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Protect yourself from the sun

This month the British Association of Dermatologists are working hard to raise awareness of skin cancer and how to look after your skin in the sun. We’ve been inspired by Sun Awareness Week and the hot and sunny weather to share some tips on how to protect yourself from the sun. Many thanks to the British Association of Dermatologists for all the useful information – find out more here

Sun damage explained

A tan is actually a sign that the skin has been damaged and is trying to protect itself. We need to protect ourselves against UVA and UVB radiation from the sun, by using good quality sunscreen and limiting our sun exposure. You should use a minimum of SPF 30, plus sunscreen with high protection against UVA radiation, apply generously and reapply when required. 

Sun burn significantly increases your risk of developing skin cancer and also prematurely ages the skin. Those most at risk of developing skin cancer are people with pale skin who are prone to burning, those who have suffered severe sunburn, those with a high number of moles and a family history of melanoma.

How to protect against sun damage

It’s easy to protect yourself against sun damage and reduce your risk of skin cancer, but many of us living in Spain seek out the sun and stay in it for much too long.

Protect yourself with clothing such as light shirts or trousers, wear a hat and use sunglasses with high UV protection.

Seek out shade, particularly between 11am and 3pm.

Use a high protection SPF sunscreen which also blocks UVA rays, put it on 15 minutes before going into the sun and apply every 2 hours.

Signs of skin cancer

You should check yourself regularly to make sure skin cancer is caught early. Look out for –

  • Scabs or sores that won’t heal
  • Scaly or crusty patch of skin which is red or inflamed
  • Flesh coloured lump that won’t go away
  • A lump on the skin which is getting bigger and could be scabby
  • A growth with a pearly rim surrounding a central crater

Those of us who have relocated to the Costa del Sol and are renting long term, have often moved here for the sunshine and tend to spend more time in the sun. This can make you more at risk of skin cancer. If you spot any of these signs, or changes in moles or your skin in general, go and see your doctor as soon as possible. The sooner it is diagnosed the easier it is to treat.

Find out more about the sun awareness campaign and download leaflets and guides on the British Association of Dermatologists website. 

Events to help you become part of the Costa del Sol community

Renting long term is a great way to start your life on the Costa del Sol. Once you have found your long term rental and got all your paperwork sorted, it’s time to start making friends, contacts and integrating into your community. There are many ways to do this of course, but a good way is to join in with some of the many events that take place for expats.

Next month Nicole King is once again bringing together members of the Marbella international community for the United Nationalities of Marbella Summit on the 14th of May. Now in its fourth year, this is a chance for residents of the Costa del Sol to have their voice heard and get involved with making it a safer, more productive and inclusive community.

Anyone can get involved and go along to this free event. If you are renting long term, bringing up a family and perhaps running a business here on the Costa del Sol, you can have your voice heard and take part in making Marbella even better for now and the future.

The focus this year is filling in the gaps and supporting Marbella’s teens. So, if you have a business that could provide a service for teens and get great promotion and new customers in doing so, or if you are a parent with children and want to make it a better place for them, Nicole would like to hear from you.

Events like these are an excellent way to make new contacts and friends and share your hopes and fears. It’s a great place to network!

There are many other events and organizations which you can join to feel more connected with the community. Costa Women organizes many social and business events up and down the coast and has an excellent website where you can ask questions and make contacts. Expats World and Internations are two other active groups which regularly organize social events and activities.

There are a number of excellent business associations too, which all hold regular networking meetings. These are a brilliant way to build your business network and attract new clients and make useful collaborations. To find out about upcoming meetings and groups, take a look at the Facebook group Networking and Events Costa del Sol.  

Look out for events arranged by the Town Hall and particularly the Foreign Residents Department. They organize social events, information evenings and are generally a good contact to help you to integrate into your community.

Get out there and get actively involved in your community and events so you can make the most of living in Spain!

Rules for driving in Spain

If you’re relocating to the Costa del Sol, you’ll need a car to get around. Public transport outside the larger towns and cities is patchy, so you will rely on your car or motorbike to get around. The roads are generally good and modern, with a network of toll roads, as well as the coastal road (N340) which links up the main towns by the sea and then smaller roads heading inland to the towns and villages in the hills.

Here are ten things you need to know about driving in Spain –

  1. We drive on the right here in Spain, take extra care when overtaking if you are in a right hand drive car, as visibility can be restricted.
  2. Alcohol limits are very low – You are allowed to drink less here in Spain than in the UK, with a limit of 0.5 milligrams of alcohol per millilitre of blood. In practice, this means a man can have three small glasses of wine or small beers and women only two.
  3. When driving, you should always carry your driving licence, proof of insurance, an ID card or passport and a proof of ownership or rental.
  4. Drivers must carry reflective jackets and a warning triangle and always wear the reflective jackets if you get out of the car onto the road or hard shoulder.
  5. Children must use suitable car seats such as booster seats up to the age of 12, or the height of 135cm.
  6. Seat belts are required for the driver and all passengers.
  7. You are not permitted to drive and speak on a mobile phone.
  8. Stop signs are common when you join a motorway or main road, which can be a surprise if you are just used to merging. Joining a fast road from a standing start isn’t easy, but be patient and you’ll find a gap you can safely pull into.
  9. Speed limits are usually 50 kilometres per hour in urban areas, 80 kilometres per hour on the N340 coastal road and in tunnels and 120 kilometres per hour on the toll road. The limits change quite regularly along the toll road in particular, but don’t worry, they are well sign-posted.
  10. Call 112 if you require emergency help.

If you have any doubts about bringing your car over to Spain and the rules around driving on UK plates and changing your driving license, we can put you in touch with our legal advisors for the latest advice.

We can help you with all aspects of living in Spain and find you a quality long term rental which will be the perfect base to start your new life on the Costa del Sol. Browse properties on our website, or contact us with your requirements and we’ll send you a list of properties that would suit you.

Support for expat parents on the Costa del Sol

If you are a parent, thinking about moving to the Costa del Sol, a big factor will be your kids and their education. The Costa del Sol is a total paradise for families, offering an excellent lifestyle for everyone and lots of opportunities for kids of all ages. Check out our 5 reasons to live on the Costa del Sol to see why we love it so much!

However, if you don’t speak the language, some things can be a little daunting and Mums in particular can stress a lot about getting it right for their kids. So in this post, we wanted to share a few excellent sources of advice and support for expat parents before and after your move. Don’t worry, you are not alone!

International and Bilingual Schools on the Costa del Sol

The easiest option is to enrol your children in one of the many, excellent international schools on the Costa del Sol. Many of these teach in English, following either the UK curriculum of the International Baccalaureate. There are also schools which teach in German, Swedish and French and follow their curriculum, so you’re likely to find a good option for you. These schools offer parents lots of advice and support on moving over, know how to cater for international students and of course speak your language, so it’s very easy to fit straight in and get started.

Alternatively, there are a number of bilingual schools, such as Colegio Atalaya and San Jose in Estepona, which give kids a strong base in Spanish, but teach a lot of classes in English. There has been a move to increase bilingual schools in the state system as well, so research the areas well, to make sure that you have access to these specialist schools, if you want to be able to communicate well with the teachers and make it easier for kids to settle in.

Spanish Public Schools

If you want your kids to be totally bilingual, then immersion in a Spanish school is a great way to do it. Younger children find it easiest to make this move, but we’ve seen even older ones cope very well with good preparation before they arrive and some extra tutoring. Some schools are more set up to handle expat parents than others, so ask around and see if there is a more internationally minded school near to where you want to be.

Kids are amazing with learning a new language and will get to grips with everything quickly. In fact, it tends to be the parents that struggle more in the Spanish state system. This is being recognised, which is why we were so pleased to see that the Estepona Town Hall has introduced a network of volunteer interpreters in schools to help parents. These interpreters speak 10 different languages, and are available to communicate better with teachers and school staff. This is a pioneering scheme, which only launched last year, but hopefully if it is a success, more towns with large numbers of international parents will follow suit and give expat parents a helping hand.

Online support

On the Costa del Sol there is a great network of expat parents who help each other out. Take a look on Facebook for groups such as Costa Mums & Little Ones, Marbella Mums and Dads and Schools Noticeboard. These are really excellent resources where you can post your questions, learn about events and avoid mistakes by reading about other people’s experiences.

We hope this has been helpful for you and allayed some of your fears. You can read more information about education in Spain on our website and also read our tips for moving children to the Costa del Sol.

To get you and your family settled, you can count on us to find a perfect long term rental property for you all. Let us know if you want a pool, or garden, how old your children are, how many bedrooms you need and if you have any preferred areas and we can send you a list of properties that would fit the bill. Alternatively, you can browse long term rental properties on our website.

Best of luck with the move!

Relocating to the Costa del Sol in 2019

Relocating to the Costa del Sol in 2019

If your New Year’s resolution was to leave behind the cold and rain in the UK, Ireland, Germany or Scandinavia and start a better life in Spain, we can help you make it happen.

If Brexit is holding you back, we’ve been receiving reassurances from both Spain, Gibraltar and the UK that expats living in Spain will be protected. In October, Spain’s minister for Foreign Affairs visited Málaga and reassured British people resident in Spain that the Brexit process will not affect us at all. The Chief Minister of Gibraltar is prepared to make a deal with Spain if there’s a no-deal to ensure that those working in Gibraltar but living in Spain will not face any issues. The recommendations are to make sure you are properly registered and follow all the legal processes correctly, to ensure that your rights are fully protected and that you won’t face any issues after March. Here is some information on relocating to Spain and what you will need to do to register and start off your wonderful new life the right way.

The first step in making your dream a reality is to think about job options and how you’ll earn enough to have a great life here in Spain. As an English speaker, Gibraltar offers a lot of great employment opportunities, with competitive salaries and no concerns with language. There are also many expat companies looking for English speaking employees, or freelancers, so while it’s beneficial to speak Spanish and a good level of language will increase your opportunities, it is not essential. Many people come to Spain to set up their own business, whether it be a bar, restaurant, B&B, or company which provides services for foreign residents. If you’re dreaming of working for yourself, you’ll be pleased to hear that there have been improvements to the system to make it easier and cheaper to become self-employed. Many people also come to the Costa del Sol as digital nomads, continuing their job remotely and flying  back occasionally for meetings and this is another excellent option. Read our article on the Benefits of living abroad and how to make it happen for more information.

Once you’ve decided what you’re going to do for a job, the next step is to find a place to live! Renting long term is the most sensible choice when you first arrive. It is significantly cheaper than renting a holiday let or staying in a hotel, and gives you the real experience of living in the Costa del Sol. There’s much less commitment than buying, so you can try a few different long term rental properties in different areas before you take the plunge and buy.  

We are Costa del Sol long term rental specialists and have been helping people relocate to this stunning area for more than a decade. We can support you with choosing the right area, as well as the right property, guide you through the process of signing contracts and ensuring safeguards are in place to protect your tenant’s rights. Our Helpline means you can ring our office and report any problems with the property to us. We can then talk to the landlord and get the issue resolved on your behalf.

Using HomeRentalontheWeb reduces the stress of renting long term, as well as giving you access to lots of fantastic long term rental properties. Read our tenants FAQs to answer your questions, or get in touch with us to discuss your long term rental needs. You can also browse a selection of our properties online by clicking on your preferred area on the map.

Best of luck with the move – we’re here to help!

A guide to December on the Costa del Sol

A guide to December on the Costa del Sol

With the switching on of the Christmas lights in towns and villages along the Costa del Sol on the 30th of November, Christmas has definitely arrived and there’s loads to see and do this month. As Costa del Sol long-term rental specialists, we love the winter here and are delighted to see so many great things happening outside the summer period. To help you to make the most of this great time of year, here are seven of our highlights.

  1. Go to a Christmas Market – There are loads of lovely Christmas markets to go to where you can buy gifts, support local businesses and get in the Christmas spirit, here’s a nice rundown of Christmas markets to look forward to
  2. See a show or listen to a concert – There are some great new shows popping up along the coast. Posidonia in Puerto Banus are launching a dinner show this month, with music, dance and entertainment, which you can see on the 15th and 22nd of December, as well as part of a New Year’s Eve special. There are also some nice concerts by choirs and bands which will get you in the mood for Christmas.
  3. Visit Santa – Santa should now be installed in his grotto in the main squares of the towns along the Costa del Sol and visiting him is an essential for any of you with families. He is also making an appearance at a lot of the Christmas markets and can be found at the La Cañada shopping centre too.
  4. Learn a new skill – There are some nice workshops on how to make Christmas decorations, and Christmas cooking classes, which are a really nice way to learn something new and get prepared for Christmas. Food Room in San Pedro is offering a number of Christmas cooking classes for kids and adults this month that look a lot of fun.
  5. Go to Malaga to see the lights – There is an annual exodus to see the amazing lights in Calle Larios and their daily light and music show. This is an essential component of a Costa del Sol Christmas.
  6. Tour the Nativity Scenes – The Spanish love a good nativity scene and there are 8 in Marbella alone. A nice Christmas activity is to follow the route and tour these scenes and see if you can find the pooing boy!
  7. Join a Christmas Party – All the social and business organizations on the coast have Christmas parties and these are a great way to make friends and useful contacts for the year to come.

We hope that whatever you do this month that you have a wonderful time and enjoy the Christmas period here on the Costa del Sol.

If you’re looking for a change of scene in 2019, we have an excellent selection of long-term rental properties with availability for next year, so please contact us for more information.

What kind of expat are you?

What kind of expat are you

Many people dream of living in a hot and sunny climate, but few people actually make it happen. We find it takes a certain type of person to start a new life under sunnier skies. Ideally, you should love adventure, change and making new friends. You should be flexible, dynamic and prepared to try new things, learn a new language, be positive, resourceful and always ready for a challenge. If you fit this profile, you should be able to survive the challenges of expat life and really thrive, creating a great new life for you and your family.

As expats ourselves, who have all lived and worked on the Costa del Sol for many years, we were interested to see the results of the Expat Insider survey, which identified 6 types of expats. The most common across all their expat hotspots was the “Go-Getter”, someone who found a job or started a business and pursued their career in the new country. 

Following swiftly behind is what they call The Optimizer – those people who move for a better quality of life. I would say that most people moving to the Costa del Sol would fit into this category, although then they might become a “go-getter” to ensure they can stay for the long term. The quality of life that you can experience here, no matter your age is really a huge benefit. We see all kinds of people move over here, from youngsters looking for adventure and working in the bars and clubs in Marbella and Puerto Banus, young families wanting a wonderful place to bring up their children and help them become bilingual, to retirees wanting to live well for less, stay active and enjoy the sun. There’s something on the Costa del Sol for everyone, including “The Explorer”, someone who is looking for an adventure and a challenge.

The category which 10% of the respondents identified with is “The Foreign Assignee”, where they get sent abroad by their company. You may not think this applies much to the holiday area of the Costa del Sol, but you’d be wrong. This is most common for international companies based in Gibraltar. Most people working in Gibraltar actually live on the Western Costa del Sol, or Cadiz province, as rents are much lower and the quality of life is much better. We find most of our long-term rental clients who work in Gibraltar choose Manilva and Sotogrande to live and then commute from there. 

Last but not least, are two categories which are quite similar in their motivation – The Romantic (12%) where people join their partner back in their home country, and the Travelling Spouse (8%) where the family follows the main bread-winner and sets up a new life abroad. The Costa del Sol is very well set up for these movers, with excellent international education options, where kids can study UK, German, French or Swedish curriculums, or even do the IB to keep their options open, while enjoying an amazing quality of life. Find out more about education on the Costa del Sol  

Whatever profile you fit into, there’s something for you here on the Costa del Sol. There’s also a well developed long-term rental market which can give you a comfortable, affordable, yet flexible base to start your new adventure. Compared to a holiday rental or hotel, they offer you excellent value for money and a home-from-home where you can settle, explore the area and decide what’s best for you in the long term. Many expats will try a few long-term rentals in different areas before they make a decision to buy, to keep their options open while they settle into jobs and the kids settle into schools. This flexibility combined with value, makes renting long-term the perfect solution for all 6 types of expats and we can advise you on the best location and property to suit your individual needs. Contact us and let us help you find your perfect base for expat life on the Costa del Sol.    

Spain recognised for amazing quality of life

Spain recognised for amazing quality of life

 

Spain was ranked in third place out of 68 destinations for its exceptional quality of life in the Expat Insider 2018 survey.  This survey was completed by over 18,000 expats living abroad and offers great insights into the merits of different countries for expat living.

The Quality of Life Index ranked countries based on leisure, health and well-being, safety and security, personal happiness, travel and transportation and digital life. Spain did well in all these aspects, doing particularly well in the aspects of peacefulness (90%) and personal safety (93%). It achieved the top position for leisure options (93%) and climate and weather (96%).

We’re proud to see Spain scoring so highly, but not surprised, as the amazing lifestyle here is one of the biggest reasons we moved here and have chosen to stay and make it our home. “Lifestyle” is a hard thing to define, as it includes so many things, such as weather, culture, activities, food and attitude, but for us the Costa del Sol really has it all and this survey shows we’re not alone.

When we find our clients a quality long-term rental, it’s so exciting to offer them access to this enviable way of life. It’s clear that many of our clients have been dreaming of a life in the sun for so long and that making the commitment to rent long-term, is the first step to making that a reality.

Many of our properties have facilities which are emblematic of the Costa del Sol lifestyle – a pool, tennis courts, terraces and lush tropical gardens. Showing these properties to expats who are fresh off the plane from colder climates is a real pleasure. It’s even better when expats see how much they can get for their money here. The affordable living costs is one important aspect of life on the Costa del Sol, which makes the quality of life even better. You can have a lovely time very cheaply here if you know where to look. When the sun is out, everything is a pleasure and a stroll on the beach is free! Eat and drink where the Spanish do for the best bargains. There are still many places where you can buy a coffee or a small beer for a Euro and a 3-course lunch menu for under 10€ – amazing really, in such a cosmopolitan area.  

For more on why we think the Costa del Sol offers expats an amazing place to call home, read our 5 reasons to live on the Costa del Sol. If you’d like us to help you make the dream of being an expat in Spain a reality, please get in touch. As well as a range of quality long term rental properties on the Costa del Sol, we are happy to share our insider knowledge about what to do and where to go to start to feel at home right away and to make the move as easy as possible. Get in touch today and take the first step to living here and enjoying the third best lifestyle in the whole world!  

Tips on going back to school in Spain

Tips on going back to school in Spain

September means the end of summer and the start of school. Most parents and kids look forward to returning to the routine after 11 weeks of holidays, but if you’re new to the area and don’t speak the language, it can be hard to know what to do. The HomeRentalontheWeb team are experts in life on the Costa del Sol and of course long term rentals, but we also have experience of all aspects of education in Spain. We have parents who have sent their kids to Spanish state school and those who have chosen international schools within the team, so we wanted to share a few tips and tricks to get you ready to start.

When does it all begin?

The school term in Andalucia starts on Monday 10th of September for primary and Monday 17th for secondary students. International schools tend to follow the English terms more closely and start around the 5th of September. Some Spanish private schools start the Friday before (7th), to give information to kids and parents before the official start on Monday 10th.

The most tricky years are the first year they begin a new school. There are also more daunting stages when they change from infants to primary school and primary to secondary. This can leave you unsure what to do and nervous whether you’re doing things right. If you’re feeling like this, don’t worry, even in your own language it’s hard to learn the ropes, but you’ll get there!

Getting information

We find that most non-Spanish parents want to have information a lot earlier than they provide it, so that they can plan. Sadly, you’re unlikely to know much before the beginning of September, so there’s no point fighting against the system. However, if you want to get ahead, have a look if the school has a website, or check the AMPA (PTA) Facebook page to see if anything has been posted.

Have a look if there are any Facebook groups for other parents, such as Costa Mums and Little Ones and Costa Kids and Education. The more local the better with these groups, such as the Schools Noticeboard, which has been set up for information about schools around Manilva, Sabinillas and Casares. Getting more local groups avoids confusion between schools and areas. If you ask questions on the general ones, makes sure you state where your kids go to school, so people can give you the right information.

Often, notices are put on the school gates once the teachers are in from the 3rd of September and there are also some limited office hours during these times, normally in the morning. If you have questions, it’s worth heading to the school on the Tuesday or Wednesday in the first week of September and see what you can find out. You should be able to check whether your children have got a place at comedor (lunch and play from 2-4) in this first week of term too.

If it’s your first year, there may be a meeting the week before the start of term with the teachers and these are often on the gates, or on the AMPA pages. Look out for these to make sure you don’t miss it, as these are very useful meetings and are when you will get your book lists and information on what materials you need to buy, or whether you need to put money into a class account so that the teacher can buy the materials they need for the whole class. Books are quite expensive for infants, as they are workbooks. Expect to spend around 100€ on books and 50€ on materials and you won’t get a nasty surprise.

For primary students the books are paid for by the state and you should have got a “cheque de libros” at the end of term. This is a piece of paper with all the books your kids need with a stamp to show that the education authority is paying for these. You need to take this piece of paper to your local book store, ideally before the beginning of term, as it can take a while for the books to come.

School hours at the beginning of the term

Often the first week has reduced hours for the littlest ones, with only one or two hours the first few days, to let the kids get used to everything. This can be very tricky to handle for parents who are working, so bear this in mind and consider taking a few extra holiday days to make sure you can be flexible.

After school activities don’t start straightaway either. It was the beginning of October before these really got going at some schools, so make sure you have cover to pick up the kids earlier over this time.

We hope this information will help you settle into the new term. For more information about going back to school read our article five steps to preparing for the new school year

Best of luck!

How to survive the summer heat on the Costa del Sol

How to survive the summer heat on the Costa del Sol

Following the UK’s heatwave last month, the Costa del Sol is now hotting up, with the first weather warnings of the year issued by the International Met Office for the start of August. There are possibilities that Spain’s record high for 47.3°C could be beaten this month, so for those of you lucky enough to be renting long term on the Costa del Sol we wanted to share our tips for staying cool and sleeping in these very high temperatures.

At home

Try and catch the breeze – If you can, try and open windows at opposite sides of the house to draw the breeze through your long-term rental. A gentle breeze will keep you cool and won’t put the electricity bills up!

Keep your blinds down during the day – Those blackout blinds are your best friends in the summer, keep them down when the sun is shining into the room, only opening them when there’s no direct sunlight entering the room. This will keep temperatures right down, and although it seems a bit gloomy at first, it’s very much worth the effort.

Boost your fan with ice power – If you put a tray of ice in front you your fan, it will cool the air coming from the fan and cool things down nicely.

Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, add ice to bring down your body temperature

Make ice lollies – Freeze fruit juice for a cooling treat that is good for you too

Wear cotton, loose fitting clothes – These will be comfortable and cooling, avoid nylon and other man made fabrics, as they don’t breathe

Bedtime tricks – If you struggle at night, try putting a bowl of iced water by your bed with a flannel to lay on your head or feet and keep cool. Alternatively splash cold water on your wrists or feet before getting into bed to bring your temperature down.

If you’re lucky enough to have air conditioning but don’t want to run up big bills, put it on for an hour before you go to bed to bring down the temperature in the room before you go to bed and make it comfortable while you fall asleep. If you find that it gets too hot in the night, put it on a timer to come on for another half an hour in the night to bring the temperatures down again. 

Out and about

Seek out the shade – Before you moved here you’d probably be looking for any sun you can be in, but now you’re renting long term you know better! It’s way too hot to be in direct sun unless you can’t avoid it, so walk on the shady side of the street, go to the park so you can find some shade, and sit under the umbrellas outside the restaurants.

Be Spanish and take a fan – It may seem a little odd at first, but an essential accessory for any woman in Spain over the summer is a fan. Stash it in your handbag and pull it out when you need it, they really work for cooling you down when you’re out and about.

Carry a spray bottle with cool water in it – Buy a little plastic spray bottle in one of the many Asian markets or supermarkets and keep it in your fridge filled with water. Packing this with you is a great way to keep cool on the streets or at the beach. We also like to freeze small bottles of water and take these out with us, so we have really cold water on hand.

Go to the beach in the evenings – Forget sitting on the beach in the middle of the day, it’s way too hot! Do like the Spanish and head down after work around six o’clock and stay there until the sun goes down, it’s a great way to escape the heat at home and enjoy the beach without frying.

If you have any tips we’d love to hear them, please post in the comments below or share them with us on Facebook.

For more information on living in Spain and renting long term please browse our website and read our blog, or contact our helpful team.