Some people ask what have I learnt from all that experience of moving around, and my reply is always: "not a lot". However, if you were to ask me surreptitiously about where best to live in Spain, I might be tempted to pass on the GazpachomOnk’s 5-Point Warning List for Buyers in Spain
Of course, not all Estate Agents are carnivorous, some I've met personally* and can vouch for their high standards and honesty. But I've also had dealings with a dozen others, none of which I would feel safe to leave my budgie with.
So here it is - the Property-Speak Nonsense that needs deciphering: Print it out and keep a copy tucked down your socks at all times. Ready? Steady? Go...... (read on)
1: Country Hill-Side Villa! Views and Room for Extra Floors
- Check the bottom floor is still underneath the top floor.
- Is that rock or slate the house is built on?
- Does the building appear to lean a little?
- Stick a finger in the soil. What colour is your finger? Was there any soil?
2: Charming Town House: Original Beams in Old Quarter
- Do the floors dip as you walk across them?
- Stick an ear up to the beam. Hear any munching?
- Do all your neighbours look strangely like one-another?
- At what unearthly hour of the morning does the bombona van deliver?
- Do strict OLD QUARTER planning regulation prevent you from even dusting the front of the house?
- Remember: Those minute port-hole sized windows are that size for a reason. Don’t be tempted to replace them with floor-to-ceiling glass because in August - you might come to regret it.
3: Self-Sufficient! Live The Dream - Private Drive, Well, Mountain.
- Remember that a 2 km dirt track means you have to maintain it - come landslides, rainfall, bush and tree growth, pot-holes, Wild Boar confrontations at night.
- Bear in mind that some people may be reluctant to deliver stuff, visiting doctors may turn back half-way along for fear of never reaching the house. Sunday Hunters though, are unlikely to be put off, so expect plenty of 4X4's and rifles every weekend.
- Take note re groceries: it may take 30 mins to go get the bread/empty your bins/buy some drinking water.
- Check on your mountain is there phone cover? Internet or helicopter access should you accidentally chain-saw off an important part of yourself?
- Is there any shade for the house when temperatures reach over 40?
- Can you run anything more powerful than an iPad on those batteries and how old are they again?
- Is that well going to dry out in June once the newly built olympic sized pool is filled?
- Can you see right down the valley towards the sea? Great isn't it. Now imagine the winds hurtling up the valley and rushing back carrying all your garden furniture, nephews and dog with it.
4: Modern Flat in Private Complex! Secure! Safe! Communal Pool.
- Check the bins are not situated near your windows. You may regret it in August.
- Quiet? Maybe it is quiet now, but those mac-book-air thin walls will transmit sounds from other provinces during those long summer nights.
- Nice quiet pool? Now Imagine it with 4.000 people and their funny swimming implements all trying to get in it at the same time.
5: Charming Traditional Cortijo up Dry River Bed. Good Parking.
- Check the river bed for washed up trees, old bangers, old men, dogs, boxes of dominos and other once living creatures decomposing to one side.
- Always carry an inflatable dingy in the boot and a spare snorkel for emergencies.
- Think of swapping the Vauxhall Corsa for something more amphibious.
3 Final Points.....
- Buying in Spain can be a nightmare, but can also be an adventure. Rent first if possible to get a feel for the place and to find out about both the positive and negative before investing your life savings into the big unknown.
- Secondly talk to people. People that employed their brains when deciding to move out, and not just the remote control during a TV series on Expats moving to the costas.
- *Finally, not everything in Spain revolves around corruption and exploitation, though you may be forgiven for thinking so the way the International press covers the country here. In Spain there are good people, honest people fighting to make things better both politically and socially. If you are serious about buying in Spain, I'd suggest getting in touch with someone reputable. Who is reputable? As I say, ask around. Use forums and social media or....