For Ed Swabey and Nick Carter it was a long held dream to own a Spanish bolthole where they could escape the daily grind of life back home. After a few holidays to the Lecrin Valley, they knew where they wanted to buy, after that it was the small matter of what...
Most Brits head to the Spanish coast so why did you choose the Lecrin Valley?
I had spent a few holidays there and after Nick and I met, I didn’t stop talking about the area. I eventually convinced him that he would have to see what all the fuss was about and fortunately, he also fell in love with it!
It fitted the bill of a tranquil escape from the noise and stress of our jobs and lives back in the UK. The scenery is second none, we’re right on the doorstop of the Sierra Nevada National Park and only 30 minutes from the Costa Tropical. It’s fairly close to our idea of paradise.
And then all you had to was find your perfect property…
It was actually fairly straight forward for us in terms of identifying a property we liked.
The property we ended up buying was actually featured on an edition of A Place in the Sun in 2007– luckily for us the couple featured in that programme didn't end up buying it! To think, Jasmine Harman has walked through our house!
We always liked the ‘quirky’ feel of the property and we kept an eye on it for a number of years. In 2010 during a week long holiday to the village, we saw it had been sold and were a little disappointed that we had not been in a position to buy.
However, it came back on the market in the summer of 2012 – which we saw as a sign that we were destined to buy it! We were determined not to miss out this time which meant arranging to view the house with a local agent during our holiday. Even at this point we weren’t really thinking about making an offer. But we both loved it and saw so much potential that we had a second viewing and spent the remainder of our holiday weighing up the pros and cons of buying.
We eventually came down firmly on the side of buying and made an offer soon after. We completed the purchase of our three storey town house in the small village of Pinos del Valle only a few months later in September 2012 for €58,000. When buying we had half an eye on future refurbishments which we planned to carry out over the next year.
What kind of renovations have you carried out since buying?
We probably refurbished the property a little more than we originally intended with the help of a local builder who came highly recommended.
To start with we changed the layout of the top floor, fitted a new bathroom, added a log burner and entirely refitted the kitchen. We also re-painted the house inside and out, and refurbished some of the interior fittings such as built in cupboards.
Things didn’t stop there, we have continually changed and improved the property; for example we have recently installed double glazed windows and had new external doors fitted last winter.
Many people are put off buying abroad by the paperwork, how did you find it?
The buying process was surprisingly simple, straightforward and fast. As long as you find a good estate agent and a lawyer (preferably through a personal recommendation) there should be very few problems.
Being able to speak a little Spanish helped with things like applying for an NIE (tax number) and setting up a bank account in order to complete the buying process. All in all it is nowhere near as scary as you sometimes hear it made out to be, all you need is good, professional advice from someone who knows the area.
How do you pass the time at your Spanish bolthole?
We try and relax as much as possible but having got to know a lot of people in the village (other expats and local Spanish) we spend a great deal of time socialising. We both enjoy mountain biking, walking, and visiting the other villages in the area. It’s also the perfect time to catch up on reading.
We absolutely love spending time in Spain at our house, and it becomes more and more difficult to return back to the UK each time. We always try and have another trip arranged as soon as possible as something to look forward to when we’re back at work.
What does the future hold for you?
Hopefully we’ll be able to use our holiday home as much as possible. Despite both of us being employed full time in the UK, by being clever with bank holidays etc. we are able to visit up to 9 times a year which isn’t bad.
Eventually we hope to spend longer periods of time at the house with a view to retiring there in the (distant) future.
What advice would you offer any other potential buyers?
There are two main tips we would offer anyone thinking of buying a property outside the UK:
Always buy through a reputable estate agent, appoint a good lawyer with local knowledge – preferably someone who has been recommended.
Whilst it’s not essential, having a basic understanding of the language will make the process even more enjoyable.