The first steps to making a successful move to Spain involve making lots of notes to determine exactly what want in your new home. All you need is a blank word processing doc on your computer, or get out a pen and pad, and start writing!
List Your Whys
Write down why you want to move.
Common reasons for moving to Spain include desiring an improved quality of life, a need for more living space without having to get yourself burdened with a huge mortgage, to get away from the awful UK weather, or to simply live a life with less stress. Perhaps you have a young family are worried about the UK drug culture, city crime and gangs.
If you are planning to buy a holiday home, your reasons probably include having an idyllic place to go to when you want without the expense of hotel accommodation several times a year. Or perhaps you want a second home to let out during the high season to help cover your holiday and property maintenance costs. Either way, writing down your reasons is a good place to start and therefore remind yourself from time to time why you are doing this.
When do you have a general idea of what it is you wish to experience when you move to Spain the next basic step is the all-important one – choosing the area where you will live. Spain is a very large country and areas differ dramatically.
The northern part of Spain, which includes Santander and Galicia, is very wet with a lush green landscape similar to that of Ireland due to the amount of rainfall it receives. Whereas in the south, it can get extremely hot in the summer time and might not be the best option if you are sensitive to heat or are taking an elderly relative with you.
The most popular areas for expats in Spain are the Costas del Sol and the Costa Blanca. The Costa Blanca has an idyllic climate for most of the year, and a booming tourist trade, which affords work opportunities. It also offers relatively cheap property prices, and has excellent transport links both nationally and internationally. The Costa Blanca, especially around the area of Javea, has seen a rise in enquiries from both Spanish as well as International clients. Maria Gomez of local agents Inmo Javea, has recorded a 50% rise in enquiries from USA nationals in recent months.
One of the downsides depending on your personal preferences, maybe there are too many expats and tourists on these two stretches of coast, and it’s difficult to get a feel of the real Spain if this is what you are searching for.
Do your homework very carefully before choosing an area and make sure you visit in both low and high season before making a final choice.
Once you have chosen an area, the next step is to decide what would be your perfect home in Spain. This will be depend very much on your personal circumstances. For example if you are alone or a couple, a huge villa with extensive gardens and multiple rooms is probably not the ideal home. Spending a lot of time maintaining a property where you only utilise a quarter of the space isn’t the best way to spend your time… so think about if you would really use a swimming pool with a large terrace or barbecue and if you really need four bedrooms and three bathrooms.
If the answer is no, but you plan on renting the property for part of the year then these are assets that you will want to have as you can ask for higher rents. However, if renting is not in your plans, like many others you will find you have little need for a private pool and large garden when you move to Spain.
A word on renting: In recent times, local authorities are cracking down on the number of permits given out to property owners to allow them to rent the property. So, always check with your agent to find out if this is the case in your area. A reputable agent will be able to give advice on how to proceed.
The location of your property is extremely important. You might not drive or are not planning to buy a car when you move to Spain, and it is important your new home is it within easy walking distance of local shops and other amenities. Make sure there are good public transport services to the area, and gather your information from a wide variety of resources rather than relying on a single article or website.
Online forums and expat Facebook groups are excellent resources for information and reading posts from others who have already made the move will give you a good idea about the positives and negative’s of living in an area.
You will find that red tape and bureaucracy complaints are abundant, whereas on the other hand you’ll also find that the excellent health service and education receive much praise.
Another way to increase your knowledge before making a concrete move is to visit an overseas property exhibition in the UK. This allows you to speak with those in the know who can answer the many queries you will have.
Write down any questions you have as they come to you, as eventually you will want answers to these from those living in your chosen area or an experienced property agent when you finally make your first definite step.