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Episode 19: Thomas who purchased in Almuñecar, Granada

Episode 19: Thomas who purchased in Almuñecar, Granada
Podcast host




Beth Davison

Podcast location

Relocated from



Almuñecar, Granada

Podcast agent

Real estate company

Thomas from the USA joins us as he shares how he and his wife purchased a three-storey house in Almuñecar, Granada. Thomas has always been keen to explore his wife’s hispanic ancestry in Spain, and they feel at home in the mountainous region. Hear how Thomas’ experience was as a non-European purchasing in Spain, and how they managed to find their dream property.

Show Notes

  • [1:30] Is it common for Americans to relocate to Spain?
  • [3:06] What made Spain so appealing for Thomas and his wife
  • [3:48] How they came to choose Almuñecar, Granada
  • [5:53] How Tropicana Estates helped Thomas’ overseas search
  • [7:29] How they found the dream property
  • [8:51] Description of property and Almuñecar area
  • [11:21] Experience of buying abroad as a non-European
  • [12:57] How Thomas was able to budget
  • [16:08] Taxes in Spain vs taxes in USA
  • [18:10] Thomas’ advice to buy


Tropicana Estates

Read Full Transcript


Welcome to the 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 Thomas, originally from the USA, who purchased a three story house in Almuñecar, Granada.

After falling in love with southern Spain, Thomas was keen to purchase in a safe location with copious amounts of natural beauty.

He worked with estate agent Tropicana Properties to find his dream home in Spain.  

Check out the show notes at to find links and resources mentioned in this episode

Body of Transcript

Tom:  My first name is Tom and we bought in La Herradura, which is a district of Almunecar, in the Granada province. As far as what I do for a living, I don’t do anything now because I’m retired.

Beth:  Lovely, so this for you was a kind of retirement plan?

Tom:  Yeah, my wife and I decided, after we both finally retired for the second or third time, to come to Spain, to move here and we’re extremely happy.

Beth:  I’ve obviously been talking to mainly British buyers throughout this process, but is it quite common for American people to relocate permanently to Spain? Have you met any other Americans who have done what you have done?

Tom:  There are very few Americans, or even American accents here.

Beth:  That’s what I thought.

Tom:  Americans, they will move, for instance, to a lower cost area like Arizona, or the Midwest, or something like that, if they’ve lived in a place where they can capitalize on the sale of their house.

That happens a lot in California, where I’m from, because the value of the houses has gone up tremendously in California if not in other parts of the States. But, we really didn’t want to move to another state. We fell in love with Spain when we were on holiday, so here we are.

Beth:  Yeah, lovely, so obviously you’d holidayed in Spain. How well did you know it before you started looking at moving there permanently?

Tom:  Only for what we had read and researched. Prior to that our only trip to Europe had been to Paris and that was about twenty years ago.

Beth:  Wow, so what was it about Spain that so appealed?

Tom:  My wife is of Spanish ancestry and she did a lot of investigation in to see about where her family came from. So, that was a very big link. We were fortunate enough, on our vacation, to visit the churches and cathedrals where her ancestors, going back to the 1700s, I think, had been born and married and things. It was quite exciting.

Beth:  Yeah, it sounds it. Did you know the specific area you were looking for, or when you first started your initial search was the net cast very wide?

Tom:  Good question. When we came here we visited almost every part of Spain except the Basque area. So, we got a really good feel for the various locations and when we came to Malaga we just fell in love with that area.

My wife’s from Puerto Rico and I used to live there, so it was very much like Puerto Rico. It just felt like home. So, we tended to want to live in the southern part of Spain, as opposed to Madrid or up in the northern part.

So, we just started investigating and, I have to be honest, Carol was a big influence in understanding this area. We first started looking in the Costa del Sol area, honestly, online. But in reading more about it we found ourselves wanting to be more in the Costa Tropical area because it had more rain, different types of vegetation, and fewer tourists.

So, the search lead us to the Almunecar and Salobrena area.

Beth:  Yeah, lovely. Presumably, for people that I’ve been speaking to for this podcast series, they’re nipping across the viewings because the flight is only a few hours. Maybe they’ll try and put it all in one trip, or whatever. But, for you, we’re talking six thousand miles from where you were. So how did you do viewings and stuff?

Tom:  Ah, we were fortunate enough to start communications with Tropicana Properties, with a realtor named Martin, who since left and moved to France, but Jose was the guy who picked up the ball. We had an email correspondence going back and forth for quite some time.

We would see things on Kyero and then talk to him via email. So, when we arrived here we had a really focused house search in just the Almunecar and Salobrena area. Frankly, once we saw the Almunecar area that’s all we wanted. Salobrena was out.

So, Jose did an incredible job of finding what we wanted because we had made pretty clear what our requirements were. He surpassed that. The place that we bought is beyond what we had expected and for an extremely reasonable price.

Beth:  Yeah, so let’s talk about the specific place, in the end. What was the viewing process like? Did you walk in and know immediately that it was the place that you were going to have?

Tom:  Yes, we had spent a long day looking at properties and I think this was the third day… no this was the second day of viewings and then we went out a third day. But, on the second day we saw this place. It was at the end of a very long day.

It was similar to the reaction when we bought our house in California, forty years ago. We walked in and just knew. It’s one of those feelings that, I’m quite sure, your other customers have.

Beth:  Yeah.

Tom:  So, when we saw this, and we saw the price, and we kept the next day and saw the other properties and just said, “This is what we want.”

We worked out an offer. It was accepted, and then we just bought it.

Beth:  Yeah, lovely. So, what was it about the house, then, that gave you that great feeling of just knowing?

Tom:  Location. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Almunecar area but it’s right on the ocean. All of the housing, because it’s so mountainous, the houses are literally on the sides of mountains. The roads are mountain roads. They’re pretty narrow and twisty and sort of dangerous. So that was not a good thing for a lot of the places that we saw.

This one is closer to the Marina and has a better access. So, that was a big thing. The other was how the house is laid out. Again, with houses on the side of the mountain you have a lot of stairs. Some of the stairs are really steep. This house has three floors, so they didn’t try to jam everything into two floors and make steep stairs. They spread it out over three floors and the stairs are more gradual.

Beth:  Right, nice.

Tom:  For our knees, believe me that was welcomed. (Laughter)

Beth:  Yeah, very good.

Tom:  Then, it’s just a beautiful house with marble floors and we have two terraces and a balcony and view that people would kill to have. It’s just incredibly beautiful. The back of the house faces due east, so we get the sunrise. The community, here, is a very nice community. You get the feeling that it’s a nice, safe place. All the people that we’ve talked with have confirmed that.

Beth:  Lovely, so it seems like the right decisions were made, which is great considering so much of it was done via email to start with. You’re one of the few people, that I’ve spoken to, who are outside of Europe buying. Did you find that a challenge having to learn different European laws and things like that, or was it very similar to the buying process in the US?

Tom:  It’s fairly similar. The thing that Jose contributed was to keep us from being way too enthusiastic about houses that we would see in pictures and say, “Oh, we want to buy this one.” He would say, “No, just hold on and wait to get here. You are giving me an idea of what you want.” So, he was able to put together a nice itinerary.

The buying process, itself, was very similar. The one big difference was (it was an expensive difference) that in Spain there is a tax that the buyer pays and it’s like a sales tax. That we did not know about until the last moment. So, that was a chunk of change that we had not expected. Thank heavens that we had enough set aside to be able to cover it.

Other than that, the relationship between the customer and the realtor and then the attorneys it was all quite similar.

Beth:  Presumably, with things like that additional tax you had budgeted for that? How did you work out your budget?

Tom:  Well, we sold our house in California and we paid off all of our debts and had a fair amount of money left over. Then we knew that we still wanted to have something left in the bank after we bought so, we subtracted that and what was left over was our budget.

So, we looked at houses within a variety of price ranges and found that, within the budget that we had established, there were a ton of houses that met our criteria. So, it wasn’t necessary to go to a higher price range to get what we were looking for. We were quite fortunate in that regard.

Beth:  Yeah, fantastic. Do you mind me asking what your budget was?

Tom:  We were looking at between two hundred and three hundred Euros or two hundred and three hundred thousand.

Beth:  That’s a big span. That’s a hundred grand difference. So, you can find a lot, I’m presuming, of different sized and different amount of bedrooms and that kind of thing.

Tom:  Yes, it sounds like a big span, but, it really isn’t when you start comparing what the different price ranges offer. As you get closer to three hundred thousand the amenities, the size of the house, the location, are not that different from the mid and lower two hundreds.

Beth:  Interesting.

Tom:  Yeah, so, we figured we could probably find something in the mid two hundreds. In fact, the asking price was two hundred and fifty. So that’s about as midpoint as you can get. We offered two hundred and forty, which he accepted.

Beth:  Fantastic.

Tom:  Yeah, so that, budget wise, fit very nicely.

Beth:  Then the tax that you were talking about - the (not hidden costs) costs that you hadn’t initially thought of and put into your budget, what percentage of the house costs, would you say, that comes to?

Tom:  That was eight per cent.

Beth:  OK, fair enough. So, it is going to be a decent chunk if that wasn’t one that you had already thought of.

Tom:  Yeah, yeah, it wasn’t something until we learned of it at the end of the process. I’m quite sure that they probably told us, but it just did not register because it’s strange for us – a tax in that way. We have bought many properties in the States, because we used to have properties for rent.

Beth:  It is slightly different. I can totally see how that accidentally caught you out.

My last question is about your lifestyle in Spain because it must be so different to the US and what your favourite parts of that are.

Tom:  My lifestyle right now has been as hectic as in the United States because…

Beth:  Oh no.

Tom:  Well, we’ve only been here for less than two months. Of course, our shipment of goods has not arrived yet so, we have been getting some basic furniture, getting a car, and getting a driver's licence.

We’ve been on the go since we got here. Thank heavens that the area where we live is very accommodating. We are about ten minutes from town and the town is wonderful. The people are wonderful. We have not been able to take long strolls on the beach like we would like to.

Beth:  Yeah, of course.

Tom:  One of these days when we get settled down it will be that way. Lifestyle has been, I would say, in the hectic category right now.

Beth:  Fair enough, while you’re in the set-up phase of it all. So, your top tips for someone doing it, what would you say they need?  A sense of a kind of bravery, I’m sure, for the level of adventure that you did, what else?

Tom:  Yeah, you have to be committed, and that we were. This is a “no going back” situation for us. Knowing the language is a very big deal, and we both speak Spanish, so that was not an issue. Being open minded and appreciating a different culture is a plus. Don’t go in thinking this is going to be like home, because in many cases it’s not, but in many cases it is, as well, if you just give it a chance.

The acceptance of people from other countries here is tremendous. There is not an issue of your British, or your Danish, or whatever. If you’re not British or Danish you are Spanish because that’s about the three nationalities that are here, and then some French, but very few Americans. If somebody is going to make a leap like this, it should be with a real desire to make that leap, not something that you’re always going to be second guessing.

Beth:  Yeah, totally. Good advice, very good advice. Well, I think I’ve reached the end of all my questions, but thank you so much for talking with me today.

Tom:  Thank you for the service that your website has provided. It was invaluable.

Beth:  You’re very welcome. I’m glad that it’s worked out so well. I hope that life calms down a little bit over the next couple of months. It sounds like you’re right in the middle of setting up and it’s all going to be amazing, but I’m glad that it was a good process for you.

Tom:  Yes, yes. The process was pretty painless.

Beth:  Good, I’m really glad and I hope that it keeps being everything that you dreamed it would be.

Tom:  Thank you.

Beth:  Thanks for talking to me, Tom. Have a good day.

Tom:  Thank you, you too. Bye bye.


Thank you for listening and thanks to Thomas for sharing his experiences along with  Tropicana Properties for their help to make this episode possible

I was particularly interested to hear about the differences and, in the end, the similarities in the process when you’re buying from the US rather than buying from Europe.

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Next week I speak with Olle, a freelance writer from Sweden, who purchased in Oliva, Valencia

He was keen to experience Spanish village life and wanted to find the perfect property he could renovate and really call his own. Tune in next time to find out if he succeeded.

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

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