Episode 16: Juliet and James who purchased in Barcelona

23rd April 2018
Podcast host


Juliet and James


Beth Davison

Podcast location

Relocated from




Episode 16: Juliet and James who purchased in Barcelona

On this week’s show, Juliet and James from London join us to share how they recently purchased a two bedroom apartment in Barcelona. As city-dwellers, they now get to enjoy visiting the metropolitan hub, and visit neighbouring attractions. They look forward to soaking up the culture and food with their two daughters as they take regular trips from London.

Show Notes

  • [1:39] First decision to buy in Spain
  • [2:23] Why they chose to buy in a city
  • [3:55] What their first choice was
  • [6:31] Why they chose Urbane International Real Estate
  • [8:15] How often they intend to spend out there
  • [10:07] Their budget
  • [11:42] The most challenging part of purchasing
  • [13:10] Things to do in the UK before buying in Spain
  • [14:31] Applying for dual mortgage
  • [17:31] Why they love Barcelona



Urbane International Real Estate

Read Full Transcript


Welcome to the Kyero.com Spanish Property podcast where we interview 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 Juliet and James, from London, who purchased an apartment in the centre of Barcelona.

Fearing they’d be bored in the countryside, James and Juliet were excited by what a busy Spanish city could offer, and treat their place as a weekend getaway with great atmosphere and delicious food just a stone’s throw away.

They worked with estate agent Urbane International Real Estate 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 Transcript

James:  Hello, my name's James.

Juliet:  And I’m Juliet.

James:  We purchased, together, an apartment in Barcelona, Spain with the help of BeUrbane.

Juliet:  It’s a two bedroom flat.

James:  It’s in the Ribera district, which is a part of the old district, very close to the gothic area, and very central.

Juliet:  Very close to the port, as well.

James:  It’s very close to the port. It’s situated conveniently with about a fifteen minute walk of the port and also the market - Santa Caterina. The cathedral is only about ten minutes walk.

Juliet:  There are lots of restaurants where we are, isn’t there?

James:  It’s situated for restaurants. [There are] lots of tapas restaurants and also bakeries and coffee shops. The ease of getting around, as well, is important. It’s very centrally located, so you don’t need a car. You can walk anywhere.

Beth:  Lovely, it sounds excellent. So, how long ago was it that you guys had that first conversation of, “Shall we buy somewhere in Spain?”

James:  We paid several visits to Barcelona. I think Juliet has been about four or five times, I’ve been about three times. Yeah, so each time you went back to Barcelona you thought that this would be a nice place to buy a retirement or investment property.

Obviously, our main residence is in the UK, in southwest London, but we just felt that that would be a nice place to go to and the convenience of being able to fly across there in under a couple of hours. From the airport, getting to the apartment is probably only about forty-five minutes door to door.

Juliet:  Forty-five minutes, yeah.

Beth:  You were already city dwellers, then, living in southwest London? Did you know you wanted to be in a city? Did you know specifically that it was Barcelona that you were looking for? How focused was your search?

James:  You know, I’ve had friends buying places – villas in the middle of nowhere, lovely, with a swimming pool, fantastic, but the trouble is in about three days I get completely bored. The countryside, (I’m from east Anglia, originally), I’m a country boy but I got attuned to city life and therefore I quite like being in a city. Also, from where it is, we do plan, in July, to go outside the area of Barcelona. We’ve got a holiday going.

Juliet: To the Pyrenees.

James:  From there it’s quite easy to travel out of the area and also can be in France.

Beth:  Lovely, but you spend the majority of your visits, obviously, in Barcelona, but it’s a nice springboard to go and visit other parts of the country, and further afield.

James:  Yeah, because there’s also the situation where other people are going to want to go and stay there. At the moment we have no short-term intention of letting it out.  Financially, hopefully, we won’t have to do that but it may be in twelve to sixteen months time that we decide to do that if we find a good tenant. It would help us that way.

Beth:  Fantastic. So, how long have you had the property, all told?

James:  How long have we had it? Only a matter of weeks.

Beth:  Oh wow!

Juliet:  We signed the contract on the thirty-first of January, this year, but I started looking August 2017, last year, and then I saw one and James saw one as well. We went backwards and forwards in November for a flat that we were going to buy. It was quite near…

James:  Near the Ramba. It was basically a much more touristy area, if you like. It was a much busier area. That was actually our first choice and the current property that we purchased was our second choice. Having had the situation where the first one fell through, we’re quite glad, in a way.

Juliet:  Yeah, we prefer where we are now.

James:  We prefer the locality. It’s a little bit quieter and it’s very close to the big church, the Basílica de Santa Maria del Mar. So, you wake up in the morning with the church bells ringing, which is quite nice.

Beth:  Lovely, I think everything happens for a reason, you know, with property. When things fall through it does always tend to be for the best.

James:   Yeah, it’s for the best. It was the way it was going to be. So, there we go.

Beth:  So, how many viewings did you go on, do you think?

James:  How many viewings?

Juliet:  I think I have been to a few… you know the old properties that they normally would say “resale” (I think they call it) where they haven’t really refurbished the whole building so, there are no lifts and the planting and stuff like that. So [I saw] a few, maybe ten properties of those kind.

James:  Subsequently I went with Juliet to look at the properties, or the ones where we’d narrowed it down. As she said, we did narrow it down to something that had a lift. We’re not spring chickens but we’re not old either. Then again, who knows?

In a few years time I might get a little bit worse arthritis than I’ve got at the moment and, therefore, need to be able to go up in a lift. When you’re seventy-five or eighty years old, you don’t want to be going up three flights of stairs.

Juliet:  The thing is, price wise, all of the “resales” are about half of the price of the refurbished ones. Then you still have to do the water and electricity.

James:  We didn’t want to have builders in there doing a lot of work on the place, or something that had been done substandard. So, it was a very, very narrow choice. In fact we narrowed it down to about two or three properties in total.

Juliet:  Yeah, I did view somewhere… I can’t remember, you know that area, but I didn’t really like the area. We’ve settled for this because it’s just really a good area.

Beth:  You mentioned BeUrbane, the agency you used. How good were they at finding things that fit your quite specific search criteria?

Juliet:  Well, I think they kind of like knew, from the very start, what we wanted. The ten properties I’ve been talking about, the resale ones, they’re not from BeUrbane, they were from different estate agents. Then I didn’t really gel with those estate agents, so when we went back we changed. I preferred BeUrbane’s properties because they were more the refurbished ones. They were clean and everything and we gelled together.

James:  Yeah, they were very proactive in finding things. They didn’t send us, or certainly didn’t when I went, they didn’t send us to anything that we wouldn’t be interested in.

Juliet:  They know us, I think.

James:  They knew us and what we wanted, exactly.

Juliet:  They talked to you and they sized you up and everything, so they know which properties they would show you rather than just mainly…

James:  And I think actually, on top of that, there probably isn’t a massive amount around. It’s a popular city, I think a lot of stuff has been snapped up and there aren’t that many places being done up, being refurbished to that kind of standard.

Juliet:  Yeah, they’re very good. Looking from the lawyers, mortgage, what else did they do?

James:  They did that type of thing for you. They can arrange for meter readings to be done, if you want. They’ve attended, already, a residence meeting. There were some things that had to be sorted out.

Juliet:  I think they call it BIP. I can’t remember what the package is, but they do that.

James:  It’s a post sales thing as well. The other thing is they haven’t sort of put limits on it. They haven’t said there’s hand holding for four weeks and then that’s it, because they know that there were one or two issues that have to be resolved. Quite minor ones, but you know, mainly to do with equipment and things like that like air conditioning. There’s a little problem with that which they’re sorting out, hopefully, by the time we go out which is this coming weekend.

Beth:  I was going to ask when you’re next heading out. What are your trips like when you go out there? How long do you tend to spend?

James:  Well, so far, we’ve actually only been out there once to stay there. We went for a week, but it was a bit of a working week. We spent half our life in a department store buying pots and pans and stuff like that.

Juliet:  And duvets…

James:  And duvets, I think it would be handy if we spoke a little bit more of the local language actually, but we’re going to have to work on that. This time we’re going out with our two daughters and one of them speaks pretty good Spanish, so that will help.

Juliet:  We’re staying there for four days.

James:  Four days, Sunday to Wednesday.

Juliet:  Then we go back again in May. It’s like every month.

James:  Every couple of months we’ll be able to go out there. The idea is to also be able to leave enough stuff there that we can travel light. We’ll leave clothes and bedding there. There’s a washing machine so the laundry can be done there. Also, BeUrbane also arranged for a cleaner to go in, between visits, if we need her.

Beth:  Fantastic, so, you treat it as a proper city retreat for just when you want to get away. Obviously, you’re taking family to visit if your kids are going?

James and Juliet:  Yes, yes.

Beth:  So is it big enough? How many bedrooms did you say it was?

James:  It’s two beds. The second bedroom is a really good size with a king-sized sofa bed. The main bedroom is also a king-sized bed in there. Within the living room, if you wanted to really squeeze another person or two in you could do, but I think it would be a bit claustrophobic, personally.

Beth:  Yeah, fair enough.

James:  There are three balconies: one balcony off each room, should I say, which are big enough to sit it, but you can’t really have a barbeque or anything out there. The roads on either side, bear in mind our property is at the back and not the front, they’re very, very narrow. They’re only about ten or twelve feet wide.

Juliet:  All of them are like that.

Beth:  Yeah, very Spanish. Did you have a budget in mind? I haven’t asked you about budget, I just realised. Did you know what you wanted to spend and did you manage to stick within it?

Juliet:  Yeah, up, and up, and up.

James:  Well, slightly.

Juliet:  The first time I went there, I have no idea how much property would cost there. So I said this is the budget, James, it was two hundred… it was two hundred and fifty the first time. We said two hundred and fifty thousand, and then I realised that two hundred and fifty thousand (that’s euros) won’t get you anywhere. So we moved it to three hundred.

James:  Yeah, we moved it up, and then we thought to ourselves, “Well, it would be quite nice to have a second bedroom, particularly because of the family.

Juliet:  Yeah, that would be nice.

James:  So, that was the great thing about this, there was a second bedroom. It’s not too cramped. Then we looked at ways of financing it and we realised that the way we could finance it and we wanted to stretch a little bit higher than that, so we did.

Juliet:  So we did. I first said that BeUrbane found us and they arranged everything for us in a space of, wow, in November when we decided…

James:  They were very good.

Juliet:  They were very good so…

James:  They pushed it through.

Juliet:  If you think November was when we said yes to this property... November, December… with a mortgage…

Beth:  Really fast! Yeah.

James:  Also, they did negotiate with the vendor. We were deadly serious about buying this property because the first one had fallen through. He was giving us a little bit of flexibility on the timing of it. Obviously he could only hold that so long. He knew we were serious and we paid a deposit. So, he waited for it to happen.

Beth:  Fantastic. Now, of the whole process, which parts would you say you found the most challenging?

Juliet:  Oooo, I can’t tell you.

James: Well, I can be honest with you. You haven’t asked us this, but I’ll tell you that we financed this property for roughly half of it is being financed through a Spanish mortgage and half through a UK mortgage.

Beth:  Oh, OK, interesting.

James:  We thought the Spanish one would be the one we would have trouble with, but it wasn’t.

Juliet:  Yeah, the UK.

James:  I’m not going to mention the company but they were very slow.

Juliet:  Eventually it was all sorted, but the challenging one I think when we were getting our NIE number, you know, that kind of thing where you have to have it before you purchase. That was quite challenging because we were not there. The solicitors did everything for us. It got to a point where it was really ridiculous because we went to the embassy and it was just a very…

James:  Yeah, that was a little bit disorganised.

Juliet:  It was so disorganised.

James:  Yeah, you need a lot of patience for that.

Juliet:  The power of attorney, that was quite OK.

James:  Yeah that was also through the Spanish Consulate, here in London.

Juliet:  Yeah, but I would suggest that if somebody is going to buy a property there, I heard that it’s much better to do the NIE here rather than there, in Spain.

Beth:  Interesting, OK. That’s a planning and organisation thing, so to arrange to do that in the UK before you go through the buying process in Spain.

Juliet:  Yes, but you must have a very good solicitor to really help you out with it. If you’re doing the NIE here, that would be my suggestion. You have to have a good solicitor. Luckily we do have that. She even had to phone the Embassy here.

James:  I would recommend getting somebody to approve a solicitor over there, which is what we did, it happened to us through Urbane. Otherwise, I can see the potential for something going pretty badly wrong. The British Consulate, one of the head honchos in the British Consulate, he did say, “Yeah, I can tell you’ve got a good solicitor over there because of the address they’ve got in Barcelona. They’ve got offices in Madrid,” so he said, “Yeah, these are legitimate people.”

Juliet:  Yeah, this is the power of attorney because he was the proper Consulate, which you can only do that in front of him, the power of attorney. They ask several questions for power of attorney.

James:  He has to sign it off. He doesn’t create the document, someone else does that. He just explains it to us.

Juliet:  Explains it to us.

James:  Yeah, explains it to us in depth.

Beth:  With the dual mortgage situation that you have, that sounds quite unique. How did that work? How did that first come up as an option?

James:  Because in Spain you can’t get an interest only mortgage. It’s a repayment. So, you’re paying off the capital. Any repayment mortgage is going to cost more in monthly payments then an interest only.

Beth:  Right, OK.

James:  So we got a repayment mortgage in Spain and mainly, but not totally, interest only mortgage in this country.

Juliet:  The thing is, in Spain they wouldn’t give you I think only sixty per cent. They won’t give you one hundred percent.

James: That’s the other reason.

Juliet:  So, you have to have another forty plus.

James:  Yes, to raise that we’ve used some equity in our property here and remortgaged it.

Beth:  OK, fantastic. All of that, was that your own research that you found out all of these figures and facts and things like that? Would you advise doing a lot of research before you dive into this?

James:  Oh yeah, you’ve got to, you’ve got to. There are forums and websites you can go on about buying properties, particularly in Spain.

Juliet:  Yes, it is, it’s very challenging, really. If you’re there, we were already there, so it was easy for us if we wanted to sell this property we could move to somewhere else in this area, if it’s too small for us.

James:  Yes, we could, yeah. Having a bank account over there, we chose Santander. They’re very good.

Juliet:  That’s another one because our banker, she really helped me.

James:  She was helpful when we up to the branch. Her emails were very frequent and she answers questions.

Juliet:  This is the trouble, as well, with the bank there because I’ve got the online, because they’re all in Spanish, obviously, it’s so difficult because something it is a different entity – the UK and Spain. So, online there is no English unless you do Google translate and that only means I could translate whatever it is in that online. I’ve managed to lock myself out every single time. All the passwords, all the passwords and everything… The person there would kind of help me every single time.

Beth:  Yeah, so having a good contact. Well, there’s loads of advice that you’ve given. I just want to end by briefly talking about life in the city, really. So, what do you love most about owning a property in Spain?

James:  Well, particularly in Barcelona, I love the fact that you can walk around.

Juliet:  The food!

James:  Yes, the food is fantastic. It really, really, really is. I’ve never been to a city that has so many restaurants per square metre. It’s absolutely incredible.

I deal with the restaurant trade in London. When you go into central London, even in Soho, you don’t have that kind of intensity throughout the whole of the city. There’s so much choice and competition, and reasonably priced too. I’d say eating out there, and certainly buying wines out there is so much cheaper.

Juliet:  Wines, yes. Not only that but because, as I’ve said, we’re very close to the south of France. I think Barcelona, for me, is if you go that way, it’s close to France; if you go down, and it’s close to Portugal; and if you go up you can go skiing.

James:  Yes, yes, it’s very centrally located, generally, in Europe. It’s a very good location.

Beth:  Yeah, well, it sounds like you guys are absolutely loving it which is great to hear. We’ve reached the end, have you got any final tips that you would give to anyone doing the same thing that you were doing a year ago?

James:  No, but I’d recommend BeUrbane. I think BeUrbane because they’re dealing with, not just English, but they’re dealing with European clients and they kind of know what they want.

Beth:  Yeah, absolutely.

Well, fantastic. I’m glad it worked out so well for you guys. Enjoy your trip.

James and Juliet:  Thank you.

Beth:  Thank you, and have a lovely day.

Juliet:  Thank you, bye.


Thank you for listening and thanks to Juliet and James for sharing their experiences along with  BeUrbane for their help to make this episode possible.

I particularly liked the sound of that tapas and how important it seems that throughout the buying process you have a good personal connection with your agent.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast so you never miss an episode. 

This podcast is produced by Kyero.com and our mission is to connect you with estate agents and properties throughout Spain.

Whether your dream home is a rustic farm house surrounded by olive groves or a lock-up-and-leave apartment on the seafront, you’ll find everything you need at Kyero.com.

If you’ve enjoyed this episode, we’d really appreciate your 5 star rating on iTunes.  It helps us reach and connect more people with their dream home in Spain.

And, whenever you’re ready, here are four ways we can help you:

  1. Ask a question by emailing Beth@kyero.com.  We’ll try and answer them all in an upcoming Q&A episode
  2. Get a location guide by emailing Beth@kyero.com.  We’ll reply with the latest data and information on the areas you are interested in.
  3. Calculate your budget. Simply visit kyero.com/budget, enter two numbers and you’re done!
  4. Be our guest. If you’ve already purchased your home in Spain, we would love for you to share your story on the podcast.  Just email Beth@kyero.com and we’ll take it from there.

Tune in next week when I speak with George, a former music teacher from Southampton

He purchased a house just outside of Valencia and, after retiring from teaching last year, decided to relocate permanently to the Spanish countryside.

I’m Beth Davison and you’ve been listening to the Kyero.com Spanish property podcast. I’ll see you next week!

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