How to Successfully Move to Spain and Stay

At first sight the title of my book may seem a little odd? Well you might think it's easy to move to Spain; just book a flight, and find somewhere to stay; the rest will sort itself out. "We just need to get there" and start to enjoy the new life in the Sun Right?

Wrong. Sorry but a lot of us that escape in search of the "Dream", find it all goes wrong and they struggle like crazy to get everything in place, but in the end they return back home, with lost dreams, big debts, and having to start all over again.

It doesn't have to be like that if you plan a ahead...

Did you know that every year more than 191,000 Britons emigrated but in the same year 105,000 returned having failed to make their dream work?

That's 86,000 lost dreams, an awful lot of sadness indeed. Worse still it has caused each and every one of them, not only a great deal of heartache, but there are also the financial costs involved.

Coming home involves getting a job, finding a home and so on. Possibly you will have sold the car, and bought another in Spain. Inevitably you will have to sell that and start all over again.

This book aims to give you a few straight facts; albeit in a light hearted writing style, so that you can make a few plans ahead of your move, and truly make it a one way trip, and achieve the dream of a new life in Spain forever!

So, why do some people fail to survive abroad?

Often the reason is down to family level. It is a very simple decision if you live alone. If you have a partner then it is absolutely essential that you talk through everything very thoroughly.

In my many years of hosting Spanish Property Exhibitions in The United Kingdom, I met numerous couples that attended purely with the intention of "selling" the whole idea of the Spanish Dream to their respective partner. They hoped that by seeing the beautiful photographs of the lovely Villas. Happy couples sipping wine outside the traditional tapas bars, or relaxing on the long sandy beach in Guardamar on a lovely sunny December afternoon would do the trick. Unfortunately life is not quite that simple.

Don't try selling the dream to your partner...

Hey, when you went on your last holiday to Spain, I'll bet it was perfect? What you are now contemplating is not going to be a holiday; it is truly going to be something you both have to live, everyday maybe for the rest of your lives. You can't persuade anybody, least of all your beloved partner to have the same dream as yourself. You may be lucky and truly both have the same dream. It is essential right now that you completely and absolutely have the same dream. If not of course there are alternatives to a complete move. Subject to your finances it may well be possible to compromise, and split your time between The UK and Spain. With the flight costs being reasonable these days, this is a distinct possibility for many of us.

If we step back say to the 1990's for a moment, at that time many of us just wanted to sell our property in the UK, and with the pot of cash from that, it may well have been enough to purchase a satisfactory Spanish Villa, and still retain enough of that "pot" to invest in the Bank, and "live happily ever after off the interest and pensions received.

Property Prices are no longer at 1990 prices of course, and this scenario is not often possible any longer. Spanish Property Prices have leapt ahead faster than any other EC Country if you look back 20 Years, so by the time you make your property purchase in Spain, the "pot" may well be looking a little shaky.

Splitting your time between UK & Spain?

Both you and your partner must be completely honest with each other right now before you spend a single Euro. If you have even a 10% doubt about making it in Spain at this time, then that doubt will surely fester once you make the move, and things might just slide from there on.

What's the way around this?

Clearly if you have doubts, then you can still go ahead and enjoy the dream, but with little "Home Breaks" built in. Maybe it will be that one of you will want to hop back to visit the Grandchildren? So build this into your plan now. After all it is pretty cheap to go back, you are not moving to Australia are you! This simple escape clause in your "agreement" can well make the difference between success and failure. Talk it through at great length.

This is possibly the most frequent cause of people "going back home", so don't skip over these issues. If you are still in doubt, take another holiday in Spain, but this time make certain you stay in a property that will be similar in cost to the type of property that you will be able to afford if you decide to move. That way it is almost like a dress rehearsal. You can taste "living in the real Spain" not insulated from reality in a five star hotel, with waiters offering you your every whim!

When you move you will have to go shopping for Groceries; decorate the spare room with real paint and get hot and dirty too!

We once did just that in the middle of August in temperatures exceeding 36c inside. Being too hot to wear "overalls" or pretty much anything at all, (well apart from the essential coverings of course) we ended up with more emulsion paint on ourselves than the walls, and vowed to leave all future decorating jobs until the winter!

Splitting Countries

If costs are a little strained, you might well be able to "trade down" your UK property, and use the profits form the sale to purchase your Spanish Property. Another popular way to afford a home in both countries is to Rent out part of your UK property, but keep an "apartment" (or create one) for your home visits. Often the rental achieved can mean that your home "apartment" comes "free", that is to say, the tenanted part of your property covers all of the property costs including your portion.

Another option if you have family in the UK is to consider extending their property in some way. Our own example was to extend our daughters property by building a Garage Conversion. This provides us with a low cost, but comfortable home stay property with its own facilities, whilst adding value to the property at the same time.

If you can try to "think outside the box" you might surprise yourselves just how creative you can be.

It's always better to have a home base if you have any lingering doubts.

Even though in reality you may only use the "home base" quite infrequently, the simple fact that it is there for you if you should need it, and will almost certainly solve any of those nagging emotional or homesickness thoughts that you or your partner might have. You can then feel ready to face the new life in Spain with confidence, in the sound knowledge that there is a bolthole back home should the need arise at anytime.

Where in Spain will you live?

Countless times I am told that the Spanish dream property is something like this... In the Country, with lovely views, near the beach, large gardens, quiet location away from it all. How practical is this? You are both planning to move to Spain for the rest of your lives, so pause for a moment and ask yourselves, How much would that dream cost? Given a quick internet search, I can tell you now that it would not be a cheap option. Lovely views do not come cheap, especially if you want that view near the beach.

Let's take a look at each of these options in more detail...

Buying inland is normally cheaper than coastal, but you still have to go grocery shopping.

How far is it to the nearest Supermarket?

What if you want an evening out?

How far is it to the Restaurants and Bars?

Remember in Spain, the drinking laws are quite strict, and now comply with EC directives. In effect this means that even a small glass of Lager will place you over the limit, and liable to arrest, a fine and a possible driving ban. If you like a small end of evening tipple then it is best that you have a local bar, from which you can easily walk home.

What about a Finca?

Some 10 years ago, that was our dream too. A lovely finca which really is a Spanish Farmhouse, or smallholding, tucked away in the countryside.

In reality it often involves a long winding single track road leading up to the Finca, so imagine getting home, and as I am sure we have all done at times, realise that we have forgotten to get some essential items for dinner that night. Yes we have to trail right back along that winding single track road again. Pretty soon you will hate that road intensely.

It's one thing getting away from the tourist hustle and bustle, but think carefully before you buy something in the middle of nowhere, with no local services.

Another downside to consider when "getting away from it all" is of course it is going to take you that extra journey when you decide to hop back home for a week. Having done this now for the past seven years, I can assure you it is quite important to have easy access to Motorways and subsequently The Nearest Airport.

Expectation and the Reality

Watching one of the numerous "Place in the Sun" television shows, might give the impression that everything is just so perfect. In reality you will still have to stand in queues to Pay Bills, visit banks, builders, even the tax office perhaps? You cannot escape from the reality of life completely. Yes of course you can put behind you your past mistakes, but you have to make that extra effort not to make those same mistakes again in your new Country.

Finding the perfect home in Spain.

The fact is that you might not find the ideal home first time for two reasons. Firstly it is quite different to finding the ideal home in your home town in the UK, as you will already know the good areas that you would like to move to. This is of course not obvious on a short visit to Spain. It is good advice to rent short term, but you should remember that every penny spent on renting is working to reduce your final capital available to you when you buy in Spain.

If you find a property that "ticks most of the boxes" for you, and you buy it at the lowest possible price, then you will be in a good position to sell on and move up the property ladder just as most of us are doing now (realise it or not) in The UK. Thus retaining your capital, and quite likely even making a profit in the process.

Property Prices in Spain

Over the past 20 years, property prices have in Spain increased faster than all other European Countries. Rumours are awash that the bubble in Spain has finally burst. My research, backed up with facts, does show that in some areas, particularly that of Valencia they have indeed fallen some 10%. In all other areas of Spain including The Costa Blanca and The Costa Del Sol they are still rising at 8% per annum. What has changed is the supply and demand situation, and understandably this has caused builders and Estate Agents big financial headaches in terms of Cash Flow. That said the stronger Companies, are riding through this, and already there are signs that demand is returning. This lack of demand is thought to have been started by the upsurge of Eastern European Countries like Bulgaria & Turkey offering competition. Gradually though the old favourite Spain is winning through once again.

And Finally...

If you have thought things through carefully, it may well be time to "make it all happen for you" and start the ball rolling. Moving to Spain full time, or on a split time basis, is not the one way decision it used to be. So many flights everyday, mean that you can always afford to "hop" and get the best of both worlds, so why wait any longer.

Have a Happy new Life

This article was written by me and is purely a personal point of view, and I cannot be held liable for any actions that might be taken by readers. It may be copied or distributed by any means providing it is not changed and includes all links.

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