Key Post The case for buying a property in France, Spain or Portugal

Leper

Frequent Poster
Messages
1,435
I have stated that I'm a glass-half-empty person which won me no friends on the subject here and elsewhere, but my case for buying property in France/Spain/Portugal/Italy:-
1. Investment:- Can work and can be profitable and requires relatively little work. What you want to earn and within reason is up to you. Summer Rentals can provide mouth watering income if managed coldly.
2. Sunshine:- Guaranteed for almost all of the year. Warmth especially in the off season is most welcome for us in colder and wetter climes. If there is a history of arthritis in the family, Spain is your best friend.
3. Cost of Living:- Much cheaper than Ireland. Believe me if you are in any doubt as to what to eat (in Spain) take note of what the Spaniards buy. They eat healthily and frugally. Supermarkets are good, but the Spaniards use the Bakers shop daily for fresh bread. They tend to use stale bread for gaspacho. Very little food is wasted there. And you won't find your neighbour Pedro eating the tasteless sliced stuff we eat.
4. Lifestyle:- (a) Even in the off season you'll spend more time in shorts and tee-shirts reverting to long pants and long sleeves in late evenings only from mid December to mid February.
(b) You may not want this, but as the weather is better, you tend to walk longer distances every day stopping off at whatever café and have a mug of good coffee along with a glass of orange juice + glass of water with two small doughnuts always thrown in for €1.50 or less. It's Operation Transformation without the tears. You learn your first word of Spanish = Tapas - it comes up in every conversation.
(c) New friends are made more easily; they share what you've done and unlike many here, share experiences and information.
(d) Still you have BBC and ITV television channels. If you want RTE you can get that too, but needs satellite dish alignment (many urbanisations do not allow satellite dishes) or you can pay monthly for the "extra" Irish channels on cable tv.
(e) Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner on the terrace:- If you wish enjoy, breakfast in sunshine, believe me sitting on your warm terrace enhances the occasion. No more breakfast in one hand and car keys in the other. You get hooked on the lifestyle and spend longer at the table and in more conversation. Within a fortnight you'll not even answer your mobile while at the table. The sea and mountain views are terrific too.
(f) If you enjoy wine:- The first thing you'll learn in Spain is that the Spaniards wouldn't touch the stuff you can buy in supermarkets in Ireland for around a tenner. Under strain, they might use it for cooking occasionally, extremely occcasionally. They call it paint stripper and they can buy such wine (our brands too) for under €1.00. Pay €3.00/€4.00 for a bottle of wine in Spain and you're drinking stuff that you would buy in Ireland for €35.00 per bottle. (I can nearly hear the reader saying "Stop there Lep, we're on our way . . .").
(g) Drinking + "Bad" Behaviour in Public:- There are outdoor terraces in most restaurants where people meet for a pint (€1.50 San Miguel, Levante etc). You seldom see Spaniards drinking on the street. In fact, you seldom see Spaniards drunk and messy in public streets. Young Spaniards start drinking wine at home with their parents and are alcohol savvy from a young teenage age. Yes, there are discos and Spaniards tend to drink heavily in such environments, but once the disco is over they return to their buses and head for home (around 5.00am). Lewd objects (stag and hen parties) are prohibited in public. There is a higher presence of police in Spain and arrests of transgressors actually happen. For the record drinking and driving is well policed too and you'd be taking more of a chance there hopping into your car after a "skinful."
(h) Spanish motorists are more sympathetic towards cyclists.
(i) Getting back to the terrace(s), one tends to read more, relax more, even listen to Radio Nacional (Equivalent to RTE1 radio but without Senor José Duffio). You find yourself listening to the Spanish equivalent of Lyric FM too (but without my hero Marty in the Morning).
(j) You'll have more callers to the door which can be a neighbour you don't know who'll have a bottle decent wine to share. These callers tend to call around 1.45pm and won't stay beyond 3.30pm. You'll be expected to call to them too (and leave by 3.30pm), but don't show up with a bottle of plonc costing €1.00.
(k) You might even put a few plants on your terrace(s) and they usually thrive on neglect. Visiting garden centres in Spain is fab even though you may know nothing of gardening. The colour and range on display is nothing short of an enormous work of art. If you're having a moment of bad form, visit a garden centre and the mood improves.
(l) Many restaurants/hotels have a bring-a-book-take-a-book system so you shouldn't find yourself short of reading material. Books in English in Spain are more expensive.
(m) The beach is 2 mins walk if you don't feel like using the pool.
(n) The pool area probably has its rules (no football, shouting etc during siesta 2.00pm - 5.00pm). Believe me you don't want a bleary eyed Spaniard on your case screaming at you in his underpants from his terrace. He doesn't appreciate loud singing of "You'll never beat the Irish . . . " Neither do they appreciate bunting of green white and orange along with politically presented tricolours.
(o) You find yourself becoming less Irish and more Spanish and start to learn Spanish and it opens up doors you never knew existed. You tend to drive the Spanish way too i.e. driving home fast coming up to siesta (not stopping at zebra crossings etc and driving slower after siesta and nearly parking the car to allow pedestrians the right of way at zebra crossings).
(p) You may not retire to bed at night until around 2.30am again glued to your terrace and watching for fallen stars which are more visible in Spain.
(q) If you enjoy colourful sunrises then you are onto a winner. You have them every morning if you wish.
(r) You always have a holiday to look forward to and each one gets longer than the last.

An Add-On (couple of hours after original post):- Would I sell the apartment even for the amount we originally paid. Answer:- No!

That's the Case-For. Perhaps the reader can add?
 
Last edited:

Brendan Burgess

Founder
Messages
42,990
Hi Leper

Excellent post!

I would relegate the investment case to a P.s. or secondary consideration.

Buy a foreign property as a lifestyle choice if you can afford it comfortably and if you are going to use it.

It's a very risky investment so that should not be your primary purpose.


Brendan
 

Leper

Frequent Poster
Messages
1,435
With respect I represented the case in no order of importance, because people buying holiday homes abroad tend to differ in their reasons. I put in the investment bit in to dispel the myth of the 2nd most popular lie of Irish people in Spain:- " I bought only to have a holiday home in the sun for a place to relax and for the kids etc." Done coldly, you can make a few bob profit on the holiday home. There's a bit of know-how and street-cred involved too.

Mark my words. This "We won't ever let the place out" syndrome lasts for about six months. Utilities, Some external Public Lighting, Community Charges, Local Taxes, Internet, Cleaning, must be paid (and on bank standing order too). You might never even see a bill other than the deduction in your Spanish bank account. Maintenance is an issue and exterior painting of the holiday home is necessary every 3 years by professional painters demanded by the community living in the urbanisation. You can paint the inside yourself, but do it before April. This is easier than you think because all the paint is White unless you want to bring a bit of Ireland to Spain with paint like Elephant's Breath and Duck-Egg Blue.

I don't aim to put anybody off buying foreign holiday homes. But, I try to get people to think before they do and know the pitfalls. For the record I love our place in Spain and whenever the Covid situation improves here in and in Spain I'll be on the first plane to Alicante even if it is a Boeing Max-8 and even if I have to push it to get the engines going.
 

SlurrySlump

Frequent Poster
Messages
568
Most days I look at a few webcams of my favourite Spanish places to visit. Most have been very very quiet, understandably. However I notice a bit of movement in the past few days as walkers head back out to the beaches and promenades.

Port de Soller webcam, Mallorca | SeeMallorca.com

Can Pastilla Pipeline Surfshop Webcam (palma.co.uk)

Portixol Webcam (palma.co.uk)

Puerto Pollensa webcam, Mallorca | SeeMallorca.com

I am not sure if I would want to buy a property in Spain though, even though I have the money to do so now. I think I would prefer to rent a nice apartment and head out there for a few weeks at a time, then come home to read the post before going back out again.
 

SGWidow

Registered User
Messages
128
(f) If you enjoy wine:- The first thing you'll learn in Spain is that the Spaniards wouldn't touch the stuff you can buy in supermarkets in Ireland for around a tenner. Under strain, they might use it for cooking occasionally, extremely occcasionally. They call it paint stripper and they can buy such wine (our brands too) for under €1.00. Pay €3.00/€4.00 for a bottle of wine in Spain and you're drinking stuff that you would buy in Ireland for €35.00 per bottle. (I can nearly hear the reader saying "Stop there Lep, we're on our way . . .").

Great post, Leper

I must admit that I find the line in bold hard to believe! It's the Thomasette in me. If it sounds too good to be true and all that.....

Can you give some examples of the wine you have in mind here please?
 

Leper

Frequent Poster
Messages
1,435
1. I'm after forgetting the obvious but will correct that here:- I believe the emotional urge to buy property abroad outperforms many of my reasons above. Some people buy new cars every year or so; some buy property abroad for their own personal reasons.

2. As a general answer to SG Widow when shopping for wine in Spain go to the supermarket before 10.00am and you'll see Spaniards buying their wine of preference and the shelves emptying accordingly. The brands for around a tenner here (€1.00 in Spain) have their shelves full for most of the day or at least until the holidaymaking Brits/Irish arrive.
 
Last edited:

Gordon Gekko

Frequent Poster
Messages
5,020
Hi Leper,

What sort of brands do the ‘tourists’ favour?

I like the idea of buying rather than renting because you can leave your stuff there and travel light. Plus I like the idea of a ‘home from home’, albeit with an outdoor holiday feel (i.e. pool, al fresco, dining, beach, etc).
 

Leper

Frequent Poster
Messages
1,435
Hi Leper,

What sort of brands do the ‘tourists’ favour?

I like the idea of buying rather than renting because you can leave your stuff there and travel light. Plus I like the idea of a ‘home from home’, albeit with an outdoor holiday feel (i.e. pool, al fresco, dining, beach, etc).
1. The bargain basement stuff (and you see the same stuff in Irish supermarkets for about a tenner).
2. If you want to buy foreign property I merely supply the pros with the cons. Like in everything else you make your own decision and hope you get it right.
 

Pinoy adventure

Registered User
Messages
293
Great post
It brings me back too me buying a place in south east Asia many moons ago.
Roll on retirement and the year round sun and speedos
 

Cervelo

Frequent Poster
Messages
546
Thanks Lep for the reminder of how I like to spend my winters now but unfortunately can't at the moment
I made a list of things I wanted to achieve in my life many years ago, two of those were to retire at fifty
and the other was to either move to France or to at least spend a large part of the year there.
The first I achieved ahead of time and am now in my tenth year of retirement at the tender age of 54,
The second hit a speed bump twenty odd years ago when I met my current wife who happens to be half Spanish and doesn't like France

As many of you know by now I've spent the last few winters cycling in Southern Spain approximately 35Km inland from where Lep has his place in Mojacar
And like most people I have always like the idea of owning a foreign property as GG says a "home from home" and I've seen a lot of places in the general area that would be perfect for us. The prices range from a lowly 10K to 20K for a property that needs total renovation to 50K to 500K for the ready to move into properties, the ones that I really like are in the 150K to 250K mark which would usually be a 3/4 bed villa with the pool and a bit of land for the usual fruit trees and olive grove.

On one hand I could if I wanted to buy a place there as the money has been sitting in Prize bonds for the last few years but on the other hand I've also realised that there really is no need to buy when you can rent and rent cheaply or at least what I call cheap.

I was last October just about to head to Spain for 6 months and was about to sign a rental agreement for a two bed fully furnished townhouse for €450 pm, utility bills would have added another €150 which would cover everything from elec to BB to wood for the fire and all your council taxes
Another €200 pm would have easily covered all supermarket shopping for the month including wine and beer if that's your thing.

So €800 pm would cover all my needs and would just need a small bit extra for the social life, not much somewhere between €10 and €20 would suffice, I've witnessed many nights out in restaurants and bars where everybody has had their fill of food and drink and not spent a cent over €20.
I don't really drink myself anymore I prefer to get my kicks in other ways which is legal, cheap and easily found if wanted.

So for me at least I'd rather rent at the moment as it doesn't require me to sink money into a property that might take years to sell and free to move around Spain should mood take me.
 

SGWidow

Registered User
Messages
128
Another great post.

I don't really drink myself anymore I prefer to get my kicks in other ways which is legal, cheap and easily found if wanted.

I've obviously lived a very sheltered life as I'm genuinely perplexed as to what this means precisely?!

Indiscrete (read nosy) question: what was your secret that enabled financially you to retire at 44ish?
 

Leper

Frequent Poster
Messages
1,435
Where's a good place to look for rentals @Cervelo ? In both senses; geographical location and do you just use local estate agents or is there a decent listing online?
Local estate agents is the obvious place to source rentals abroad. They mainly represent themselves and the person who owns the rental property. Be warned that many of them refused to refund deposits to those who booked months in advance before Covid struck. DoneDeal is another good place to source rentals. But, you might be more prudent seeking out some holiday home owner and doing the deal privately. Notice Boards in supermarkets can be a good source. I would advise you check the credentials of anybody with whom you are going to give a few hundred euro.

I would also suggest you prepare a Questionnaire regarding the requirements for your holiday e.g. How far walking distance to nearest safe beach? How far walking distance are the nearest restaurants/bars? How far walking distance is the nearest supermarket like real supermarket and not a hut with "Dunnes Stores" written on a piece of cardboard? Get pictures taken within the holiday home or from the holiday home and ensure pics from other apartments/duplexes/houses/villas are not being used. What is local public transport like? If there is any fobbing of what you ask, do your business elsewhere. Etc, etc.
 

Cervelo

Frequent Poster
Messages
546
Another great post.
I've obviously lived a very sheltered life as I'm genuinely perplexed as to what this means precisely?!
Indiscrete (read nosy) question: what was your secret that enabled financially you to retire at 44ish?

In fairness to Lep and and the general readership of this website it's not really something that should be discussed here in any great detail
It should be obvious what I meant ;)

With regards to the "secret", Luck pure luck, we made a few good investments years ago that came good but its not just the balance in the bank account, there are other factors at play as well like our relationship/attitude to money, not been risk adverse, been realistic in our expectations and been very comfortable in decumulation of our wealth and of course not having any children was/is a big help
 

SlurrySlump

Frequent Poster
Messages
568
I retired at 50. Since then I have been availing of cheap flights....some very cheap......anyone remember the 1c flights from Ryanair? I have travelled mostly in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Holland but other places as well. I like to stick to the countries where they use the Euro. I have rented numerous holiday apartments and I have registered with many of the hotel chain websites where you get all sorts of offers and points build up, that you can use against later stays.

We usually travel for a week at a time. Return home and then a month later, travel for another week. We travel in April, May, June, Sept and Oct. We stay in Ireland for the summer months. Having hated the Irish winters for some time now, we were planning on extending our travelling time in to the months of March and November with two week stays. If this worked well our plan was to then chip away at the other months. We had booked an apartment for November 2020 in Spain in an area we really like that was a mix of local Spanish plus tourists, with beach plus old town and good large supermarkets for the locals. It also has a good bus route and train station.

This did not happen because of Covid. I am hoping to do this next year.

I am also someone with a stack of Prize Bonds plus maturing An Post accounts going forward. I intend to spend as much of this as I can on my family. I have done the savings and investments bit but I keep a decent chunk aside to invest in the markets. Not for long term but for a quick in and out deal that will pay a few bills.

We would be light drinkers. Happy to eat where the locals eat. Not in to bling or clothes etc. The plan is to try and stay healthy and just enjoy the moment and family.
 

Cervelo

Frequent Poster
Messages
546
Where's a good place to look for rentals @Cervelo ? In both senses; geographical location and do you just use local estate agents or is there a decent listing online?

It depends on what your looking for, how long you want to stay and where you want to stay
If your thinking of a couple of weeks or a month or two, Airbnb would be my first port of call
During summer time they can be quite expensive but off peak they are more willing to negotiate with you
and the longer your willing to stay the bigger the discount, the place I stayed in last year charges €80 to €100 per night for normal short stays
but I was able to negotiate a price of €800 per month to include all utilities and food including one cooked meal every evening

Other than AirBnB, local estate agents have a good idea of what properties are available in the area
A simple google search should provide a good starting point and as Lep says above you really need to do a lot of homework yourself
to make sure not only do you get a place at a price that is acceptable to you but that the property and the area is suitable for your requirements

Geographical really depends on the purpose of your stay and what your interests and hobbies are
For me it's cycling I don't want to be down at the coastline with all the other flatlining cyclists, I prefer the hills....
 

Bronte

Frequent Poster
Messages
14,125
What is legal, cheap and easily found as regards kicks?That has me stumped. It can’t be what I think it is.
 

SGWidow

Registered User
Messages
128
Hi Bronte,

I had the same question. It seems us lassies haven't much of a clue what them men get up to.........Cervelo told me above that it should be obvious!!
 
Top