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Episode 37: Elena who purchased in Ontinyent

Episode 37: Elena who purchased in Ontinyent
Podcast host




Vicky Carter

Podcast location

Relocated from




Podcast agent

Real estate company

Elena from London joins us this week to share how she and her husband relocated to Ontinyent in Spain. As a rural haven with a swimming pool, big garden and beautiful house, Elena is able to work on her online business with scenic surroundings. She shares her advice about overcoming language barriers, the importance of connecting well with your agent, and how to find the place of your dreams.

Show Notes:

  • [1:45] The benefits of living in the sun
  • [4:46] How Elena has adjusted to the Spanish lifestyle and culture
  • [7:14] The reason why they chose Ontinyent
  • [10:29] Elena’s top tip for where to start in the research process
  • [14:24] Why they chose to buy in Spain, compared to other countries.
  • [18:08] How Carbonell supported the buying journey for Elena
  • [22:36] What Elena would do if she did the process again



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 Vicky Carter and today I’m speaking with Elena originally from Siberia, who lived in London before purchasing her new home in Ontinyent, in Valencia.

With her online business, Elena manages to create the perfect balance of working from home and living a relaxing way of life, with peaceful walks and yoga beside the pool in the mornings, every day. She worked with Estate agent Carbonell 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

Vicky:  So, what do you do at the moment? Are you retired, or did you relocate and buy for a change in lifestyle?

Elena:  I can say that we relocated for a change in lifestyle. I do have a job, I have a business. I work with essential oils, here in Spain.

Vicky:  That's fantastic because you can work online, and then you can be in beautiful surroundings and have a wonderful view. You moved from London, is that correct?

Elena:  Yes, exactly. Another thing why we wanted to relocate was just the difference where there is more sun and longer summers, so, we decided to move to Spain.

Vicky:  That sounds like you had a perfect choice there. Yeah, longer days as well. It's so dark now in London. It's just a better lifestyle. Are you feeling much better because of it?

Elena:  Yes, I do feel a lot better because of the sun. I think I was deprived a little bit because there's not enough sun in London. We used to live in London, and even though I really love London [we welcomed this change]. I'm originally from Russia.

Vicky:  Oh, OK, cool.

Elena:  Maybe you can hear my accent.

Vicky: So wow, so you've gone from very cold, to cold, to lovely and warm. Have you found a place that suits you, then? Is it the right temperature?

Elena:  It's nice. It's very nice. It's during the summer. The only thing for me that happened is it was very hot. It was very hot in the daytime. So, [at this time of day] I am usually inside the house. But [in the] mornings, early mornings, I can do yoga, or meditation outside before the heat comes. In the evening it is really lovely, especially [because] I have a very nice garden and we live in a very green area.

Vicky:  Wow, that sounds amazing, waking up and doing yoga, and meditating and really starting your day with a fresh start, especially in that wonderful location as well, Ontinyent, where you've moved to. It's a really stunning hive of outdoor activity with El Pozo Claro, the river as well. Do you have a view over the river?

Elena:  We live very close. In the car it literally takes about three minutes to be there. So, it's very, very close, and very stunning. I was there a few days ago, and in the autumn, right now, it's so beautiful. It's so picturesque. There is a stunning vista view, and [we love] the quietness and [the accessibility so we can connect with] our friends. We can do a nice yoga retreat and then invite people for yoga, to do yoga sessions, in the morning there. It's just amazing and beautiful, and near the water is an ideal place for meditation or just for taking a walk.

Vicky:  Yeah, it sounds like a whole life away, a real slice of heaven compared to the chaos of London: the dark nights, and public transport. To have your own business and relocate so that you can suit your own hours, it just sounds idyllic, as well, and then you've got the mornings to wake up to.

It sounds like you are adopting to a Spanish lifestyle. Many people have a little siesta in the day because it is too hot and everyone has a break from work. So, how have you found adapting to the Spanish way of life?

Elena:  You know, I'm like a multicultural person in having moved from Russia to London. Again, it was a huge change for me in terms of language, in terms of culture and everything, given that we used to live in Moscow. So, [Moscow is] a very big, very vibrant city. In those terms, for me, it was fine. [However,] when we came here, I have learned to walk slower.

If you have ever been in London, we are always in a rush, or even in a car when you're driving it's long distances, or you [are in a hurry] to catch the bus, or the train. Then there are delays sometimes. Yes, delays can be anywhere, actually.

The pace of life, [here,] is so different. [In London] it's like you're running all day. Then we moved here, and we went for a walk. So, [at first,] I was not walking I was literally running. My husband, every time, he's like, "Are you in a hurry? Do you need to go somewhere?" And I'm, "Well, no."

So, I'm learning to slow down.

Vicky:  Yeah, oh that's lovely. Learning to appreciate the nature around you and life, as well, that sounds wonderful. Have you bought a property, or are you renting?

Elena:  No, we already bought property and we moved here in March. We rented prior to buying a house. We rented a villa but in a different location. I don't know if you heard about Javier, on the seaside. So, in the beginning we decided that we're not going to buy a property near the seaside. My husband found the Alcoià area. Then we looked for houses there. Then, one day, we had a viewing in this area and I just realised that, "My goodness, this is so different, and I really like it."

Vicky:  So is that why you bought in that location, that area?

Elena:  Yes, I don't know if I should say this, but in Alcoià it's very green, amazing. I just really like the town very, very much. It's very nice. [Compared to everywhere else,] it's so green. There are pine trees and it just reminds me of my childhood, because I was born in Siberia.

It didn't register, in my mind, [as I looked at the area,] that this is Spain. [We went to] view so many different properties, and something was [always] missing. I liked the house, I liked the surroundings, but there was something missing.

When we first came to Ontinyent to view the house, I saw these palms, orange trees, mandarins, even on the street and I thought, "Oh my goodness. Finally I found Spain." So, I said, OK, let's look at this area. We kept searching Ontinyent around this area.]

Vicky:  So, you had a list before? What, in your mind was, "Oh I've found Spain." Which is what you were looking for?

Elena:  I was looking for our garden, I can say. We have palm trees. We have olive trees. We also have pine trees, [the trees have more colours:] they have oranges and lemon trees. Yes, everything was what we wanted.

The house suits our needs. I have space for my office. I have a kitchen that I really love. I can't say that I'm a great cook, but I love my kitchen, yes. I wanted it to be nice.

It's like whatever I had on my list they had everything in the house. I wanted, in the bedroom, a walk-in wardrobe, and we have it here. Then we have a swimming pool. We have a large garden. We have everything here. We found our ideal house.

Vicky:  It sounds like MY ideal house! You have all the trees possible in your back garden, a swimming pool, a walk-in wardrobe and a beautiful kitchen that looks good. You don't have to do too much, it just looks good, that's the main thing. It sounds incredible.

Elena:  I think what you need to do is first put everything on your list.

Vicky:  Create a list first. That would be your top tip. So, where did you start your search for your dream home in Spain? Was it online, because you did say that you went and rented nearby. Was that a key factor to finding the right place for you?

Elena:  Yes, we wanted to live for awhile here. Actually, in London, while we stayed there, we initially looked for the house in France. Then I realised that I don't want to live there. I love going there on holidays, but it is not the place where I want to live. So, we looked in a different location, like on the islands, and then decided to stay in the UK.

Once I went away, because I'm travelling quite a lot, and it was very, very horrible weather in London. I came back and my husband said, "Listen, it's rainy and very cold, I found this beautiful place in Spain. Let's move there." And I said, "OK." We had never been in Spain before that.

Vicky:  Oh wow, it was your first time.

Elena:  First time. We went to Tenerife. We were travelling a lot. It just happened that we'd never been to Spain. I said, "OK." So, it was probably November, end of November. So, we started searching and looking just online.

We contacted a few agencies, and then we spent a week in Valencia, and then we viewed houses, but all of them in Alcoià area. My husband looked and he said, "OK, this place is ideal. This is exactly what you love.

There are two national parks. The temperature in this area is up to three hundred degrees below the average. It's not far from the sea, if you want to go to the seaside it is, actually, about forty minutes. You always can jump in the car and drive there. We will be living in a very green area."

We actually arrived in February and I think I just fell in love the first time I saw it. [When we arrived] we stayed in Valencia and then we booked a hotel - our agent helped us find a very tranquil, in the forest, beautiful hotel. So, it was like where we're now living, very quiet and very nice. We thought that everything was... I love it.

Vicky:  Yeah, and you found the perfect place, like a microclimate almost, with a little enclave of temperatures. It sounds beautiful. So, why did you want to buy in Spain and not any other country?

Elena:  Like I said, in France I felt like it is a country for holidays. I love it there. We have rented villas in the south of France and have gone for many, many years. Every summer we spent a month there. But sometimes you feel that this is not the place that you want to live. In Tenerife my husband said, "Oh, sorry to say," he said, "I don't want to live on a rock."

Here is the mainland, and I studied the law of psychology, and began the search in the UK, people feel kind of, subconsciously isolated, when they live on islands.

Vicky:  I didn't know that, wow.

Elena:  I did some research. But here, [in Spain,] is like the mainland.

So, we deliberately decided that we're not going to live on the sea or on the coast. So here we have everything. The seaside is not that far, and we're in a green area. The microclimate is different from when I lived in Javier. I really liked the place but I found it is too humid for me.

Vicky:  You did some real searching before hand, and investigated each place, and you had a set list and criteria of what you wanted to look for. Then, when you went there you had that instant connection. That sounds wonderful. So, would you say it was easy or difficult to find your property?

Elena:  It was not hard. If you know what you want, you can find a house. We looked at so many houses. Yes, we had a lot of viewings, but instantly you come in and you are like, "I cannot see myself here."  

Sometimes I really loved the surroundings. Sometimes a house [isn't' a mutual fit.] With one property, my husband loved the house, I loved the garden, but I did not like the house and I said, "It's not right for me." But, we both feel that we wanted to be here [where we are now]. Also I was looking for a place where people live around us, [and it is] not isolated. It's like we have neighbours. So, for me it's very important.

For me it's also very important that not only our garden, our house, [suits us] but also the way we drive into our house. It's how I see it. When we first came here, and we looked around, and we felt that everything ticked our boxes.

Vicky:  Yeah, ticks most of your boxes. That's good. What was the process of buying in a foreign country like? Because you did say it was a huge change for you, but you are quite an adaptable person. With regards to language barriers, legal, taxes, all the finance systems being different from London [what was it like?]

Elena:  Yes, we learned. Again, [when I was] searching, in the beginning I always asked a lot of questions of our agent. She was absolutely amazing, and so, so helpful. Whatever questions we had she answered straight away or sometimes said, "If I don't know I'll go search." Also, she introduced us to a lawyer, she was very helpful. I think everything went very smoothly. We kind of prepared the questions. We needed to find out, like I said, step by step - we finished this step, and the next step, and the next step. I think that it wasn't that hard. It wasn't that stressful.

[Regarding] the language, I'm using English a lot. My Spanish, I'm just literally starting to learn. Again, because I'm travelling a lot...  I think it's being lazy. I want to be honest with you, because everywhere you go you can communicate with people. I will use body language, and then somehow [you manage to communicate,] and then you just acknowledge it.

I do believe, and now I'm saying, in having conversations with my husband that, yes, we live here and then we have to learn [the language.] We must learn the language to be able to communicate.

We really like it this year. There's a lot of celebration. It is so colourful, it's so vibrant, it's like a holiday.

Vicky:  Oh, that's lovely. I think it's wonderful and helpful that you've highlighted that you can communicate with body language, technology, and even English in some aspects, because some of our buyers will be a bit intimidated by the language barrier. You've just proved that it isn't really a barrier. There are ways around it and your future plan is to, after things have settled down with your travelling and work wise, to embrace that.

I think that's wonderful to hear the future prospects and plans that you're putting together for your new life there, in Spain. So, looking at Carbonell, your agent. You said it was a step by step process? How did you find the step by step process? You said it was quite smooth, but were there any areas that you found challenging?

Elena:  Everything was very smooth because we searched prior to going here. They asked the questions about what we wanted to know, so originally we knew what would happen in the process. Again, our agent, she explained very clearly and I was writing on the paper what happened, what was next and what was next and what was next.

So, she was explaining and every time she would say, "If you forget something, if you need to, we can go over this again." Everything was very smooth. After we bought the house we had help with our [setting up] of our bills from the house: transferring accounts like for electricity, internet; we had help from them transferring these into our names.

Vicky:  Oh, that's good, because it's all those small, minor details that are really crucial and important for the running of the house, which can seem a bit daunting with these types of details. It's wonderful that the agent was able to help you there, at Carbonell, and put everything together. Is there anything that you would do differently next time if you were to buy another property or any advice you would give to someone who is looking to buy?

Elena:  [The advice I would share, and I've already shared ,] is that you need to know what you want and to write, on a paper. This is how I teach people in my business.

Whenever you have a question just write, and then ask and don't be shy. Sometimes we feel or we over think, "This will be a silly question." No, I just ask everything, whatever I see, like in the garden our maybe [in the] house, so I basically ask as many questions as I need.

Then write your questions down because we tend to forget, sometimes, and we come in and we don't remember. Then, also write the specifications for your property, for the location, for the garden which you want. So, then we will be drawing the picture of what you want.

I think it's also very important, for me, this relationship with the agent. We have become friends. She was so helpful. I'm really grateful to her. Then, again, what I really like is the explanation, every time, and she gave it in detail. It was not like a yes/no, it was like we always had open conversations where I would say, "I have these questions, if I don't understand [I'll need you to go over it with me again."] You need to prepare what you want.

It's about you, it's not about the agency, that wants to sell you your house. I know that agents need to sell the house, but this is about the buyer; what the buyer wants. If you know what you want then you will be able to explain, straightaway, to your agent what the specifications are for the house. She would send us links [and she would share that she'd found a few houses and she would share some details like,] "This is next to the road." That was because we don't want next to the road. So, it's like she already knew what we wanted.

Vicky:  Your specifications modified your viewing of the properties and what you were planning to see. Yeah, I think that's wonderful, and really useful for our buyers to know about that. It's lovely to hear your gratitude towards Carbonell, and about the questions, big or small. She was able to really assist you in any way possible.

Finally, the last question, what do you love most about owning a property in Spain, and your new home?

Elena:  It feels like we're at home. Both of us, we don't have feelings of missing London, or wanting to go back. So, it feels so nice and relaxed and it's really, that I don't want to say more, here. We love it here, absolutely, just love it.

Vicky:  Wonderful, thank you so much Elena, and we'll leave it here. I'm so happy to hear that you found a place that you love.

Elena:  Thank you very much. I hope it will help people. So, this is what I said, list your specifications first, and then search for your house, for your dream house, and you will find it a hundred percent.



Thank you for listening and thanks to Elena for sharing her experiences, and Carbonell, as well, for their help to make this episode possible.

I really liked hearing how happy she is with her new home, the garden full of trees, nature walks so close to her doorstep, poolside yoga, and a walk-in wardrobe as well. That does sound like heaven.

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Tune in next time when I speak with Phil from Selby who worked with Al Inmo. He bought his property with his partner in Algodonales and has already started renovating it and making it their own.

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


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