Setting up Spanish Dream Property was a natural progression in our lives. We already owned our own Spanish property, had many contacts in different trades in Spain, Bev had experience in property finding in the UK, already ran a successful business and has written for a UK based Spanish magazine.
Hi all we are putting on a Live webcast on monday 29th August 10am -11am about buying property in Spain on the Costa Blanca Costa Calida if you need info on Spanish property you need to be there.
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There are many frustrations when renting out your second home. Because it is not a pure investment property we have emotional attachment to the property ourselves. We love it and as with all things that we care about it hurts when it is mistreated. As we have said before, MOST guests are courteous people who appreciate the effort we put in and we have a good percentage of returning guests.
The most difficult situations are the ones where the guests complain about the keyholders in some way. I’m glad to say this is rare now as our current keyholders are so good. However we had a recent incident where after returning home the guest emailed, the following day, to say she had lost a small item of jewellery at the house. By then the cleaning had already been done so I was surprised the keyholder hadn’t told me about finding it. It turned out the house had been left in a really untidy state, lots of rubbish just lying around, unwashed meat tins in the oven, food spilt in the store cupboard, food marks on the sofas, the barbeque not cleared out after use and food crumbs and sand in the beds.
The holiday makers had a great time, they were a lovely family, but they hadn’t shown respect for the house. All the crockery and cooking utensils had to be re-washed as they didn’t look or feel very clean and the usual 4 hour clean had taken 2 people well over 8 hours. The result was that as she bagged up rubbish – sweet wrappers, hair ties, tissues etc in the bedroom the jewellery item had just got swept up with everything else, almost unnoticed. As it had been left lying around with rubbish it had been assumed it was just item of discarded dress jewellery no longer wanted. Had the guests have cleared away their own rubbish (as they should) it would have been a different matter – one item left behind on the dressing table would have been noticed and put to one side while emails were sent and postage arranged.
Fortunately the situation was resolved. But I felt, rightly or wrongly, that I couldn’t be honest and say the reason it had happened was due to the level of rubbish left lying about and general unhygienic, dirty state of the house. How do you tell someone that?
The town of Torrevieja is a short drive from our house. The small city dates back to 1802 and is named after the old watch tower (Torre = tower and Vieja = old). Large cities with high rise are not my kind of place but to my surprise I find I like many parts of this particular city.
The buildings are, in the main, not that tall. In fact smaller than other large tourist towns I know well in the northern Costa Blanca such as Calpe, Denia, Javea and of course, Benidorm (which I don’t know well as one visit was enough!). The place is truly international with influences from as far apart as Italy and the Caribbean, with one of the most diverse populations in Spain. In 2014 the population is recorded as around 108,000, of which around half are Spanish and the rest a wide mix from across the globe. Native English speakers make up about 11%-12% of the total population, which is pretty much in line with the overall percentage in Spain in most coastal areas, but lower than some other coastal towns. To give you some idea of how the town has expanded the current population is around four times larger than in 1990 and twice that of 2000.
The town’s blue flag beaches, long promenade, fishing port, yacht club and harbour make up the sea front. Much of the tourist area of town has undergone an up-date with new pedestrianised areas, new theatre, new out of town concert venue, new tourist information office and much more. The narrow streets are packed with individual shops and bars run by the Spanish, not ex-pats, with residential apartments above, many to only five storeys. The town has somehow maintained its identity whilst catering for international visitors which swell its number to 500,000 in high season.
Perhaps one of our favourite pass-times when we go to Torrevieja is to visit Valors and enjoy their chocolate y churros, on the opposite side of the road to the square by the church of the Inmaculata Conception. The original church, like much of the town, was destroyed by a major earthquake in 1829 and the current church was built in 1844 using the stones from the original watch tower (Torre) in the foundations. If you have children then the fun fair and Park of Nations are a must. Or if you prefer more cultural surroundings then have a coffee in the Casino (which is not a casino but a restaurant and art gallery and social centre). If you are there for the right week in August then you can experience the Habaneras Festival which has been run annually in the city for over 40 years. This is a music festival and competition where the music is a fusion of Cuban and Spanish.
Torrevieja grew from the salt industry, still a major employer, producing half a million tons of salt a year. There are two lakes, Laguna Salada de la Mata and Laguna Salada de Torrevieja, but they are more commonly known as the blue lake and the pink lake. The Parque National surrounds the blue (La Mata) lake while the pink lake is a hive of industry on one side. The lakes, together with the Mar Menor to the south and the Santa Pola salt lakes to the north, create a unique micro climate, one the World Health Organisation lists as one of the healthiest in the world; particularly good for those who suffer with joint or respiratory problems. Combined with the warm average winter temperatures (higher than the Costa del Sol and several degrees warmer than north Costa Blanca) of over 10 degrees (usually upper teens in the daytime), 320 days of sunshine and frost being virtually unheard of, you cannot better the climate in Europe.
We’ve all heard of the Costa Del Sol, The Costa Blanca and the Costa Verde but how many have heard of the Orihuela Costa? Well it’s not a Costa in the way we Brits picture them, it’s just 16km of coast in the very south of the Costa Blanca, Alicante region. Forty years ago it was farmland and coastal scrub land, now it’s a large town divided into several separate areas; Campoamor, Cabo Roig, La Zenia, Playa Flamenca, Los Altos, Villamartin, Las Ramblas and part (not all) of Punta Prima. Although often wrongly classified as part of Torrevieja, the area actually comes under the control of the townhall in the city of Orihuela, some 30km away, hence the name. Popular with ex-pats from across northern Europe it has diverse population.
City of Orihuela
An all year round destination for holiday makers, thanks to the milder winters, blue flag beaches and the famous golf courses of Villamartin, Campoamor, Las Ramblas and the newest addition, Las Colinas. A lack of hotels means most holiday makers rent private apartments and villas, maybe one of the reasons A Place in the Sun magazine named it in their recent Top Ten of places to buy a holiday rental property, although even they mistakenly stated places such as La Zenia and Cabo Roig as being part of Torrevieja!
And now Orihuela Costa boasts the largest shopping mall on the Costas! Opening last October with 150 shops and bars, sporting some of the best known names on the high streets of Europe, plus a bowling alley, casino, ‘town square’ complete with dancing fountains, free parking and sea views, La Zenia Boulevard is a shopper’s paradise. And it’s always busy. Spain may be deep in recession but people still go shopping!
Forever reading in the British press about the unsold new properties littering the coastal resorts and how nothing is being built, this area is genuinely ‘bucking the trend’. At any one time there are half a dozen cranes to be seen on the skyline building new low-rise apartments and houses, which are selling. There is nowhere near the flurry of activity that could be seen a decade ago, but there is building work, a rare sight in Spain these days.