Monthly Archives: November 2016

My family abroad: Mum and Dad’s villa plans


Dad retired at 60, just over four years after they bought their plot of land.  They had chosen the plan for the villa, taking one of the builder’s standard designs and modifying, extending and altering it in numerous ways to suit their needs.  Oddly their UK neighbours also chose the same basic design and also modified it so that by the time the two houses were finished they were quite different.


The main living area was a three bedroom single storey villa which formed the upper floor, reached by a set of stairs build around the curved front of the villa.  As the hill sloped away another lower floor (or underbuild) was created which Mum and Dad would use as the garage, utility room and huge games room with a full size table tennis table, darts area and table and chairs, with doors to a covered outside bar, barbeque area and lower garden.  (The future owners would convert this into a separate, independent apartment for guests.)  The pool was on the main living area level and above that was another garden with petanque courts and fruit trees, and above that two further high level gardens for cacti.


Their friend’s house also had the main living area on the top floor, although this was slightly below street level.  They too had a utility area and garage in the floor below but as their plot was steeper they also had another underbuild below that which in time the friend’s turned into a home cinema with the rock of the hillside protruding into the room on one side as a feature!  Below that was the pool and garden – it was a long way down from the house terrace to the pool, if I remember correctly it was well over 40 stairs!  I think that was possibly my first lesson learnt about buying in Spain – find a reasonably a level plot if you intend staying there into your old age!



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My family abroad Mum and Dad buy a plot

Mum and Dad buy a plot


With Dad’s heart set on the area around Moraira, despite Mum’s hesitation, they set about checking out plots of land.  Like most Spanish towns there were no detached villas with a garden and a pool in the town, so it meant buying a plot a short drive outside the main town.  Back in the mid 80’s there was a lot of available land the town hall in Tuelada (under whose jurisdiction Moraira fell) decided to ‘urbanise’ and the local planning rules allowed vast areas to be sold off to developers who in turn sold individual plots, there didn’t really seem a coherent or long-term plan.  For example, nearly all the properties outside the town were able to connect to mains water and electricity (eventually) but not a main sewer so all the villas had their own septic tank and no telephone lines in many areas.

Oddly a close neighbour of theirs in the UK was also considering options of buying a home in Spain, so they decided to book joint viewing trips so with their friends they toured the area and finally settled on a plot near the top of a valley uphill from Portet beach, which is on the north side of the town.  The valley had once been covered in pine forest but the trees had been burnt down a few years previously, suspected arson, so the land had been re-categorised for development.  As it was suspected that developers were allegedly behind the clearing of the trees in some areas to release the land for building, (although to my knowledge never proved), a policy was later introduced that burn land could not be reclassified for building for at least 30 years to give nature a chance to reclaim the scorched earth and make it financially unviable to clear land this way.


From their plot they could look down the valley to the sea.  There had been two tower blocks built illegally (but allowed to remain) on the road between Moraira and Portet and it would never fail to annoy me that these could be seen from the terrace, jutting up towards the sky, the ‘two ugly sisters’ spoiling the otherwise unbroken view of the sea.  Their friends bought a plot just up the hill, however after walking the 300 yards between the two properties once Mum always drove there as the road was too steep to walk safely!




My family abroad: Costa Blanca

My family abroad:  Costa Blanca

In the 80’s my parents begun looking around Spain for the area they considered most suitable for their own retirement.  Dad had always said he would like to retire somewhere warm, Mum was less sure about the idea but agreed to look – the extra holidays were a bonus and she had always loved looking around show houses anyway!  Having holidayed in various locations in Spain and other Mediterranean countries and islands they first considered the Balearics, but soon decided that mainland Spain would be their best option.  They checked out the Costa del Sol market but settled on North Costa Blanca as they both loved the dramatic scenery.960x640_bestfit-copy-126

The A7 motorway from Alicante airport going north had yet to be built but was planned, so each trip they had to travel through Alicante city, along the coast road (the N332) through Villajoyosa, Benidorm, Altea, Calpe, then either head slightly inland before reaching Javea and Denia or turn off to follow the minor windy coast road to Moraira.  Dad loved Moraira on the first visit.  Back in the early/mid 80’s it wasn’t the slick up-market resort it was later to brand itself – sometimes referred to as the jewel in the crown of the Costa Blanca by estate agents in the early 2000’s.  The town centre was small, old, and typically Spanish, a little tired and quiet.   In fact, Dad once described it as ‘a bit like being in the wild west’!


They recalled the tale of how they stayed in a rather shabby hotel in town and Dad announced this was where he wanted to live.  Mum was not enamoured at all!   However she agreed that IF they could find the right house she would be prepared to ‘give it 5 years’.  Dad was still five years off retirement (which he would take at 60) so there was plenty of time, Mum figured, to change his mind!  Several trips later they concluded that the only way to get the house they wanted was to have one built so they started to hunt for a plot of land in Moraira.