Two British expats tell MovetoSpain.com of the challenges and pay-offs they have encountered since moving to the Costa del Sol.
- Renting vs buying
- A Spanish bank account or stick with the UK bank account?
- The pay-offs between living on the coast or in a more idyllic inland village
Sally and Tony are relatively new Expats.
They have been living here for a little more than two and a half years. After holidaying in Spain for many years, Tony's mother also has a house here, so they decided to take the plunge and relocate.
The Costa del Sol was always first choice for them and they decided renting was the way to go. Because at the time they weren't sure if this venture would turn out to be a permanent move.
Sally tells me how they both love the slower, rural lifestyle this offers them. As much as they love it, it still has many disadvantages. Being a fair distance from the coast has made the search for work extremely difficult.
The rent a large 6 bedroom house for only 300€ per month but she has to travel 2 hours a day to work, and petrol for the car is costly.
"We are actually considering a move to the coast. We know the monthly rents are more expensive but we hope to offset this by cheaper travel costs and the chance to find better paid jobs. At the moment Tony can only find seasonal work in the surrounding areas," says Sally.
Like many people arriving to begin a new life style they found their money troubles a real headache.
"We came here full of illusions for our new life. But we have suffered financially, at time reaching the limits of our monthly budget.
"We had our savings and thought foolishly that this would be sufficient to tide us over the transition period. I personally didn't realise just how hard it would be to find work, it was a genuine struggle not to just give up and return to the UK.
"Although they have now both managed to find casual work, it will never be pay enough to make them rich but at least they are sticking it out and trying to improve their lives."
Sally tells me of their new venture:
"Juzcar is the village know as the Smurf Town. It was chosen for use in the feature film and every property was painted blue! Once the film crews left, the locals decided to leave it that colour and found that it had actually became a tourist attraction.
"Now this small village and it's tiny 150 person population is on the map, we have found we can rent the extra rooms in the house for bed and breakfast clients. Obviously people do not just visit looking for Smurfs, but for the natural beauty of the surrounding countryside. Most importantly it brings in a little extra income."
There is a fairly large amount of Expats in this area, and some of them live very well, almost self sufficient.
It is easy to find both to buy and to rent, large fincas with lots of ground to have allotments, or it seems rescue dogs and other animals.
"I would definitely recommend it if that is the life you are looking for, the climate is great, cold in the winter though and sometimes a terrible fog lays over the main road to the coast. No speed freaks about!" says Sally
I asked Sally if they had encountered any problems with the banks since they had been here:
"To be truthful we haven't used the banks very often. We are still using our UK bank account and personally I find it all a little confusing. There isn't much information on which one to choose and why. A lot of these things are by word of mouth or a friend's recommendation. I expect we will eventually find the need to open an account. It is only recently we have obtained our residence permits too, so at least we are headed in the right direction. Even though it seems we are here to stay we are definitely new at all the financial dealings. The language barrier is a hindrance for us as we will need a translator for anything remotely legal."
I then ask, if you do decide this is for you, would you think about buying a property?:
"We still haven't gotten to that stage. We sold our house to come here, that money is set aside separately. I like to think we would one day, but at the moment we enjoy the freedom that comes with renting. If we get bored with this area or wish to try somewhere else we can just up sticks and go. Possibly having our own property would tie us down forever. It seems there are many available to buy, something that tells me selling a house would be much more difficult if you wish to move on.
"Who knows in the future maybe we will just go back to England. Or three grown up children live there, and we have just become grandparents. Even if we don't stay long term, we will e able to say we ave ad a great experience and loved eve minute of it."
What would you like to relate to others who may be thinking of coming here to live?
"I would say rent first, don't think of buying even a garage without living first in an area. You cannot make such big decisions lightly.
"Get the correct advice from experienced people, ask people who already live here what they think are both the advantages and disadvantages. Don't live beyond your means, if you can't afford the house you are looking at, it means you probably can't. On the other hand, we have no regrets, you only live once. Make memories."