourself and I think that, if you do move to Spain, a lot of the things you want out of life will be met,  However (there's always an however) it's not going to be a bed of roses all the way.  I have seen plenty of people move over and love every minute of their time.  I have also seen an equal number who have not settled in and have regretted moving over.  There are lots of (and I'll concentrate on the Brits) expats who have opened businesses only to see them collapse for various reasons.  Red tape (if you think bureauocracy in UK is bad, wait till you start trying to get your NIE, buy a car, get the phone connected etc) , seasonal work only (virtually no income for 5 or 6 months a year but the bills keep coming in), clashes of personality, children who can't get on with school work etc.  It always saddens me to see expats sitting outside the pubs from 11 in the morning, wrapped up in faded fleeces and staggering off home at about 5 pm because there was nothing else to do. 

Cafes and bars which open in a blaze of optimism become faded and gloomy when the customers disappear to the "new" Irish pub just opened up the road.  Overpriced and badly kept beer, microwaved food and cutting costs to the bare minimum (offering a "full English" for €3) to keep the trade coming in during the winter are just some of the things that send people to the wall.  These places have lots of room during the summer when the outside patios are in use but usually only have 3 or 4 inside tables which can't keep them going in the inclement weather (and it does get quite cold here, sometimes).

On the other hand, lots of people have made successes with their businesses.  "English" tea rooms, "British" butchers etc seem to do quite well as the competition isn't so great.  If British estate agents are honest with their clients and don't try to rip them off with mega high commission they seem to thrive quite well.

Yes, the sun and beaches are free but these are not year round.  Storms have been battering the Costas this last week or two (and it's only September) so imagine what it's like in the Winter. 

Taxes are cheaper in Spain.  You may have heard that council taxes are 1/10 of what they are in UK, rubbish collection is cheap etc etc etc.  However, income tax is higher and you will have to pay €240 a month for national insurance.  If you live on a community, take into account the community charges that you will have to pay.  These are the fees for looking after garden areas, paying the street lighting, looking after swimming pools etc.  We pay €400 a year on our community but I have heard of €1500 a year plus on some of the golf developments which is the same as council tax in UK.  Electricity is expensive in Spain so you need to budget for air-conditioning in the Summer and heating in the Winter.  Water bills, while not as expensive as UK, are going up all the time and this is something else that needs to be budgeted for.

Now for the sunny bit .  You will have a change of lifestyle.  People tend to be friendlier (I know the names of more people in Spain in my 5 years of visiting than I have living 25 years in my village).  I always feel incredibly relaxed when I visit and love having breakfast on my balcony etc.  Popping to the pool or the beach when I'm in the mood is a great thing to be able to do. I am constantly amazed at how much goes into my shopping trolley in Spain for so little cost, although prices are rising (not as much as UK, I hasten to add) and knowing that the odd bottle of scotch or case of beer will not take up half my disposable income.  (A decent bottle of wine can be as little as £1 in Spain, even cheaper from the barrel).   I am lucky in that I speak Spanish but am generally replied to in English in shops, restaurants etc so that hasn't been a problem.  We are retiring there next year or the year after (depending on circumstances). 

A friend of mine retired there about 6 or 7 years ago.  When we asked his wife did she think she'd made the right move, she told us she wondered what the hell she'd done for the first 6 months.  Now, however, she says she wouldn't move back to UK for anything as she's enjoying every minute over there and that made us feel a bit better.

As the longest time I have spent there at one go has been 4 weeks, this is obviously a big move for us as well.  Am I looking forward to it?  Too bloody right.

I've edited this to add;

When picking a place to settle down in, go by what facilities, infrastructure etc is already there.  Don't listen to agents or developers telling you what is going to be put there as they (generally) don't occur.  People have moved to communities out in the sticks on the promise of shops, bars etc being built there only to find they are still having to drive 5 or 6 miles just to get a pint of milk.  People have also bought property for the view of the beach or the mountains or the orange groves or whatever only to find a huge block of flats or a supermarket being built right in front of them and the orange groves flattened to build yet another "community".  So look to see what is there and what could be put there to either improve or lower your expectations.

This message was last edited by bobaol on 9/15/2007.

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16 Sep 2007 10:30 AM by NatalieJane Star rating in Accrington, UK. 21 posts Send private message

Hi Bobaol, once again thanks for your advice, I can't tell you how helpful it is, so thanks for taking the time to answer

I think we are getting a much more realistic view of how things would be if/when we make the move. We have a few things that could get in the way and delay or even stop the move altogether, so we are crossing our fingers and hoping Lady Luck will give us a break for once! As I said we aren't expecting it to be easy, in fact I have already said to my husband there are going to be times when we just think to hell with it all let's just forget it, but we just need to keep pushing it.

I suppose we won't ever really know until we are out there and have given it a good year or two and settled in and have started living the life we are hoping we can create.

The grand master plan is to sell our house next summer, move into rented accomadation close to where we live now so we don't have to move our eldest sons school, then my husband will be taking long weekend and short breaks to try and find a job that will be right for him, how ever long it takes, once he has a firm offer in place, we will then all go out and find a house and schools, does this sound realistic? Due to not having a great finacial back-up we can't really risk getting us all over there and then hubby finding a job because if he doesn't find one in time, we would simply run out of money.

One thing is for sure, we are willing to do almost anything to get us out of England and into a life which, yes, might mean we're not rolling in money, but that will give our kids a better life in almost every other way.

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16 Sep 2007 11:55 AM by coast-almeria Star rating in Mojacar. 71 posts Send private message

Hi I think that's a great idea, if your husband looks at different areas, and you and your family don't come out until he has a job offer. It sounds that you are really planning the move and doing your research, and if you keep doing that, it's hard to go wrong. In our area (Vera playa - almeria) we have a new international school opening (2008) and it looks impressive. How old are your children? I use the beaches all year round and go in the sea even in January, their are lots of free activities you can do, jus wandering around and exploring is free for starters. Any good luck and I hope all goes well for you


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16 Sep 2007 1:16 PM by NatalieJane Star rating in Accrington, UK. 21 posts Send private message

Hi, thanks for that, it is good to know we are at least on the right tracks!

It is my husband being able to find a good job that is key to all of this, I just hope it is a matter of months and not years that he is looking!

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16 Sep 2007 2:07 PM by semijubilada Star rating in London/Torrevieja. 1052 posts Send private message

I think once you have made a decision then you should stick with it, never been a believer in "if only". 

You seem to be looking at every angle and also you are listening to advice.  Obviously we don't know all your story but it would seem that your children's ages are in your favour.  They should settle in at school and will pick up the lanquage easily.  You're also being sensible and learning Spanish as you will indeed need it to read communications from the schools and to talk to the teachers.  You might find it easier to attend lessons in Spain as at least then you can try out what you have learnt.

My one concern is your lack of funds, will you be buying your property outright or will you have to get a mortgage.  We have a town house in Torrevieja and it costs just over £1k a year to run it and that includes paying over 300e for wealth tax.  It's occupied for 4 months a year and we have a landline. 

What are you looking for in a house?  I sound like an estate agent don't I but I often wonder what peoples expectations are when they think of follow the dream of a new family life in Spain.  Some people I think believe it involves a large house, private pool.  Where as in reality it's where you can live happily together.

My neighbours moved to L'olleria just outside Xativa, property there is very cheap or it was until the Brits started to move there.  They have made friends with a couple who have 3 boys.  They live in a two bedroom Casita which they bought for 35ke and most people would describe it as a hovel.  They are doing it up as and when they have the money to do so, he hasn't managed to find work and she works as a teacher.  The main thing is that they are happy and they have found what they are looking for - family life.

If you are realistic and don't over stretch yourselves then you should be ok.  Myself I would want to have enough money to last 2 years before I commited to the move.

It seems that the move is dependant on your husband finding a job so I would have thought that where you live would be decided by where exactly and by whom this will be.


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16 Sep 2007 2:56 PM by NatalieJane Star rating in Accrington, UK. 21 posts Send private message

Thanks again for the advice.

I think we will be looking at long-term lets rather than buying. As I understand it you need a good 30% deposit to buy and to be honest we just wouldn't have that sort of cash. So yes we would be giving up our rung on the property ladder here with little or no chance of getting back on in either Spain or England again. It sounds very foolish, but if I went into massive detail and explained our circumstances with our house now and why it wouldn't be a great loss to us, it isn't quite as foolish as you would first think.

House wise, we would obviously love a huge 5 bedroom villa with private pool and air con and everything else for about 200e a month!!  Realistically, we would be looking at either a larger 2 bed, or 3 bed property. We wouldn't be too bothered whether it was an apartment or more of a housey type, as long as there is somewhere to sit and play outside (either private or public) and as long as the place isn't crumbling down around our ankles we will be happy! Our main concern would be the people around us, what the area has to offer, and how far away the nearest schools, shops, and dare I say - cafes and bars are!! 

And, yes, the area we can start looking to move to will be ultimately decided on where my husband's job is based, but what we don't want to do is waste his time and the little money we do have looking for a job in an area that just wouldn't give us what we wanted, job or no job.

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16 Sep 2007 3:49 PM by coast-almeria Star rating in Mojacar. 71 posts Send private message

Hi I would suggest asking the rest/bars/hotels in areas you are interested in and find out which service companies they use. and then contact the companies direct, it would look pro-active on your part and Spainish companies love people who are willing to work. Your husband may even see a gap in the market, or could be more comp then his rivals and set up on his own, how is your Spanish? To give you an idea on long term rents you are looking at between 450-700 euros p month plus bills for 3 bed townhouse/duplex by the beach with all amenties you may need and close to schools. In Mojacar (Almeria) a lot of developments have hot water from solar systems as it's sunny generally all year round and driest area of Spain, so that makes bills slightly cheaper and I find throughout the year you spend more time outside, so no use for TV and playstations. Most of the children around here play together on the beach where they have basketball courts, football pitches and beach volleyballs and of course the sea. I sometimes see them playing in Campo to see who can find the biggest lizard/tortise I've lived all round the world and this is the best place yet and have no intention of going back to the UK Just the change in your family's lifestyle, you'll kick yourself and just wished you'd done it earlier. Good luck with your husband's job hunting.


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16 Sep 2007 4:20 PM by NatalieJane Star rating in Accrington, UK. 21 posts Send private message

Thanks so much for that, I know that we have some issues re. money, but I am actually starting to believe that we can just about pull this off. It is no longer a pipe dream! It is all so exciting  !!

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