Jill and Ray
La Fuente Commercial Centre, Alicante
Tune in to hear about how Jill and Ray’s lifelong dream of owning a vacation home in Spain was fulfilled when they purchased property in Alicante. They tell us how financial bravery during the 2008 recession was key to finding what they needed. They are quite pleased with the ease of traveling between their home in Cheshire and their vacation property as well as the range of international friends they have waiting for them when they arrive.
- How they have great neighbors that watch over their property while they are away [3:16]
- How being brave with their finances helped them find their dream property [9:03]
- On the lack of language barrier difficulties [11:10]
- How Jill and Ray enjoy a diverse community of Spanish, British, and international people in their area as well as plenty of people in their age group [12:26]
- What they love most about owning a property in Spain [13:35]
- A typical day for Jill and Ray in Spain [15:53]
- Advice for people seeking to buy a home in Spain [16:52]
● Welcome to the Kyero.com Spanish Property podcast where we interview real people who recently purchased a home in Spain.
● They tell us what worked, what didn’t and what they’d do differently next time.
● I’m Beth Davison and today I’m speaking with Jill and Ray, originally from Stalybridge, Cheshire, who purchased a three bedroom townhouse, near Campoamor Golf Club, in La Fuente Commercial Centre, Alicante.
● Just wait until you hear about how their financial bravery was key to them finding their dream property, and how, because of the location, they could can when to visit at the drop of a hat.
● Ray and Jill worked with estate agent HomeEspaña to find their dream home in Spain.
● Check out the show notes at kyero.com/podcast to find links and resources mentioned in this episode
Body of Transcription
Beth: Hi Jill, how are you doing?
Jill: I’m fine, thank you. We just got rid of eight members of the family, so it’s been rather chaotic.
Beth: (laughter) I bet.
Jill: Let me put you on the speaker so Ray can hear.
Beth: I was going to say, “Is Ray there?”
Ray: Hello, Beth.
Beth: How are you doing?
Ray: Just tidying up from all the mess this week with the kids.
Beth: So if we start, do you mind just telling me what you do at the moment? What you’re life is like?
Jill: OK, I’m actually retired, but I’m ex BT.
Ray: I subcontract to British Telecom, surveying telecom networks.
Beth: So the property that you have in Spain, how does that work? Do you rent that or do you own it?
Ray: No, we own it, very rarely rent it and only to close friends. We don’t rent it out to anybody, to agencies, or anything like that; it’s just mainly for our own use.
Beth: Fantastic. So how did you first come up with that idea?
Ray: It’s always been my dream, more me than Jill, really. Then the opportunity came along with the money and that’s why we decided to come over here. We have a friend who lived in La Zenia – a friend of a friend and they invited us over, and we just fell in love with it, really.
Beth: Nice, that’s great. So how long have you had it?
Ray: The one that we’re in at the moment?
Ray: We’ve been here for, probably, nearly ten years now. We originally bought in Royal Park at Lomas de Cabo Roig. Then they started building in front of us, so, we thought we needed a bit bigger place because the family was getting bigger, so we put that one up for sale, probably about fourteen months ago, and then bought this one.
Beth: Oh, fantastic. Has the other one sold now? Or do you have two?
Ray: It sold straight away.
Beth: Brilliant. There’s clearly loads of call for it.
Ray: Oh yeah, it’s fantastic. Yeah, yeah.
The area that we are in now is a lot better than the other area we were in, to be honest with you.
Beth: OK, why was that?
Ray: Just because of the locality and because of the walking distance to bars and restaurants, where the other place we had to drive everywhere, so it was a bit of a nightmare, really.
Beth: OK, nice, so this is a lot more… Explain to me a little bit about where you are, because I actually don’t know.
Ray: La Fuente is bang in the middle of three golf clubs, and a complex that is about six or seven years old. It’s really up and coming, with a lot of lively bars and restaurants.
Beth: Brilliant. What kinds of people do you see on the day-to-day?
Ray: Well, we’ve got friends that live over in San Miguel. We’ve got people that are the same age as me and Jill that spend a lot more time out here. We’ve got a whole new sort of life out here, really.
Beth: Brilliant, and have you made friends and things?
Ray: Oh, loads, loads. Even the complex it’s all friendly.
Jill: Yeah, my next door neighbour - a silly little thing, but he said to me, “Use my washing line whenever you want,” and we’ve used it so much because he’s got an open terrace, front to back, upstairs terrace, and it’s fantastic for washing. I know that’s daft, but it’s a girl thing isn’t it?
Beth: No, totally, and friendly neighbours are key.
Jill: Fantastic neighbours. They’ll watch out for your property when you’re not around. Some people live here, so it’s really good because they keep an eye on things. It’s just fantastic.
Beth: Yeah, so how much of the year would you say that you’re over there in comparison to when you’re back in Britain.
Jill: Well, Ray’s very limited because he works full time. He gets only about twenty days a year holiday, but he’s already had thirty days holiday, here, this year.
Beth: Yeah, right.
Jill: Probably, we’re thinking about coming back for Christmas. Obviously, unfortunately, he has to take them unpaid but his boss understands that we’ve got this dream house over here.
So, I, being retired. I’m very lucky.
Beth: You get the freedom.
Jill: Looking online you can find a flight, reasonable, and I must have fifteen friends that would always ask to come with me. (Laughter)
Beth: Yeah, I bet.
Jill: I think we’ve been over every month this year, at some point. If it’s not been with Ray, it’s been with friends.
Beth: Oh, it sounds so nice that you’ve got that option to get away.
So when you were thinking about the geography of your initial property, when you first made the move to Spain, did you have to think about proximity to airports? How did your search work?
Jill: Well, we went to an “open day” in Manchester, and Ray met a guy who was selling properties in Lomas de Cabo Roig. We didn’t know it, but our friend told us, who lives in La Zenia that it was quite near her.
So we got invited by this friend, it’s my friends Mum who was living here, and she invited us over on the weekend just to see the area for ourselves with our friends as well. Then on, I think, the Monday, they flew home and we met up with a local estate agent.
Ray: Spanish Homes Just for You.…
Jill: Spanish Homes Just for You it was called at the time. I know they have gone now. We met up with them. He took us around and we just fell in love with this complex called Royal Park. It had a beautiful indoor pool, gymnasium, and spa. It was beautiful.
Ray: The problem is with that, though, is you get excited, don’t you? You get your first house and we just fell for it without really thinking about the area and the future, really. So, although the properties were stunning, it wasn’t really in the right location, we don’t think.
Beth: As in looking back now.
Jill: Looking back now, yeah.
Ray: We rushed into it I think, looking back.
Jill: We fell in love, and the heart and the brain were not connected.
Beth: I’m sure we’ve all been there.
Ray: It’s been nine yours out here, and we know the area, and we know where all the bars are and beaches. So, we’ve had a lot more time to choose and we knew where to go.
Jill: We gravitated up here, most nights, from the other place.
Beth: Right, OK.
Jill: You have to understand the way it is here, on the Costa Blanca. They build loads and loads of houses, and then build the commercial centre that feeds the people in the area. And this particular commercial centre we used to come to because we just like it. It’s got like twenty-five, thirty bars and restaurants, lots of things to do, and everything. So, we gravitated up here most nights. I’m not a drinker so I used to drive up every night.
Beth: It’s always good to have one person who doesn’t mind being designated driver.
Ray: It is to me, yeah! (laughter)
Jill: Yeah, he has a rule. He drives there, I drive back.
So, what about budget? How did the money side fit into this? Did you have a budget in mind that you needed to stick to or did you have a lot of freedom?
Ray: No, we had a budget in mind. Obviously, when we came out, the house we got shown, for the budget we had, wasn’t really what we wanted. We were just shown this Royal Park…
Jill: It was about 50,000 over budget. We thought it was fantastic. We have been a victim of the house crash, price crash, because we, actually, in 2007, we put our money down. When we came to complete we were actually 30,000 short because of the devaluation of the pound, at the time, as well.
We bought at £1.48, and when we came to complete it was £1.20 something. So it was a lot of money and they charge you about another 12.5% on top here, as well. Then we decided to chance putting it on the market because we wanted a three bed, two baths, which we have now, nearer the places that people could go to within walking distance. That’s where we are now.
Beth: Yes, kind of a better location.
So with your second property, did you go through the same company? Did you know agents by then? How did that work?
Jill: No, they’d gone by then. So, I used to go for breakfast at a particular place, when we were over here, and next door to the breakfast place was HomeEspaña. So, I just popped in there one morning and said, “Look, we’re thinking about putting the house on the market,” and, basically, that was that. We put it on the market and it did go pretty quick when we weren’t here.
Ray: It did go quick, but we took a bit hit on it.
Jill: We took a massive hit on it.
Beth: Is that largely because of the economy and the crash, or do you think that there were other reasons?
Jill: Exactly, it wasn’t just me, it was everybody. On the flip side of that we’ve picked up a much bigger property. It was around about the same time, when it was built - 2007/08. It was up on the market for €300,000, originally.
Beth: Right, OK.
Jill: And we picked it up for €142,000.
Beth: Wow, OK.
Ray: We lost on one and sort of gained on this one.
Jill: Well, yeah, because we got the extra space. It was €140,000 when the exchange rate last year was about £1.38. It’s the price of a little terraced house in Manchester.
Beth: Yeah, totally, totally.
Jill: Yeah, it’s a no brainer, really.
Beth: A large part of this comes down to your bravery. You guys are go getters, and you don’t let things like the economy, which is completely out of people’s control, stop you.
Jill: You never lose money with houses, eventually. It picks up. We have peaks and troughs. We’re fifty odd years of age, so, we’ve seen it all through our lives, being house owners. This house, it’s just perfect for our needs now. It’s bigger. It’s in a better location, and we’re absolutely delighted with it.
Beth: Were there any other difficulties? I know language barriers might intimate people. I know you had a lot of help. It sounds like you found all of the right people to help you out, but are there ever any difficulties with language barriers?
Ray: None whatsoever.
Jill: We’ve not encountered any, to be honest. Like, if you use a proper bonafide agent, they will take you through it step by step. There haven’t ever been any issues.
When we went to the notary, which is quite an important man. He decides whether or not you can buy in Spain. There was a lady with us that was Spanish. So, she spoke to him, and then he just smiled at us and passed over our documents to sign. So, it wasn’t hard.
Bravery is the key word. Lots of people would want to do it. We’ve got friends that are in a better position than us, that could come over and buy tomorrow, but it’s having the courage to do it.
Jill: It’s scary. You don’t know what you’re setting yourself up for. You don’t, but it’s just so worth it.
Ray: It’s our home from home now.
Jill: Yeah, it feels like home.
Beth: Definitely. It sounds like you guys really love it. I can hear that.
Ray: And then there are a lot of people in our age group out here that are retired. And there’s more and more than ourselves coming, from Scandinavia and Holland and Finland and places like that that. So, there are all really nice people coming out more.
So, it sounds like you have the rounded experience out there as well. It’s not necessarily all tourists, and it’s not necessarily all Brits, but there’s a great kind of a really great community.
Ray: Yeah, it’s changing, recently. Our neighbour was from Finland in the old place.
Ray: Sweden, sorry. Their pensions were being tax at 40%. So, what they did was took the pensions out of the country and buying properties over here.
Ray: The Swedish and Finish and Scandinavians, they don’t like traditional style Spanish properties. They like IKEA, the glass boxes, and clean lines. So what they’ve done is the Spanish have built them for them and their coming in droves. So all the properties are changing from traditional Spanish style properties to ultra modern and it’s working well.
So I’ve just got a couple of questions before you finish. What do you love most about your property, about owning a property in Spain?
Ray: Good question. It’s just ideal because we can just jump on an airplane, if you look at flights.
Jill: Yeah, good location to the airport.
Ray: It’s a two hours ten minutes, two hours fifteen minutes flight. It’s the location – we’ve got the Murcia Airport, which is twenty minutes about; the Alicante Airport, which is fifty minutes away, and then they’re building another airport which is like an hour and ten minutes away.
Jill: Options, and they’re reasonable. Obviously, the budget airlines have made it so easy for us to come.
So you could, literally, in just a couple of hours and you’ll be in a completely different space.
Jill: Two and a half hours.
Ray: We can be home on, say, Thursday and say, “Should we go to Spain on Friday for three or four days?” And just pick up a cheap flight and you’re there.
Jill: Especially out of season. It’s obviously more expensive during the school holidays, but we can come any time. What we love is that there’s nothing that we don’t love about it: the beaches, the weather, the place, it’s just fabulous, honestly.
Ray: It’s the “feel good” factor.
Jill: Yeah, the “feel good” factor. You can forget everything at home. It’s like an escape.
Ray: Also, as well, in the area where we are, they’ve built a boulevard. It’s the biggest one in Southern Spain, called La Zenia Boulevard, and it’s totally boosted the area because it has got job opportunities and everything. So there are a lot of Spanish moving around there for the jobs and everything.
Jill: And there’s lots of Spanish coming over to shop in the boulevard. You go in and it’s full of Spanish families just enjoying a stroll around the boulevard. There is a mixture, because I really wouldn’t want to be set with a load of Brits all the time. I think it’s interesting to meet all the people.
Beth: Yeah, totally.
Jill: We sold our apartment to Polish, and we actually bought off a Polish couple.
Beth: Interesting, OK.
Jill: Yeah, we sold it. It’s very European – very, very European.
Beth: It sounds great. The last question, what is your typical day in Spain? Could you describe a typical day, for me, once you arrive?
Ray: Obviously, the first couple of days, even though the house is empty, we have to clean it. We’ve got to do the windows. The garden is always overgrown, so we have to do the gardening.
Ray: There’s always a bit of painting to do.
Jill: But within a few hours we usually, if it’s nice, we drive to the first beach, which is five minutes away, and we’ll sit and have a drink at the beach bar.
Ray: Like I say, we’ve got friends who live in San Miguel and there’s always something going on up there, festivals, anything, really.
Beth: I do love the Spanish festivals. They know how to party.
Ray: Oh, without a shadow of a doubt. Because we’re familiar with it and the house is in the area, it’s just like going home. It’s like home.
Jill: Home with the sun.
Beth: Home with the sun sounds perfect right about now. We’ve done OK this summer, but it would be nice if it was a little bit warmer.
If you had a last piece of advice to give people who were thinking about doing what you have done, what would your words of wisdom be?
Jill: Be brave. You only live once.
Ray: When we bought the property we didn’t buy it to make money and we didn’t buy it to lose money.
Jill: It was a lifestyle change.
Ray: It was a lifestyle change. It’s Que sera. We lost money, which we did. Like I say, on the flip side, we bought property that lost a lot more money than we did. So, we profited, really.
What we found that has happened in the past is, you watch television and they put all these horror stories on of people who have sold up and come to Spain, and they’ve lost businesses, they’ve lost all the money they’ve got, and everything. Well, that’s a handful of people. We know at least a hundred people over here and we see them and they’re having a great lifestyle.
Jill: It’s an outdoor life as well, whereas, at home… Even in the winter it’s quite pleasant here. So, you come here in the winter and people are out socialising. Older people are out going for coffees and it still has got that outdoor life that you could never, ever have at home.
Beth: Fantastic. Well, that is perfect. Thank you so much for chatting to me. That’s loads of info.
Jill: You are welcome.
● Thank you for listening and thanks to Jill and Ray for sharing their experiences and HomeEspaña for their help to make this episode possible
● I particularly liked the sound of how quickly they can decide to just nip off to Spain and the range of international friends they have waiting for them when they get there.
● You can search this agent’s properties and more on Kyero.com
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● Tune in next week when I speak with Duncan from Exeter
● He purchased a four bedroom townhouse in San Isidro, Alicante and I can’t wait to tell you all about how his decision to relocate permanently to rural Spain has meant he can now fully embrace his outdoor lifestyle
● I’m Beth Davison and you’ve been listening to the Kyero.com Spanish property podcast. I’ll see you next week!