A New Life in Spain - A Big Gamble!

Published on 15/11/2006 in Real Life Stories

This article was submitted as part of Eye on Spain's campaign to help promote new businesses in Spain.  If you are starting a new business in Spain then click here for more details. 

This article was submitted by Clint and Simone Palmer of www.palm-properties.net. Clint and Simone are a married couple (23 years) who set up and run a very successful Estate Agent in Aguilas, Costa Calida.

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We are Clint and Simone Palmer. We moved to Aguilas, Costa Calida, Spain on 31st May 2004 having decided that we needed a different lifestyle away from the stress and rat race of our lives in the UK. Although it was initially never our intention to move here, but only to own a property in Spain for rental purposes/holidays.

We lived (since 1995) in Frome, Somerset with our 2 daughters (now aged 20 and 22years) in a lovely 4 bedroom detached house with 4 cars and a motorhome on the driveway.

Clint was a Business Development Exec with a Facilities Management Company.

I was a Lettings Manager for a Corporate Estate Agent.

We began to reassess our lives after having lost many Aunts, Uncles and Parents etc over a period of time. We were avid watchers of all the TV programmes relating to property abroad, Living the Dream, No Going Back etc and talked about giving everything up and moving abroad. It was always going to be Spain as Clint has always been a sun worshipper and we had begun to hate the winters in the UK. But our daughters always listened to our mad ravings and said "yeah, whatever" never believing that we would give up everything we had worked so hard for all those years.

To go back to the very beginning;

In May 2003 we booked an inspection trip to Costa Calida, an area of Spain that we did not know but where the price of property appeared to be still within our budget. The intention was to purchase a small apartment with a budget of £65,000 as an investment / pension plan. What actually happened was that we fell in love with the area and purchased 2 off-plan apartments at £85,000 each (No idea how we were going to pay for them at the time) with a completion date of Mid 2005.

Back in the UK we did nothing but talk about Spain and the apartments, firstly telling friends and family that we had bought only one apartment as we were too embarrassed to admit that we had bought two!

We signed up for a Spanish course at the local college (all 4 of us) in the September and started to learn the lingo. Of course our daughters were quick learners as they have 'A' levels in German and French (no Spanish though!!)

We came to visit again in October 2003 and decided that there could be a business opportunity here as the development on which we had bought was going to be very large and there were no agents here specifically dealing with rentals. We had also received a non-existent after sales service from the sales agent we bought through and felt that we could do better. The majority of buyers at that stage were also English and as this area is very Spanish we knew that there would be a demand for English speaking agents.

We went back to the UK and set about making plans, completing some DIY jobs around the house, redecorating etc. Then in February 2004 we put the house on the market, sold within a week and that was us committed!! Our daughters fully backed us in this decision as they both wanted to see us happy and could see that our jobs and lifestyle in UK was ageing us. The biggest decision we have ever made was not an easy one as we knew it was a big risk as well as a one-way ticket.

We gave notice to our employers, which was very difficult for Clint as he actually worked for his brother with whom we were a very close family.

We decided on a company name and set up our website www.palm-properties.net over the next few months, had leaflets printed and sold / gave away 80% of our worldly goods at car boot sales/charity shops.

We completed on the sale on Friday 23rd May 2004, lived with friends for 1 week, left our jobs on Friday 30th May and set sail from Portsmouth to Bilbao on Saturday 31st May 2004 with a T Registered Peugeot 306 full to the brim (and roof rack) of our personal things.

We had a small amount of belongings taken into storage and our two daughters went to live with their Gran (a short term measure as they were completing exams before joining us for the summer and then going to Universities in London and Portsmouth).

The day we left was extremely emotional but Clint's brother and family promised to always be there for our girls if they needed anyone close to hand. They have been second parents to our daughters since that day, despite having 4 children of their own (and 2 dogs!).

We arrived in Aguilas with enough money to pay for our first apartment outright, cash to last for 6 months and a 30% share of the second apartment, not knowing how we would pay the remaining 70% at that time!!

As our apartment was not ready (building delayed considerably) we rented very close by and every day scoured the construction site 'bumping into' English people, giving them our leaflets and telling them what we could do for them when their apartments were finished. We also formed a good relationship with the staff in the Developer's office.

Our daughters arrived by ferry on 3rd July and we drove to Bilbao to meet them.

We did our first holiday let in July 2004 for a Spanish owner!! This was a major accomplishment as our Spanish language was still very limited. In fact Clint's still is, although mine has improved considerably. If you don't speak Spanish in Aguilas life is not easy, certainly not in business anyway.

We moved into our apartment in December 2004, working from home and only with mobile phones as there were no fixed telephone lines available. The latter part of 2004 was very hard and by the end of December we were worried that we would not have enough money to live on after mid February 2005. We kept going, things picked up, broke even in February 2005 and have been self sufficient from then on.

Over the following 18 months we had many ups and downs!!!

As of today we have the following business interests;

  • Block Management Company for 3 developments; 48, 75 & 76 apartments.
  • Run an Apartahotel reception and bar.
  • Have 95 Rental apartments on our books, 42 of which have long term tenants, the remainder of which are let to holidaymakers
  • Provide Rental and Property Management Services to over 100 clients (Spanish, English, German, Polish etc) to include cleaning, gardening, repairs, maintenance etc
  • Sell properties, both off-plan and re-sales and employ a full time sales person (not our initial plan but came about due to demand from our clients)

We, and people who know us, are constantly amazed by our success, although we have worked extremely hard (and still are) 7 days per week to get where we are today. Many of our clients are also friends as in the early days we were ‘saviours in a foreign land' to them. Last June (our first anniversary) we threw a huge BBQ and invited them all as a 'thank you' for getting us started. They all feel that they played a vital part (and still do) in our success to date.

We have recently had several mentions on your website from clients who have bought on Los Collados Bajos, Jardines de Cope, Collados Golf (all on the same development 'Los Collados Resort' and hope to be able to help many more in this location

We really hope that you find our story to be of interest. Our dream has come true but we have worked extremely hard to get where we are now, overcoming several potential divorces in the meantime!

Written by: Simone and Clint Palmer

About the author:

www.palm-properties.net




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Comments:

whitey1 said:
04 November 2007 @ 19:10

Hi are you near the new developments at Lorca ? Weve been looking further up the coastline at La Manga but the specification of this development caught our eye ?

Steve & Lynette


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