Saturday, 30 March 2013

So we have changed our minds!

Home and thinking about the Future

So here we are now back in the UK, full of hopes, fears and a little confused.  We know that Spain is where we want to be, where in Spain is another subject. We started this journey with a plan, large house, lots of land, up in a mountain, goats, horses etc etc.  Sitting at home in the UK that looked like the ideal life for us, everything we had always wanted, self suffiency plus the potential to have some rental income to top up my pension. The original idea changed as the trip progressed.
This trip to Spain enabled us to meet ex pats already living in Spain.  Some fell  into the category of those who had something to gain from us moving to Spain and others  fell into the category of future friends.  I will briefly cover the former.  If I heard the phrase  don't worry, its Spain once, I  heard it hundreds of times, especially from the agents.  It is clear to me that the " turn a blind eye" culture is alive and well in certain quarters, which actually worried me more.  We were told that we were under no pressure to buy, really, your telling me, I never had any intentions on buying a house on this trip, we had told everyone we contacted prior to our visit that this was the case, I can only assume that some prospective buyers do change their  minds once they are in Spain.  It was amazing as to how many properties would not be their in a few weeks, and did you  know you can put a 3K deposit down and move when you wanted.  Plus buy to lets are a great investment at the moment.  Needless to say most if not all are still for sale with a lot more added to the lists since we arrived home, and I am still not sure about the buy to let investments after all and 11% return on investment, I would have thought they most people would be biting the agents hands off.   Having said all that some of the agents were informative without any pressures and answered our questions with knowledge and experience.  Moving swiftly on we also met folks who I know we would love to meet again and would easily become friends.

We had one day out of researching areas, and we spent that day in Cordoba, near to where we were staying with Alan and Lorna and the Alpaca farms.  Their house is in what can only be described as an idyllic situation, 20 minutes down a track, up and down, round and round, amazing views and surrounded by olive groves and a pretty babbling river flowing through.  Although if you read Lorna's blog  from a few months ago, you will know that the pretty babbling river turned into a torrent of flood water complete with a run away car.

Lornas Blog
olive groves

views of Alpaca's and Olive groves

Cordoba was lovely, although the highways into the city made you realise that this is not just a little historical town but a major city, living and breathing. We managed to park and walked to the old quarter.  How pretty is this, lovely cobbled streets, old buildings,leaning into each other covered in the early signs of the up and coming patio festival, which must be an amazing sight when in full bloom. Orange trees in full fruit, ripe for picking except don't they are very bitter and husband found out. The Cathedral was just beautiful and we spent a long time in here, truly amazing. Lunch was had in a little restaurant up one of the side streets,  We shared a salad to start and then Spanish Omelet and Calamaris it was all very yummy. The afternoon was a gentle stroll looking at what else was on offer, the amazing Roman bridge for one.

The Start of the Patio Festival
Smiling before the first bite

After Alan and Lorna's we traveled to Alcala Real, stayed at a lovely B&B run by a young couple a real family home.
Sunny Spain
The view from the window was amazing, the castle in the distance. We woke up the following morning to 3 inches of snow. This actually enhanced the view even more, however it did nothing for my nerves re driving, the B&B in Alcala Real, is at the top of the town and we were heading down to move to our next stop Valor in the Alpujarras. Snow was not on the agenda however, after a gut wrenching drive we managed to get to the main roads safe and well and headed for out next destination.

The weather over the 3 hour drive was mixed, snow, hail sunshine and more snow.  As we eventually arrived in the region, the climb up and around the mountains began. The roads were amazingly well looked after, we did come across several rock falls, but these appeared to be well cordoned off and managed.  The views were amazing, as we travelled up and down the weather changed, lots of snow, not so much snow no snow.  As we travelled the signs for all the Alpujarras villages came and went, and they brought alive for me the book I had recently read, The Hand of Fatima, a lovely story about a boy and his life in the 15th century. Eventually we arrived at Valor, and met our next hosts. We were shown to our accommodation, which was a lovely little house, typical of the Alpujarras. However the arrival was marred by the Hosts. Remember it was freezing, we were offered a tiny little heater which apparently we could use for an hour or two, it would have just about heated a mouses toe.

 However that was not what upset me the most.  Having offered us the minuscule heater, they asked if we were there to look at houses, yes we said, well that was a big mistake.  We then received what I think they thought was constructive advice, which actually came across as offensive and actually plain bloody stupid., and while sharing the knowledge with us became actually aggressive.  I will select some of the phrase that stuck with us.
Don't buy a house in the country, the police will make you work the land - Not much fun when you are retired and they make you work.
The shops don't open in the afternoon, so you cannot buy milk
I don't drive..........and I never use the buses.
If the house you buy is  too close to the road the police will knock it down
Know I know that everyone has different experiences of their lives and I know that if you buy  property with agricultural use then yes that's what you have to do, But I have yet to hear of British OAP's being picked up on a Saturday and being made to work in a chain gang. Maybe I was being sensitive but I was really angry, I was paying money to stay in the house, I did not ask and pay for advice from someone who had not even asked my name.
That night I text someone who I had been in contact with before our arrival for a recommendation for a hotel. However one of the best things that happened on this trip was that they invited us to stay. So after our house hunting day around the Alpurujjas we arrived at the house.  I cannot express in words how welcoming they were.   We had a  fabulous dinner, several drinks and some amazing star gazing. We awoke the next morning, rested, warm and happy,  this was our last day in Spain and what a way to end.  This couple were living the life of  our dream, a lovely home, not fancy as in huge rooms or marble bathrooms, but comfortable and Spanish,  land ,not acres and acres, but enough to grow vegetables etc, lovely views but close to a sweet village that was  full of Spanish life .They were  rich in spirit and giving and we found new friends.  They gave us advice in a calm and measured manner a great deal of which we took on board, including some that we may not have wanted to hear, but enabled us to re consider our ideas.
So back to the beginning, here we are back in the UK.  We have made changes to our plans. No longer do we want a top up income, we would rather have the money in the bank, a smaller house with land but a smaller than originally thought. No horses, but definitely dogs, two, Spanish Mastiffs, maybe a goat, but heating is a must as in a priority.

We are not bothered that we have changed our ideas, that's the whole point of visiting Spain, what works on paper here in the UK is not necessarily going to work in reality.  Always remember, YOU have the power to change your life because YOU have the power to change your mind

We have another region to visit, we are going to Extremadura in August, as this is an area that  I have always had a yearning for and it is an itch that I have to scratch. 
So I leave you for the moment with a selection of photo's from our trip

1 comment:

  1. Extremadura is looking forward to your arrival! :-)