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Episode 28: Julie and Greg who purchased in Los Dolses, Alicante

Episode 28: Julie and Greg who purchased in Los Dolses, Alicante
Podcast host


Julie and Greg


Beth Davison

Podcast location

Relocated from



Los Dolses, Alicante

Podcast agent

Real estate company

Join us this week as Julie and Greg share their experience of buying a three bedroom townhouse in Los Dolses, Alicante. Following Julie’s early retirement, the option of having a second home in Spain was an opportunity not to be missed. We learn how they found their dream home, how the buying process went seamlessly and their plans to live in the property longer-term.

Show Notes

  • [2:18] How often they had been to Spain before they started looking for property
  • [2:38] How they got the opportunity in the first place
  • [6:28] How their agent was really helpful
  • [6:36] How face-to-face interactions make all the difference
  • [9:51] What the process was like to buy property in Spain
  • [12:45] The only challenging part of buying in Spain for Julie and Greg
  • [14:56] What their budget was



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.

Whether you call it luck or fate, just wait until you hear about how their dream property came from a single meeting with strangers.

Julie and Greg worked with estate agent HomeEspaña to find her dream home in Spain. 

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

Body of Transcript

Julie: I’m Julie, I have recently sort of retired. I’m not sure if I’m going to stay retired after early retirement. Then there’s my husband Greg.

Greg:  I’m Greg and I’m a delivery driver, and I’m not retired.

Beth:  Fantastic.

Julie:  And he’s not retired, he says.

So, basically what happened was that I got the opportunity to take early retirement, which I did, which enabled us to pay off our mortgage on the house. We decided that we had a large four bedroom detached house in England. It was far too big for us. So, we decided to sell that, downsize in England, and buy a property in Spain.

Beth:  Was Spain always the idea? Has this always been a dream idea in the back of your mind?

Julie:  Pretty much, yeah, yeah. We’ve looked at other countries but we always came back to Spain.

Beth:  Why was that? What was it that appealed?

Julie:  Well, a friend of ours bought an apartment there, oh, it must have been three or four years ago, and we had gone there on our holidays in Spain. We kind of knew the area. We’d met quite a few people there and we just liked the way of life and the weather.

Beth:  Of course, the weather is always the one, isn’t it? That’s the thing that most people tell me that draws them over there in the first place. When you say you knew the area, you knew Spain in general or was there a specific area you had your heart set on?

Julie:  It was a specific area, so, yeah, Costa Blanca and specifically the Orihuela Costa.

Beth:  Lovely. How often had you been there before you started looking at properties?

Julie:  Oh, a good half a dozen times.

Beth:  Lovely. How did the search first start for you? Was it just that you were wondering around while you were there and something caught your eye? Or did you begin the search while you were in Britain; talk me through from the beginning.

Julie:  OK, what happened was, once we found out that I had the opportunity to do this retirement, then not long after we found that out, we were at our friends apartment. She had an apartment near a place called Los Dolses. A property two doors down from her went on the market and nobody had lived in this house. We had always kind of looked at it and had said, “What a shame.”

Anyway, when it went on the market we went and had a look at it and absolutely fell in love with it, but my retirement hadn’t gone through at that point and our house wasn’t on the market. So, whilst we loved it, we didn’t do much more about it. Then, when we came home we found out that A Place In The Sun was doing an exhibition in Glasgow, so we decided to go there, which we did.

We met a lady called Becks from HomeEspaña. She was absolutely superb – so, so helpful. We chatted to her and she talked about different areas within the Orihuela Costa – do you want to go inland, a bit more Spanish; do want to stay on the coast where it’s a bit more British? We realized that we really didn’t know what we wanted.

So, on the back of that, once the retirement did happen, we decided to go over there and we spent the best part of six weeks. So, we went in January, for six weeks, as Greg said, following Beck’s advice and looked at all different areas. We went out with HomeEspaña to have a look at properties. We’d only really seen about a dozen properties (something like that) when we found this one.

This one was sort of with HomeEspaña and sort of ourselves, because we literally were walking around the area, in mostly gated communities, and there was an apartment up for sale. As luck would have it the owners were on the balcony. So, we just got chatting to them, and their property had been sold the day before. So we asked if there was anything else in that community that was available. They let us in to have a wander around. We saw this house, which was exactly the same as the one we’d seen next door to the one of my friend’s, but it was a much better situated. It was in the middle of the community. It had a pool out the front. It had a pool out the back. We just said, “This is it.”

Beth:  It seems like so many bits fell into place for this to happen then - people just sitting on their balcony that you chatted to. Do you believe in fate at all? Did this feel a little bit fated?

Julie:  Absolutely, I’m a huge believer in fate.

Beth:  Well, no wonder, I can see why.

Julie:  Yeah, absolutely, so there was actually another estate agent board that was outside this property. I can’t even remember which estate agent it was. I contacted them with a view to go and have a look, and I got an email back saying that the lady was in America and she couldn’t show us around until, I think it was a week and a half later.

Anyway, then we’d gone back to HomeEspaña. Again we spoke to Becks. We told her about this property and on that day that she’d arranged for someone from there to drive us around various areas, she looked on her system and said, “Oh, it looks like this house has just come on our books (even more fate).”

Beth:  Yeah, totally, it really is. It sounds like Becks was super helpful. So, you obviously had an agent that you connected with quite early on.

Julie:  Completely.

Beth:  That’s fantastic. I think it’s important when you can do face to face interactions with agents. That’s how you build trust. It’s great making the connection online, but it’s actually these face to face moments that make all the difference, right?

Greg:  We met Becks in Glasgow and then we told her we were thinking about coming out the following year for a period of time after she said, “Come out sometime.” When we told her that, she had said, “Well, when you come over just pop in the office and see me.”  And we did. We went out there, we saw her, and she was lovely again. She told us about different areas, and she gave us maps and we told her what sort of things we like and that, and then she sent us out with... what’s his name?

Julie:  David.

Greg:  David, he said, “I’m going to show you around a few different areas today, and we might go see a couple of properties.” He knew full well he was going to go show us what we wanted. He drove us around a little while and said, “Well, just stop here and have a look at this place.” When we stopped there we knew straight away what he was going to show us.

Beth:  Which is great, then, that’s what you want is when you’re being shown what you want to see and not being on these grand tours and looking at five different properties that just don’t appeal.

Greg:  Yeah, yeah, he showed us a property and he was showing somebody else that property later on that day, and then somebody else the following day. So, when we went back to the office we weren’t in a position to buy at that time, but fortunately my dad had been retired a while. I phoned him up and asked was there any chance for a bridging loan? [I was concerned that] if the property sells [we’d lose it], because we’d found the house that we wanted. He said, “Yeah, we can do that,” and we walked straight back into the office and put the offer in.

Beth:  Ah, parents are good aren’t they?

Julie:  Amazing, aren’t they?

Beth:  That’s what you need. So, when you were thinking that you were going to downsize from your larger property in the UK, did that stay as the plan, or did you find you could get more for your money in Spain, or did you have a key idea of how many bedrooms you wanted?

Greg:  Yeah, we loved the property that we saw in the past but the problem was that behind it was a car park, and it was on a hill, so you’d go out the back door and there’s a forty-foot wall. Whereas, this property that we bought is the same property but out the back there’s a pool and out the front there’s a pool.

We knew we wanted something that we could live with, for now, in the UK, but the majority of the money was going to go into Spain, and that’s what we did.

Beth:  Fantastic.

Julie:  So yes, we did downsize here. We have bought a two bed semi over here with a view to that shorter term living in there for long periods. Hopefully, over the next four or five years Greg will take early retirement and we’ll spend more and more time in Spain. We were conscious that we always wanted to keep a foot on the ladder over here.

Beth:  Right, yeah, absolutely. Just in case you ever want to come back. Presumably there’s family over here, is there?

Julie:  Absolutely, yeah. And you know we met in the travels that we’ve done over in Spain, we’ve met a number of people who have made the move permanently over there. One guy, in particular, he was only there a year and then he lost his wife. He told us, at that time (not so much now), at that time he would have definitely have gone home, but he couldn’t afford to get another property because he’d sold his and he couldn’t get back on it.

Beth:  Fair enough. I can see why people just want to keep a foot in each camp. Because otherwise it feels like a much bigger move, which some people I have spoken to have done, but I can fully see wanting to stay a little bit in England.

What about the process then? If we talk about the legalities and all of the hurdles that you face in the UK when you buy property, did you find it the same in Spain?

Julie:  No, it was completely different in Spain. But again, through going to the Place In The Sun Exhibition, we met some English speaking lawyers. They were recommended to us through HomeEspaña, by Becks. She introduced us, in Glasgow, to these people and they were absolutely fantastic. It’s a firm called Sun Lawyers. It’s a small family... well, I don’t know how small it is, but it’s a family firm.

They pretty much did everything for us, because you have to be set up with what’s called an NIE number, which is I guess the equivalent to our National Insurance Number. Without that you can’t do anything. You can’t buy a house, you can’t buy a car, and you can’t buy anything. It’s a fairly long winded process if you do it yourself, as we understand. But, for a small fee, these lawyers did everything for us. So they did all the Spanish legalities: they set up bank accounts, they arranged when the property was purchased to have all the utilities switched into our name, and standing orders were setup and that type of thing.

We weren’t getting a mortgage, so the banks wouldn’t do any checks, so our lawyers did. The way it works in Spain is that if there are any outstanding fees, for example community fees or electricity, or any debt, because it’s attached to the property not the person, so they checked all of that out for us.

Beth:  Presumably these are things that you hadn’t necessarily thought of. How much of this did you know about already going in? Had you done your research or were you completely trusting?

Greg:  We knew some about it from a friend of ours who had bought a property over there. But even that, like opening bank accounts, they did all the groundwork and we just popped into the bank and were there for an hour, an hour and a half and that was all done. Where with friends of ours in the past, who went in to set up their own bank accounts, they were there in the bank for the whole day. So it was a lot easier.

Beth:  How is your Spanish?

Julie:  Very, very little.

Beth:  But you haven’t felt that that has held you back at all, presumably, because these lawyers are by-lingual.

Greg:  So, we had everything that the notary said was translated to us in English. Everything that we said was translated to Spanish by the translator.

Beth:  So, there was no point where you felt out of your depth or left by yourselves, which is great.

Julie:  We did do a lot of research and we did have our friends experience to back us up coupled with the fact that we knew quite a few people there already. The whole process, for us, has been really smooth.

Beth:  Was there any part of it that was challenging? I was going to ask what was the most difficult? But, it sounds like you might have had a very smooth run.

Julie:  I think the only thing, and again, it’s a personal thing was, because when we saw this house and knew we wanted it, we hadn’t yet sold ours in the UK. So, what happened was, again, HomeEspaña arranged all of this, they negotiated that instead of going through the buying process which would normally take around six to eight weeks in Spain, they got us an extension. So, we put the offer in, in February, and they got us an extension to complete until August, in fact it was.

Beth:  Wow.

Julie:  Yeah, which was excellent. You pay more of a deposit, and obviously, if you pull out of that, then you lose the deposit. So what happens is anybody who buys a property in Spain, as soon as you put your offer in, you have to put down two and a half thousand Euro. If you then pull out of the offer you lose it. If the [seller] pulls out of the offer then they have to give you your two and half thousand back and they then have to give you two and a half thousand.

Beth:  Oh wow, really. So it’s much more of a binding contract, then, an agreement, then it is in England at the moment. I assume it means that less purchases fall through from people just having a change of heart.

Julie:  Yeah, because as soon as you put that two and a half thousand down then the Spanish laws says they cannot show it to anyone else.

Beth:  Yeah, so things don’t get thieved out from under you or anything like that.

Greg:  Yeah, and then, I think it was after six weeks, we had to put another eighteen.

Julie:  Then we had to put another... We had to make it up to ten per cent deposit. So we paid sixteen thousand on top of the two and a half because we had an extended completion date.

Beth:  Right.

Greg:  And the same rules apply then, if we pulled out we’d have lost the whole lot.

Beth:  Wow, OK.

Greg:  And if the sellers pulled out they had to give us that money (they didn’t have that money – the lawyers had that money) but they had to give us the same amount of money in compensation.

Beth:  Wow, that’s such an interesting law then that I didn’t know about. So this brings me nicely to budget. Did you know exactly how much you wanted to spend? How well did you stick to it? Do you mind me asking what you did spend in the end?

Julie:  We paid one hundred and sixty thousand Euro, but had a budget of one hundred and fifty thousand pounds.

Beth:  OK, that’s not bad then.

Julie:  So, it wasn’t a million miles away. Once we’d gone in there, it’s like most people, you decide you want this changed, and you want that changed. So, we did go over budget a little bit but it wasn’t by a huge amount. It was probably, maybe, five thousand pounds, you know.

Beth:  Yeah, absolutely. Greg, what did your Dad say? Has he seen it?

Greg:  Yeah, he came over in January before we bought it, when we saw it he was due to come out and then he came and looked at it and loved it.

Beth:  Ah, good. So his loan was going towards a good purchase.

Greg:  Well, we didn’t need it then.

Beth:  Oh, brilliant.

Greg:  We didn’t need it then, because we came back and our house was sold. We sold the house almost immediately when we came back. So, we had enough to get it without my Dad. So, basically we just put it into place so if we said we wanted to buy the place, if in six month’s time the house hadn’t sold, then, I could have borrowed the money off him. The option was there. Otherwise, if we put the offer in, and then hadn’t sold our house, and didn’t have a backup plan then we would have lost our eighteen thousand pounds.

Beth:  Totally. Being quite au fait with the property market in both countries, then, how do you feel value compares in Spain to what you could have got in England for one hundred and sixty thousand?

Greg:  It’s much better in Spain.

Julie:  Much better, so much better. You get a lot more for your money.

Beth:  Do you mean more as in spatially, like the places are larger? Or, do you mean more in location? How do you mean?

Julie:  Both, to be honest.

Greg:  Everything really.

Julie:  So, what we bought for one hundred and sixty thousand Euro, which, because of the exchange rate, I think came in at one hundred and forty-eight thousand Pounds, we got a three bedroom what they call a townhouse. So, there’s an upstairs, downstairs, two bathrooms, and very large rooms, really large, spacious rooms. There’s a solarium and three large patios and the use of three communal swimming pools.

Beth:  Yeah, amazing.

Julie:  So, you know, you wouldn’t get that over here, would you?

Beth:  No, totally, totally. What’s your favourite part about living in Spain? What’s your favourite way of life over there?

Greg:  I haven’t got one. I’ve been too busy decorating and cleaning.

Beth:  Bless you guys. (laughter) Yeah, OK, it’s been a busy one.

Julie:  Yeah, so, when we have this offer extended for completion until August, because our house sold immediately, we obviously didn’t need that. So, we put the offer in, probably the first or second week in February, and we completed at the end of April.

Beth:  Wow, OK, yeah, so it’s all really new. I thought you meant August of last year. Sorry, I wasn’t keeping up.

Julie:  No.

Beth:  So, this is all really new for you.

Julie:  Really new. So, we’ve actually only been there. When you rang, was it you who called us up or one of your colleagues?

Beth:  Yeah, it was me.

Julie:  It was you. Well that was our first time that we’d actually been to the house.

Beth:  Wow. How did it feel walking in and it being yours?

Greg:  It was dirty.

Beth:  It was dirty!

Julie:  The house, itself, had been empty for quite some time and actually this was the challenging part. It was nothing to do with buying or such. I’d arranged for a company to do a deep clean and when we got there they hadn’t been.

Greg:  They had been but they hadn’t done what we wanted.

Beth:  Right.

Julie:  So, that was really tough. So, we spent the first week just literally cleaning everything, absolutely everything. The nice part started where... The nice part was when my Mum and I, because we were both there, we went there and did all the shopping.

Beth:  Very good, great. Are you furnishing it?

Julie:  Yeah.

Beth:  Yeah, big shops happening then.

Julie:  Yeah, absolutely, because whenever you buy a house in Spain it’s sold as seen, and some would be fully furnished, others would be partially furnished. I would say that ours was classified as partially furnished, but there was very little in there that we could keep.

Beth:  Right.

Julie:  So, we pretty much started from scratch.

Beth:  How do you foresee the future going, then with this property? When are you next heading over there and how often, and what kinds of holidays, are you going to bring the family with you?

Julie:  In fact, my cousin goes tomorrow, they are going to use it for ten days, and then I go back out there the middle of September. I’m going with my other cousin. Then she goes home and my Mum comes out, so that’s just me in September. So I’m going to be there about three weeks, then the two of us are going with friends in October for a couple of weeks and we’re booked to go at Christmas, but we’re not sure that’s going to materialize just yet because Greg’s just got a new job, so, the jury's out on that one.

The way that we’re planning to is we’re not renting it out at all. We are allowing family and very close friends to use it, but I am expecting to be there at least four times a year, with Greg being there at least two times a year for the next three or four years.

Beth:  Lovely.

Julie:  And then after that, once Greg does retire, then we’re planning to spend seven, eight, nine months of the year there and the rest here.

Beth:  Fantastic. Well, it sounds like you’re going to be the favourite member of the family. You’ll bring everyone over for different holidays. I’m so glad that it has all worked out so well for you. It sounds like it’s been a really positive experience.

Julie:  Ah, thank you. It really, really, has. It really has.

Beth: This is perfect and there’s some great advice in here as well, so thank you so much for taking the time to chat to me today.

Julie:  Oh, you’re very welcome. If there’s anything ever that you need again, by all means give me a call.

Beth:  Brilliant, thank you, and enjoy your next trip out there. I’m sure it’s going to be amazing and with less cleaning.

Julie:  Yes! That’s all done now, hopefully.

Beth:  Fingers crossed. Alright, have a lovely rest of your evening.

Julie:  Thank you, you too. Thanks for the call.

Beth:  Cheers, bye.

Julie:  Bye.


Thank you for listening and thanks to Julie for sharing her experiences along with HomeEspaña for their help to make this episode possible

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Tune in next time, when I speak with Lynda, a former textile designer from Loughborough, she purchased her new home in Olvera, Cádiz. This is actually Lynda’s second property.

Because she bought her first place 11 years ago, she’s experienced when it comes to buying property in Spain and has some really good insights about the ever-changing property market.

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

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