Time to reflect
Andalucía, 18th of December
We've been here for nearly twelve months, this is my last diary entry and it's the end of a year, so it's time to reflect on what we have done. I can honestly say that we have never regretted our decision, even though it was made in haste 18 months ago. But it is interesting to look back at the high and low points of the year and to see how our plans for the future are developing.
Planning your move
Even though we initially followed our instincts, in general I think we worked pretty hard on our research and planning and this has really paid off. It's important to understand what you're letting yourself in for and I found that the books that guide you through the processes and the legal issues were invaluable. Setting clear criteria for the type of place you want to settle in is an obvious starting point. We are glad that we live on a tarmaced road and that we can walk into the village. We have seen a lot of people regretting the decision to buy a house down a long unmade track that turns into a quagmire in the winter. We also like being near a big working village with a cosmopolitan feel where we can buy all the goods and services we need and have an interesting social life.
Speaking of social life, we feel slightly ashamed of the fact that all our friends are English. Without fluency in the language it's hard to make friends with Spanish people. In a small place you do get to know all the shop staff, people in the banks and so on but conversations are limited. The Spanish are so good at making sense of our attempts at their language and are very encouraging which really helps. Because of this I feel confident in most situations now and can even use the phone to find things out or chase up things we have ordered. I had hoped to be more fluent by now and I guess the danger is that I could just stay at this level and get by. Fred has an exam at the language school tomorrow and he's scared to death - it's the first one he's taken for 45 years! No doubt both our New Year resolutions will be to learn a new word every day.
Calculating the altitude
A week or so ago we very briefly considered leaving here for a house nearer to the coast. This was brought on by the terrible weather and this is where I feel my research really was not thorough enough. I'd looked at statistics for the region but hadn't realised how different things are when you're 2000 feet up a mountain! Nor had I understood how difficult Spanish houses are to heat and to keep dry. Oh for central heating - not a thing I had thought we would need.
Calculating the budget
This brings me on to the other miscalculation and that's money. It is cheaper to live here, but not a lot. All the renovation costs have been about twice what we had allowed and our general cost of living has been hit by the bills for gas, electricity and wood which are twice as much as in Bristol for a house half the size in a supposedly warm climate! So don't think you can live on a shoestring if you want to be comfortable.
The right move
In spite of all this, on days like today when it's as hot as can be in the sun, we wouldn't want to be anywhere else. We have met lots of nice people, been adopted by a cat, started on the road to learning Spanish and a little salsa and have made a place for ourselves in the sun where we feel we can stay for the rest of our lives - unless we get itchy feet again. When you've done it once, it's no problem doing it again!
Sent by: Sue