In 2006 after years of watching A Place in the Sun in their London home, Lynda and Warren Galler finally took the plunge and bought a bolthole in the sunny Spanish town of Torrevieja. Ten years later we catch up with Lynda to see whether their Spanish dream is still alive.
Could you start by telling us a bit about the Galler family?
I work as a pharmacist assistant, Warren is a bank manager and we have two sons who are now 12 and 16. We have always been very family orientated and so wanted a place overseas where we could spend quality time as a family. It was a dream of ours for the children to grow up with a home from home in the sun and we are delighted that we managed to achieve this.
We love Spain and have made many friends in the ten years we have been lucky enough to have a property there.
Can you describe your Spanish getaway?
We started looking at property with a budget of around £85,000 which we planned to finance through a loan.
We knew the type of property we wanted and what to expect as we'd done a lot of research into what we could get for our money - research is so important. We eventually bought a two bed townhouse with an open plan downstairs and a shared swimming pool, tennis courts, library and gardens.
It was important for us that where we bought was family orientated and allowed us to be part of a community as we enjoy making friends and wanted the boys to make friends too.
What made you decide to buy a holiday home inTorrevieja?
We always enjoyed watching A Place in the Sun as we liked seeing how happy it made people to have somewhere warm they could escape to).
Initially it was a very distant ambition of ours to have a holiday home when we retired. However we were very fortunate to find ourselves in a situation where it became affordable much earlier in our family life and with holidays becoming more and more expensive, we thought buying our own place would give us the opportunity to have many happy times together as a family - which it really has.
As it happened, we had some friends in Torrevieja who invited us to spend the summer with them.. We'd never heard of the area before but after only a few days decided it was going to be the place for us - it had so much to offer and it felt like a safe place for our young family to be.
Buying overseas can be daunting the first time, how was it for you?
We found the buying process to be ok - it definitely wasn't the bureaucratic nightmare we were expecting!
As anyone buying property at home or abroad knows, good legal advice is a must.. This was the first thing we did and for obvious reasons we wanted an English speaking solicitor. We found the one for us online and his first piece of advice was to "never pay up-front for anything".
The property we wanted to buy was for sale privately which meant that both party's solicitors did most of the work. Although one thing we did have to do was open up a bank account and get NIE numbers.
Once we found the property we wanted to buy, it all happened very quickly,- we found the townhouse in May 2006, signed paperwork in June and completed in September 2006, all in all it was just a few months before it was ours.
What does the future hold for your overseas home?
Since 2006 we've used the home for holidays with family and friends - it's funny, you do seem to acquire a lot of friends when you own a townhouse in Spain!
We decided not to rent out our holiday home as personally we didn't like the idea of letting people we didn't know stay there. Once we retire we plan to stay there longer, probably for around three months at a time.
What advice would you give any other property hunters in Spain and beyond?
We would recommend visiting the area you have chosen several times, perhaps mornings and evenings to see if it has the same feel.
If using an agent always bear in mind they are trying to sell the property no matter what. We were shown a property with no pool and plenty of restrictions for children, we had a two and six year old so that would never have worked!
Ask any questions that you feel are important, for example if there's empty land nearby find out whether there is any planning permission on it?
Don't feel pressurised into buying somewhere that isn't right - there is a perfect property out there for you!