Adam, a retired police officer from the UK, is just about to get the keys to his new home in Valencia after renting in Spain for a year with his family. He was inspired to make the big move after years of family holidays in Spain. Listen to find out how his wife found long-term work in Spain, made a new community of friends, and Adam’s attitude to big life changes.
- [1:42] How long they’ve wanted to own a place in Spain
- [2:38] Renting out home in the UK, and moving to Spain
- [5:12] Finding long-term in Spain as an English native
- [6:35] There’s something for everyone in Valencia
- [8:29] Their daughter settling in to an international school
- [9:48] Not being sure what property they were looking for
- [11:39] Experience of working with Spanish estate agents
- [15:19] Key advice to first-time buyers
- 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 Adam, originally from South Wilshire who purchased his dream home in Valencia, along with his wife and daughter.
- You're about to hear our chat about international schools, finding employment, and where the idea to relocate first came from.
- You can check out the show notes at kyero.com/podcast to find links and resources mentioned in this episode.
Body of Transcript
Adam: I'm Adam, I'm a retired police officer from the UK currently living in Spain, just north of Valencia City, and I'm in the process of buying a house here which we hope to complete on next Monday.
Beth: Oh, good luck! That's not very long from now. How has the process been?
Adam: It's been good. There's been ups and downs, but so far so good. Until it's done, and we've got the keys in our hands, I'm not taking anything for granted, but I think we've got everything in place. So, we have a final meeting with everybody on Monday just to do the final signatures.
Beth: And hand over those keys.
Adam: Indeed, yes. So, we've been renting for year. So, we'll be leaving this house and moving into the new one, hopefully, next week.
Beth: Amazing, so, you've already been out there for a year. We're catching up with you just before this final process, but how far back does this idea go? How long have you known, "I'd like to own property in Spain?"
Adam: A long, long time, when I was first holidaying in Spain with my young family we covered a lot of the different areas of Spain, including the Balearics and I just fell in love with it and knew that when I retired from the police, which was a thirty year career, that's what I wanted to do. So, the idea grew. We kept holidaying in Spain in different areas and I was never in doubt that was what would happen.
Beth: Had you already purchased in the UK? Did you know a little bit about what buying houses was like?
Adam: Yes, yes, so, we'd moved around in the UK. We were settled in Wilshire so we've been through house purchases before. That house in the UK, now, is currently rented, so we still own property in the UK.
Beth: How's that been, juggling the logistics of renting out a UK home and dealing with lots of different people in Spain, but agents and solicitors and all of that stuff, has it been straight forward or have there been bumps along the way?
Adam: It's been OK, to be honest. I'll start from the beginning, once we realised that we wanted to move to Spain and my wife was onboard. She's a school teacher. She had a job teaching in the UK. So, we literally started looking at areas that we'd like to live in and drawing up a short list of what we required.
So, within an hour to an airport, for example, so that it was easy access to get back to the UK or family could come and visit us. So, we basically were drawing circles on the maps of the areas that we thought we would like to move to.
Then, it soon became apparent. I came out in January 18 and looked at some houses in the south of Spain with a couple of agents and just checking them out on my own. But then we suddenly realised, actually, my wife was going to need to work, so although we might find the ideal house, and it might be close to an airport, there might not actually be a job opportunity.
So, we turned the whole process on its head and said, "Actually, we'll get the job first, and then [move forward] according to that." So, that's how it happened. We scrapped our map plan and my wife started applying for jobs and basically was offered one here in Valencia and then we thought, "Well, why not, we've never been to this area of Spain."
We took up the job offer. From what we could see Valencia had everything going for it and then it was a case of renting the house in the UK. We were fortunate that we could move into her father's house in the interim. So, we moved all of our belongings there and just stayed there while we were preparing to move.
So, then we found somewhere to rent with the help of her work and came over in May 2018 to see the school and to have a look around and get to know the area. So, that was the first time that we'd ever been.
Adam: Then we started the process of trying to rent somewhere, which we found, eventually. Then we realised we were very, very happy here, so it was time to start this whole process of buying.
Beth: Is your wife Spanish?
Adam: No, English, we're all English.
Beth: Wow, and finding a job was OK then? I haven't spoken to anyone else who had gone for long-time employment as well as the house move. So, did she find that process alright? Did you start online? How does that begin?
Adam: Yeah, it was literally all starting online with different resources. When she started looking into it there were international schools around Spain, so you don't need to speak the language because neither of us were Spanish speaking.
She threw in some applications and had some interviews online, basically, with the schools and the Valencia one was the one that ticked all the boxes and they offered the job. Yeah, so it all happened very, very quickly. I got the phone call saying, "They've offered the job, what do you think?" Well, yeah, this is what we said we'd do. It was just random of all the places I had visited in Spain, this was one that I'd never been to.
Beth: Yeah, so exciting, and so brave. So, let's talk about the region a little bit. You'd never been there? What were your first thoughts when you went for the first time? Had you accepted the job by this point?
Adam: Yes, yeah, we accepted in within a few hours, basically, just by simple research online, thinking, "Well, I hadn't realised that Valencia is the third largest city in Spain. It's on the coast. It's a fantastic city. It's not as busy or touristy as Madrid or Barcelona, but it's absolutely beautiful. It's got the mountains surrounding it, all the things that we love: the beach, the weather, the mountains." It was a "no brainer." It was a simple decision.
Beth: And how is city life? Were you coming from quite a built-up area back home? I know you mentioned Wilshire. Were you already living in towns and things or were you quite country when you were in England?
Adam: Yeah, we're both country people through our upbringing. So, we're not in the city. We're fifteen kilometres north in a little town/village. So, it's rural living, but we can get the train into the city or drive into the city. It's fifteen kilometres away. So, it's an easy journey, but we're living the country life that we used to.
Beth: That's brilliant and it sounds like there's so much variety there. I know Valencia has its own real identity so you can get involved with that or just have, presumably, a slightly quieter life fifteen kilometres out of the city. But it sounds like you've got everything.
Adam: Yeah, yeah, we've got everything that we need here on the doorstep. Again, the school is nearby. We've got a young daughter that goes to the same school. That was important that we were nearby the employment from the research that we'd done, this area was great and we've fallen in love with it. So, yeah, when we started searching for the house it had to tick those boxes, again, that it was not too far from the schools. We didn't want to move to Spain for this idyllic lifestyle to be commuting great distances each day.
Beth: Yeah, of course. How has she found settling into, presumably, a Spanish speaking school, or is it an international school?
Adam: It's an international school but it's an English school, so they've got pupils and staff from all over the world, but it's an English curriculum, everything is English speaking in the school. So, that was pretty straightforward. There was a requirement that she speak some Spanish because a lot of the parents are Spanish and the kids are Spanish, but the kids go there from a young age to learn English, basically.
Beth: It's such an amazing experience for her, as well, to get that kind of multinational, just so cultural, that experience growing up, especially for a local school.
Adam: Yeah, absolutely, so that was part of our plan. She was three or four when we moved across, so we hope that she'll come out of it Spanish speaking as well. So, it's an exciting option.
Beth: So, let's talk about the property that you've gone for, that you're closing the deal on in just a few days time. You'd obviously rented, so you understood the property in Spain, you understood the region and what kinds of options were going to be available to you. What was on your criteria, building wise: number of bedrooms, amount of land, all of that stuff? Did you know exactly what you were looking for?
Adam: Not at all. When I'd been researching, over the years, from the UK (almost like a pipe dream thinking one day I'm going to be making this move, and I'd be looking at houses online of various sizes and styles with no real firm idea of what sort of property I wanted.) Then we were living here.
We were in a rented townhouse in the old part of the town and we'd never lived like that before. We thought, "Actually, this is OK." So, it opened our eyes to another style of living. But when we came to do the actual searching for real (this is the house we're going to buy) then we found somewhere that's in the country.
It's a house set on its own with its own parcel of land. It's almost what we were used to in the UK, a house in an urban area but with its own garden, if you like, rather than the townhouse we were renting. We wanted to have three or four bedrooms so that we could have guests and some outside space. That was the criteria and within striking distance of the school. So, we looked at several and found one that we liked with a good agent who spoke some English, which, again helped. We looked at some with some Spanish agents, which was a little bit difficult because we don't speak the language well enough to communicate fully. So, that was a big plus point for us. Then we talked about it and said, "Well, we can keep on searching and going around in circles, but if we both like this house let's go for it." So, we put the offer in back in the summer.
Beth: That relationship with the agent, did that go well? I know that in the UK the stereotype is not great for estate agents, but generally, what I hear in Spain is that it's very different. Did you find it different?
Adam: Yeah, I think so, he's been very. He's always on the end of a phone and any questions that we have he's been able to answer. We've got friends here that speak Spanish so we use them a lot for different things that we have had to go through, different appointments and processes. But yeah, we've just spoken directly to the agent and so far so good.
Beth: Fantastic, were they friends that you had made before you went there or are they friends that you have made in your year of living there?
Adam: Yeah, they're friends that we've made here. We came out, I've got one friend who lives a couple of hours up the coast that I have seen a couple of times, but we've got nobody that we know or knew before we arrived. So, yeah, we've made a network of friends literally through the school.
Beth: Yeah, which sounds really important just for advice and customer reviews and all of those kinds of things.
Adam: Yeah, yeah, yeah, they've been here and done it all before. Some are English some are Spanish. It's been really, really useful. We wouldn't have gotten as far as we have without that network, that support network.
Beth: It's a really brave thing to do. Did your family and friends back home, what was their response to this because I think some of my friends would raise an eyebrow if I was going to move my whole family, my four year old daughter, we're going to get a job, we're going to get her into school, it's a big life change. I know that you have been thinking about it for a long time, so maybe they expected it from you, but was anyone surprised?
Adam: Yeah, I think so, that it actually happened because they probably thought, "Oh, Adam is a big dreamer and would talk about it but never do it." So, I had no doubt that it would happen, but I certainly did think that it would raise some eyebrows.
Yes, Celina obviously has her family and sister back in England that she's now separated from. So, it is a big move, it is a brave move. She lost her mother a couple of years ago at a young age and it actually changed her outlook, that you have to crack on and grab life and do these things - Life is too short sort of attitude. So, we've embraced it and jumped in with both feet thinking, "Well, if it all goes wrong, we've still got the house back in the UK and we can go back with our tales between our legs." If we don't try it you never know.
Beth: I think that's a great outlook and you mentioned that you want visitors. Have people in the UK been quite involved? Have they been over to see you? Obviously you are not into your permanent place yet, but do you envisage lots more visitors?
Adam: I would think so, yeah. The first year that we were here we were inundated, in a good way. As I said, we've got no friends or family out here. Celina is working, our daughter is at school. Because I'm retired I've got time to myself so it was really good to have family and friends visiting all through the year. So, that's been a bonus. It's easy access here from the UK. That's been a real help.
I'm sure when we get into the house, because the house needs some work doing, quite a bit of work, but we'll obviously get some support when that is required as well. In fact, Celina father has just come over yesterday, so he's here already to help.
Beth: Oh, brilliant. You love it when Dad comes round just for building advice. I do that all the time.
Adam: Right, exactly yeah, so, many hands make light work. We've got plenty to be getting on with so it's an extra pair of hands to help.
Beth: And my final question is what I ask everyone, which is if someone is listening to this and thinking that they might want to do the same thing, what would be your key pieces of advice? Is there anything that you would do differently if you were going to do it all again?
Adam: I don't know that differently because I've enjoyed the whole process, but being here for the year before buying has helped because you certainly get a feel for the area and you know that you are doing the right thing rather than doing it from the UK.
Certainly it varies from area to area, but certainly here not many people speak English so I wish that I had worked on the Spanish language harder before I got here. So, that's still a work in progress. But, obviously, in different parts of Spain you could probably get away with a little Spanish, but this region not so much.
My final bit, which I haven't really understood until I got here was don't bother emailing people because they don't seem to respond. You either go see them in person or pick up the phone.
Beth: That's interesting so, that's a cultural difference, I suppose.
Adam: Completely, people just don't seem to use it and if you email people it just doesn't get answered largely. So, that would be a tip from me.
Beth: Good to know. OK, fantastic. Well I hope it goes so well on Monday and congratulations for making this work. It sounds like you guys are loving life over there.
Adam: Yeah, so far so good. Yeah, we're ready for the next stage.
Beth: Yeah, best of luck with it, Adam. Thanks so much for chatting to me.
Adam: No problem. Thanks ever so much.
- Thank you for listening and thanks to Adam for sharing his experiences.
- I just love the idea of being inspired to move to Spain because of having amazing holidays there, and his mantra of, "If you don't try, you'll never know," seems to be paying off.
- Remember, if you like what you have heard you can search all of our available properties on Kyero.com and don't forget to subscribe to the podcast so you never miss an episode.
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- Tune in next time when I catch up with Ernest, a retiree of the U.S. Government, with a love of gardening. Originally from Seul.
- Ernest knew Spain a little from work trips, but let's see if that was enough for him to find his dream home.
- I’m Beth Davison and you’ve been listening to the Kyero.com Spanish property podcast. I’ll see you next time!