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Costa del Sol looks after its foreigners

manilva_extranjerosThe Costa del Sol is a unique region in Spain with a very high number of foreigners living and working here, many of them without the level of Spanish required to deal with bureaucracy. Thankfully, the Town Halls are adapting to our needs and providing dedicated offices and council officials to deal with the issues faced by foreign residents and help us cut through the red tape.

Most areas have services for foreigners, so check out your council website, or visit the council offices and ask. The word to look out for is “extranjeros” which means foreigners.  Below are some of the offices we know are working hard for the foreign residents.

One of the most active offices and in fact the very first of its kind in Spain is the Mijas Foreigners’ Department, which is located in La Cala de Mijas. It is open from Monday to Friday 10.00-14.00 and they speak seven languages to be able to help as many foreign residents as possible in their own language. They also put on trips to the local area and informative talks on different issues which are relevant to foreign residents. Unfortunately their website isn’t great, so pop in and ask.

Marbella has had a great foreigners’ office for a while now and a real champion in the form of the Councillor for Foreigners and Tourism Jose Luis Hernandez, who supports initiatives by the foreign population and is very aware of their needs. It was reported in April that there are plans afoot to improve these services by creating a new office in Edificio España in the area known as La Patera which will deal with all issues to do with foreign residents. This is due to open after the summer, so watch this space.

Estepona has also recently launched a foreigners’ department, as we reported last month, and the group arranged a forum with the Mayor in May to improve the dialogue and allow the foreign residents to have a strong voice within the community. However they don’t seem to have a website, so look out for news online and in the local press, particularly The Resident.

Further along the coast the Manilva Foreign Residents department is very active arranging trips and events such as a regular coffee morning as well as offering information and support in residents’ own languages. Also in San Roque, they have a packed calendar of events and tours and a really helpful multi-lingual councillor offering assistance and information to break through the red tape in English, Spanish, German and Italian.

If you’re renting long term on the Costa del Sol these services are perfect when you first arrive and can guide you through the process of registering and establishing your life here. If you need any advice on what to do when you first move here, we’d be happy to help so please just ask!

Spanish Health Care System

healthcareGreat news for anyone renting long term on the Costa del Sol is that that according to Bloomberg, Spain has the 5th most efficient health care system in the world and the most efficient in Europe. There is an average life expectancy of 82.3 years, compared to 80.8 in the UK, due in part to the better lifestyle, weather and healthy Mediterranean diet.

We have many people renting with us who have retired here and say they feel better than they have for years. They are keeping their minds busy with lots of clubs, societies and language learning and their bodies moving with golf, swimming and walking incorporated into their daily life. Spain really is a lovely place to grow old and stay young at heart!

Should you fall ill the public health service is excellent (as well as highly efficient) with some of the leading specialists and facilities available for more serious conditions and many local GP surgeries. There are translation services available in many doctors’ surgeries and through the service Salud Responde which allows expats to call a special number and have help with communicating with medical professionals during their appointments.

In order to register for the national health system you need a social security number, to be paying your social security payments and be registered on your council’s register (empadronamiento). You then get issued with a green medical card and can take your padron to the surgery to register.

If it seems a bit difficult in Spanish, or you don’t want to wait, there are lots of private options as well, which you can read about in one of our past blog posts about accessing healthcare in Spain

If you are relocating to Spain and want to find a place to live and get insiders information don’t hesitate to get in touch. As well as a great network of long term rental properties on the Costa del Sol, our team are all here enjoying the Spanish dream and can give you information, advice and insight, we also have a number of useful guides on the area to help before you arrive and whilst you’re settling in.

The law on expat driving licences

There has been a growing amount of confusion recently regarding expat driving licences and their validity in Spain. This week’s Sur in English newspaper tells us the full facts on the matter, but in case you haven’t seen it, here is a quick update on the requirements.

The law currently states that, driving licences issued by any EU member state or countries that are part of the European Economic Area are valid in Spain and they remain valid under the terms of the country in which they were issued. However, when someone becomes a resident in Spain, they then become subject to the Spanish regulations.

If you are living in Spain and have an expiry date on your driving licence, it needs to be renewed before that date. If you don’t have an expiry date, you must renew within two years of becoming a Spanish resident. Drivers who became a Spanish resident before 19th January 2013 however, do not have to do anything until 19th January 2015. A foreign resident who doesn’t renew their driving licence when required will be treated the same as Spanish nationals and given a €200 fine.

From the 19th January 2015, all foreign residents and Spanish drivers are going to have to renew their driving licence whether it has an expiry date or not. The original licence will be replaced by a European version after a medical test at an authorised centre. Validity period for the new licences (either five or 10 years) will depend on the age of the driver and whether he or she has any illness or physical disability. You can find more information on the AEA’s website.

You can read more about driving in Spain, buying second hand cars, and lots of other road and travel related information on our blog.

Some incredibly useful phrases to know in Spanish!

Without a doubt, life in Spain is certainly easier and can be more enjoyable if you learn to speak the language. Everything from socialising and work to shopping and finding your way around may require you to know some Spanish. Many people on the Costa del Sol speak English, however not everyone does and Spanish are polite people so it’s good to make an effort when talking to them. Here are some key phrases that will really help you to settle in and impress your friends and family when they visit your new home this summer!


¿Dónde está ………………….? Where is, just add desired place or object, e.g.:

¿Dónde está el ayuntamiento? – Where is the town hall?


¿Cuánto cuesta? – How much does it cost? (One item)

¿Cuánto es? – How much is it? (End total of a few items)


Se puede …… ( + verb) – Can you ?. e.g.:-

¿Se puede aparcar aquí? – Can you park here?

No se puede – you can´t.

¿Se puede? – could also be use don it’s own to request permission.


Quiero …….(+ object or verb) – I want- (not as rude as it sounds in English!)

    Quiero dos kilos de patatas – I want two kilos of potatoes- (object)


Quiero apuntarme – I want to sign up  (verb)

No quiero – I don’t want to/it.


No sé – I don’t know


Tengo – I have

No tengo – I don’t have

Tienes – Do you have? You have.


Me duele………. ( + body part) – My ……….. hurts

Me duele el tobillo – My ankle hurts


No funciona – It doesn’t work.

Está roto – It’s broken.


Hay – is/are there? , there is/are – (pronounced “eye”)

No hay – there aren´t/isn´t any


Voy a …………..( + place or verb)  – I’m going to ………….

Voy a la playa – I’m going to the beach.- (place)

Voy a comprar pan – I’m going to buy bread.- (verb)

¿Dónde vas? – Where are you going?


No importa – It doesn’t matter.


¿Cuándo es? – When is it?


Es muy importante – It’s very important.


To learn more Spanish you can see our previous blogs with useful phrases to use at the pharmacy and the beauty salon, plus tips for understanding Spanish utility bills.

If you are looking to rent long term on the Costa del Sol this year, visit our website for list of available properties or call us on 952 839 595 with your requirements.




Having a baby in Spain

Every year, hundreds of expats make the Costa del Sol their permanent home and decide to start a family here, or extend the one they have! The great weather, schools and choice of activities make the area very appealing to families of all ages. If you are planning to have your baby here for the first time you may be full of questions, but be rest assured because Spain has just been voted the 2nd best place in the world to bring up children!

Scans and check-ups

When working on the Costa del Sol and contributing to social security, you will be entitled to excellent free health care. This will cover you for all your scans and appointments at your local clinic. Keep in mind these will probably be in Spanish though, as not all clinics have in-house translators, however you could always use the Medical Translation Line which proves very helpful for answering questions about your health and understanding any important information given. If you would prefer to go private and have the exciting 3D and 4D scans done, you could always visit someone like Dr Berral in Marbella who comes highly recommended and speaks English.

Preparing for the new arrival

When you have your due date, you will naturally want to start building the nest ready for your new baby! There are loads of great places to shop for baby things on the Costa del Sol including the famous El Corte Ingles shopping centres and ‘Nana’s’ the big baby shops which sell everything from prams to clothing and everything in between! You can also find a Mothercare shop if you go to Gibraltar.

The Mediterranean diet is notoriously good for your health and perfect for mums to be! You will also be sure to find everything to suit your pregnancy cravings at the various supermarkets such as Super Sol and Mercadona, plus there are loads of great restaurants which will tailor the food for you. The pharmacies sell all the vitamins you need and if you wanted to have a go at pregnancy yoga there are plenty of great classes in the Marbella area.

Having your baby

If you are planning to have your baby in the Costa del Sol Hospital you will be relieved to know they offer an excellent standard of care before and after the baby is born. The rooms are very clean and many of staff there speak English and are used to supporting expats through this exciting and emotional time. You can read more about people’s experiences of giving birth at the Costa del Sol hospital on websites like mumsinspain.

If you are looking for a bigger home to suit the new addition to your family, the team at HomeRentalontheWeb can take all of your requirements and help you find the perfect new long term rental home for your family, just give us a call on 952 839 595 or visit our website.

Medical translation line for expats in Andalucia

One of the best ways to settle into your new rental home on the Costa del Sol is to start learning Spanish as it will make your time here much easier and you never know when you may need to use it, such as in an emergency.

We don’t like to think we will ever need to go to the doctors or use the emergency services but sometimes we may need to and you could have a hard job trying to explain what the problem is as many healthcare workers in Spain don’t speak any English.

Luckily though, in Andalucia we have an excellent telephone translation line called the Salud Responde (Health Response line), which has helped thousands of expats in the area communicate at doctors and hospitals. The vital phone line helps patients and health workers understand each other quickly and easily so in times of emergency or stress this has proved a big relief to many.

The Health Response line can be used when making an appointment, during an appointment and to understand test results so now you can relax knowing you always have someone who can translate for you in the touch of a few buttons. This very useful translation line has been used by hundreds of thousands of Brits since the launch in 2009 and can even be used for translation of wills, medical records and when donating blood.

When it comes to the pharmacy though, it definitely pays to learn the lingo. Here you can read our previous blog with some useful free Spanish tips to use in ‘La farmacia’ to help get you started!

When a translator is needed, simply phone the help line on 902 505 060 24 (information and services centre) or 902 505 066 for Primary care appointment line hours 365 days per year. In an emergency dial 061. You can also email the Salud Response line for information.

Featured Property – Stunning 3 bedroom Penthouse in Marbella

When planning to move to the Costa del Sol with children the ‘to do’ list can seem never ending with packing, house hunting, school/nursery finding  and naturally you will want everything to be as stress free as possible!

Well you can put the kettle on and give yourself a break, because finding your perfect home could be a lot quicker and easier than you imagine, even if you don’t know the areas very well. With a great selection of properties on the rental market, you are bound to find one that you and the family love, whether it’s a beach, town, or country home you are looking for. Your rental agent will take in your requirements such as needing to be close to a good school, furnished, etc and make sure you have everything you need to feel settled in.

You will also be pleased to know that Spain has just been voted the 2nd best place in the world to bring up children based on 3 main factors of a child’s wellbeing; health, education and nutrition, so you can be rest assured when moving here you are giving your children a great place to grow up in. The superb weather, strong family values and huge choice of outside activities also make the Costa del Sol a firm favourite for families.

If you want to live in one of the most exclusive areas on the Costa del Sol you would imagine having to spend an arm and a leg on rent, but this is not always the case. Take a look at the property below for instance; set in sought-after Elviria Hillside, its perfect for families with three double bedrooms a great size living area and even a tennis court!




















This stunning three bedroom property in Marbella comes fully furnished to a very high standard, has a choice of swimming pools including a children’s pool and is located just 15 minutes from the famous towns of Marbella and Puerto Banus which are known for their fabulous designer boutiques and world class beaches. This lovely penthouse includes all of your home luxuries such as dishwasher, tumble dryer, air-con, SKY TV and much more. All this for just €550 per month!

To view our full list of long term rental homes on the Costa del Sol visit our website or call 952 839 595 for more information.

The season of giving!

As we take the decorations down and tidy away the remains of Christmas wrapping paper, thousands of households across Spain are preparing to do it all again in celebration of the Three Kings!

Now you are renting long term on the Costa del Sol, you may want to settle in by learning more about Spanish traditions and the Christmas period is a great way to do that. With all kinds of exciting events being held until January 7th, there is still plenty of time to get involved. Every year on the 5th January, the three wise men take part in a big parade through Marbella and San Pedro throwing sweets to all the children in the street who try and catch them all with upside down umbrellas! There is also a big selection of festive events for all ages such as shows, concerts, fun days and competitions, so it is a magical time to be in the area, even if there’s no snow!

If you find that you have lots of left over, non perishable food and some unwanted gifts, why not put those to good use and donate them to charity? Unfortunately there are many families in Spain who haven’t been able to celebrate Christmas with the food and presents they would have wanted and the Three Kings day will see many go without again. If you have gifts from Christmas which will be likely to end up in the back of the cupboard never to be seen again, donating them to charity could really make someone’s day and a donation of food could make a big difference to a family.

When out shopping in the sales this week, keep your favourite charities in mind as any donations made now could easily be distributed to those in need just in time for Three Kings Day. Getting involved with charity is also a great way to start settling in! If you don’t speak Spanish you could drop your donations into somewhere like Specsavers Opticas in Marbella and Fuengirola who are currently collecting on behalf of Red Cross and AECC (Spanish Cancer Care Association).

You can see all details of local events, things to do and be involved with, including charity work, in the local newspapers and local websites such as Marbella Family Fun. Visit our website if you are looking to rent on the Costa del Sol in 2013 or call us for more information on 952 859 595.



Learning Spanish – Christmas shopping

The Costa del Sol is an enchanting place to be at Christmas time and a great chance for you and the family to learn about Spanish traditions. Pretty Christmas lights are sparkling in the towns, the restaurants and bars are once again bustling and the supermarkets are stocked with juicy turkeys and all kinds’ of festive goodies ready for week-long celebrations of the Three Kings.

Now that you are renting long term on the Costa del Sol, a great way to really feel settled in is to learn the lingo and Christmas is a great excuse to get started! Here are some Spanish tips so now you can do your Christmas shopping in Spanish too.

Christmas Tree

¿Aquí se vende árboles de navidad? – Do you sell Christmas trees here?

¿Cuánto cuesta por metro? – How much do they cost per metre?

¿Se entrega a domicilio? –  Are they delivered to the house?

¿Cuándo se puede entregarlo? – When can it be delivered?

¿Viene con raíces o está cortado? – Does it come with roots or is it cut?


Busco una camisa para hombre. – I´m looking for a man’s shirt.

¿Hay de seda / algodón? – Is there anything in silk / cotton?

Busco algo clasico / de moda. – I´m looking for something classic / fashionable.

¿Puedo devolverlo si no le gusta? – Can I return it if he doesn’t like it?

Tiene que devolverlo dentro de catorce días con el recibo. –  You have to return it within 14 days with the receipt.

Me podría dar un reembolso o tengo que cambiarlo para otra prenda? – Can I have a refund or do I have to change it for another garment?

Aquí tiene el recibo. – Here´s the receipt.

Me gustaría un reembolso. – I would like a refund.

Es para regalar, ¿se puede envolverlo? – It’s for a present, can you wrap it?

Shopping for Christmas dinner

Nata montado – whipped cream,      nata para montar – whipping cream,      jerez – sherry,      chirivía – parsnip,      castañas – chestnuts,      pavo – turkey,      pastelillo navideño relleno de frutas – mincepie,      relleno de frutas – mincemeat,      pastel de frutas secas que se come el día de Navidad – Christmas pudding,      col de Bruselas – Brussels sprouts,      tarjetas de Navidad – Christmas cards,      papel de regalo – wrapping paper,      lucitas de Navidad – Christmas lights,      nueces – walnuts,      frutas secas – nuts (general),      adornos navideños – Christmas decorations,      bolas de Navidad – Christmas baubles,      turrón – typical Christmas sweet made of nougat and chocolate.

¡Feliz Navidad! – Happy Christmas!

Michelle Lewis is a Spanish Teacher, Translator and Interpreter. She can help with a wide range of issues in Spanish including; NIE, residency, registering at the medical centre, medical appointments, importation of cars, problems with the Town Hall, the gestor, the police, or Telefonica. Email or call 680 155 254 for more information.

Why Sign Up To The Padron?

There are a surprising amount of expatriates renting property on the Costa del Sol who have not yet signed up to the padron. As an expat in Spain you are obliged to sign the register yet still many are unaware it even exists or unsure why they need to.


So why should you sign up to the muncipal register even if you are not a not a home owner?  Here are some of the benefits you will have;

·         Register with doctor

·         Have the right to vote in the local and European elections

·         Have access to free or discounted activities

·         Free or reduced cost Spanish classes

·         Register kids at school

·         Help and support for the elderly

·         Reduction in bus fares

·         Tax reductions on certain services such as rubbish collection

Signing the padron is not a complicated process, it’s simple, quick and free and if you are spending the majority of your time in Spain you should be signing up. If you are worried about how this would affect your taxes or rights in the UK, the HMRC and new websites provide lots of useful information about this. However the Town Hall itself is the best place to get information about the padron and its benefits.

It’s worth bearing in mind that some of the benefits are only available to those who have been signed up to the padron for a few years such as social care for the elderly, which is why its important to sign up as soon as you move to Spain.

By renting long term on the Costa del Sol and not signing up to the pardon, you risk not having access to your rights here in Spain and possibly wouldn’t be considered a UK resident either. Your resident status simply depends on where you spend the most time.

The budget allocated to each town depends on the amount of people who are signed up to the town’s padron so it’s important everyone does it to ensure their town receives the correct budget. In fact, Mijas Town Hall is sending out fines up to €150 to residents who don’t sign up as it could lead to the town losing out when it comes to budget allocation as they depend on the number of registered inhabitants.

If you have already signed up to the padron and are wondering whether you need to renew or make any adjustments, pop to your local town hall to check and bring with you original paperwork such as passport and residence tarjeta. In general, foreign residents should renew their empadronmiento every two years to avoid being dropped from the register and losing their rights.

The deadline for enrolment is the end of the year so best to head to your local Town Hall as soon as you can if you haven’t signed up yet.

For more information about renting long term on the Costa del Sol visit our website or call us on 952839 595.