Can I afford to live in Spain - Serious question

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21 Jul 2008 00:00 by ivorb Star rating in Durban, East Coast S.... 36 posts Send private message

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Hi Guys,  very broad question but just need some guidance.  55 year old South African, existing accounting software consultant, (Accpac ERP to be specific), the product of which is not used in Spain. This means probably doing similar type job with accounting software of sorts. An accountant by profession looking to earn Euros for another 10 years or so. Arriving with my wife, 2 dogs probably Feb 2009. I should have about Euros 250,000 in my pocket, looking for a house, (fenced for dogs), respectable size, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms etc. (Very spoilt here in South Africa with huge home, couple of lounges, parklike garden, 2 cars etc etc). I am happy to mortgage even at my age and pump the other half into a business or similar.  Will probably receive another Euros 1000 per month from here (South Africa), (part pension).

My question: Is this a pipedream or can we make it and live fairly well. Don't really want to go backwards. Appreciate anyone's thoughts on the matter.

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21 Jul 2008 19:17 by Acapulco Star rating in Costa Blanca South.. 342 posts Send private message

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I would think that your 25K euros would get you the property you want a little inland. If you could earn another 1000 euros a month you could live o.k.on that Iwould think but finding the workin your line of business might be a problem.
I do not profess to be any kind of authority but have recently looked long and hard at property and cost of living with a view to moving to Spain myself .
We found our property with the help of an excellent estate agent who frequents this forum.
Good luck.

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21 Jul 2008 19:33 by morerosado Star rating in Guardamar del Segura.... 6927 posts Send private message

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Hi Ivor, welcome.

My question is why would you want to come to live in Spain seeing as you have so much in Durban ?

(Not much help, am I ? )



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21 Jul 2008 19:46 by ivorb Star rating in Durban, East Coast S.... 36 posts Send private message

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Not really, but fair comment morerosado. Appreciate the reply.

I know and keep asking myself that, but there are a number of reasons.  Mainly children and grand children in the UK, and we all know that that is not the place to be. A few other reasons, but this is not really the place to air them. We are sort of well off here and that makes it all the harder. Have to separate the material things from the rest.  Hence I can't afford to blow it.

Acapulco, thanks for your comment. Assume you meant 250K. I figure half as a downpayment and half bonded. I realise a job is the problem. Is the market kind to old men. (IE, is there age discrimination). BTW, we are learning Spanish with gusto.

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21 Jul 2008 20:00 by Patty_1 Star rating in Hertfordshire. UK. .... 1062 posts Send private message

  Hi Ivor, Welcome, can I just ask have you ever been to Spain?   It does seem a big step if you have never been there.          Just seen your last post about children and grandchildren.     I understand a little bit more now family can be a big pull.       I would think the assets you have would keep you very well in Spain but job wise no idea I am afraid.     Anyway good luck with whatever you decide.   Pat

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21 Jul 2008 20:45 by semijubilada Star rating in London/Torrevieja. 1052 posts Send private message

A couple of questions, have you decided on an area?

Have you looked into the cost of medical insurance?

If you do set up a business then you could pay into the social security system and receive a sip card for health care.  I believe this costs around 240e a month.  If you search the threads on "Living in Spain" there are quite a few  on this subject.  Don't know how the health care will pan out when you retire, does South Africa have a reciprical arrangement with European countries regarding health care to pensioners?

As to your original question then that would depend on how you want to live.

A large house will mean large bills, this with the health care payments will take a large chunk of your monthly income.

Do you like to eat out more than once a week?

As to getting a mortgage would you be able to without having setting up your business first?  I think you would have to go down the self employed route as you will have to be very lucky to be employed by a Spanish company. 

If your business is going to be internet based then you would need to take this into consideration when deciding where to buy a property.  Some people have some scary tales to tell about getting on-line.

Just a couple of observations, hopefully now others who live permanently in Spain will expand on these with further information so that you can make a decision.

Good luck.

Just had a thought does anyone remember that thread where a family from America did a blog on living in Valencia.  They moved back to US because it didn't work out for them, just thought you might find it an interesting read.





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21 Jul 2008 21:33 by morerosado Star rating in Guardamar del Segura.... 6927 posts Send private message

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Semi always writes brilliant posts & yet again, here's another.

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21 Jul 2008 21:43 by bobaol Star rating. 2256 posts Send private message

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OK, serious answer to serious question.  250,000 euros will buy a very nice house in Spain.  Most of us Brits tend to live near the coastal areas, whether it be the Costa del Sol, Costa Blanca, Costa Calida or wherever.  House prices tend to be higher in these areas.  Moving inland, maybe Montserrat, North of Valencia, or somewhere like that, you will get more for your money.  Be aware that living in the countryside brings its own problems.  You may not have mains water or electricity, for example, and would be living off ground water and generators.  Closer to the towns, the prices go up as they do the closer to the beach you get.  If you search Google (or similar) for property in Spain, you tend to get those on the Costas so refine your search to large towns.  I saw one in Montserrat (3 bed, 1 bath, 1 outside loo, big garden, 2 lounges, swimming pool etc) for 165,000 euros.  You'd be lucky to get a town house with 3 beds nearer the coastal areas for that price.  There are very many resale bargains to be had at the moment which gives you the advantage of having outside areas already paved, lighting in, aircon fitted etc.  New property comes as very basic and you have to start from scratch.
The cost of living in Spain, like all countries nowadays, has risen sharply, especially for the Brits due to the sinking pound.  IMHO, you will need closer to 2000 euros a month coming in to live a comfortable life in Spain.  (Only a few years ago this was about £1250, now it's nearer £1700) Yes, you can get away with less but it may not be enough to keep you in the style you want.  Electricity, water, petrol, etc are all going up (not as much as UK but definitely on the up). 
Working in Spain is very difficult in the coastal areas even if you can speak Spanish.  Banks, insurance companies, solicitors etc all require excellent Spanish skills before they will even entertain your application.  You may be lucky and get work with an international company if you are willing to work in one of the bigger cities but I think they would require a good knowledge of Spanish first.  Jobs that do not require Spanish generally pay very low (bar work near a Brit orientated urbanisation etc) or pay commission only (the big estate agents catering to the British home hunter). 
On the positive side, the way of life is great,  you are close to UK and there are plenty of fairly cheap flights (going up, though, due to the fuel prices).
We are moving to a 3 bed town house very shortly after having a holiday home on the Costa Blanca for over 5 years.  The house is smaller than we are used to in UK but we have some great neighbours, the pool area (shared) would put some top class hotels to shame.  I'm lucky in that I'll have 2 pensions for the first 5 years and then 3 when the Brit OAP kicks in.  When we planned this a few years ago, the pensions would keep us in good style but the pound going down has put a bit of kybosh on that so I will need the equity from my UK house to keep us in the style we want to get accustomed to (although property crash in UK is making that harder and harder.)
There are many plus sides to living in Spain but it is no longer the cheap place it used to be.  It is still cheaper than UK with prices in euros on a par with prices in pounds (at the moment) but things like furniture, house fitting etc are more expensive than UK. 
One of the best things you can do is trawl through the posts on this site.  There are some fabulous answers to many questions posed and most people on here are very helpful. They have been there, seen it, done it and now wear the T-Shirt. 
Enjoy the site and remember, those who have had problems will be more vociferous than those who haven't.  I had problems (still ongoing) with my first property, my second was a breeze and, to me and SWMBO, is fantastic.  Choosing the right area, developer, agent, solicitor etc is an absolute must.  For example, I am only 10 k away from my original place but the difference is incredible. 

Hope you make the right decision and the best of luck.



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22 Jul 2008 00:46 by Roberto Star rating in Torremolinos. 4536 posts Send private message

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Not much to add to Bobaol's post, except to save yourself going Google-crazy, (a search for property in Spain will get you around 8 million hits!) try www.kyero.com and/or www.idealista.com for researching property prices by area.

Good luck!

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22 Jul 2008 08:58 by ivorb Star rating in Durban, East Coast S.... 36 posts Send private message

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Thank you all so much for the info. Semi, SA has no reciprocal agreements regarding healthcare. One will have to purchase insurance until we can get employed (or self employed) and contribute to the system. This is actually critical, as healthcare in SA sucks unless you can afford top of the range health insurance.  Pat, we are going to Spain at the end of October for two weeks to do a recce and decide what and where. (Bit scary). We have travelled Europe and I particularly like Italy but we never did get to Spain. With family in the UK, we have been there numerous times, but the weather is not for us. We are accustomed to hot summers and very warm winters, where one can still wear short sleeves. (I only own one thin jersey). Weather has become an important factor.

Bobaol, your long story is fantastic. Exactly the type of info I was looking for. It seems imperative that I do get employment of some sort to supplement my income, so maybe we have to keep 80K aside to buy something. That seems to be the biggest challenge. Will definately need internet etc, as I may keep an interest in my existing business here in SA. Not necessarily looking for a huge place as it is time to downsize, but I don't want to ditch what I have and become a "refugee" type person. Apart from my wife divorcing me, then shooting me, I need to do careful research. I believe once we have made the move, there will be no going back. Living inland sounds like the answer. I understand your comment perfectly about starting from sctratch with a new property. We have a saying here that goes something like this. " When you buy a second hand house, you get many free bricks".  I am an "OK" handyman as well (not too bad for an accountant), so not afraid of rolling my sleeves up and renovating. We don't really need to be too far into the sticks, but also don't want to be in the concrete jungle. Thanks once again. Much appreciated.

Roberto, thanks for the pointers to Kyero and Idealista. I am already "googled out".  Cheers all, I must go to work now.



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Regards, Ivor



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22 Jul 2008 19:51 by semijubilada Star rating in London/Torrevieja. 1052 posts Send private message

If you're looking for hot summers and warm winters then you will be restricted to the more expensive areas in the South.

On the Costa Blance the winters can be unpredictable, I've been over in January and the wind chill factor made it so cold that I had to go out to a local market to buy a hat and scarf.

During the day in the Winter it can be warm if the suns out and it's advisable to wear thin layers.  When the sun disappears the houses get quite cold and drafty.  Most houses don't have a central heating and cooling system and rely on either a wall mounted air conditioning unit or a free standing one.

You can normally tell what the weather is going to be for the next couple of months by the goods displayed on the local markets.  Small fleece blankets, after my first cold evening I went out and bought 4 to wrap around myself when sitting watching tv.

When looking at the prices of houses don't forget to factor in the 10% needed to complete the sale. 



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22 Jul 2008 20:22 by Roberto Star rating in Torremolinos. 4536 posts Send private message

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It gets chilly down here too! But unless you opt for the Canaries, you can't get much further south in Europe, and let's face it, it's a damned sight better here in winter, than the UK in summer!

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22 Jul 2008 21:32 by bobaol Star rating. 2256 posts Send private message

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And don't forget those freeeeeezing tiles on the floor during Winter.  Stick your bare feet on those in Jan or Feb and you soon realise why slippers were invented.  Seems odd talking about the cold at the mo.  When over last week I really enjoyed the siesta period as it was far too hot to walk anywhere or even get in the car.  The memories of last February with SWMBO on the settee wrapped in a blanket with a fan heater at her feet seems a distant memory. 
UK at the mo?  Horrible.  Out shopping at the farmers market on Saturday with the "isolated showers" turning into torrential downpours and one minute warm (not hot) and the next cold.  Even had to put on a coat as the wind was blowing something awful.  Great July we're having.  Then, today, very uncomfortable at work due to temperatures rising and even had to put the aircon on in the car on the way home.  Forecast for 30 centigrade tomorrow but guaranteed it will pee it down at the weekend as my nephew is getting married and has an outdoor reception (hope the marquee can hold all of us).
Plus side, got 2 pounds of strawberries at the market for £1.50 (best strawberries in the world) a ginormous cauliflower and cabbage for a quid.  Looks like cauli and cabbage for Sunday lunch for the next 2 months and the missus has been enjoying fresh strawberry daiquiris for the last few days.
Ho hum!  Time to check the Lottery numbers to see if I can pack it all in and move early. 

Strawberry Daiquiri
Lots of ice (at least half a tray full)
Stick the ice in a blender and crush until very tiny
Add about 6 strawberries
Add 2 tablespoons of fresh double cream
3 tots of white rum.
Blend all ingredients
Drink

Alternatively
3 tots white rum
2 tablespoons coconut milk
4 oz pineapple juice
8 ice cubes
crush and blend
Voila!  Pina Colada

Or
crush 2 lemons with a pestle
2 tablespoons of white sugar and blend with the lemon juice
Add 2 tots of white rum
Serve with a sprig of mint
Lovely Mojito

Decadence
Boil a pan of water.
Put some dark chocolate in a heatproof dish and melt over the water
Add quarter teaspoon black pepper
Dip strawberries in the chocolate and lift until cool.
Non-alcoholic but delicious

Ahhhhh!  Just love Summers.








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23 Jul 2008 14:31 by Smiley Star rating in San Pedro de Alcanta.... 2502 posts Send private message

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Definitely agree with Semi about the weather being kinder on the CDS for year round warmth - it does cool in the winter but think the climate generally more temperate on the CDS - can still do shortsleeves in the winter and even do the beach - not every day of course but was 22 degrees here on Christmas Day - dont know how that compared with the other Costas. Nights do get chilly though although by comparison with Uk still warm - think its because the days are still so warm that when the sun goes down it can be such a marked difference. Bob is quite right what he says and sometimes it is colder inside than it is out.

Highly unlikely you will find a house at the price you are looking at equivalent to what you have, inland or not on the CDS - remember weather extremes will be more dramatic - a lot colder in winter (and wetter) and a lot hotter in summer - temperatures regularly exceed 40 degrees in the summer and you can become a slave to air con (housebound!!!). Occupationally I suspect it migth be difficult to find work with a Spanish company - if you move to the CDS, Gibraltar may be an option as a lot of Brit (and others) companies have needs for ex pat employees - accountancy and otherwise - if you will need a mortgage then as self employed you will need 2 years business accounts prior to applying proving income etc. as employed generally most lenders want an employment contract and 3 to 6 months payslips - that is even at 50%. It is possible to buy rustic property (maybe even at the price you are talking about) inland CDS but problems can be that you are then highly remote (refugee), climate (not so much the cold although that can be a factor but heat in summer), mortgage lenders less inclined to lend on rustic property (some of them wont at all) and will generally offer a reduced loan to value. If you buy rustic you need to ensure you have the very very best of advice about what you are buying as so often there are registration issues over what has been licensed and what hasnt.

Good luck but make sure you research thoroughly what you do.

No double cream here Bob what can we do for a Daiquiri???

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23 Jul 2008 17:36 by ivorb Star rating in Durban, East Coast S.... 36 posts Send private message

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Hi Smiley,
Thanks for the enlightening info regarding mortgages. I hadn't spotted that and hadn't even  thought to ask the question. (There are so many questions) We would no doubt rent initially while we find our feet anyway. 
Weather believe it or not sounds good. We have the most outstanding weather here in Durban which maxes out in January, February at about 38 with horrific humidity.  We regularly get up to 28 and occaisionally 30 in winter, so you can understand our reluctance to move to the UK. 
Housewise, certainly not expecting to replace what we have but good time to downsize. Look forward to getting there in 8 weeks to check it out.
I have had a few suggestions that I look at Gibraltar for work, as I am in IT as well as accounting.

Thanks once again




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Regards, Ivor



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23 Jul 2008 18:46 by Smiley Star rating in San Pedro de Alcanta.... 2502 posts Send private message

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If Gib is an option for work then you want to look at areas close to Sotogrande (expensive) or possibly La Linea - now La Linea has something of a reputation ............ I have to admit that it looks a bit of a ?¿?¿hole and driving through it sometimes you think it might be a bit like Beirut on a good day  (not a bad one) - was so so run down and almost like a ghost town - tumbleweed on the streets and the occasional skeleton randomly outside a cafe. However with the development of Gib and what is happening there money is being spent on La Linea and prices have risen there and it COULD be the best place for your Rand - I have no real ideas on that one to be honest but might be worth a look - assuming that you havent missed the boat and prices hiked accordingly - convenient for the border and short commute to Gib. Alternatively go beyond La Linea and Los Barrios and west of Algeciras and you might find better value for your dough - thus more property for your hard earned! Some of the more rural areas around Sotogrande might be worth a look although still short on budget i suspect depending on what you are willing to downsize to. Further west you head towards Portugal the weather becomes more like the UK - windy autumns and winters (and can be a lot wetter) - still warmer than the UK but the gentle breeze blowing across from the US can sometimes make it hard to walk in a vertical position.

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23 Jul 2008 18:51 by bobaol Star rating. 2256 posts Send private message

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No double cream here Bob what can we do for a Daiquiri???

No double Cream?  Is this another good reason for not moving to Spain?
NO, NO, next you'll be telling me you can't get clotted cream to go with my scones and jam!!!!

Actually, use the UHT cream you can get in Spain.  It's quite thick and works well, alternatively creme fraiche or 1 part icing sugar to 2 parts milk. 
On the other hand, just fill a glass up with the rum and ice.  Works for me.



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23 Jul 2008 19:13 by Smiley Star rating in San Pedro de Alcanta.... 2502 posts Send private message

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Does it work with Jack Daniels as well??? Yeah double cream is not available here - it is one of the things I have to say that I really really miss. Used to adore it back in the UK - dont really have a sweet tooth but perhaps a fat tooth is more like it!!! Would have it on corn flakes, with bananas, strawberries, pineapple - was even known to have a quick slurp straight from the container!! Clotted you can get in jars on the CDS in UHT format from a few selected outlets - those more geared to Brits - guess we are lucky in that Gib is 30 minutes away and can always pop to Morrissons if that desperate for the real thing - then again it is rarely worth the hassle so dont bother - consequently i have dropped a couple of dress sizes and I am sure my arteries are working better. MMMMMM double cream!!!! Will barely sleep tonight for dreaming of it!!!

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23 Jul 2008 20:09 by semijubilada Star rating in London/Torrevieja. 1052 posts Send private message

Read on another forum today that Iceland has now opened in Torrevieja and they have double cream!

Apparently they can't fill the shelves up quick enough for all the shoppers.

They also have a section there with Waitrose products.



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23 Jul 2008 20:21 by ivorb Star rating in Durban, East Coast S.... 36 posts Send private message

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Just a thought:
Reading the recipe for Strawberry Daiquiri and all the subsequent posts about the best ingredients to use, is this what I look forward to in Spain. Coming from a beer swilling, far too much wine drinking country, I think I can live with that.     Cheers


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Regards, Ivor



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