Living and Working Abroad: British Family Moves to Spain and Opens an Adventure Travel Company

I connected with Mel and Marie just recently, from one webmaster to another, through working on our mutual websites. I found out that the couple had just recently moved to Spain from Britain and set up an adventure travel company that after one only year in business is already doing pretty well.

Many of you know already that Spain is one of my favourite countries, so I absolutely had to find out how these Northern Europeans made the transition into the hot south of Andalucia and how there were adjusting personally, socially and with their new business in this brand new lifestyle. Here is what they had to say:

1. Please tell us a bit about your background. Where are you from, what is your work background?

Mel: I’m from Bedworth, Warwickshire, England. Formerly a coal miner and policeman.

Marie: I’m from Maghera, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, and am a nurse.

Prior to moving to Spain, we lived in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. We have 3 children; Stuart (19), Niall (15) and Stephanie (14).

2. How did you come up with the idea of opening an adventure holiday company in Spain?

Marie: For all of his adult life, Mel has been a keen trail runner, cyclist and cross-country skier; the children and myself are also lovers of the great outdoors. As a family we had holidayed all over Europe, including a number of cycling breaks in Spain. Having experienced the local climate, the stunning scenery and the apparently limitless tracks and incredibly quiet roads, moving to Spain to establish our own activity holiday business seemed the perfect choice.

3. How did you select your location? What type of property did you choose and why? Please talk to us about the real estate purchasing process in Spain.

Andalucia is the most beautiful part of Spain. We wanted to avoid the mayhem of the coast, but didn’t want to be more than an hour away from Malaga airport, in order to reduce the traveling time for guests. It was then just a question of drawing a line on a map and visiting available properties within that circle.

We did a lot of browsing on the internet, then made appointments with estate agents to view the properties that seemed right. We eventually chose this property because of the stunning views, the excellent road access and because, with only a little work, we were able to convert an outbuilding into a self-contained guest apartment.

The purchasing process was relatively simple for us. We granted power of attorney to a local solicitor, who then handled everything on our behalf. All we had to do was transfer over the money whenever it was required. The only aspect of the process that we would caution people about is the tactics of some of the estate agents. Not all of the properties listed on websites were actually for sale and some of those that were for sale were only available at a much higher price than advertised or were not at all like their descriptions!

4. Did you have to do any renovations to the property you bought? If so, what was it like to deal with Spanish contractors and construction workers?

We had to convert a building with 2 very basic rooms and 2 shed type rooms into the guest accommodation. However, we were able to do a lot of the work ourselves and only employed builders for the more skilled tasks. We have learned that there are good and bad builders amongst the Spanish and the British builders working locally, but only a properly registered firm does work with any sort of guarantee. And that is an important consideration.

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