And from the sunny Iberian peninsula, the temperature coming through La Linea on the way to the Gib frontier this afternoon was a rather nice 27 degrees Celsius.
While weeding my path this morning, I was thinking about people who move to Spain and make so many classic mistakes.
Easy to say after ten years and more of living here.
We have seen so many people come for that ‘Life in the Sun’ – and move right back to the UK. Or get divorced. Or both.
So here are some top tips.
1) You are not coming on permanent holiday (unless you are exceedingly rich). If you can’t afford to eat out every night in the UK, why do you think you can afford to do it in Spain?
We have seen so many people spend their money on eating out all the time:
‘We always eat out once a day.’
‘I do cook a meal at home once a week.’
If you have a pension, and you can afford that sort of expenditure, fine. But if you come before a pension age (which must now be approaching 80 the way governments keep escalating qualifying age), without sufficient capital, that lovely eating-out lifestyle won’t last. Or rather you won’t.
2) The same applies to the bars. A lot of Spaniards we know drink at home. When they drink. They certainly think it is somewhat tonto to give money to someone else when they can buy it cheaper in the supermarket.
Sure, some drink loads in bars. Most don’t. They may spend a while there with one drink. We learned quickly that any more than two drinks in one bar and people – even British bar staff/owners – tend to think you have more money than sense.
3) Renting. Uf! If you have sold your UK property and you have realised your capital assets, renting is hardly the most clever move. Short-term while you are looking for a property maybe. But once you start approaching the 12 month mark you need to reconsider. You are messing around, not making a decision, eating into your capital, but hey! someone else is taking your money so they will love you as long as you keep paying that dead money to them.
Don’t. Unless it is to me of course.
4) Jobs. There is a worldwide recession and has been for years. These things go in cycles in case you haven’t noticed. If there are no jobs in the UK (or wherever else you live) why do you think Spain will provide jobs? Especially to people who don’t speak much Spanish and have no contacts. And moreso in Andalucía – the Costa del Sol – which has traditionally been poverty-stricken. Don’t be misled by visiting busy resorts where there are holiday-makers in bars, and non-Spaniards working there. There is no money around in Andalucía right now.
5) That gorgeous
Castle in Spain finca set in the midst of olive groves with its own water (ie well), where you can grow your own stuff and live off the profits too. Yeah, we had that dream as well, and nearly bought it. Think again.
6) The UK is small, and we all dream of our little plot of land, detached from our neighbours, where we can peaceably live. Natch, there are loads of cheap places in Spain that exactly fit the bill. Well sort of. They are invariably miles out in the back of nowhere, and when you want to sell, because you are miles out in the back of nowhere – no-one wants to buy it. Why do you think the Spaniards want to sell it to you? Because they want a flat on the costa. Why do you think other Northern Europeans want to sell it to you? Because they are sick of it. Or skint.
7) Ten years or more back, when we were looking for places on the internet – via the never-ending dial-up – one person told us ‘Never dismiss semi-detached.’ Puffffff. We were moving to Spain because we wanted to afford a place without neighbours in our face, we wanted that space, we did NOT want someone next door. Even though we have always been lucky with brilliant neighbours.
Dear Reader. He was so right. We would never have learned the same great Spanish, learned about Spanish cooking, gardening, rendering, just everything really, about life in a Spanish pueblo without our Spanish neighbours with whom we share a wall. And who water my plants, and gave me four alcachofas this weekend etc etc. I am sure there are people who do buy huge detached plots and have similar neighbours, but it’s a hell of a lot easier to jump into new and foreign society when you have helpful neighbours literally over your wall.
8) If you think you have enough money – you are wrong. If you have doubled it, you are probably still wrong. If you have done your calculations with Net Present Value, you are more than likely to be wrong about that too. Treble your estimates or quadruple them – you may be getting there. You may still run out of money.
9) There is no cheap life in the sun.
10) Please don’t think you can come and live in southern Spain and pick up a job in Gib at the drop of a hat. Seriously.