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Episode 23: Nikki who purchased in Galera, Granada

Podcast host




Beth Davison

Podcast location

Relocated from



Galera, Granada

Podcast agent

Real estate company

In this week’s episode, Beth is joined by guest Nikki who purchased a three bedroom cave house in Galera, Granada, with her husband. Prior to purchasing, she didn’t know Spain at all. Upon a chance holiday at a cave house in Spain, Nikki and her husband took the plunge to move abroad and retire before Niki turned 50. Fast-forward to today, and they’re enjoying the Spanish pace, including salsa dancing three times a week.

Show Notes

  • [1:05] First thought of early-retirement in Spain
  • [3:24] How cost of living in Spain is cheaper than in the UK
  • [4:16] How they took action and made the decision to retire early and purchase in Spain
  • [6:24] What they liked about the house they bought
  • [9:17] How Spanish Inland helped the buying process
  • [11:12] Advice on car situations
  • [14:00] Their budget
  • [15:50] Advice on making the choice to retire early and relocate
  • [18:25] Best bits about living in Spain


Spanish Inland Properties

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 Nikki, from Braintree, who, along with her husband, purchased a house in Galera, Granada

Despite not being huge risk takers, Nikki was enticed by the idea of early retirement, and in the end went for a property that was completely different to what they had in England.

They worked with estate agent Spanish Inland Properties to find their dream home in Spain.  

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


Body of Transcript

Nikki:  I’m Nikki. My job before our Spanish Adventure. I was a regional manager for a marketing agency. We came to Spain and we bought a three bedroom cave house in the Granada province.

Beth:  Lovely, and how long ago was it that these conversations first started?

Nikki:  Well, we didn’t know Spain at all and my sister had bought a cave house as a holiday home about three or four years ago and she kept wanting us to come out and visit. Obviously, the usual, we only had twenty odd holidays at work we kept putting it off. One Christmas during shut down we said, “Well, it’s about the only time we can come.” So, we flew out on Christmas night and arrived very late. On Boxing Day we were walking around the village and my sister had a throw away comment, “You do realise if you gave everything up in England you could both retire early and come and have a simple life out here.” To which we both said, “Really?”

Although we were really, really happy in England, we had good jobs, we had a lovely house, great friends, great family, we never saw that we could really retire much before seventy-five or so. We had no plan really. We just always thought we’d be working forever. So, the thought of being able to retire, for me, before I was fifty and my husband, he was in his early fifties, seems like quite a nice opportunity. Obviously you get sunshine and a new opportunity, so yeah.

Beth:  And a bold opportunity, if you never really knew Spain that well this is not a traditional thing to do. What did people think when you were telling them? How did that go down?

Nikki:  All our friends and family were shocked. I think they thought it was a joke because of everything. We were very steady people. So we weren’t huge risk takers. We might do things spontaneously but we would never take a huge risk.

Everybody knew as well, that for me particularly, that I had never, ever wanted to live anywhere other than sort of the town and area that we lived in England. Although my husband would have liked to have lived abroad, I had no intention of that and he needed me to do all of the orchestrating, so it was never going to happen.

Beth:  Yeah.

Nikki:  So yeah, everyone was really shocked when we told them.

Beth:  But it sounds like it has been a great choice. So, when you say... was it financially that it gave you all of these opportunities because it’s better, you get more for your Euro, as it were?

Nikki:  Yes, exactly, so the cost of what we’re living in Spain was a tenth of the cost of our house in England. So yes, straight away that answers a lot, really, that obviously we’ve been mortgage free and in our situation we bought a flat from the proceeds of the sale of our property, and in doing that we live off the rental income from the flat in the UK. So yeah, then also you always have a foothold in the UK. With the flat you’ve got something to go back to should you ever change your mind, not that we think we will.

Beth:  No, but it’s great, you’ve left your options open. You have the conversations and you decided to make this big change, what is then the next step? What did you guys do?

Nikki:  So, literally, as soon as we finished that walk, and, as I said, we’d literally only been here a few hours, and we’re trying to not look through rose tinted glasses. My husband used my sister’s iPad back at her cave house and just started looking through the Spanish Inland Properties website and said, “Well really, because we like open plan living and lots of cave houses aren’t open plan, this really seems to be the only one that suits us.”

So, we sort of found one. We tried to get ahold of the key to view it, which was slightly difficult because it was Christmas time. Then we got the key, spent ten minutes in it because the person who was showing us the key through the houses was actually a neighbour, and he had to go out in ten minutes time. So, we just flew around and had a camera each and just photographed everything in sight so that we could look back at photos to remember everything. Then we put some offers in and I think the second offer we came to an agreement with the sellers.

Beth:  That’s incredible. So, it was so quick. Was this the only house you saw? Was this the only one you bothered viewing?

Nikki:  It was pretty much, because we just sort of decided on it, but then we spoke to Shawn at Spanish Inland and said, “Look, rather than rush in too much, is there anything else?” And he said, “Actually, with your criteria and your budget, no, not at the moment, really. The only other one is this other one. I’ll take you to see that just so you know.” So, we did see one other which was sort of a backup plan, but not really. It was the craziest thing we’ve ever done.

Beth:  But it’s paid off.

Nikki:  Yes, definitely paid off, definitely.

Within two weeks of arriving here, and trying everything out, we were already just snipping and just said we couldn’t imagine going back even now, and that was just within two weeks. We weren’t sure if that was the honeymoon period but clearly not, because it’s been longer than that now.

Yeah, what did we like about the house? It’s, again, completely the opposite of anything that we would have gone for in England. In England we would have new builds. We’ve had three houses in England all of which were new builds. There was nothing old about the. I guess some would say they were soulless - just square rooms and flat everything. Then suddenly we moved to a house which is almost a bit country cottagy and not our style at all, but we just absolutely love it.

I think it’s different from anything else we’ve lived in, and then obviously, there are the views, because we’re looking out at a Spanish mountainside as opposed to a town in a housing estate in England albeit a nice housing estate.

Beth:  Yeah, but no, it’s a complete change of life.

Nikki:  Yeah, completely different and it’s a village. I always swore I would never ever want to live in a village because I’m a “towny.” So, really the opposite of anything I ever thought I would do.

Beth:  So you sister, you said her place is a holiday home, yeah?

Nikki:  Yeah.

Beth:  So she comes over so you have company and family coming over on the holidays. Other than that are you making friends in the community?

Nikki:  Yes, definitely, It’s strange because my sister and I, there’s quite a big age difference between us and we haven’t really ever lived (it’s a bit weird) but we haven’t ever really lived together other than when I was a very young child and she was an older sister, so I don’t remember much or that. So, it’s strange having never... we were sort of a hundred and eighty miles apart in England. All of a sudden we live in the same village, from time to time, when she’s out on holiday. Yeah, that’s strange, but yes as you said, we’ve met lots of people, really, here. There’s a big English community, however we really didn’t want to come somewhere that was Brits Abroad. We wanted to come to the real Spain, if you like.

So, we love the fact that it is entirely Spanish and entirely Spanish looking and we have lots of Spanish friends now. But, also, you do also have lots of English friends and the support of the English community and English neighbours and other people in the village have been just brilliant with advice before we came, by email, even though we didn’t know anybody.

Also, that’s the same with Spanish Inland Properties. They are an estate agent, but nothing like one in England, so during the process of purchase and well beyond, Shawn, at Spanish Inland, is there to give us any advice or help that we need. So, that’s been a real God send. You couldn’t really do it without that network. You could but it would be a lot harder.

Beth:  Yeah, completely, because you guys were completely new to this situation and doing things very quickly and you needed that support. It sounds like it really worked and it really came through. Was it an easier process than you were expecting?

Nikki:  Yes, far easier and give those ends. In England we basically have eight months to go from zero to suddenly selling our house, being essentially homeless, and buying a flat in England and buying a cave house and working our notices at work, and trying to hand over to new people taking over our roles. So yeah, that part of it was a lot of work to do.

The cave house find in Spain was incredibly easy. I couldn’t believe. It was far easier than buying a property in England. It was really, really, straightforward and then with Shawn at Spanish Inland, he sorted everything out for us remotely, with the exception of the completion, but I think even with the completion you can give power of attorney. I’m not entirely sure.

Shawn sorted out everything: our bank accounts, getting our national identification numbers (the Spanish sort of national insurance equivalent), so he sorted all of that for us, so all we had to do was the completion. We just flew over two working days before, so that we could then spend two working days completing on the sale.

Again, Shawn just drives you everywhere. He drives you to the bank, he drives you to the police station, he then drives you to the notary where us and the sellers, respective lawyers, and the notary and we all sit around the table, very, very civilized. They explain everything to you and make sure that you’ve understood exactly what it is that you are buying and then the sale takes place.

It was just incredibly easy to buy, really, really, easy.

Beth:  Fantastic, were there any hiccups or anything that you’d do differently next time?

Nikki:  No, not in terms of the purchase. The only thing that I would do differently (and certainly for people coming from other countries, especially the UK and probably any other European country) is the car situation. So, whether to bring a car from England or buy one here? I would certainly research that element if you’ve got a good car in England.

My husband and I had cars that were not suitable for Spain, so we had to definitely sell our cars. So, we did that and just bought a cheap and cheerful to come over. Cars here are really expensive in Spain and also the second hand market, the new and used is nonexistent. So, that’s something I would say to someone in England is to research that side of it and seriously consider bringing their car across – if they have a car that they’re very happy with. To do that, yeah, the car is quite a challenge.

Beth:  Which I suppose isn’t something that you think about. You’ve got so much else on your plate to be figuring out.

Nikki:  Exactly, exactly, yeah, things like these, as you say, car, the house purchases would be possibly more of a complex element than whether to bring a car across or not, but yeah, it’s quite interesting.

Beth:  So, because you’re now living there permanently but you do have this flat in England. Will you kind of do it in reverse and use the flat as a holiday home and come back, or have you got tenants in there permanently and for you, you’re not really back in England ever?

Nikki:  Yeah, we have to have tenants in the flat. We couldn’t really afford to do this without having tenants in the flat. That’s the income that we live off of, so we really need that. So, when we go back England it’s purely to just see friends and family and we have no intention of being there. When we originally came we had thought, in an ideal world, it would be nice to do sort of six months in each, but actually once you’re over here and you’re really in with the community and we go salsa dancing three times a week. We have a life here. It’s actually quite a disruption to go back to England.

Beth:  Yeah, of course.

Nikki:  So the six months there and six months here wouldn’t really work.

Beth:  Presumably, have you got people visiting you?

Nikki:  We’ve had friends and family and neighbours from England coming to visit, so yeah, we’ve had that. When we go to England I have a spreadsheet of everybody that we have to cram in. At times it’s sort of like a military operation so that I work out, geographically, how to see people. We have two hour slots here, there, and everywhere.

Beth:  Well done you.

Nikki:  And everybody is desperately trying to see us. But it’s lovely, lovely. We have discovered that all of our friends seem to have beautiful spare guest rooms so I think that’s very, very nice.

Beth:  That’s what you need. That’s perfect. We didn’t talk about budget. What was your initial budget and did you managed to stick to it when you were initially looking?

Nikki:  Yeah, that was quite easy. So, because this idea came from nowhere, we just sort of crudely worked out on a calculator what we thought we were worth in terms of sterling and worked out how long we thought our money would last. So we came to a budget based on that.

The budget was, at the time, seventy thousand Euros, which was, at the time, just over fifty thousand pounds. So that was the budget and then you have to factor in the costs which are about ten per cent of the purchase price used to pay tax and legals. Yeah, it was really easy to stick to the budget because it was, did we want to have this opportunity, try this now and retire, good God, I don’t know twenty-five years earlier than we thought we would, or not? So that’s your choice. So, based on that, yeah, it was really, really easy to stick to the budget.

Beth:  Fantastic, and you get so much more for your money. I can completely see what you’re saying with a budget like that. It opens up so many possibilities.

Nikki:  Yeah. So, for under fifty thousand pounds we have a three double bedroom cave house with two shower rooms and a large living area. So, where we came from you can’t buy anything, really, from where we came from, for less than one hundred and fifty thousand pounds. So…

Beth:  No, you get a very nice garage.

Nikki:  Yes, yes exactly, it is not cheap.

Beth:  No, not at all. I was going to say, what other kinds of central pieces of advice that you would give to someone maybe just sort of sitting on the fence of if they want to change their life in the way that you’ve changed yours. It’s a brave thing to do what you did.

Nikki:  Yeah, I would actually just say to do it. One of the good things that we did was we didn’t think too much about it and research it. Normally I research things, even the tiniest purchase, to the nth degree. It becomes my specialist subject so I think it was good that we just thought, “Look we just can’t think about it, but let’s just do it. It’s completely mad, but let’s just do it.”

Worst case, we do have a backup plan. Worst case we go back to England, and we live in the flat, which is a third of the cost of what our house was, and paid for. So we know that we can manage that. We would have to find jobs, although my employer said that they would always have a job for me. We would have to do that. So yes, of course, you have a backup plan. But then, essentially, just do it.

Had we thought about it and had we researched it more we wouldn’t have done it. Whereas, with those we’re incredibly happy. We were happy in England, but we’re just incredibly happy in Spain and we just couldn’t imagine it any other way now. We just think, wow, what a fabulous opportunity. But I think that would really be my advice, not to do too much with that. Do some and make sure that you’re not caught short like everybody says, I think it’s good to have something back in the UK.

Beth:  Yeah, it sounds like you were the perfect balance of sensible and brave and crazy. And it all worked out.

Nikki: Exactly, exactly. We didn’t even have a farewell party. Everyone was saying, “You’ve got to have a farewell party.” I said, don’t be ridiculous, we could be back in six months, you know. I didn’t expect it to work because it was so dramatic and so different and everyone was, apparently, really worried about how I would get on here because they knew what a great life I had in England. And to suddenly be moving to this village in inland rural Spain, they just couldn’t see that I would get on with it and that really, I would just absolutely love it. In case I haven’t said that fifty times already.

Beth:  I’m so pleased, it’s so nice, I can hear in your voice that you just love it. You are one of the few people who really didn’t do years, or months of research. I think it’s inspiring. I think what you did is amazing and I’m really glad that it has paid off.

Nikki:  Yeah, it definitely has paid off.

Beth:  My final question is, you could probably give me a list as long as my arm, but what is your favourite part of Spanish culture and living in Spain? What are the best bits for you?

Nikki:  Ok, so I think the pace of life. Somebody said, before we came here, that it’s a place that it would be like going back fifty years in England, but you would wish you’d done it sooner sort of thing. So yeah, the pace of life is, certainly in inland Spain, very, very slow, but we love it... the siesta time, and the shop shutting.

It takes some getting used to but it’s not a problem and you just get used to it and then you love the fact that the shops shut for a period. The people... I’ve only been to Spain when I was eighteen with a college for holiday for a couple of weeks, so knew nothing about Spain. We’re big fans of the far east and find people in the far east to be really warm and it’s quite hard to replicate that, but the Spanish people have just been incredibly friendly and welcoming and including us when they don’t need to.

And, of course the weather, I love the weather in England, everybody moans about it, but it never was a problem to me, I still love the weather. But, when you get here, and it’s really warm, blue sky, and sunshine most days, yeah, it’s fabulous.

Beth:  I can imagine. You’ve missed some snow.

Nikki:  We’ve missed snow, usually we have rain and even that we know we need. The rest of the time you have blue sky and sunshine. I wasn’t a fan of hot weather either. For me to have loved it here, I never, ever wanted to live in a hot country because I didn’t like the hot weather, but you soon get used to it and you soon learn to love it.

Beth:  Yeah, I’m sure. You wouldn’t have to convince me. I’m glad it’s gone so well and I’m glad you love it so much. I think that’s it for me. That’s all of my questions. Thank you so much for talking to me.

Nikki:  Lovely, and it’s been an absolute pleasure.

Beth:  Thanks Nikki, and bye.

Nikki:  Bye.


Thank you for listening and thanks to Nikki for sharing her experiences along with Spanish Inland Properties for their help to make this episode possible

I love the bravery that Nikki and her husband had in their decision to buy and that she surprised all her friends and family when she eventually took the plunge.

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Next week I speak with Hilary, from Harpenden, who bought his property in Iznajar, Córdoba

With former stables now converted into guest bedrooms, Hilary’s property is a far cry from what he was originally going to buy in the UK countryside. Tune in to find out how much further his money could go in Spain.

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

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Tricia Hodgson 8th May 2019 - 3:28 pm

Just subscribed and listened to Nikki from Braintree, fantastic interview, with Brexit and all its uncertainty, my husband and I are going round in circles, shall we? Shan’t we? An honest interview, with caution thrown in..thankyou

dawn at 9th May 2019 - 8:22 am

Hello Tricia,

Thank you for your comments, we are delighted you enjoyed listening to episode 23. Please also listen to the other episodes, I’m sure you will get more helpful information from each one.

Good luck with your search for your dream property but let me know if there is anything else we can do to help.


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