Gill found a three bedroom home with her husband in El Carmoli after exploring the region for several years. They both work remotely, and enjoy the freedom they get to pursue their favourite outdoor activities, including kitesurfing and hiking. Tune in to hear about a chance encounter at an airport queue, the support she got from her agent, and what advice she’d give to first-time buyers.
- [2:48] Getting to know a region over time
- [3:44] The big transition to work from different countries
- [5:27] Finding a home with work-friendly spaces
- [7:14] The support Gill got from the house-hunting process
- [10:24] Finding a property that’s ready to move in to
- [11:44] Moving to Spain for outdoor activities and great weather
- [16:00] Living a healthier lifestyle in Spain
- [22:16] What Gill would do if she’d buy again
- 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 Gill, originally from Northamtpon. She purchased her dream home in Spain in El Carmoli, in Murcia, and along with her husband and two rescue cats had some pretty specific criteria on what she was looking for
- Gill worked with estate agent Home España to find her 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
Gill: So, I’m Gill and I'm an a executive coach and facilitator. Four years ago we moved to Spain, and nearly two years ago we purchased this house. We moved to a place called El Carmoli, which is just south of Los Alcazares on the Mar Manor, on the inland shores of the Mar Manor, and it's in the region of Murcia.
Beth: Lovely, I can spot an instant gap there. There's four years that you moved there and two years that you purchased. What did you do for the two years in between?
Gill: Well, luckily, we met somebody when we decided that we wanted to live in Spain, (which was about five years ago). We met somebody who has become a very good friend, in an airport queue (as you do). We were talking about that we really wanted to live in Spain and she strongly advised us to rent first because it would give us a chance to really get to know the area, because we didn't know the area very well. We hadn't been one of these sorts of people that had holiday places for years. So, it was really new for us.
So, we decided that was really good advice and we rented. In fact, we moved from where we originally rented, which was in Mojácar. It was very pretty, but it didn't tick all of our particular boxes.
So, that was great. That gave us a really good platform to start looking property for the house that we would want to live in. You really need to be clear about what you want when you buy in Spain, if you're going to live here. In this market it isn't that easy to sell afterwards, so you may have to wait some time.
So, yeah, we moved from Mojácar, in Almería, up to the region of Murcia to be next to the Mar Manor because we're both really love water sports and we'd like to be a bit more connected to our ports and good shopping areas whilst, at the same time, having a really lovely and peaceful life in the village that we live in. So that it was really successful.
Beth: Lovely, I would say, then, that it was quite important for you to have been there, to have lived there, to really get to know the region on a personal, day to day level before you commit.
Gill: That certainly worked for us, yeah, because there's so much that you don't know when you come on holiday: what it's going to be like to actually live. Both of our work, to start with, meant that we were going back to the U.K. every month. I had a mother, alive at that point, who was very sick with Alzheimer's. So, I wanted to spend as much time as I could with her, but at the same time transition into this new life that we had brokered.
Yeah, so it was really strange, to start with. For the first year I wasn't quite sure which country I lived in. But when we were in Spain it was definitely that we were not on holiday, we were living. So, it really gave us an idea about what it was going to be like and what we really wanted to actually live here and make it our home.
Beth: So, it sounds like it was a period (obviously) of massive transition for you, but you kept working throughout did you? Did you manage to move your job? Was work flexible enough to allow you to work from both countries?
Gill: Yes, I mean there has been a transition. Luckily (or very fortunately for me), the whole world of coaching is changing rapidly, particularly now. So, four years ago it wasn't quite there but it was starting to get there. We had a little bit of work online. So there was some virtual facilitations format; there was a little tiny bit of telephone and Skype coaching, but the majority of it still required me to be physically present, so that's why I was travelling to the U.K.
Yeah, I needed to work because we're not retired. We haven't been drawing pensions. We were, at the time, in our early to mid fifties. We weren't ready to retire and we couldn't financially retire anyway. So, that meant that we did have to travel.
Wonderfully, in the last four years, things have changed, and, actually, now I do much more work from home, online, than I do physically present. So, I don't have to travel as much. My husband moved his workshop over to Spain, eventually, so he has that here. He doesn't need to travel for work anymore at all.
So it's worked out really well, but again, I look back and I say, "Gosh, how did it take us four years?" But, I think sometimes it does and it is a big transition, like you said, and it does take some thinking about and some logistical sorting out.
Beth: Yeah, absolutely. Was it an added strand to the house hunt then? You had to think of somewhere you could work from, Johnny's workshop (presumably) needed a space. How much of that factored in when you were initially doing your first viewings when it came to purchase, so after the rental period?
Gill: Yeah, massively. We looked at all sorts of places we looked at fincas with lots of land and outbuildings which would have really been ideal for Johnny's workshop, but, then they wouldn't have been ideal because they're too far out. We wanted to be close to clients and close to good internet connection, which is really important.
Also, we didn't want to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere because we were about social connection. Because I was going to be away a bit, I didn't want to think that Johnny was left alone in the middle of nowhere, having to drive long distances even just to get basic food or go to the post office or something.
So, that factored in hugely, and what else factored in was that we had two cats that we had rescued in Mojácar and we wanted it to be safe for them. So, we had loads of criteria. It was really tricky. We ticked off the most important ones and we had to forgo outhouses for Johnny's workshop. So we're still not quite there, but we have a nice big garden that we paved. So he can, luckily, because we have such a nice climate here, he can do a little bit of work outside, in the garden. So, we're still working on the whole workshop thing, but we're not quite sure how to tackle that.
Beth: How much help did you get? So when you showed up with this list of criteria to an agent, did they look alarmed? Did they take the challenge? How useful were they in that process?
Gill: Yeah, they were really useful and what was great about Kyero's website was that it has a lot of filters that you can use. So, that was useful. Then when I actually came to talk to actual agents, once I got in touch with them through the website, they were really useful and very helpful. In fact, one person was superbly useful. She made, completely, the difference because nobody else had introduced us to this particular village called El Carmoli, which sits on a little hill. It's funny, because we'd driven past it a lot when we'd been searching for other houses on our way home, and I said, "Oh, I really like the look of that house, I wonder what it is."
Then, finally, when one of the estate agents actually listened to even more of our description and heard, "Little village, close to places, quiet, with (perhaps) some views of the sea (even at a distance)," she finally said, "Oh, I think I've got somewhere for you, and we came here, and she was the first person. So, it's really interesting what estate agents filter and what they listen for. They're all really lovely, all of them, and they tried really hard, and they showed us a huge range of properties which ticked some of our boxes. None of them, really, within our price range, could tick all of them. But, we're really happy with where we've ended up.
Beth: And that is a theme, actually that's coming up with these conversations, is just compromise, or just knowing what your hard line is, what your priorities are, and the rest slots into place around it.
Gill: Yeah, definitely. I'm sitting, now, in one of the bedrooms. We have a three bedroom house and we only saw it once because it's really unusual. People normally have second or third viewings, and, in fact, we did with a couple of other properties. But we saw this house and I walked into this particular bedroom. We've got two bedrooms, one is our bedroom and the other one is a guest room. I thought, "Wow, that's going to make an amazing place for me to work, plus to have our office. And, sure enough, here I am. It was one of the first things that I thought, "That will be a lovely place to sit and work and feel really comfortable. It's very true. It has worked out exactly like that and I love it. It's probably one of the best work spaces I've ever had.
Beth: Which is so important. When you're working from home and alone, it's very important. I think the environment that you work in gives you that holistic feeling. That's my opinion on it. I sound a bit of a hippy when I put it like that.
Gill: Yeah, yeah, definitely, and the light is beautiful because I've got French doors and I love working in natural light. So, yeah, I wasn't quite aware that this was on my checklist but clearly it was with hindsight.
Beth: Yeah, and did the house... Did the house need work done to it, or were you looking for somewhere that was going to be minimal effort once you moved in?
Gill: We wanted minimal effort, to be honest. We saw places that we knew that we could make beautiful with work, but we were just ready to just move in and settle down. With all of the moves that we'd had. We'd had, actually, the move from Britain, and then once we were in Spain we had to move again because our landlord sold our property that we were renting, which was really unusual because we thought we would be there for about five years, or two years.
Beth: Right, OK.
Gill: He made a snap decision to sell it and he had another property across the road, so we moved into that temporarily. So, we'd already moved from Britain to Spain; when in Spain, to another place, and within the space of two years. We just said, "We just want to move. We want to move in, we want to get ourselves sorted, and we don't want to feel like we're temporarily in a boarding site." So, that was our criteria, and this house was exceptionally ready to move into.
Beth: Which must have been such a good feeling. It's just so nice, I think, when all of those things fall into place and you walk in and you realize, "Yeah, great, this is going to work for us."
You mentioned hobbies, specifically the water sports, all kind of nearby things that were going on. How much did that factor into your choice - the lifestyle in Spain?
Gill: Oh, hugely because one of the reasons that we wanted to move to Spain was definitely for the outdoor life. I don't like bad weather. I don't like damp weather. I'm not very good with cold.
I have lived abroad a lot of my life, in really lovely climates and I lived in Britain for fifteen years, but a lot of that time we were travelling to do our water sports, which was much nicer. We went to ??? where there are kite surfers and wind surfers. My husband taught me to do those to an OK standard.
When we went to Mojácar we finally got the sea and it was beautiful, but is actually, for me, personally, it felt really unsafe because the wind there can suddenly kick off and change direction, and it's deep water, and I think the next stop is either Algeria or Italy and that just didn't appeal to me.
So, in Mar Manor, here, is like a water sports paradise and we had, interestingly, in 2004, 2005 come down here for holidays to kite surf, but somehow we just hadn't considered it as a place to live. It's not quite as picture box or chocolate box pretty as Mojácar but, actually, I just look past that and I can see its natural beauty and its advantages now that we're here. So, that really affected us hugely, and the walking, the walking fantastic too.
Beth: What sort of climate are we talking? Do you do long hikes?
Gill: Yeah, from, really, now until April there's a walking path here which I found last April which is wonderful. Most of the people life inland so it does require a little bit of a drive. What it means is that I'm getting to know the inland, mountainous region, and have met lots of other people: Spanish, Dutch, French, German, Brits, a whole mix of people who can speak Spanish or whatever language you want to speak when you're walking. You get to know much more of the region and much more of the culture. So, that's wonderful for us. So, there are long hikes, but it's generally cooler up there.
Where we are, by the coast, right now it's just in the beginning of October and it's still really hot. It's twenty seven degrees (Celsius) during the day, and even all through the year. January and February it gets a bit cool, but we generally are able to eat outside at lunch, through the winter, which is lovely.
Beth: Yeah, that is lovely. Coming from a rainy England, that is very lovely. I think that what you mentioned is that you have the best of all worlds, by the sounds of things. You've got the coast right there, but you also live in a nice village that's fairly quiet, from what you said. But it's in the midst of a region that could be much busier if you ever wanted that. You've got transport links. You've got exciting things that are, presumably, quiet bustling and full of tourists at certain points in the year.
Gill: Very much so. We're only about a half an hour from La Zenia, which is one of the biggest shopping centres, certainly, in Spain. It is bustling, but not my cup of tea, particularly, but we've got it on our doorstep. We've also got more local shopping centres which are full of extraordinary shopping opportunities which are all about fifteen minutes from the house, on a a really good piece of infrastructure - the roads are amazing.
Yet, when we're home we're really quiet and it's the village that is mainly Spanish people's holiday homes. So, it gets a little bit busy over the summer, and a little bit busy over festival weekends, but most of the time it's really quiet. Yet, there are still enough people who live here to keep a little Cafe going. It doesn't feel dead in the winter, where some places they're really dead. But this one doesn't feel dead, it just was quiet.
Beth: Amazing, well it sounds like you made all the right decisions, at that point, when you were thinking about buying. We haven't touched upon health, but I know that Johnny's health and also your health kind of influenced the choice to live abroad, but also the choice to live somewhere warm, is that right?
Gill: Absolutely, definitely, so, I'm a bit allergic to damp climates (this is psychological). One of the reasons that I actually don't feel well in damp climates. After a really cold period there's this phenomena, which I now know is an autoimmune disease (that I've had since I was really young), and also, in my twenties, I developed asthma.
So, damp, polluted, or air full of car exhaust. I was living in the midlands, in Britain, which is much more so. So, coming to a lovely, dry, climate which is much less populated has been fantastic for me. So, the only time I might get a little bit of a wheeze is in the winter when we've got the windows closed and maybe our cats come and sit on our bed, occasionally. So, I have to banish them from the bedroom, then.
That's amazing for me because when I lived in Silverstone, in the midlands, I was on steroid inhaler and often I'd have to take Ventolin, but now I never take the steroid inhaler. So that's been an amazing thing for me. I very rarely feel cold - perhaps in February and March and it was chilly then.
Also, my husband was diagnosed with MS. We're not sure if he actually has it, but he has some sort of neurological disease. For him, I did a lot of research and we know, from research and science, that people who live in sunnier climates are much less likely to get MS because of the levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D is really important for, it's a fundamental vitamin. It's sort of a hormone, I think. But is fundamental to all health. So, it's really good.
So, that's one of the things that have contributed to being able to stabilize his condition and, hopefully, start to improve it, and also definitely improve my quality of life. That was a big factor and it's a big factor for us staying here and being able to live here.
Beth: Fantastic, I mean it's great that it's helped and that you've seen progression.
We haven't touched on all of the legal bits and the budget bits and the money things, but of those wider factors, when you look to do something big, like buy a property abroad, which elements have you found difficult, if there were any?
Gill: Well, actually, there was nothing difficult in the process. One of the agents, the local agent that we ended up speaking to quite a lot, he was really, really useful. He put us in touch with a local builder who was excellent, to do some paving in the garden. He also put us in touch with a solicitor who was going to do the conveyance for us here, in Spain. They made it very easy; they're lovely; they speak English and Spanish and probably some other languages; very competent; know the area, the main systems that form this area, so, knows it very well and knows the local councils, so provided good advice on all sorts of things that could have been problems if we hadn't had a local solicitor, one that knew the case well. So, actually that part was really fairly easy.
Also, we actually used Home Espagne's finance people because they were the estate agent that was advertising it. They were really very, very helpful from Home Espagne. Because we were buying it through them, we had access, free, to their finance people, and the guy that helped us with mortgages there was very, very helpful.
Also, our solicitor was because, originally, Sabadall Bank, they didn't accept our proposal for a mortgage, but our solicitor said, "Well, I know another bank, Bankinter, they will definitely accept it. We were a little bit unusual because we're both self employed, so, on paper it looks a bit strange and also, some of our income comes from rental properties in the U.K., which we still have. They don't give us a massive rental yield, but they give us some, so that was part of the income that should have been incorporated, which is a little bit odd.
In Spain it's highly unusual for Spanish people, I was told, though I found this to be a bit strange, to have income, part of their main personal income, from rental properties. They don't like to, apparently banks don't like to lend on that basis. I don't know if it's because of what happened in the crash, and perhaps rental yields, well, there's certainly a lot of properties to rent here which don't have occupants, which is not the same in the U.K. So I think the Spanish view, the Spanish perspective of rental property being a good income didn't seem to go down well with Sabadall.
Beth: Didn't seem realistic to them?
Gill: No, for Bankinter it was fine, and actually, what happened is they offered us more. They said look, we are happy to lend you this, but would it be useful for us to increase the drawing? Which is amazing, and actually, it was, it was, so we did increase our mortgage.
Beth: So, did that change what you were looking for? Were you able to increase your budget for the property, or did it just mean that you had a little bit more cash to play with.
Gill: Yeah, this was at the point where we'd made our decision. We had put in an offer. So, it just meant that it was a little bit easier for us on other levels and we could get our drive paved, that sort of thing.
Beth: Yeah, fantastic. So, last question, it sounds like it's been very straightforward for you, would you do anything different if you were beginning the process again, or is there a main piece of advice that you would give to someone right at the start of this journey?
Gill: It's interesting, I can't think of anything different that I would do, because even though some friends of ours said, "Why didn't you move to the Mar Manor to start with, because isn't it obvious that it's a water sports area?" Well, I suppose it was, really, but, at that point we had made some friends and we loved, and I had particularly fallen in love with aspects of Mojácar. I felt very emotionally attached to it. I felt like I'd gone home.
So, I think it was a really important part of the journey and also it was important to know what we didn't want, and we didn't want to be two and a half hours drive from Alicante, which has got most of the flights, and we did want to be closer to shopping. At the start I didn't think I ever wanted to go into a shopping centre ever again. I just wanted some peace because I had such a stressful work lifestyle. We're travelling a lot in the U.K. So, I think we just needed that period of time just to bring clarity and have a bit of a rest, and then say, "OK, now what are our real criteria?"
So, I don't think I'd do anything differently. I just think that everything happens for a reason and we needed that breathing space to be able to know where we definitely wanted to live the rest of our lives. You know, if we had to live in this house for the rest of our lives, I don't think either of us would be worried about it at all because we love it.
Beth: Amazing, well I'm so glad that it has gone well and that your journey has all just really paid off. You sound very happy, which is lovely to hear.
Gill: Yeah, we are and it has paid off. You know, I think some people that we meet, because we were in our mid fifties when we did it, and I'm really glad that we did it now even though it seems daunting to still have to earn a living and bring your work with you. But is so much easier these days. We meet people sometimes who are a bit older who have said, "Oh, I wish I'd done it when I was a bit younger." So, I would say that if you've got an idea to do it, don't let anything put you off, just follow your heart.
Beth: Lovely advice. Well, we will leave it there. Thank you so much for chatting to me, Gill. I'm glad it's all gone so well for you.
Gill: Thank you Beth.
Beth: Thanks, have a great day.
Beth: Bye, bye.
- Thank you for listening and thanks to Gill for sharing her experiences, and to Home Espagne for making this episode possible
- It's amazing what can come from a chance encounter in an airport queue.
- So good to hear that the climate and lifestyle, in Spain, can make a big difference when it comes to health as well as happiness
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- Tune in next time when I speak with Marijke, and hear part 2 of her story. This time we're focusing on the move itself, how she felt leaving her home of more than twenty years, and what the new place in Fuente del Conde is like.
- I’m Beth Davison and you’ve been listening to the Kyero.com Spanish property podcast. I’ll see you next time!