We’ve had our house on the Costa Blanca for just over three years now and we get asked quite a lot about how we went about buying our house here in Spain and any pointers too.
I am in no means an expert, but I thought I’d share with you our advice and chat about things we’d maybe do differently if we were to buy again and ideas we’ve picked up along the way.
First of all there are hundreds of properties for sale in Spain. Apartments, town houses, villas, country fincas, re-sale and new builds. Whatever style of property you are after I’m sure there will be quite a few of them up for sale.
So there is no need to rush the sale.
That is probably my no.1 bit of advice, don’t rush.
Most properties are up for sale for a long time, so the likelihood of your ‘dream’ house being snapped up when you go away to think, is pretty slim. Which is another thing to look at is, if you want to sell in the future. You have to be prepared that it could be up on the market for a long time. So make sure the property you buy is 100% suitable for your needs.
It’s so easy to get carried away when over in Spain looking at properties. The agents will be ‘selling’ you the lifestyle, showing you the fab beaches, restaurants and bars and you yourself will be in total holiday mode. It is easy to get ‘carried away’ in the moment. Which is why it’s so important to take a minute, don’t commit yourself till you’ve flown back home, then book another trip out to take another look.
Our situation was slightly different. We were living in Dubai when we bought our house. So popping over to Spain for viewing trips wasn’t really that easy. So we knew we had to do a lot of research before hand and be totally sure of what we wanted.
For the weeks and months leading up to our visit to Spain we researched the different houses our agent sent through. We fell in love with one particular house (the one we have now). The agent sent us a zillion pictures through of the house and lot’s of information about it too. They also sent us the GPS co-ordinates so we could track it down on Google Earth.
We found our house and literally took the ‘little man’ for walks all around. Google Earth really was the perfect tool for us when researching our Spanish dream.
We walked around all the streets nearby, found a local hairdressers (which is the one I go to now) local bars, shops and restaurants.
We also spied a shopping centre, but couldn’t really work out the distance, but we thought even if it’s 45 mins drive away it still looks amazing. When looking it up online it really did tick all our shopping boxes. Supermarket, clothing & shoe shops, restaurants, entertainment – it’s got it all. It wasn’t until we physically went over and were shown this ‘shopping centre’ which turned out to be only 10 mins away.
The internet and Google really made our search so easy.
I would recommend going through an agent, as they can help out with all the legal side of things, sorting out your NIE, bank account, solicitors etc etc…
We went through Atlas International, but there are so many to choose from now.
NIE – is like a national insurance number which if you need to do anything in Spain i.e buy a house, buy a car etc you will need an NIE number.
Bank account – we let the agent guide us with this one. We have no problem with the actual bank themselves, but the location we do. Our branch is a little way out from where we live and we can’t change it to the one local to us. It’s not a huge problem, but would be nice for our actual branch to be close by, in-case we ever have bigger issues to deal with. Again not the end of the world, but definitely something we would have done different/insisted on.
Have a look through Rightmove Spain online and you will see endless properties and the agents they are up with. Rightmove I always find is a great tool when looking for properties, even when we were in the UK too. The filters are great to be able to narrow your search down.
If you are thinking of moving over full-time and setting up home in Spain, like us, of course I recommend it 100% and so many people always say it’s the best thing they’ve ever done. You do have to be realistic and think about your actual day to day life. It’s completely different to being on holiday.
A lot of people retire to Spain, so they have their pensions to live off. Depending on how extravagant you live lol, I reckon the pension should be plenty to support a good day to day standard of living.
Also, make sure whatever age you are, you have some savings in the pot for set up costs. Like, jobs on the house, decorating, new furniture & white goods, vet bills (if you have pets), setting up your Spanish Residency, converting your car to Spanish plates and any other unforeseen costs.
If you’re not at pension age like Mark and I you probably still need to earn a wage. Unless you’re a millionaire, then wahoo go and party haha!
Mark still has his job in the UK and commutes. It is tough and tiring, but it gives us the life we want. If you’re thinking of moving lock, stock and barrel and are wanting to work in Spain, fab, but I’d recommend securing a job first before you give up everything.
There are jobs here, but so many people are applying for them it’s a tough market. Most office jobs you will need to know the lingo. So if you can speak Spanish or even another language you probably have a higher chance than others. Throughout the summer there is bar and restaurant work of course and sometimes you are kept on all year round, but again this is not guaranteed.
Also again you need to think about you daily ‘life’. Do you really want to be working in a bar most evenings till gone midnight, for approx €5/€6 an hour (plus tips).
I think if you come over you need to view it that you won’t get work (I’m not being pessimistic, but absolutely realistic on this one) if you get a job then it’s a bonus. Unfortunately, because of the Spanish job market it really can’t be banked on.
OK, back to the actual property you want to buy. Is it a holiday home, future home, to rent out?
Again, one thing is to think about is once you’ve bought your property you’ll probably be stuck with it. As I said before the property market doesn’t really move like the UK, so you must be prepared your money will be tied up for a long time, most likely.
For us we bought our house with the view to live in it in the future (which has happened).
We pushed ourselves financially and went for the 4 bed instead of the 3 bed and we’re so pleased we did. As the 4 bed gives us a lot more living space and scope for home improvements.
A couple of things we’d probably have different with our house is have some sort of porch area. When we first bought the house we only had one fur-baby, Poppy & never planned on anymore. Famous last words hey!? We now have five fur-babies and they are all house cats. If we had a porch it would make our life easier with getting in and out with shopping etc. It’s not the end of the world though. We do have an open porch, which as a solution we are thinking about having glass curtains fitted to it. This will create another room and give us that ‘air-lock’ to stop the fur-babies escaping.
Also we would have liked an en-suite. We have a lovely bathroom upstairs and a downstairs shower room, but an en-suite would have been fab. Saying that a lot of properties do have them. I think if you’re planning on having lot’s of visitors staying, it does make life easier having more than one upstairs bathroom.
When we bought our house there were quite a few empty plots around us and across the road. We always knew building work would happen. What we didn’t put into consideration is that our builder in the meantime sold the land to another developer. Who are now building completely different style of houses to ours and much closer than what the originals plans were meant to be.
The daily building work is loud, messy and people everywhere. They start at 7.30 in the morning for about 12 noisy hours. This has been going on for about a year now and will continue for at least another year if not longer. So another big thing to remember is make sure everything is already built around you.
Another thing to think about are the fees, taxes and costs. They say when buying a house here in Spain add on another 10 -13% of the price of the property. For example if you’re buying a re-sale (second hand) for about 100k you will have another 10k to pay in taxes and fees. Or 13% if buying new. That’s another good reason to use an agent that can assist you with the whole shebang, as they can explain all the financial in’s and out’s to you.
If you’re 100% considering a move over I would recommend renting. Rent a lovely property in the area you think you want to buy for at least 6 months to a year before you commit to buying. If you’ve sold your house in the UK for example, put your things in storage, money in a years interest account and trial ‘living’ in Spain. You may find after time the area isn’t for you, but hopefully you will love it.
Yes it is only ‘Spain’, but it is still moving to a different country where things are different. Language, lifestyle, cultures, weather. It can take time to adjust. I think you have to be completely sure the move is right for you.
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I hope you’ve found this post helpful and helped you look at things in a different way.
Hopefully I don’t sound too pessimistic, as I’m not like that at all, but I think you do have to be realistic when dealing with major life changes and large sums of money.
It would be wrong for me to say yes it’s all rosy and fab, buy buy buy! Then it doesn’t work out.
Just think about your daily life, what you like to do – shopping, activities, hobbies. Where you like to go, how often you’ll get back to your home country to visit friends and family and see if Spain fit’s the bill. If it ticks all your boxes.
9 times out of 10 it will and more.
Sit down with a cup of tea and some paper and do an old-fashioned pros and cons list. Brainstorm all your ideas, budget, your property wish list, lifestyle you’re after, what you ‘need’ from the property etc etc.
Remember as I said before it is completely different to being on holiday. You will be paying bills, grocery shopping, furniture shopping, diy, banking, dealing with people at the town hall all this in a difference language. In this area a lot of people do speak English, but a lot of people don’t. But why should they. So I would advise to also try to learn the language or at least some key words and phrases to help you get by – it will help and most of the time the person you are speaking to will appreciate you’re trying with the lingo and try to converse back.
If you have any questions or can think of something I’ve missed out, or have any pointers yourself let’s chat in the comments below.
Happy house hunting
Heather : )