Tag Archives: PlayaFlamenca

Utilities in Spain

We are often asked about the utilities in Spain.  If you buy in a town you will almost certainly have mains water but if you have a villa on the edge of or outside the main town you may not have mains sewage but have a septic tank instead.  This surprises a lot of people but in parts of Spain this is normal.  If you buy a rural property you may not have mains water but use a private well or have water delivered by tanker to fill your huge storage tank.
Generally mains water is of drinkable quality these days, gone are the days when you had to buy it bottled.  To get around shortages of water there are now a number of desalination plants around the coast taking sea water and cleaning it up for local use.  There are also a number of reservoirs now that are also small hydro-electric plants.  Water supply in the Alicante region doesn’t seem to be a problem anymore.
Gas has until recently been bottled only in most areas but towns are slowly having mains gas installed.  Again this surprises many Brits looking to buy in Spain, and of course using bottles of gas for central heating is pretty expensive.  Using portable gas heaters is common practice and fairly economical too.  Modern air conditioning units have settings for cooling or heating and are sufficient for use in a bedroom, although not necessarily that cheap to run.
For many years Iberdrola were the only electricity company but in recent years de-regulation has allowed competition and there are now other options.  Also duel tariffs are available too now, so cheap electricity at night and in the morning with a slightly raised rate for the afternoon and evening means savings can be made.  Solar has come a long way too and with 320 days of sunshine a year in south Costa Blanca developers now include solar in their new build homes.
There are a few ‘anomalies’ that I have come across over the years.  For instance, where our house is located the water company are also responsible for collecting the rubbish so instead of the cost of rubbish collection being included in the local council tax it is added to your water bill instead!
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Early Family Visits to Costa Blanca

Early family visits
 
With Mum and Dad living outside the town on a steep hill we had to use a car for getting anywhere.  The road was too steep to walk, I know as I tried several times!  I stopped trying after the youngest was born as after struggling to push the buggy up the hill I discovered it was positively terrifying trying to hold onto it on the way back down and stop him falling out whilst trying to stop two other children ending up rolling down!
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Dave learnt to drive in Spain without an issue the first time we visited Mum and Dad but I was very hesitant.  In fact it was many years before I was persuaded to drive in Spain.
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In the end it was necessity that made me learn, it being obvious that at some point in the not too distant future I might have to visit alone to see Mum and Dad due to Dad’s health issues.  I don’t know why I was so reluctant to do it, there was nothing to be scared about.  Mum and Dad had two cars so we used one of theirs when we visited.  We would have days out to visit local places but often stayed around the villa as the garden was plenty big enough and the children all loved the large pool.
Hidden among the fruit trees Dad had created a petanque court and he invested in a plastic set for the kids.  They became surprisingly good at it over the years.
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The children also loved to visit the ‘100 pesetas’ shops (this was well before the introduction of the Euro!) where they could buy cheap toys and treats, a sort of equivalent of the UK’s Poundland.  Later these became the 1 euros shops (which was if I remember correctly quite a lot more than 100 pesetas, so a hefty price rise!) but even those seem to have disappeared now.

A Video link to how we can help you find your place in the sun

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If you are looking to find your dream home on the Costa Blanca or Costa Calida then we are here to help you and walk with you through all the stages of finding and buying your dream property. And we are happy to help with information on settling into your new home or setting up a holiday rental to turn your second home into an income Have a look at a short video on how we can help you

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A Great Video from Bev & Dave at Spanish Dream Property

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PART 40 An Ex-pat, not an immigrant

PART 40 An Ex-pat, not an immigrant!

time for thinking

The British way to get yourself understood abroad seems to try first in normal English, when that fails we try speaking very loudly and slowly, but still in English. For reasons beyond normal rationality we figure that will work. Why? Is it because we are rude and arrogant or is it because learning another language in school in the UK is not prioritised or valued enough? The Scandinavians almost grow up bi-lingual, learning English alongside their native tongue from kindergarten age, and many, as a result, seem adept at learning other languages too. My multi-lingual friends and acquaintances all grew up bi-lingual whereas here in the UK it often high school before learning a foreign language is taken seriously in education.

The hypercritical way some Brits abroad defiantly, almost triumphantly, live in Spain for many years without bothering to learn more than café con leche or cerveza, or speak only their own ‘Spanglish’, never ceases to amaze and dismay me. They are the first to criticise the immigrants in the UK who don’t speak English within three weeks of arriving; but an Englishman abroad is not an immigrant, an Englishman abroad is an ex-pat!

However after years in Spain, having lived in their ex-pat (immigrant) community, drinking and eating in bars with only English speaking or ex-pat (immigrant) staff, and dipping into the odd Spanish fiesta or parade only when attending with a group of other ex-pats (immigrants), they can come unstuck. It’s when the difficult things in life happen, like illness, that they realise they are actually living in a foreign country (they are an immigrant!) and the nurses don’t all speak English and you have to pay for an interpreter or rely on ex-pat volunteers who did learn the language (immigrants who have integrated better!) to come to your rescue. One day, if you live in Spain, you will wish you had bothered with Spanish, so why wait? You may even find you enjoy living the dream a lot more through being able to live a fuller and more integrated life in the sun.

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My family abroad:Early Comunications Phone what Phone

Early Comunications

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We were in a time that was pre-internet, pre-mobile phones and there was no landline in the valley at that time.  Our contact was a phone call every Thursday evening at 7pm UK time initially made by Mum and Dad from the international phone box in town.  Later we rang the house phone of friend’s they had made instead, again every Thursday evening at 7pm, as soon as we returned from our children’s swimming lesson.   It is hard to imagine in this day and age of instant contact that this was only 25 years ago.  Today I am in contact with my children and grandchildren most days, we send each other pictures just seconds after the photo was taken and it doesn’t matter if we are not in same country, it is still instant.   We use texts, emails, ‘whats ap’ and facebook; I can even send a message via my phone to the little ones’ cuddly toys to be played to them; sometimes we even talk on the phone!

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Despite there being a telegraph pole positioned right outside their house, it would be nearly two years before Mum and Dad had their own landline phone.  One day workmen turned up, erected new poles in the valley, one just a few yards down the road from the villa.  A few days later the phone lines were hung on the poles, missing out the original pole outside the villa.  When shown the old pole the workman shrugged and as the lower part was encircled by the front wall they just cut the pole down at wall height and carried it away, leaving the bottom meter still in the wall.  To my knowledge it is still there.

Mum later described those early days as seeming like a great adventure into the unknown.  It was exciting and brave heading off to a foreign country with a different language, different culture and different food.  She says that today’s technology has robbed the younger generation of the chance to experience that feeling, that today it is so normal to move around and so easy to keep in touch and the cultural differences with our continental neighbours have blurred and merged as we eat the same foods and drink the same wines and the world is smaller.  Maybe she is right.

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My family abroad: The Big Move

The big move

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As Mum and Dad were moving full-time to Spain they decided to sell up the UK home, releasing funds for their retirement years.   Having put most of their belongings into store they moved into a small furnished flat for their last couple of months in England.  Within a week of Dad’s 60th birthday cum retirement party they headed for Moraira, but not to their own villa.  Instead they stayed up the road at the neighbour’s new villa, completed but not yet lived in, to oversee their own being built.   There were many funny stories we heard over the coming weeks and months, most long since forgotten, but some still stick in the memory.

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I do remember was how Dad arrived at the villa to meet the builder one day to find no workman there, when asked where they all were the builder simply replied that “the oranges are ready”.  It transpired that most of the workforce had family owned citrus groves and the perfect time had arrived for the oranges to be harvested so the workman had gone to the family homes to help with the fruit picking!  The builder assured Dad the workman would be back as soon as the oranges were gathered in, and they were but not for two weeks.  This also happened with other citrus fruits, almonds and olives!   I don’t think that would be tolerated these days, but it was considered perfectly reasonable at the time.

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Then the time Mum was puzzled when looking around one of the bathrooms as there was no waste pipe for the toilet.  Mum did not speak Spanish and I’m told there was great hilarity as Mum enacted what she was trying to convey (!) but once the man understood he made a few measurements then hit the floor with a heavy hammer revealing the top of the waste pipe that had been concreted over by accident!

And the time towards the end of the build when Dad pointed out a socket was missing.  The builder opened the connection box on the wall and poured a coloured liquid in and waited without saying a word.  A few minutes later a coloured patch appeared on the wall and he calmly took a hammer and hit the patch opening up the plastered over socket location!

Mum and Dad finally moved into the villa about 6 months later, the underbuild wasn’t finished, the gardens were not planted and there were still many small jobs to be completed but they were more than happy to be finally in their own home in the sun.

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