Living The Dream or Facing The Nightmare ?

Living the dream or facing the nightmare ? For many a mediterrenean lifestyle in a warm climate with a dream home by the sea is the ultimate dream. However, Spain has been hit hard by the eurozone crisis and to many the dream has turned into a nightmare. Those who took out mortgages during the boom years up until 2008 have been facing negative equity and the suddenly very urgent perspective of potentially being repossesed by the bank. Simultaniously unemployment in Spain has hit an alltime high with more than 25% of the workforce out of work.

Thousands upon thousands of expats have traded the dream of a life in a beach resort for a return ticket to their homelands. Leaving behind less demand for services and housing. Combined the consequences for Spain and the expat community have been dire. All the bigger banks such as BBVA, Santander and Bankia have thousands of repossessed townhouses, fincas, villas and apartments on the books that theyre trying to offload at bargain prices.

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Not everything is doom and gloom though. The weather is still excellent in Spain, the tourists are flocking the beaches, the food is as excellent as ever and the lifestyle is still charming. It is also worth remembering that the crisis will end. If not today then maybe tomorrow. Point being that however hopeless the employment situation and property market seems at the moment, there will be a hefty upturn too around the corner someplace. With property prices at a level not seen this low for decades this lends you a golden opportunity if you have savings or solidity to secure a mortgage for purchasing a Spanish property.

Dont buy one if youre on a tight budget or reliant on securing a job locally in Spain to pay for it. But if you want a longer term return on investment it may just be the best option out there – the demand for properties is artificially low due to the crisis and the banks limiting lending. Thus, prices are due to bounce back when the economy starts recovering and if you have invested in a Spanish property in meantime, you can reap very tidy profits. Particularly if you research a strong location and a solid property available at a bargain price via the bank foreclosure schemes. You can compare the Spanish foreclosure market to the situation if you were to for instance Buy U.S. Foreclosures, and you will soon discover that whilst the same crisis hit both market – Spain is hit the worst. Basically, that makes it all the more important that you have the economy to safely pay for your purchase, but it also commands a bigger potential profit in the long run.

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Do your homework. Check the market and individual properties carefully. Acquire the help of a lawyer … but dont give up. Living the dream is still possible and in fact potentially very profitable too, if you manage to find the right property at a bargain price. Those dream homes are available in Spain right now at fantastic prices. Just do your due dilligence and dig out the best one for you and your family.

Tips, tricks and insider information to help your move to Spain

Moving to any “foreign” country can be equally as fantastic adventure, as it can be an absolute nightmare if you are not prepared, or if you don’t know a few of the tricks that help you get by from day to day.

I have indicated a few tips before you leave to come here, and a couple of tips to bear in mind when you arrive and start to make your life here.

All the points below are based on personal experience and I would encourage you to try out at least a couple of them to see what I mean.

Research, and then do some more!

I cannot stress enough, do your research before moving to Spain and don’t leave anything to chance. Rent before you buy, to get a good feel of the area you have chosen to live.

Remember, being on holiday in a place is very different form living there, and if you enjoy the nightlife, and move to a resort on the coast, bear in mind that during the winter these places can be like ghost towns and many shops, bars etc, close for the winter because of this so be warned!

Do not agree to buy somewhere “off plan” i.e. not built yet, you WILL lose all your money. Keep a UK bank account too, don’t totally cut yourself off, even if you do not plan on ever moving back, things can happen and times change.

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Now you’re in Spain, what next?

Shops in Spain often choose their own opening hours, and always subject to last minute changes. They have a more laid back attitude to work, and to customer service, so save yourself the upset and expect the worse when you go shopping. Don’t be surprised, especially in some of the Chinese bargain shops that have sprung up everywhere, to be followed around the store like a shoplifter. Again, go out and try this for yourself, its true!

If like me, you like to go out and eat from time to time, money permitting, you will soon have found out that the Spanish are real sticklers for meal times, sometimes quite bizarrely so.

If you want to get a table in a restaurant for lunch (much longer, larger and slower than a uk lunch), here is a handy tip….

  • The Spanish, without fail, will turn up for lunch at EXACTLY 2 pm.! (Go on, go out and see for yourself, it really is true!), so if you want the best table, turn up between 1.15 and 1.30 and you will have your pick!
  • If you like a drink out, it is MUCH cheaper to buy wine and beer than it is to buy soft drinks. So it’s your round next!
  • Apart from expat resorts, Spanish don’t drink pints. The weather and humidity means that the pint is warm and flat before it gets halfway down. Drink “Terceros” (third of a litre bottles) which usually only cost about 1.50, and you will find you will waste far less beer, which as any man knows, is a crime in itself!
  • LEARN THE LANGUAGE! Your life will be easier and more rewarding if you make an effort and learn at least a bit of Spanish.

On a more important note, here’s a few other handy tips.

Get an NIE (Foreigners national insurance number) pretty soon after you arrive. In some towns its easy and some hard, but you need a bilingual “Gestor” to do this for you, and that is in fact another handy tip, a Gestor a cross between an accountant and a civil servant but employed outside the state system. his person can help you with many things, including sometimes, translation. Various companies will offer you similar services as part of relocation to Spain packages, but to get it done properly hiring a local Gestor is usual better.

Register yourself at the nearest health centre and get on the Spanish SIP (health card) system as soon as you can. If you are bringing kids to Spain, they will have to be on the health care system before they can be admitted to a school.

And finally, take your time and don’t expect everything to fall into place overnight. Moving to foreign shores is a big step, but if done right, you can sit back and enjoy your every own life in the sun!

Advice from Guy Alexander Bell

New Spanish Immigration Laws

New Spanish immigration laws for EU citizens have come into force in July 2012. First and foremost the laws tighten you can obtain permanent residency in Spain and on what terms. How does it affect you and your plans to obtain a dream home in Spain?

The most likely answer is: It doesn’t!

Hefty debate is ongoing about the new laws restricting EU citizens from settling in Spain. Is it the first step towards Spain leaving the EU? Is it a violation of the Schengen treaty? These may be future legal battles and/or polemic political debates, but the effect on you as a future home owner in Spain is likely to be minimal.

What the new law states as requirements for permanent residence in Spain:

  • You must be self supporting (Job, Pension, Self employed) or
  • Have sufficient means in the bank / other assets and
  • Have valid health care (private or public from your country of origin)

In other words, you can´t move to Spain and immediately sponge off the social system there. But then, were you really planning to?

If you are looking for a future dream home in Spain for your family to have as a base for a new life, you either have the cash to buy that house, a sufficiently good finances to secure a mortgage for it or at the very least enough money for a deposit and moving costs for a rental villa. That almost certainly means you have a way of supporting yourself … and if not, you should probably reconsider the move anyway.

Do as you always would. Find your preferred area, locate the property of your dreams and plan for the future ahead. The law says you have to be able to support yourself to realize your dream of a life in Spain – but it wouldnt be much of a life if you couldnt, would it? Theres a more thorough review of the new immigration law and its consequences for future expats in Spain here: Jávea Spain: Moving To Spain / A New Livelihood

Design your Home with IKEA Furniture

Home is where we take a break from the fast-paced world outside. Whether you have a small or a big home, what matters is that it provides you a place to relax and embraces you with the comfort you need. The interior design can define the atmosphere of your home. It is the thin line of difference between a chaotic and a calming ambiance. And the interior design is nothing without furniture.  So, when you are in the middle of renovation or you just bought a new house, remember to give home furnishings a lot of thought.

The worst thing that can happen when you are buying your furniture is to do it in overfilled warehouses. It’s a strain to even wait in long queues with the inspection. And what’s worse than driving a long way just to find out that what you want is unavailable. Wouldn’t that piss you off big time? Absolutely, it would!

IKEA, a Swedish furniture store, is right at your fingertips for high quality yet reasonably priced furniture and home décor without the stress. Your bathroom, living room, dining room, bedroom and even your outdoor space will never run out of design option because IKEA has a wide range of products you can choose from. This furniture store is well-known for its modern and contemporary designs with cut-back costs. You may be doubtful now, “If they aim to reduce cost, then the quality is compromised.” This is not actually the case. In fact, the company does it through innovation.

IKEA Spain shopping store is a new IKEA venture that caters Spanish interior and outdoor design enthusiasts and those who are just starting out a European life in this Iberian Peninsula. Like the other IKEA stores worldwide, it has the same easy and no-pressure mood.

Why would you take your time to visit this store? Would you be wasting your time if you do so? One guarantee when you choose to visit: IKEA Spain shopping store will give you a unique and the most wonderful shopping experience you’d ever have.

Once you’re inside the IKEA store, you’d be amazed at how their furniture are arranged in a way that you’d think you’re in a big house rather than in a selling place. The displays make it easy for you to visualize what the product would look like when you put it in your own home.

IKEA Spain shopping store thinks you deserve more than enough low pricing, so discounts will pat your pocket a good rest as long as you’re one of the early shoppers. As if you don’t have enough, the store also offers a guaranteed return policy. If you are not satisfied with the furniture you bought or you change your mind about the design, you can return products within 90 days from purchase.

If you ever need time to rest and ponder on the possible items to buy, a resting place inside the store is waiting for your weary feet. And when you get home, you’d know that you’d never have a fulfilling and wonderful shopping for a long time.

The Euro Is Down – Time To Buy?

The EURO has kept crashing due to the trouble in the eurozone economies. Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Ireland have all been in various kinds of trouble and as a consequence you will now benefit from buying Spanish property in any other currency than the EURO itself.

Is it a good time to buy then ?

Yes and no. If you have savings in pounds, dollars, francs, Swedish kroner, rubles or whatever it might be, they will buy you more of a Spanish dream property than ever before. Not only are the prices well below their peak in EUROs, the euro itself is also cheaper to buy. Overall of course that makes coming to Spain and buying a property a unique and cheap option at the moment. However, there is a flip side to the coin. No mortgages are available from Spanish banks as they’re all overly exposed to the local property market, several of them at a level where they risk collapse.

Foreign banks in a variety of countries do have mortgages for solid customers wishing to buy a house, but may still refuse to provide one for a house in Spain. Plainly spoken, a EURO collapse or Spanish euro exit would deliver another blow to the Spanish property market and as such turn any equity into a negative immediately and/or compromise the ability to repay in case of a forced sale.

In other words, it can´t be ruled out that Spanish properties will continue to fall in prices, in the case of a default or Euro-exit it could be sudden and drastic. However, if you simply look at the prices, the value you can get right now and the long term attractiveness of the properties on the market right now, there are some fantastic bargains to be had if you have the money yourself. Buying to keep is perfectly timed, buying to enjoy is rarely a bad idea, buying with a long term purpose is most likely an excellent investment – but buying on a tight budget and a 100% mortgage with the aim of flipping the property soon is a game of Russian roulette.

Is It Actually A Dream Home ?

You know what your dream is, your perfect vision for the perfect house in Spain to be the base of a fresh lifestyle in the sun. You are probably sitting at home looking at potential rental properties on website after website. Drooling over one magnificent looking villa or apartment in Spain after the other.

But we all know pictures can be deceiving. The rental agent may have taken the charming picture of the glorious Spanish garden with palm trees, a pool and an outdoor kitchen at just the right angle to avoid revealing the shopping mall, motorway or other unpleasantnesses just behind it. A wide angel lens may have made the tiny cupboard of a lounge look like a ballroom. The mold running down the wall may just have missed the picture to make room for the stunning view towards the patio.

Obviously, actually heading to all the properties you are interested in will reveal the thin layer of make-up applied to run-down properties in unattractive locations, however many an immigration to Spain has been enacted without a previous viewing of the rental property due to time constraints or the logistics involved. It goes without saying that taking a working holiday in the area you consider moving to is preferential. Though, even if you do decide to view all properties carefully in advance – wouldn’t it be nice to be able to narrow down the attractive ones and allow yourself more time to visit and view the attractive options?

The way forward is to insist on proper, honest and thorough video footage of the rental properties before booking a viewing. Several agents do their own videos these days. Sometimes they are spot on and helpful, at other times they conveniently show a quick panorama of the good bits but fail to take you on an actual guided tour of the property. Don´t let them fool you and never settle for second best. If the agent chooses not to provide you with a complete view of the property, why could that possible be? Laziness? Something to hide? Do you really wanna waste your precious time finding out, when you could in fact be out finding the perfect future home for your family instead?

Of course not. Go with the rental agents who provide a proper service and are not afraid to give you an honest demonstration of the qualities of their properties. .

Here is an example of how a property presentation video can be done in a way that benefits the potential tenant by taking him all around the property in a series of video slides:

This one is from a villa in Javea Spain. They can be done as actual videos, a mix of video and photos or a thorough selection of photographs from around the property. We would suggest specifically looking for the agents using Property Videos Spain as they have a reputation for making not only eye-catching presentations to get the properties rented, but also for doing so in a transparent way that gives the potential tenant a clear view of the upsides as well as downsides to the properties.

As a further bonus, the Javea rental agents using the services of Property Videos Spain will be able to supply a complete property inventory video, which is something you should always ask for when renting – it saves alot of potential hassle, frustration and expense when the exact inventory and state of the villa at the time of moving in is documented in a way that can not be brought into dispute by either side later.

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Iron Art – Charity & Furniture Fiesta

On Saturday the 16th of June, 10:00am until 4:00pm, you should put everything aside to go to the Summer Fair at Iron Art in Gata De Gorgos. The event is a charity held by Women in Business to support shelters, which obviously is a noble cause in itself and worthy of your support, but as a furniture enthusiast in Spain this is most definitely one not to be missed.

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Iron Art in Gata De Gorgos have a huge area equipped with stylish displays of unique and high quality furniture for your Spanish home and garden. Beautiful gazebos, high quality patio sets and decorations to make any garden shine are just a few of the excellent offerings from Iron Art themselves. But on Saturday, all that is topped up by the summer fair that sports more than 40 stalls full of interesting items to stroll around and enjoy.

Women In Business are having a Summer Fair in order to raise funds for Victims of Domestic Violence in the Marina Alta area. They will be over 40 stalls and entertainment through out the day…if you wish to have a stand to promote your business please contact abiwatkins2006@gmail.com for further details or if you wish to be on stage contact candidawright@gmail.com

Do not cheat yourself of this furniture fiesta with plenty of extra activities for the entire family!

Spanish Dream Home – A Good Time To Invest ?

Plotting to invest your savings in Spain ? Worried about the collapse of Spanish banks, falling prices and the economic crisis in Europe taking its toll on Spain ? It would be strange if you were not. Investing in Spain at the moment needs to be done with your eyes wide open – but it isnt per definition a bad idea.

So, reports have stated that the Spanish banks and economy in general is about to crash and burn. Leaving the EURO is inevitable and decades of economical depression is ahead. Others argue the bottom has been reached, small signs of improvements can be found, the Spanish economy and banking sector is too big to fail and the upturn will be slow but start to happen relatively soon. If you are talking to estate agents inquiring about potential dream homes in Spain, non-surprisingly the latter story will be the one they tell you. But which one is correct?

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The crash and burn theory is the natural outcome of certain external factors and as such a likely scenario to unfold in the future. However, what is required most likely is a Greek bankruptcy leading to massive losses in banks throughout Europe. A number of these banks will fold, thus further diminishing credit rating and trust in the market, which will make funding of debts – new and old – expensive or impossible. This has the potential to stimulate further problems for Portugal first and foremost, but secondly Italy and Spain as their burdens of interest will grow significantly through the upcoming re-funding of national debts. Further contributing factors could be economic skeletons in Spanish and Italian closets, the existence of which are probably more likely than not, however them being exposed goes against the interest of big players on the market and as such it may be avoided. The same goes for the massive amounts of mortgages and other types of loans not currently written off as lost by bank in Spain, Italy and elsewhere.

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Should these loans be written off tomorrow the Spanish banking sector would most likely collapse as the solvency of a vast number of these look more artificial than real. Again, there is no interest in the market of exposing these postponed losses, to the contrary. These phenomenons could lead to a pressure from inside and out for countries like Spain to leave the euro, this would have further implications that are hard to predict, but certainly steeply rising interest rates is likely. Another scenario is a devaluation as a mean to better competitiveness and exports, which would probably help short term economic boosts but lead to inflation and further rising interest rates to combat such rises in inflation. From across the pond other economic dangers lurk, that could topple a vulnerable market like the Spanish one. Whichever way you look at it though, as a prediction of a possible future development – it could happen, it is even a likely outcome.

The hurry up and invest theory is equally true. The Greek government got their bailout and if the negotiations turn out well, the Greek economy may have been bought a couple of years before the inevitable collapse. If this holds true and no other European countries end up in economic turmoil within the foreseeable future, we may well have gotten the breathing space needed for the slow signs of bettering economic trends to be nurtured into full bloom. The interest rates are still low in historic terms, unemployment has been marginally falling in most of Europe, inflation has been on the rise but not drastically and mainly in less important areas. Time is essential even if recovery and growth is slow, as the banking sector is vulnerable and need time to spread the losses and rid themselves of dead weight, governmental reforms across Europe need time to work, market trust regrows slow. The wheels are turning slow but theres potentially light at the end of the tunnel – and though that could be a Greek train approaching – it could also be a new boom in the world economy. Again, the prediction could be correct – if all goes well, buying today would be at the bottom and in 2 years time the ROI would be excellent – it could happen, it is even a likely outcome.

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Does it matter? Yes. Whilst planning is essential, especially when emigrating, very few people have the ability to create a solid plan that entails both scenarios, as it basically needs to span everything from blooming activity all around to endless chaos and depression. What is worse is that the plans will be affected massively by the outcome of the scenarios above. If you have made a solid plan to buy a house with plenty of money upfront and a small mortgage, researched your market as a skilled professional and found a perfectly suitable area you would seem to have most bases covered. Because. It will matter to your life and your business if 25% of your expat customers suddenly leave within a year. It will matter if the purchasing power of those left behind – Spanish and expat – is diminished drastically within a short period.

It will matter if everyone gets further cautious and keep their money stashed away. It will matter to you if your mortgage is suddenly twice as expensive due to steeply rising interest rates. It will matter if you suddenly need investment in your business and no bank is willing or able to provide it. A lot of more indirect consequences would be equally likely such as services being cut harshly due to tax revenue dropping, the general dynamics of a town at a standstill being rather depressing with buzzing squares turning into abandoned heavens for whitewashed windows, a growing unemployment rate would be likely to lead to increased social problems and subsequently the idyllic town you bought your house in might suddenly be plagued by yet unseen waves of crime. Now of course, the exact opposite of all these doomsday theories and predictions could be equally true, and that is exactly why it matters.

The circumstances you move to may change but indeed so may your personal life and preferences. It is an obvious truth that if you plan to stay indefinitely in the loving relationship you’re in and the plans you made for your job and pension turn out adequate, then of course a 30% drop in price over a limited timespan matter little or not at all. However, the honeymoon is rarely spent plotting the divorce, its uncommon to debate the terms of your departure at the job interview and you can barely predict what scandals the politicians might get involved in today, much less predict what changes they may enforce on your pension in 15years. Is that relevant? Yes! Make a plan and throw it away. Plans are nice guidelines but mainly useful for hindsight and giggling over all the things you simply hadn’t foreseen. If you’re forced to sell suddenly for whatever combination of reasons, you’re almost always in an extremely difficult situation if the equity is negative and almost inevitably will be if you bought within the last 5-8years and a 30% drop happened during that period.

Having a plan. Knowing what you can afford. Its an excellent start but the warranty only lasts till the next bill comes in and the next paycheck is cashed. The Americans cant predict the future and thus you cant plan for it.

Bringing IKEA Spain To You!

Its no secret that we have a secret admiration for IKEA furniture and had a little bounce about when the Swedish champions on Nordic design opened the IKEA Murcia Spain furniture store to finally give us all easy access to their goodies. As you have probably noticed Spanish villas tend to have a very special Mediterranean architecture full of white stone walls, giant windows to the world and rooms with loads of space (they entirely ignore insulation though usually) . It makes furnishing a Spanish villa quite a difficult task as few things live up to the spacious and light atmosphere of the building, which is why bringing your heavy northern furniture with you when immigrating is typically a misplaced mistake. Traditional English furniture simply looks out of place, too heavy and dark, for most Spanish dream homes, sea side Costa Blanca villas or penthouse apartments by the sandy beaches.

furniture spain ikea IKEA costa blanca

A bit of a surprise really that the answer is found in the Swedish forests! But it is. When IKEA opened in Murcia Spain alot of people reckoned they were headed for failure as the taste in light and soft furnishings on the Costa Blanca, Costa Del Sol and Costa Calida simply would not match the offerings of Northern European designs. The predictions were proved entirely wrong and you could easily grab an IKEA assembly service job by simply standing outside the warehouse and do furniture assembly for the thousands of daily shoppers, Spanish as well as expatriates, running in and out of the store with classy new items for their stylish Villas in Spain or newly renovated apartments by the beach.

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Murcia itself is a very attractive city and shopping in Murcia is a wonderful experience far surpassing most areas of Spain. The enormity of the Murcia shopping areas are boosted by the thousands of British, German and Scandinavian expats living in the area and a local Spanish population with a distinguished taste for filling the trolleys with everything the heart could desire from the shopping mecca. Obviously, the downside to the magnificent scale of the shopping in Murcia experience is exactly the attraction of it. The shops and warehouses tend to be full of busy shoppers, the pace is high and the stress levels may reach dangerous levels as you battle your way past eager families getting emergency supplies for luxury holidays, pensioners perfecting their retirement villas on the Costa Calida or gangs of Spanish friends diving into the wonders of Swedish design with a passion normally reserved for fiestas and football.

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Avoiding the stress and turmoil of shopping in Murcia can be partly achieved by heading for the area outside of rush hours, avoiding school holidays or weekends. However if IKEA service in Murcia is what you are after, even these precautions are often in vain as the popularity of the warehouse simply exceeds its current capacity. If you need staff support, have a flatpack to be replaced or come hunting for specific items that may be sold out – theres a fairly high risk you are in for hours of frustration and disappointments.

If you want to make sure your time is spent wisely on tapas, fiestas and sunbathing on the beach, the thing to do often is to choose the items you desire from the comfort of your home and order them via a IKEA delivery and assembly services. It may sound like an unnecessary luxury but having someone shopping on your behalf, handling replacements, assembling your IKEA furniture for you really saves a lot of time and hassle, which means you can relax and use your time on other things.

Hopefully this little guide to shopping for furniture in IKEA Spain, furnishing your Spanish dream home and relieving the stress of IKEA furniture assembly has inspired you to make an extra effort improving your home in Spain. At Dream Home Spain we would love to see pictures or videos of how you have arranged yourself, what furniture you have chosen and how the atmosphere of your decorations work in your villa or apartment. You are always welcome to mail us with photographs from your Spanish furnishings or to get feedback on ideas for the most suitable furniture for your specific casa.

Stressfull Furniture Shopping ?