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Support for British expats on the Costa del Sol

If you’re a Brit living on the Costa del Sol, you need to know where to look for the right support, help and advice to make your move a success. Here are our recommendations on organisations and businesses there to help you.

  1. The British Embassy – We have just got a new British Ambassador to Spain, with Hugh Elliot taking up his post in Madrid this month and meeting with the Spanish King to present his credentials. Hugh and his team are available to help British expats in Spain and they have been working hard to offer information and advice ahead of Brexit on the 31st of October. They have an excellent web page which is regularly updated with official advice and practical steps on what you should do regarding Brexit and other aspects of living in Spain. Visit the Living in Spain Guide or join the Brits in Spain community on Facebook.

 

  1. Town Hall Foreign Residents Departments – Every Town Hall along the Costa del Sol has an “extranjeros” department, who are dedicated to helping foreign residents with the official aspects of their life in Spain. They can offer practical assistance with items such as getting your NIE number and registering for schools and usually have multilingual staff who can speak your language and make the settling in process a lot easier.

 

  1. Networking and Business Organisations – The official voice of British businesses in Spain is the British Chamber of Commerce in Spain. They are very active in the big cities and have a group operating on the Costa del Sol as well, with regular networking and training events in Marbella and Malaga. This is just one of many excellent networking and business groups operating on the Costa del Sol, which provide a highly valuable support network and fellow professionals that you can look to for advice and collaborations to grow your fledgling business. CADE in Marbella is another place to look if you’re setting up a business on the Costa del Sol. It is a centre for entrepreneurship and is set up for international business people and can give practical help and support with everything from registering your business to sourcing investment and partnering with other businesses.

 

  1. Citizens Advice Bureau Spain – This charity has been set up to provide independent advice, information and support for anyone living in Spain. They have an excellent website and social media pages with lots of useful information for expats.

 

  1. HomeRentalontheWeb – We are here to help Brits moving over to Spain to find their perfect long-term rental and also to put everything in place to start their life here as they mean to go on. Our experienced team have lived and worked in the area for many years and we’ve all been through what you’re going through. This experience, our language skills, contacts and of course our excellent portfolio of long-term rentals on the Costa del Sol makes us perfectly placed to support you before you arrive and as you get established.

For more helpful information read our guide to living in Spain and our overview of education and healthcare on the Costa del Sol, or contact us.

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.

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!

Could you survive expat life?

Could you survive expat life?

Deciding whether to move abroad is a big decision and one not to be taken lightly, but thousands leave their home country for a new adventure abroad each year, so how hard can it be right? Well, the answer to this question really depends on the kind of person you are, how you deal with challenges and how motivated you are to make life in a new country succeed.

The profile of an ideal expat

Here are ten character traits which mean you can handle expat life. If you fit this profile, then you should definitely take the plunge.

  1. You crave a new adventure and find life at home boring and limited
  2. You love to meet new people and make friends, and are excited about the idea of starting again
  3. You are flexible and dynamic and not afraid of a challenge
  4. You want to learn a new language and understand a different culture and you are flexible to adapting to a new way of doing things
  5. You like different foods and enjoy trying new experiences
  6. You are skilled in a trade, work in real estate, or are entrepreneurial and want to start your own business
  7. You don’t mind taking a pay cut to achieve your dream of living abroad
  8. You have some money behind you to set up a new life and wait to find the right job, or you can work from anywhere with your current job
  9. You never want to come home when you’re on holiday and love the warm weather
  10. You understand that starting a new life will be hard, but you know it will be worth it to have a new life in the sunshine and enjoy the adventure

If this sounds like you, then you would make an ideal expat, so the next step is to choose the right destination for your expat adventure.

Why the Costa del Sol is a great expat destination

Those of us who have made our home here on the Costa del Sol love the life and opportunities we have and couldn’t imagine going back. The Costa del Sol works particularly well for expats for the following reasons –

  1. There is a large expat population – This means there are services and facilities tailored to your needs, such as English speaking private medical cover, international schools, translators and fixers who can sort things out for you. It is easy to make new friends as there are loads of groups you can join and it’s a really welcoming place.
  2. The weather and lifestyle is amazing – It really makes a difference when you wake up to sunny skies and can be outside to do sports, walk, eat and just enjoy. The Spanish way of life is relaxed and social, based around eating, drinking and having fun and it’s a lovely way to live.
  3. The cost of living is relatively low – Although salaries are lower, so is the cost of living in general. Rents are significantly lower, eating and drinking out is cheaper and fresh fish and fruit and veg is cheaper too. Being outside, going for a walk, heading to the park or beach are all essential parts of life and totally free, so money goes a lot further.

For more reasons to make the move read our 5 reasons to live on the Costa del Sol

People who struggle as an expat

We want to be honest with you that expat life doesn’t suit everyone. Here are a few things that make moving away hard.

  1. If you are very close to your family, love to be surrounded by old friends and couldn’t imagine being away from them.
  2. If you hate change and fear making a new life for yourself you will find it hard, you really need to be ready to throw yourself in to the experience and take on the challenges.
  3. If you want to live the dream – Many people who head home quickly are expecting the same experience as being on holiday all year round and have this idealised vision of how their life will be. When you have to work, send the kids to school and manage your home then it won’t all be roses, but those of us who have lived here for years much prefer to do these things under sunny skies!
  4. If you aren’t open to learn the language and don’t have the money to use professional translators, have private medical cover, or send your kids to private schools. You don’t need to speak Spanish to thrive here on the Costa del Sol, but you do need money behind you to choose English speaking alternatives, rather than go through the state system.

Take the plunge

If you fit our ideal expat profile and don’t identify with the persona we’ve described above then expat life is for you and now’s the time to take the plunge. There really is no time like the present!

Come over and rent long-term for a few months to see how the life here suits you and whether it will work in the long run. We have some excellent Costa del Sol long-term rentals which start from 400€ per month, so you can live very affordably while you job hunt and get settled. Please contact us for advice or support with finding a place to live, we’re here to help start off your expat adventure!

Making the most of your new life in Spain

Making the most of your new life in SpainLiving in a foreign country is very different from simply being here on holiday and so relocating to Spain can take some getting used to, even if you know it well as a tourist. We believe that living on the Costa del Sol makes you happier, healthier and gives you a wonderful quality of life, but would never underestimate the challenges of relocating. You have to get to grips with the language, bureaucracy and slight culture shock, but when you do, the rewards more than make up for it.

We were really pleased to read a great article in the Telegraph with seven things to do if you want to live like a local and wanted to share it with you to help you to settle in. The author’s great tips include; learning the language and not being afraid to use it, trying to frequent Spanish bars and restaurants rather than heading to expat havens, relaxing your ideas on timekeeping, sharing food and embracing the siesta. All great advice and definitely stuff to take note of to really make the most of your new life here in Spain.

Website Trip Savvy also lists 10 Spanish customs and traditions to enjoy here including going for tapas the Spanish way, experiencing flamenco and bullfighting, eating late, partying and visiting your local fiesta. You may not want to try everything on the list, but it’s good to know and decide what to experience to really understand this wonderful place.

The great thing about life on the Costa del Sol is that you can pick and choose the best bits of the Spanish life and culture and experience them, but not be restricted by them. You can choose to use English service providers, doctors and schools if your Spanish isn’t so good, or take the plunge and go through the Spanish system.

It’s all available here, so it’s up to you on whether you want to bring up your children bilingual, or put them into an international school system which is easy to transport to other parts of the world. The key is choice and trying your best with integration, so you can enjoy the rich, glorious culture of the place you now call home.     

Starting by renting long term on the Costa del Sol and choose a rental company with native English speakers such as HomeRentalontheWeb. This gives you flexibility to try different areas and find out what works for you, and get help, advice and support from people who speak your language. We all know what you’re going though, as we’ve all relocated to Spain and know the challenges, as well as the rewards and we’re on your side to help you through it, as well as find you a fantastic long term rental property.

Here’s some useful information on relocating to Spain please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions.

Andalucia is a great place to work

Andalucia is a great place to work

Relocating to the Costa del Sol is a dream for many, and Andalucia is the third most popular place for those from abroad to work in Spain. Living and working on the Costa del Sol offers amazing lifestyle benefits for expats such as great climate, more relaxed way of life, access to amazing sports facilities and a brilliant family life. According to a report from the Ministry of Employment and Social Security released in August, at the end of July there were 189,802 non-Spanish workers paying into the system, a nearly 5% increase compared to last year.

The increase is no surprise, as the economic outlook continues to improve in Spain, the real estate market is starting to really boom again and this is driving employment and positivity in many different fields. There has been a marked increase of job opportunities being advertised, particularly in the real estate and hospitality sectors. If you’re interested in checking out job opportunities and researching into working on the Costa del Sol, read our article about working on the Costa del Sol, where we have links to papers which have good job sections, forums and recruitment agencies to make things easier.

However, be prepared for a shock when you look at salaries, they could be a lot lower than you’re used to at home. Don’t just look at the salary figures though, work out what your living costs will be and then see what you will have in your pocket at the end of the month, you may be surprised just how well off you feel, even taking a drop in salary. It’s also amazing what a great life you can have here and spend very little; this is definitely not just a numbers game!

We are passionate believers in the quality of life on the Costa del Sol and help thousands of people each year to relocate by offering them affordable long term rental properties and plenty of advice and on the ground expertise. We have all lived here for a long time and so have probably been through what you’re going through and we love it here. Check out our 7 reasons why expats love the Costa del Sol we hope it will inspire you to take the plunge.

It’s a good idea to try before you buy and rent long term before putting a foot on the property ladder. This enables you to try a few different areas and be flexible enough to chop and change if job opportunities or schools take you to a new area. With long term rentals starting at just 400€ per month here and the rental market in the UK being so strong, you can probably rent out your current property and rake in a tidy profit compared to renting here. This not only gives you some income, it also makes the move less daunting, as you still have a property back home and can always go back if your situation changes.

We have lots of great information about living in Spain on our website, including the vital things to know about healthcare, education and learning the language, so please have a browse. If you like the sound of life here, get in touch with us and find out how we can help make it happen!

Expats – Don’t worry about whether the UK will leave the EU

bigstock-Brexit-text-with-British-and-E-93444095Since the topic of the EU referendum has been in the news, we’ve had a lot of our long term rental tenants on the Costa del Sol concerned about how it would affect them if the UK did choose to leave the EU. There were fears that we’d all have to return to the UK or become illegal immigrants! So we were really pleased to read an article in the Telegraph at the end of June that these fears were not grounded in legal fact.

The article states that in the case that the UK did leave the EU, British expats would be protected by the Vienna Convention, which means that people living in an EU country before any exit would have “acquired right” to remain in Spain legally, as when they moved this was sanctioned by law and the “the EU’s freedom of movement rights would be honoured for all those citizens who reside in other EEA nations prior to any Treaty changes”. Read the full article here So the 55,000+ British expats living in the Malaga province can relax and enjoy the great lifestyle on the Costa del Sol without worrying about what may happen in the referendum.

Another concern which we are seeing is the impact of the crisis in Greece on Spain, commentators have said that if they leave the EU then it could be a signal to Spain, Portugal and Italy that they could leave too, but with Spain having adopted the austerity measures and now coming out of crisis, there is little suggestion that they would really want to come out of the EU. In fact the signs for the whole economy are excellent, with a recent IMF report predicting that by the end of 2015 growth will be over 3%! This growth and positivity and the improving property market will lead to more jobs and opportunities for people in Spain, so there’s lots of reasons to be cheerful.

In our experience most people relocating to Spain love it so much they never want to leave, but if you’re not sure, then a good move is to rent long term first and then decide your long term future later when you’ve had a chance to try it out for yourselves.  You can check out our selection of long term properties in your favourite area by using our click and view interactive map, or if you’re not sure where you want to live don’t worry, our experience team of long term rental specialists can help you find the perfect place.

Why Living in Spain is Good For You

Why Living in Spain is Good For YouAt HomeRentalontheWeb we are all passionate about living on the Costa del Sol and love the lifestyle it offers us and our families, which is why we’re so committed to helping people find the perfect long term rental property to make their dreams a reality.

You will find that living on the Costa del Sol definitely puts a spring in your step and makes you feel fit and healthy, and if something does go wrong there’s an excellent health service at your disposal.

Here are our reasons for thinking a Spanish lifestyle is good for our minds, bodies and souls

 

  • You’re never SAD – Excuse the play on words here, of course you can feel down wherever in the world you are, but there’s no doubt that the sunshine that we enjoy here for an average of 300 days per year definitely lifts the spirits, gives us much needed vitamin D and cures anyone who gets the winter blues
  • It’s a healthy place – Spain has one of the top seven most efficient healthcare systems in Europe and people live longer – Spain is ranked 15 in the world for life expectancy (compared to 30 for the UK.) With the well-known health benefits of a Mediterranean diet, you’ll feel and look great for longer. Find out more about the Spanish Health Care system and accessing healthcare in Spain
  • You’re more active – Due to the lovely weather you’re outside more and there’s a culture of doing sports and keeping fit, plus excellent facilities to make it easy and great fun to get involved in everything from golf, to padel tennis, to swimming, kite surfing or paddle boarding.
  • You’re more relaxed – The atmosphere on the Costa del Sol is so much more relaxed and laid-back than other parts of the world and even after a stressful day, a stroll down the beach, a dip in the pool or a trip to the park in the sunshine will make the stress melt away. Stress is one of the biggest causes of illness, so this alone should keep you healthier and happier.
  • There’s a great sense of community – Although relocating to the Costa del Sol means leaving loved ones back at home, all the expats are in the same boat and this leads to an excellent community spirit where even people you hardly know will go out of their way to help. You will find that friends become like family and the bonds are incredibly strong and let’s be honest, home is where the heart is!

If you’re thinking about relocating to the Costa del Sol and want to enjoy the Mediterranean lifestyle, we can help you find a great long term rental property, as well as offering advice on where to live, the best schools, job opportunities and more. Renting long term allows you to try before you buy, so you can check out the options and really understand the area and how you want to live here. Please contact us to find out more and find that perfect property for you.

Moving to Spain with your family

Family Dining Al FrescoIf you’re planning on relocating to Spain it is an exciting but daunting prospect, especially if you’re moving the whole family and have to worry about how kids and elderly relatives will cope. However, with the right preparation and planning the move can be made much easier and in our experience the stress and strain is soon forgotten when you’re sipping a cocktail on your terrace, or taking the kids to the beach to play every day.

There’s a really useful guide to moving to Spain with the family which can help you prepare for the big move which you can download for free. Prepared by a moving company it covers topics such as preparing the family for the move from an emotional and practical point of view, packing tips, advice on getting through the move day and then settling into your new home. It’s a really comprehensive guide of things to think about and do to make the move easier and better for all so is highly recommended.

We have also got loads of interesting and helpful information on our site about relocating to Spain, including a free guide to Spanish legal system  which includes getting a Spanish will, becoming a resident and buying and selling property which you can download free of charge.

Remember, we’ve all made the move ourselves, as have thousands of others and so whilst it is stressful, the rewards of family life in Spain far outweigh the stress of the move itself. You will find that Spain offers a very family friendly environment which welcomes children almost everywhere you go and puts them at the centre of the community. The kids love it as they get to play outside, enjoy a healthier lifestyle full of sports and activities and be part of the family life no matter what is happening. Plus they get to learn a second language and the younger they are the easier it is!

Keep an eye on the blog for information about schools and family life in Spain and feel free to ask us any questions by commenting on the blog or getting in touch by email, phone or online here: http://www.homerentalontheweb.com/contact.