Bob owns a penthouse apartment in the centre of Fuengirola. After suffering from heart problems, he took the plunge to live a healthier life and move to Spain with his wife. Hear what it’s like uprooting from the UK, learning Spanish and buying his dream home without physically viewing the property.
- [1:06] Moving to Spain for a healthier life
- [3:41] Knowing the type of area he wanted to live in
- [4:11] Learning Spanish
- [4:38] His checklist for his dream home
- [8:00] His online research for properties
- [8:59] Buying the property without physically viewing it
- [11:40] The process after buying
- [15:43] Advice to people buying in Spain for the time
- 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 Bob, originally from Worthing. He purchased his dream home in Spain in Fuengirola, in the Costa del Sol.
- You'll hear about how, for health reasons, Bob was looking for an improved quality of life in Spain, and that now, his apartment offers not only views of the sea and the mountains but there's also lemon trees on the roof terrace. That sounds like an improvement to me.
- Bob worked with estate agent Property Directors 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
Bob: My name is Bob, I purchased a penthouse apartment in the centre of Fuengirola.
Beth: And how did it all go? We're going to start at the very beginning and you can talk me through it. How has it been?
Bob: First of all, you ought to know why I decided to move here. I'm seventy-three years old and I decided to up sticks because I have a heart problem. I've had open heart surgery and I've had several other heart operations over the years. Every winter, before I came to Spain, I was admitted to hospital with pneumonia.
Beth: Wow, OK, so, it was a climate change that you were primarily looking for.
Bob: Yeah, my heart consultant said, when I went to talk to him, “Do you feel it would be a problem if you move to Spain?" He said it would be the best thing that I could ever do and I would live longer.
Beth: Wow, interesting.
Bob: OK? So, that's what triggered it off, because I had to uproot my wife who didn't want to come. We have family in Switzerland, we have got other family in Cardiff, and we have got other family is Sussex. She didn't want to leave the family. I said, "Well, they're spread all over the place, so it doesn't matter."
Beth: Yeah, true, true.
Bob: So, I went about it because it's how I do anything in my life. I have read lots of books all about moving to Spain, all the pros and cons, and everything else. So, we used to come here every winter for about four years and spend two or three months here, as well.
It was the winter of January, 2018, I was sitting in a bar with a gin and tonic, as one does, in the evening, in my shorts, in January, and there were beautiful flowers out in January. I was chatting to this guy and I told him my thoughts, and he looked at me, and he said, "Well, it's a no brainer."
This is a beautiful climate and we like it here a lot, the cleanliness of the place. I do feel that I've got a handle on how they keep the streets with the garbage collected every day. It's very impressive. So, that's what made the decision.
I then I told my wife that's what I wanted to do. She disagreed, but in the end, we agreed, and we sold in England, put the house on the market. In the meantime I'm looking on the internet at properties, because I knew the area I wanted to be in. I did not want to be in an urbanization full of expats. When I come to Spain I want to be with the Spanish.
I live in the centre of town and I think there's about one hundred and ninety apartments in this massive building and I would say only three or four of them are English.
Beth: Amazing, do you speak Spanish?
Bob: I'm learning. We go to school every week.
Beth: Oh, great idea.
Bob: I mean I knew how to order a drink, and a table, and I could do all of that sort of Spanish. But we're doing more now.
Beth: And I suppose, for you, it's all about acclimatizing yourself. You're in the middle of a bustling place and you want to be able to communicate with everyone, and you want to fit in, and presumably language learning is a big part of that for you.
Bob: Well, of course it is. Also, I had a list of things that were 'must haves.' One of them was it must be a penthouse, and I wanted a roof terrace and I've got that. In fact I've got a garden up there now. I've got lemon trees, orange trees, mandarins (which I planted, and they are all growing well).
Bob: I've got a view that I'm looking at, whilst I talking with you, which is over the mountains, which is beautiful. If I turn my head slightly I'm looking out over the sea. So, the view is nice and then if I turn a little bit more I look out over the town, over the rooftops. We seem to be one of the highest buildings here. I can look across the town, or I can look at the mountains, or the sea. It had to have covered parking because you can't get in your car in the summer but it's too hot. Street parking is no good to me. I can't rely on that. We have underground parking. I also wanted a storeroom to put stuff in that you never have the space for. I came from a great big Victorian house, in England, and I had lots of space, lots of rooms. It used to be a school and it went back to a house. So, it was big.
I had to be on the flat. I can't do hills. That's why I live in the town. If I wanted to live back a mile in the hills, behind me, it's a quarter of the price.
Beth: But, accessibility wise it wouldn't have worked for you.
Bob: No, it wouldn't be good for me. I can't do hills. What if I want to take the car out every day I don't know for how long we're going to be driving anyway.
Beth: Yeah, fair enough.
Bob: My wife is seventy-eight, now, and she's up and coming out here, and funny enough, we were having a coffee this morning, in the town, and she said "I'm really happy here. I can see it's a lovely way of life." There are values here that seem to have been lost in England.
Beth: That’s fantastic, so, actually, a big change for her was totally the right thing in the end.
Bob: Now, yes, she loves it. If I die she's not going to rush back to England she said.
Beth: See, this will be your first winter there, will it?
Bob: No, second.
Beth: Second winter, OK, so how did you find your first winter?
Bob: I moved out here in August of 2018.
Bob: We got back to England, at the end of February of 2018, and it took from the end of February to April to decide, yes, we're going to sell, so, we decided that we'd get an apartment. We don't need anything. I wanted something easy to upkeep and I didn't want a big garden. I prefer just to pay the maintenance each month and someone else does all the work.
Beth: So, when you went to the agency with this list of things that you needed, this criteria, how easy was it to find?
Bob: Believe it or not, I went on the internet.
Beth: Oh, great.
Bob: I did it all on the internet, in England, found the property I wanted and it ticked all the boxes: must have parking; a swimming pool wasn't a priority for me because I prefer to swim in the sea anyway, so, it wasn't a priority at all, all be it, we do have a swimming pool. The other things were a priority. And the size, this is 184 square meters. So, it ticked all the boxes, but I hadn't seen it. So, all I saw is what they show on the internet. It's a ten or twelve year old apartment block. It was owned by a Dutch person and the walls were painted red and black.
Beth: (laughter) So, was it the only place that you saw? When you saw this online did you then come out for a viewing.
Bob: Now, I'm going to tell you the story.
Beth: OK, tell me the story. I want to hear it.
Bob: I looked at hundreds online. I spent hours looking on the internet. What I did know is the location I wanted. That was important, the location. So, I knew all the area exactly. So, I phoned this friend up who lives out here in Fuengirola, and I said, "I've just seen this property online and it's called La Paloma, do you know it?" He said, "I've seen it. When I go out with the dog for a walk I'll look for it. I said, "Well, it seems to me it has got to be very, very close to where you are”. So, he said, "Yes, I know the building, now, I just didn't know it was called La Paloma." He said, "It's got quite a few standards, so they will be good tenants." I really liked it, so it was onwards, I don't know who the agent was, but I also knew of that I had worked with a company called Property Directors. I saw he had some property, and I said, "I've seen one I really like." He said, "Well, where is it?" And I told him, and he said, "Well, I can show you that, no problem." He was very, very good this chap I spoke to John. He said, "I'll tell you what I'll do, I'll go down there, get access, and I will film it all for you." So, he took pictures and filmed it all and sent me all the pictures on the internet and the rest is history. I bought it. I didn't come out and see it. I hadn't been here before until the moving lorry turned up.
Beth: That's amazing. Where you nervous? Did it feel like a big step?
Bob: Not to me, no, but I'm a bit different from other people. I have owned quite a few properties in England.
Beth: OK, and what did your wife think, though, buying somewhere that you'd not seen?
Bob: When my wife went into the hospital to have a child, in 1960 whatever it was, in those days they took them in hospital and she was in there about ten days. I actually, as a surprise, she left one house, but when I picked her up from the hospital, I took her to a new house. She never went back. I'd already moved.
Beth: (laughter) So, she was giving birth and moving house all at the same time, Bob? That's a busy time.
Bob: The first thing I wanted to do is get everything legal. We've got our residencia, I've got everything down, but this John was a great help. I will say that. He went the extra mile. He came round there a couple of times helping out about this, "What's the distance from the corner of that room to the opening of the door?" What I did was that I drew a plan to scale and then cut out little furniture bits to scale and laid out the rooms, while in England, on paper. I thought, "I don't want to bring all this furniture, it's too much." We had loads of furniture.
We'd come down to four bedrooms, now, which one of the bedrooms I use as an office. We don't need any, we only use the one bedroom. So, he really did go the extra mile and then he recommended a fantastic solicitor, at a very good price, and I can't speak highly enough of him. He made me feel very, very good.
Beth: That's a great process. It sounds like it all went very smoothly for you. Did you sell a lot of your things, when you're saying that the furniture was too big to bring over, what did you end up doing?
Bob: Well, the answer is yes, but didn't do it, my son did it on eBay and all that. I had original works and a jukebox and all that and I didn't want that. But he sold it all for me.
Beth: That's nice of him. Does he get to come and visit now?
Bob: Yes, he's coming over at Christmas. He's already been over in August, and he was over earlier in the year. So, he'll be coming over with his young lady.
Beth: That's what the extra bedrooms are great for, presumably, you can host people but you have also got enough space for yourself.
Bob: Well, yes, my wife had some friends come over from England, last week, and they stayed for three nights and then went back. So, it couldn't have been easier. I never found anything difficult at all. My father always told me, when I was a child, "There's no such word as if or can't, if you can read, you can do anything." He used to say.
Beth: (laughter) That's great advice, that's great advice. I do think you need some bravery and it sounds like you have that. You do need to be able to take the plunge.
Bob: Well, I was driving down here in 1959, 1960, and it was vastly different then. Coming down here in a little Morris 1000, you know the one with the wood on the side?
Beth: I think slightly before my time, but I think I've got the right picture in my mind. I'm not very good with cars. (laughter)
Bob: It was like Benidorm was just a fishing village then. It was just starting.
Beth: But it's great. You've got that level of history with this place, then. It goes back decades. It's actually really nice that you now have roots there.
Bob: Yes, I'm very capable of settling in most places. We just enjoy it. I've got my medical card, I'm registered for that, I'm registered for this, everything I'm registered for, now.
Beth: Have you found that there has been an improvement in your health?
Bob: It's absolutely fine. I'm going back in early December, actually, to the UK, whilst I'm I've already made the appointment to see my cardiologist there. Not that I don't trust the Spanish, they're very good. He told me they're excellent. We have experienced the hospitals here. They are very good, superb. Everything is superb.
Beth: I'm so glad that it's gone well for you. It sounds like it has been amazing. My final question to people is always if someone is listening to this and thinking about doing what you have done, what advice would you give them?
Bob: Don't try and come over here and not be registered because there are so many not registered here (Brits, I've realised). They say, "How did you get your residence so quick?" Well I just have us do the paperwork and I put down what money we had. I think at the time all this money would be coming into the Spanish economy. I don't know. You can't come to any country and think you're going to do it on a shoestring, in my opinion. You do need enough to support yourself.
Beth: Actually, we haven't talked about budget at all. You mentioned you were selling a house and you weren't going to spend all of the money from your Victorian house on an apartment, so presumably, you had a chunk of savings.
Bob: Yes, this [penthouse] cost us, to move in here, about 380,000 - 390,000.
Bob: Which we're very happy with.
Beth: I think you're making a profit from your sale anyway, that that would have helped with your residencia stuff.
Bob: Yeah, oh yes, well, plus I've got three pensions anyway.
Beth: Yeah, I think being prepared, though. You sound like you have really done your homework. You have really put the work in. You do the paperwork, you do all of the research that you need to do. So, I think that's really great advice for someone as well.
Bob: I bought two books, both the same. I gave one to my wife and I had one and we both read them at the same time. Then she could ask me questions, and then I would ask John, "What about this?"
The solicitor, I think, is important - to get a good solicitor. I really found a very, very good solicitor.
Beth: Do you mind my asking what was the name of the book?
Bob: Law in Spain, in fact, my solicitor publishes it. My Spanish solicitor publishes it. I didn't know that at the time. He bought the rights on it.
Beth: Amazing, what a good coincidence.
Bob: Yeah, it was. I didn't know that, that was pure coincidence. Then, last December the solicitor invited us to his premises, and we went there for wine tasting and canapés and met some people. You've got to put yourself out there, and we didn't want to mix with all English.
Beth: Yeah, absolutely, put yourself out there.
Bob: So, we love it and we don't look back. I'm still in my shirtsleeves and shorts and it's beautiful.
Beth: Amazing, well, thank you so much for chatting to me today. That's all of my questions done. I'm so pleased that it's gone so well and that your wife is happy. That's very good. (laughter)
Bob: Yes, and as I say, you've got to plan it properly, read, learn, and don't think you're going to cheat the system.
- Thank you for listening and thanks to Bob for sharing her experiences, and to Property Directors for making this episode possible.
- I think that might be the first time I have heard of someone buying and apartment based on video footage alone, and I'm so glad that the gamble paid off.
- We should all remember that there's no such words as if or can't.
- Remember, if you like what you heard you can search this agent's properties and more on Kyero.com.
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- This podcast is produced by Kyero.com and our mission is to connect you with estate agents and properties throughout Spain
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- Tune in next time when I chat with Marijke for the third and final instalment of her Spanish adventure. Parts One and Two are still available wherever you get your podcasts. So, if you have not heard them yet, you still have time to catch up.
- I’m Beth Davison and you’ve been listening to the Kyero.com Spanish property podcast. I’ll see you next time!