Tune in as Iain shares how he found his two bedroom, two bathroom apartment with a communal pool in La Cala de Mijas. After buying it in 2015, Iain and his family love coming out for holidays several times throughout the year. We uncover socialising in the neighbourhood, why the buying process was so simple and how long it took for him to find the right place.
- [1:04] Why they made the first decision to buy
- [3:56] The criteria they needed for a family of 6
- [5:48] The activities do they get up to on their holidays
- [6:48] What made the buying process easy
- [8:33] The impact of buying and selling in Spain under the Brexit climate
- [9:19] Why they went 25% over budget
- [10:57] How much time you need to research before you buy
- [13:18] Having a shared swimming pool
- [14:40] Advice with direct debits in Spain
- Welcome to the Kyero.com Spanish Property podcast where we interview people who recently purchased their dream 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 Iian, originally from Southport. He purchased his dream home in Spain in La Cala de Mijas, in the province of Malaga, and has a lot of honest advice for anybody thinking about buying properties abroad, especially regarding financial awareness.
- You’ll also hear that sometimes, no matter how far you are away from home, there is always a chance of seeing some familiar faces.
- Iian worked with estate agent Target Properties Spain to find his dream home in Spain.
- Check out the show notes at kyero.com/podcast to find links and resources mentioned in this episode.
Body of Transcript
Iian: My name is Iian, we live in the UK and we holiday in Spain about five times a year. We bought a two bed, two bath apartment in La Cala de Mijas. We bought it from Keith Spitalnick.
Beth: How did it all begin for you? Was this your idea, your partner’s idea? When did it all start?
Iian: Well, it was both of our ideas. We first visited La Cala de Mijas about five years before we eventually bought here. We weren’t immediately taken with the area but we went on a bit of a tour of Spain, and various other costas: Almeria, Costa Blanca, Costa Calida, etc., and ended up coming back here for one more look before we made a decision about all the areas. We spent quite a few years on it in the end.
In speaking to Keith, because, he responded very professionally to, I think it was one of those online chat that started. He followed it up with a phone call. He said we’d probably misunderstood this area of La Cala de Mijas and he was willing to show us it all over again, which he duly did. We came on a family holiday to the Costa del Sol with the intention of being money ready, legally ready, and having all the various documents that we needed so that we were in a position to buy if we saw anything. Over two days, of our two week holiday, he showed us at least half a dozen apartments, one of which we bought and that’s where we’re at.
Beth: And did you know when you saw the apartment? What made it stand out from the six or so that you were shown?
Iian: My wife decided. She really liked it and two of our four children were with us and they were head over heels with it as well. So, I went along with it, basically. I do like it, but it took their fancy a lot more than mine, but no regrets from my point of view.
Beth: I often think that sometime you need that. Sometimes you need someone to be really keen just to give you some direction.
Iian: Yep, yep, yep. Well, they certainly did that. It’s spacious. It's on the ground floor. We’ve got two terraces: one faces the town and the sea of La Cala de Mijas, and the other one faces the swimming pool albeit we’ve got a hedge in the way. But we’ve got two, one very spacious terrace, and one a little smaller. But, they give us great outside space which, if you go up, you get a small balcony. We’ve got quite a big downstairs terrace area. There again, they’ve got better views so it tosses the courses doesn’t it?
Beth: Yeah, I think compromise, a lot of people talk about compromises you make when you start seeing things in real life, and how much that can kind of change. So, how much of a very strict brief did you have? You mentioned four children, so you needed space. Were you looking for four bedrooms? What did you give as an indication?
Iian: Well, they’re all turning to adults now. So, when we come together we’re only about four days overlapping whenever they’re all here, the six. We can’t afford to keep them for much longer than that. We have to send them back. (laughter) So, yeah, in fact two of them were here for the first four days of the ten days we’re here at the moment. So, they’ve gone back. It seems like an age ago.
So, we cramp the place out a little bit when there are six of us because there are two bedrooms. But we’ve a sofa bed in the lounge, so we squeeze in. It’s better for four people, really.
Beth: Lovely. Were you clear on that from the start? Did you tell Keith exactly what you wanted and he kept your brief?
Iian: It was an affording thing, really. I didn’t think we could afford, certainly in this part of the world. Maybe if we’d been in Costa Calida, Mar Menor area, or Costa Blanca we might have squeezed three bedrooms. But then we thought there’s an awful lot more going on around the Costa del Sol than there is around those other areas. So, it’s each to their own, isn’t it? We were happy with two bedrooms.
I wanted to be on a golf resort. My wife didn’t, so she won that one as well. But, I think equally, on reflection, that was a good decision as well. We didn't pay a lot in taxis, going up and down to the golf resort and going to town for dinner at night etc.
Now, if we play golf, maybe twice a week, we’ve only got two taxis to get, really. Then we can walk everywhere else, or we can get the bus up and down the A7 to Malaga or Marbella, and we’re pretty much plum in the middle of the two.
Beth: Lovely, so, it sounds like you live quite a busy life when you’re there on holiday.
Iian: We do, we do, too busy.
Beth: What kind of stuff do you get up to?
Iian: Well, golf, as I have already said, and the obvious other stuff: sun bathing by the pool, to the beach, plenty of wining and dining until our bodies can’t take it any longer and then it’s about time to go home.
Beth: Yep, I know that feeling. So, was that always the aim you were looking for, maybe an escape from British weather and seeking the classic holiday postcard lifestyle?
Iian: Yeah, for sure, yeah. But we’re getting older, so the more time we can get out here the better. I’m not retired yet but starting to make plans and think about that, and that was part and parcel of why we thought we’d benefit from a holiday home.
Beth: Do you think, if you could do it all again, are there things that you would have done differently? Which parts of the process were the most challenging?
Iian: It was all quite easy, really. We were recommended a lawyer by a mutual friend, so we didn’t have to worry about whether we were picking the right property or any of the red tape that was going to go with that. The estate agent did offer a route to a lawyer but we decided to go with one that was recommended by a friend. Opening a bank account was easy. It was all easy, it was all easy and worry free, really.
Beth: Which is amazing because I think that’s so different from what people expect, isn’t it?
Iian: Well, if you’ve never done it before and don’t really believe how, then I guess you would be a little bit anxious about it. But, we knew a few people who had done the same before and said what I just said, it’s a piece of cake. So, you just have to make sure you send the money at the right time, try and buy the Euros at the right time (which is impossible these days). It was a little better when we bought it, but no, I wouldn’t hesitate to do the same again if we needed to.
Beth: And when did you actually complete?
Iian: October 2015.
Beth: OK, so [you bought] before all of the Brexit debacle, all of the politics. You mentioned the Euro. Do you have any advice on that, if people were thinking now? Has it impacted your thoughts on selling or anything like that?
Iian: We have no intentions to sell, no. All of the cash back into pounds would be advantageous because we’d be reversing the exchange rate, but no intentions to sell. We have too much of a good time here. So, no, definitely not.
Beth: OK, lovely, because it’s really interesting to get people’s perspective on that because it has taken over all of the headlines in the UK and you’re not living there permanently. You are going back and forth, so I was just wondering if it, in anyway, impacted your thoughts?
Iian: Spain is still cheap apart from the council taxes. I think everything else, eating and drinking generally is still pretty cheap. When the pound was stronger it was really cheap, but it’s either the same or better than at home at the moment. If the pound strengthens after the Brexit affair, which you would expect it to, somewhat, then it will be cheap again, a little bit. So, I’m looking forward to that.
Beth: Yeah, amazing. So, did you have a budget in mind? Talking about money, did you know exactly how much you wanted to spend? Did you manage to stick to that?
Iian: We did and no. We did have a value. We’d seen a place online that we wanted to view. It was bang on our budget and the day we flew out it was sold to somebody else. So, we ended up spending about twenty, twenty-five percent more.
Iian: Again, we have no regrets. We were fortunate that it was there to spend. We just didn’t, ideally, want to spend it at the time. But, we got a better place after all.
There’s a budget for everybody in Spain, depending on where, in Spain, you go, but there is a budget, for everybody. I am sure that people can get property at the right price. They’ve just got to choose where they go for it.
You have to be prepared to compromise as well, don’t you? Do you get views? Do you get one bedroom, two bedrooms, three bedrooms? Do you get a shared pool? Then, obviously, you’ve got to factor in that you’ve got community costs.
For example, we looked at La Manga, in our three to four year project, and what was there was about four times what we’ve got now and they wouldn’t have been affordable, really. So, again, it depends how much money you have to spend, that was beyond us. So, we didn’t do that.
Beth: Totally, would you say... You have spent three or four years doing a lot of research. Do you think it’s necessary to spend that amount of time? I’ve spoken to people who made the decision very quickly, while others took years. If you were to do it again would you spend that much time researching?
Iian: Probably not, no, but when we first started, [we were] waiting for the property in the UK to sell, and we hadn’t sold it. So, when we first started viewing it was with a view to what we were going to do when it sold.
Iian: By the time it sold it was probably only a year before we chose something, by which time we were around Almería, which is difficult to fly to from Liverpool or Manchester, which are the airports that we use. So, that one was a nonstarter. Even though it was a nice area and price, it wasn’t the Costa del Sol.
Beth: Yeah, yeah, totally. How have you found meeting... Do you meet people over there? Are there families doing similar things? How have you found the socializing aspect, or is it not something that you’re interested in?
Iian: We do, we do, we do. It’s a small town, where we are, so you do bump into a lot of faces that you know, new friends, arguably. There are, equally, a lot of people on holiday out here that we know from back home. For example, tomorrow we’re going to Marbella to meet a couple from our village back home, for lunch. They’re staying out there somewhere and we’re meeting for lunch tomorrow. So, a lot of people holiday here, so I dare say anybody back home would have plenty of excursions, and friends of theirs will regularly be in the same sort of area if you want to meet up, play golf, or meet for lunch, meet for dinner. People are friendly on holiday, aren’t they? Everybody wants to talk to you.
Beth: Everybody wants to have a chat. I love the idea that you’ve got friends from home that you meet out there. That’s so nice, it’s a kind of second community of holiday goers.
Iian: That’s right, indeed, we’ve done it already this week and we’re going to do it again tomorrow with different people.
Beth: Lovely, and what about the... I was just wondering, you mentioned your swimming pool, is that shared?
Iian: Yes, absolutely, yeah. I wouldn’t want anything else because when you’re not here what’s happening to it?
Beth: Yeah, this is what I was going to ask.
Iian: And when you arrive you’ve got to attend to it. So, the last thing I would want is a pool of my own. That’s all we’d end up doing when we’re here, looking after the swimming pool and cleaning it out. There’s enough to do when you own your own place, extra work. So, I definitely wouldn’t want one of those.
Beth: How does it work as a shared, as a communal pool? How involved are you in the maintenance? How much do you have to do with the other people who share it?
Iian: Pay the community fee and the gardens, the buildings, all the communal areas including the swimming pool, etc. are all looked after out of that, so we don’t do anything. The only thing that we’ve got to look after is our own place, inside, not outside, inside.
Beth: Amazing, and would you say that there’s a lot of admin involved in that when you’re back home?
Iian: Well, that one would be a question for my wife because she does most of that, to be fair now, not much, not much. Not so that it should alarm anybody or put anybody off. The bills are all direct debit, so you just have to set that up with your bank. In fact, your lawyer will do that for you when you buy. So long as you’ve always got enough money in the bank, then the bank will always pay your bills.
Iian: Apparently, if you fall... depending on who you bank with, but if you fall below a certain amount of money and they can’t pay it, they won’t pay it and the bank will cancel the direct debit and you have to reset it up. Having not set it up in the first place, I wouldn’t know how to do it. So, the deal is to make sure there is more than enough money in the bank and don’t go near the threshold where there wouldn’t be enough to cover a debt. So far, so good.
Beth: And, you mentioned Keith, your agent, how much have you had to do with him? Obviously we’re talking years later since completion, but did he help you after the moment of completing and handing the keys over?
Iian: He did, it was seamless, but yes, absolutely, yeah, he was very good. From start to finish I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend him, and have done so many times since.
Beth: And are you still in touch at all?
Iian: Yeah, we’ve been certainly, because he lives locally. I haven’t seen him this last week, but there’s time yet.
Beth: Ah, that’s nice though.
Iian: He’s working when we’re playing.
Beth: Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly, but a lot of people have said that that type of relationship does continue and it isn’t just the end.
Iian: It does, it does, yeah. Well, I think from his point of view, you’re still a customer and you’re still someone who is able to refer new business to him, so he’s always good.
Beth: Yeah, amazing, well, my last question. You’ve given loads of great advice already, but if you were going to say something to someone who is thinking about doing what you did, back in 2015, what would your piece of advice be?
Iian: Bite the bullet, bite the bullet and do it if you can afford it. If you’re going to borrow money and you think you’re going to get huge rentals, I would be cautious of doing that. But, if you’re able to be mortgage free then you should easily cover the cost of an apartment if you do any rental. If you’ve got a big fat mortgage... If you’ve got a fat mortgage and you can afford it, I’d still go ahead and do it.
Beth: Yeah, amazing.
Iian: The sooner the better because the fun starts as soon as you leave England.
Beth: Well, fantastic advice and thank you so much for taking the time out to chat to me.
Iian: Ok, thanks Beth.
Beth: Enjoy the rest of your holiday.
Iian: I will, it’s very hot.
Beth: Lucky you, enjoy it.
Iian: Yeap, thank you, bye bye.
- Thank you for listening and thanks to Iian for sharing his experiences and to Target Property Homes for making this episode possible
- It’s such a nice thing that, whilst away, he still meets up with people he knows from home and it just goes to show how sociable life in Spain can be.
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- Tune in next week when I speak with Juliet and James originally from London
- They purchased an apartment in Barcelona and for them it was all about the hustle and bustle of the city. Oh, and loving the food of course!
- I’m Beth Davison and you’ve been listening to the Kyero.com Spanish property podcast. I’ll see you next week!