Sieglinde from Germany joins us in this episode to share how she sold everything with her partner for a stress-free life in Javea. Tune in to hear they found the area with not knowing where to start first, how they rent out as holiday lettings, and living among the Spanish.
[3:40] The selling process in UK and buying in Spain
[5:11] On not knowing where to buy in Spain
[9:42] What to consider for long-term living
[12:29] Why she changed agents
[14:36] Finding an area to live in, not just for holidays
[14:35] Advice on finding the right place
I’m Beth Davison and today I’m speaking with Sieglinde, originally from Germany. She purchased her dream home in Marina Alta, Javea.
Sieglinde's story is unique because she didn't really move to Spain with much of a plan. She just packed up the car and went.
Years later she has lots of experience of buying and selling in Spain, and along with her husband, she worked with Estate Agents Starck Estates to find their dream home in Spain.
Check out the show notes at kyero.com/podcast to find links and resources mentioned in this episode
Body of Transcription
Sieglinde: Hi, I’m Sieglinde, I’m German, my husband is Scottish. I lived in England thirty-two years and due to a few health problems we ended up deciding to sell our business, sell our house, sell everything and just go and live a happier, easier and less stressful life. Which we did.
Sieglinde: We packed everything into the car including the dog, sold the house, drove through the channel and, for the first time in our lives, we were mortgage free, homeless, without a job, not knowing exactly where we were going to go. But [we did have] money in the bank and absolutely loved it.
Beth: Amazing. So this was a huge adventure for you guys. When did it start? How did you plan it? How long up until you actually did it were you talking about just setting off and going free?
Sieglinde: Actually, only a few months. But, first of all, we have to take everything back to the beginning. My father-in-law, who was living with us, suddenly got seriously ill to the point where we knew he only had a few more months. So, we postponed our journey. He was going to come out with us, but we postponed the journey and nursed him, literally, through to the end.
Beth: So it wasn’t born out of the best circumstances, then?
Sieglinde: No, no, but It was independent. Him dying was independent to us making the decision to go, and he was going to come with us, but, of course, it all turned out to not be that way. I think we got delayed by about a year in total.
Beth: During that year plans were on hold, or you were still kind of talking about it?
Sieglinde: No, no we were going to do it anyway, absolutely. We had already sold our business by that time. In fact, it was good because we were able to nurse my father-in-law.
Beth: Yeah, yeah.
Sieglinde: So, yeah, we were going to do it anyway. Then two or three months after, no, a couple of months after, we actually put our house back on the market and sold that immediately.
Beth: Were you living in Germany at this point or were you living in the UK?
Sieglinde: No, no in the south of England.
Beth: Yeah, OK, so, how was the selling process in England compared to the just starting that process looking in Spain?
Sieglinde: Mildly stressful actually. The agent, was very well known, and I'm not going to name the name because I don't name and shame, but the agent was a very big, well known estate agent who dealt in expensive houses. They actually refused a particular guy to come and view our house because he didn't look as though he had two pennies to rub together. They actually refused him a viewing. We only found out, by pure chance. He knocked on the door, eventually, and said, "I am actually really interested in your house, but they won't let me come and view it."
Beth: Wow, I had no idea that that kind of thing went on.
Sieglinde: Yeah, yeah, because he went into this estate agency in his shorts and t-shirt and stuff. They just said, "Well, you don't have that kind of money anyway, so, don't bother, go away." He was really angry.
Beth: Yeah, of course. Was he the man who ended up buying your place?
Sieglinde: Yes, [at a] good price.
Beth: Wow, well, I'm glad that he came and knocked on your door then. That's a good thing.
Beth: When you got to the point of selling did you already have your eye on a place in Spain?
Sieglinde: No, no, no. We, actually, didn’t know where we were going to go, what we were going to do, or where we were going to end up. We did have some friends who had previously, a year before, moved to the Calpe area, and said, "Well, before you actually go down... Actually we did have an apartment near Marbella.
Beth: So, you knew the geography a little bit?
Sieglinde: Well, not really, we hadn’t spent any time there, we just bought it because we needed somewhere to stay that would have dogs, and there are lot of rental places that won't let you in if you have a dog. So, we bought a place, and we thought that we could always sell it again. It's no problem, which we did in the end.
So we had a place, and we were on our way down to Marbella to have a look around that area when some friends of ours said, "I wouldn't discount the Costa Blanca because it is, actually, rather nice here, very green, and very lush, and very nice, and da-de-da." So, We said, "Well, we'll just stop off there and have a look around." I must say, we really, really enjoy the greenery all year round, and the countryside is so pretty and so nice.
So we rented an apartment for six weeks, a holiday apartment, and from there we sort of took daily excursions into all the areas: villages and town around here. We just tried to get to know the area.
Beth: Did you have help with that or were you doing it all off of your back?
Sieglinde: No, we were doing it all off our own back. We really were, specifically, just looking at areas. First of all, we just wanted to know the areas, the villages, the towns that are nice, where we wouldn't be just sleeping, and at the table next to us there was an elderly German couple, and we started to have a chat, as you do. They actually said to us, "I would just buy the Costa Blanca News and look in the private ads," which we did and we did, actually, find a very nice old finca, a 300 year old finca.
It was in the middle of the countryside, but near to Pedregruer. It did have a couple holiday casitas but they were not used as casitas, so, we turned them into holiday casitas. We were very young, actually, to just be retired. We wanted something to do, so, we rented these two casitas out just for 4 months in the summer. We met a lot of nice people and built up a wonderful business, had very, very nice reviews, on all the various sites where we rented the casitas through, and, actually had a ball.
Beth: Yeah, that’s great idea. So, were you living there as well, or were you just using that as... You were renting it out?
Sieglinde: No, no, we were living in the finca and rented out the two casitas that were on the grounds of this finca.
Sieglinde: Yeah, It was a really good, actually. It was a very, very nice twelve years of our lives that we spent very happily living among the Spanish in the Solinas area, where nobody speaks Spanish, or wants to know about the Spanish culture or anything. No, we were living with the Spanish in a Spanish area and doing our thing with them and having wonderful parties, going to the weddings, to baptisms, to funerals, to everything. We really got involved in the Spanish life.
Beth: I think that’s the best way to do it, really, is to throw yourself in. Then you really get to know Spain. So how did it progress from there? What did you decide, because you've bought since then, haven't you?
Sieglinde: Yes, the house, when we had to decide that due to, again, illness, I said to my husband, "I think we should actually consider, whilst we are both reasonably OK, we should consider selling up and moving somewhere a little bit more accessible and, potentially, being able to use a wheel chair, which may never happen, but it may."
So, basically age (how do you say it?), thinking about old age. We are not young people anymore. He said, "Oh no, no, no, I don't want to, I love it here." I said, "Yeah, I do too but we really need"... So, a week later he came back and said, "Hmmm, I think you're right, actually." So, off we went, and we got ourselves five agents who all basically agreed that the price was pitched at the right level and yes, they were really happy to take our house on the market, and da-de-da-de-da.
However, ten months later we didn't even have any viewings.
Sieglinde: It was an absolutely gorgeous place. We spent a lot of money on there. Everything was perfect including an alarm system with cameras that we controlled from anywhere in the world, and cost us six grand, or something like that. We spent a lot of money in that place.
Beth: So it must have been... were you worried that it was lack of promotion then, that's why you weren't getting the viewings?
Sieglinde: Absolutely, well none of them wanted to do any work. They never even called us to give us any updates or if there was any kind of interest. There was one particular one where we sort of thought, well they would stand a really good chance of selling it because it was not a cheap place, and it was an existing business as well. So, we quite regularly went in there and said, "Well, have you got nothing, have you got nobody interested?" I just couldn't believe it. I just couldn't understand it because it was such a beautiful place.
I'm a team photographer and I actually took a lot of the photos, myself. The photos were good. When people would have come in England, anyway, as well, I always tidied everything. I made everything really pretty. I knew the marketing techniques of selling anything. I'm a born sales person, really.
Beth: Yeah, and that sounds like it was an important thing to know. So, did you end up changing agents, or what changed?
Sieglinde: Well, one of the agents, he said to me, "Well why don't you try Nadine." She's just started to go out on her own. She was working for one of the agents who had our house on their books. She had been working for them, but I didn't know her, and this other agent said, "Well, why don't you try Starck Estates, it's a new agent, they obviously are keen to get going, try them." I did, and it was the best thing that I've ever, ever, ever, done in my life. Within two weeks we had two viewings and one sale.
Beth: Amazing! So, that then snowballed. At that point were you able to think about what you wanted to buy next? Was it kind of a chain? You were waiting for the sale before you could buy?
Sieglinde: No, during the six months, the last six months before the final sale went through, we actually, again, we drove around all the different areas here. We knew we wanted to go to Javea, but we also considered Dénia. We drove through all the various areas that had nice houses there. In Dénia, we found the nice areas with nice houses.
Anyway, so we ended up saying, "Yup, Javea, definitely Javea." We then drove around all the different areas at all the different times of the day and listened to all the different noises going on. Are there lots of dogs hanging around barking? Are there lots of parties going on in the neighbourhood? We were just trying to get to know the various parts of Javea.
Beth: It sounds like that would be... Would that be your piece of advice, to really do your research? It sounds like you really put the hours in, you really travelled around, you really saw everywhere.
Sieglinde: Yes, yes, also we wanted to be in an area where it's not just holiday land, because we were residents here, and we wanted to live here in and among a community. So, again, we also drove around at night to look around where there's lights on. Is it a holiday place? Because some of the areas are very busy in the summer and you get all the party goers and the holiday makers. Of course, they need to have their holidays. In the winter it's totally deadly quiet, and in the summer it's party time. We didn't want that. We wanted to live in a residential area. So, if you drive around at night you see whether there are lights on or not and are people actually living there or are they just renting out their houses for holidays.
Beth: Yeah, that's great advice. Did you know when you found the place, did you know it was the one?
Sieglinde: Actually, by this time Nadine had sold our finca and we said to her, because of the way she handled everything, and it was so smooth and so painless, fast, everything about it was just... there was no hiccup. We said to her, having experienced estate agents now to the fullest here in Spain, or some of them anyway, would she help us with the purchase of the new place? She said, "Yeah, sure." We knew she would get good money out of it because it was not a cheap house that we were buying. So, what I actually did, I did a lot of the background research and fed her properties for her to check out for us.
Beth: Oh wow, so it was a kind of combined effort. You were working together.
Sieglinde: Yeah, I sort of showed her what I liked and what looked interesting and then she checked and did the secondary investigations with the main agents and registering our interest in the house and so on, and so on. To be honest that was a fantastic way of working because we drove around a lot of the area because here in Spain, remember that people don't give the address. On the internet you only see the house. But because I'm fairly internet savvy I actually looked on Google maps and very often I located the houses just by the shape of the pool.
Beth: That's a very nice way to identify a house, the shape of the pool, that sounds good.
Sieglinde: It seriously good. So I actually drove around a lot of the areas to find these houses, and found them, and then I just said to Nadine, "Can you go there, and check this out, and check that out?" We were working in tandem and we got to know each other pretty well. She, actually came up with some really interesting houses. Because she, by this time, knew what we wanted. But, this particular house that she had us buy, if it wouldn't have been for her I think we would have pulled out about three times.
Beth: Yeah, OK, so, for your main advice then, for anyone thinking about doing the same thing as you, if they're at the point of taking that leap, what would your pieces of advice be? It sounds like, "Do your homework."
Sieglinde: Do your homework and have a reliable agent on your side. If anybody tells you anything, check it out. You must check it out. Also, the solicitor has got to check out, for sure, if there's any debt against the house you are going to buy. Because you will be held responsible for clearing debt.
Sieglinde: Many people arrive at Alicante airport and leave their brain at the airport.
Beth: Yeah, I think you can get into a mindset of thinking you are on holiday and actually you are on holiday, but you have to keep savvy.
Sieglinde: Permanent holiday.
Beth: Permanent holiday if you're lucky. Well, listen, I will leave it there. Thank you so much for all of your advice. There's some really good tidbits in there. I'm so glad it has gone well and that you are really enjoying life out there. Well, I'm so glad it went well. Thank you so much for talking to me. Have a lovely day.
Sieglinde: OK, and you, thank you.
Thank you for listening and thanks to Sieglinde for sharing her experiences and Starck Estates for making this episode possible
I can completely understand the appeal of all year greenery, and I love that their gamble of just setting out on an adventure has really paid offIf you like what you've heard you can search this agent’s properties and more on Kyero.com
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Tune in next week when I speak with Kim from Dublin.
She worked with Spanish property experts to find her dream home in Spain. Along with her husband Philip, they initially thought they wanted a small apartment which they could do up but, as is so often the case, things changed quite drastically once they saw the options that were available to them. Tune in to find out what they eventually bought.
I’m Beth Davison and you’ve been listening to the Kyero.com Spanish property podcast. I’ll see you next time!