Episode 18: Catherine who purchased in Olvera, Cádiz

7th May 2018
Podcast host




Beth Davison

Podcast location

Relocated from



Olvera, Cádiz

Episode 18: Catherine who purchased in Olvera, Cádiz

Catherine, from Cork, joins us on this week’s show and shares how she bought her two bedroom house in 2008. With a roof terrace overlooking olive groves, Catherine opted for a country-retreat rich with Spanish culture in Olvera, Cádiz. She retired this year and looks forward to living longer-term in her house.

Show Notes

  • [1:08] Her experience with Olvera Properties
  • [1:40] Her connection with Spain
  • [2:23] Why she chose Olvera
  • [2:51] Her experience of buying abroad
  • [3:26] How often she visits the place
  • [4:04] Why it’s the ultimate place to de-stress
  • [5:35] Her mission to learn Spanish fluently
  • [6:06] Description of the property
  • [6:39] Where Catherine also looked before
  • [6:51] What she’s learnt from hindsight
  • [12:27] The most challenging part of the buying process
  • [14:21] Tips for buying for the first time


Olvera Properties


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 Catherine, originally from Cork, who is enjoying what she call “the greatest love affair,” after purchasing her house in Olvera.

After seeing her brother get married in Spain she was inspired to move and it was a picture in a magazine, of all things, that began her adventure.

She worked with estate agent Olvera Properties to find her 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

Catherine:  My name is Catherine. I bought a house in Olvera in 2008 through Olvera Properties who were absolutely wonderful. I really basically had to do nothing. They organised everything for me.

Beth:  Great, so they were super helpful.

Catherine:  They were unbelievable, actually, to be honest about it. It was quite by chance that I found them, that I came across them. I was in Antequera and saw an advert for them and decided to travel up. I liked the feel of the place and took it from there. I was dealing with a girl called Zoe who showed me the houses and it was just an easy process once I decided on what house I wanted.

Beth:  Fantastic, so it sounds like it’s a really positive experience. How did it all start for you? It sounds like you knew Spain any way, did you, quite well?

Catherine:  I knew Spain pretty well, but my brother got married in Antequera and it was the first time that I had gone into the real Spain, as in the country Spain. I had always gone on holidays to Costa del Sol, but my brother, we stayed in Villanueva de La Concepcion, which was a very small village. There was one hundred and twenty of us that went out. I just loved the real Spain. It was such an experience.

So, from that, when I found that magazine – there are free magazines in different places and I picked it up and saw Olvera and decided, when I was there for the wedding, to take a trip to Olvera. I absolutely fell in love with it. It’s very pretty Pueblo Blanco. I just couldn’t get it out of my head and then decided to go back on a visit to look at houses. Houses were at their boom then, unfortunately for me, but at the same time I fell in love with it and in 2008 I bought it.

Beth:  Were you nervous starting off? Did this feel like quite a big venture for you?

Catherine:  You know what, I actually wasn’t nervous for some reason, but then again I was eight years younger. If I was doing it today I might be slightly nervous. I was eight years younger and I just wanted a place in Spain, but I did not want to be in a commercialised area. This town, it’s a town of eight and half thousand people, so I would consider it a town rather than a village.

Beth:  Yeah, absolutely. So it’s eight years later, and how often do you find yourself over there? What do your visits look like?

Catherine:  Actually, I’m just back from there now. I came back last week. I go about five times a year to visit and I stay, a minimum stay is seven days, but now that I’m retired I’m thinking that I’ll probably go for three months at a time. I’ll spend May, June, July, and August in Ireland and then I’ll head off the end of August, September, October, November, and then come back for Christmas and then go again. I will spend longer there now.

Beth:  Yeah, that sounds lovely. Is it that kind of simplistic life? I’m guessing it’s less stressful than Ireland?

Catherine:  If you want to de-stress that’s the place to be. They have the most wonderful vía verdes walking. There are lots of things going on. They have Spanish classes free for Expats. They’re just wonderful people. You walk down the street and everybody says hello to you and you’re wondering why they’re saying hello to you because they don’t know you but they’re lovely. Now that I’m living my dream was always to live on a Spanish street with Spanish neighbours. That was my dream.

Beth:  And now you have it.

Catherine:  Now I have it, and every single one of my neighbours know me. They see me every single day, when I’m out there, I spend evenings at dinner in their houses. They look after my house for me. They check my house. My next door neighbour checks my house every day. Nothing happens to my house without me knowing it.

Beth:  Which is just great. Did you have a good level of Spanish then, if you’ve made all of these Spanish friends?

Catherine:  I had all words, and I still have. They say every time I go I get better and better, but by the time I’m about to leave. Fortunately for me, my neighbour’s husband speaks English. He’s Spanish but he speaks English. If I’m stuck I Google Translate.

Beth:  Yeah, technology is a wonderful thing.

Catherine:  Technology is wonderful. I do intend to really buck up and try and speak Spanish fluently, but I find when I come back to Ireland I forget about it and then I cram in maybe three weeks before I go I’m back studying Spanish again. You know, with Google Translate, it’s wonderful. Spanish people are just wonderful and Spanish country people are wonderful.

Beth:  Yeah, because you’re outside of the towns and there’s much more of a community. Let’s talk about the property itself. So what exactly did you buy? Can you describe it for us?

Catherine:  The property I bought is relatively small. It is open plan, sitting room and kitchen and then on the first floor there are two bedrooms but one bedroom only fits a single bed and behind that, then, there’s a toilet and wash hand basin. The double bedroom is relatively big and airy and then you go up the stairs again and you have a laundry and a bathroom and a roof terrace. I’m overlooking just olive groves, complete olive groves.

Beth:  Great, and was it the first place that you saw? How many viewings did you go on after you’d seen this magazine, and seen the pictures and driven up there.

Catherine:  I didn’t know. I looked at a lot of properties. I looked at Pruna and Olvera because they’re both relatively close because they cover Pruna as well. I didn’t like Pruna. I thought it was a little bit too small. I liked Olvera from the point of view that there was more of a population and you would be more anonymous, but I was more into the Spanish way rather than the Expats way. I think that’s what cinched it for me. My street, I have a bar five doors down on the left and I have a bar six doors up on the right.

Beth:  (Laughter) Very good.

Catherine:  It’s a hunting community. It’s a farming community, so I fit in quite well because I’m a country girl myself at heart.

Beth:  Lovely. And did you say auctioneering was how you go this property?

Catherine:  No, no, no, I spent three days looking at houses with Zoe and in the end I just went with the one that I felt most comfortable in. Olvera is a very hilly town and I wanted to be on the flat part. So, I had a choice of two houses, really, on the flat and the one I picked I’m very happy with.

Beth:  Lovely, and it sounds like there’s a guest room then, do you have people to visit.

Catherine:  Not so much, I don’t really, no, nobody is interested in coming up. A few people have indicated that they’d like to visit but I think, for my children, they’re still young and they want the Costa del Sols of the world. Maybe when they have children they’ll come to Olvera. They would feel a little bit isolated up there. I think that a certain age group fits in very well to Olvera when you’re finished partying in Costa del Sol you will start going inland.

Beth:  Fair enough, and it sounds like it a lovely and relaxed environment, so I can totally see the appeal.

Catherine:  It is and everybody is really nice of there. The people are very lovely. They do tend to speak their own Spanish, if you can imagine and you may be from London and trying to understand somebody from Newcastle. It’s not a great place to learn Spanish because they tend to speak like country people and they only say half their words.

Beth:  Right, OK, as if it wasn’t challenging enough.

Catherine:  Yeah, but at the same time, it’s not a burden at the same time. It’s not at all, not a burden.

Beth:  So would you do anything differently, if you were going to do it all again?

Catherine:  Well, hindsight is a wonderful thing. If I was going to do it all again I would have bought a bigger house.

Beth:  Interesting, OK.

Catherine:  But at the time, houses were at their peak in Olvera and I did what I did with the budget that I had.

Beth:  Yeah, we haven’t talked about budget. Do you mind if I ask what it was?

Catherine:  The house was sixty-nine thousand.

Beth:  Lovely, OK.

Catherine:  And I wouldn’t get fifty thousand for it today.

Beth:  Does that worry you, the depreciation, or was that never a goal for you in the first place?

Catherine:  No, it was never a goal for me. I just wanted a house that I could escape to. I had a very pressurised job. I managed a big hotel. I just used to get on the plane in Cork and get off at Malaga and the minute I hit Olvera I was a different person.

Beth:  Yeah.

Catherine:  That was my aim. That was my aim really the money… I was out there last week looking at other houses and I decided not to bother. I’m sixty years of age now. I’m not going to bother trying to get what I should have gotten, maybe in the first place. I’m just going to renovate the house that I have now.

Beth:  Yeah, fantastic. It sounds like it suits you perfectly. You don’t feel too cramped there.

Catherine:  No, I’m not, I’m not. There are two of us there and we’re not cramped at all, at all. It suits us. But if I was to have, say, two people come it might not suit.

Beth:  Yeah, fair enough. So, for more guests you’d go bigger. Do you think that this will be the first property that you buy and you’ll now look seriously at others, or are you content to just renovate?

Catherine:  No, I’m content, now, to renovate. I’ll going to put about ten, twenty thousand into the house that I have and I’m very content.

Beth:  Lovely, OK, fantastic.

Catherine:  You know, if they come out, there’s two hotels in the town. I checked the prices of hotels for my son, his wife, and their baby for one week in June and it’s only coming to five hundred Euros.

Beth:  Oh wow, lovely, so that’s great for them.

Catherine:  Prices are not like what they are down the coast.

Beth:  Yeah, fair enough.

Catherine:  You know, Olvera really is, I’ve always looked as Olvera as being the gateway to Andalucia because, one, it’s only twenty-five minutes away from me. Seville is only what, maybe fifty minutes away and Taquera is only fifty minutes away. There are so many places: Cordoba Granada, it is really the gateway to Andalucia.

Beth:  Absolutely, and do you like going to the cities? Have you visited Seville much?

Catherine:  Oh yeah, I do. I love it.

Beth:  I love Seville, I think it’s great.

Catherine:  I love it and I love Antequera. I often thought about maybe a house in Antequera but I’m quite content being fifteen minutes away and I go in on shopping sprees. I will always go to Antequera and Seville. It is good.

Beth:  Of the process, which part did you find the most challenging?

Catherine:  Umm, I’m trying to think. I think probably the most challenging was probably the NIE number even though Zoe organised it all. I hadn’t done that before, going in and trying to sort it out. Luckily she spoke Spanish so I didn’t have a problem but it was just the finer details.

The notary was no problem, the bank was no problem. It was the finer details that I had, and of course then coming up with eight per cent that was fees, taxes and all different things on top of what your spending. But I’m saying that it was really all very calm.

Beth:  OK. Interesting. Where did you learn things like that? Where did you learn that you’d need an additional eight per cent in order to cover everything?

Catherine:  The estate agent made me very aware of… it was all itemised for me, what I would have to pay.

Beth:  Fantastic.

Catherine:  There were no surprises, to be quite honest about it. I just had to come up. I actually was lucky that I had twenty per cent of the price of the house. I was very lucky that I had that money, but I’m saying that the bank was very accommodating.

Beth:  Yeah, and it sounds like you had a helping hand. There were always people to ask. There were always people to talk to. You weren’t left on your own at any point?

Catherine:  No, I was never left on my own, and even eight years later I’m not left on my own because I need an architect now and I’ve actually dialled up the estate agent and she’s going to find me an architect to draw up plans.

Beth:  Amazing, eight years later and you still have her number.

Catherine:  Yeah, eight years later and she is always at the other end of the phone for me.

Beth:  Great, that’s perfect. So, my last question is, if you could give top tips to people starting the process right at the beginning at the moment, what would your top tips be?

Catherine:  Have a good serious look around at all houses in all areas. That’s my first tip. Secondly, make sure that you have at least twenty per cent. I think it’s important to have at least twenty percent of your money that you’re going to put down on the house. Thirdly, just go with it, go with it. Just decide whether you want a holiday home or a permanent home. Most people think they just want a holiday home when they’re going for it, like I did. But then, automatically as you get older, it turns into maybe a forever home.

Beth:  So flexibility is crucial.

Catherine:  Yeah, be very, very sure. Be very, very sure.

Beth:  Fantastic, well it sounds like it’s gone perfectly for you and that you’re going to be spending lots more time out there, which is just brilliant.

Catherine:  Yeah, I am. I’m looking forward to it. I retired this year and I’m really looking forward to it.

Beth:  Yeah, I bet. Well, congratulations. That’s basically all of my questions.

Catherine:  Well, it was lovely talking to you.

Beth:  Yeah, it was great, and enjoy it, enjoy it next time you go out there.

Catherine:  Take care.

Beth:  Bye.


Thank you for listening and thanks to Catherine for sharing her experiences along with Olvera Properties for their help to make this episode possible.

I particularly liked the idea of just finding a picture in a free magazine and letting that inspire a whole purchase, and the idea of living on a Spanish street with Spanish neighbours completely immersed in the culture

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Tune in next week when I speak with Thomas, originally from the USA, who, along with his wife, bought in Almunecar, Granada.

Even though they moved from halfway around the world, find out why this part of Spain felt immediately like home.

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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