Costa Blanca Property Questions/Answers
Living in the Costa Blanca
Our current collection of Questions and Answers for Living in the Costa Blanca are displayed below the blue bar. Please click the appropriate question link to view our carefully considered answer. To view other sections of our FAQ's please return to the main FAQ page.
Frequently Asked Questions: Living in the Costa Blanca
- Why should I choose the Costa Blanca to buy a holiday home or to start a new life?
- How do I get to the Costa Blanca?
- What is Spanish bureaucracy like?
- How safe will I be holidaying or living on the Costa Blanca & how secure will my property be?
- Is there work available on the Costa Blanca & how easy would it be for me to start my own business?
- What is Spanish healthcare like & should I take out private medical insurance?
- Can I bring my pets with me?
- What is the education system like in Spain?
- Can I drive my UK registered in Spain?
- Will the language barrier be a problem for me?
- Can I bring my electrical appliances to Spain & can I watch all my favourite UK TV programmes?
- Will I be able to get a telephone & internet line?
- Can I get my state pension paid to me in Spain & should I make a Spanish will?
- Can I continue my hobbies in Spain?
- What if I do not like the food?
Answers: Living in the Costa Blanca
Why should I choose the Costa Blanca to buy a holiday home or to start a new life?:
We have wonderful weather, stunning scenery, a relaxed way of life & a cost of living significantly cheaper than the UK. The Costa Blanca is a very healthy place to live & the medical system is excellent. Costa Blanca property has never been more affordable.
How do I get to the Costa Blanca?:
There are many ways to get to the Costa Blanca. You can bring your car by driving from the UK using either the Eurostar or cross channel ferry and driving through France and then into Spain and down to the Costa Blanca. This is a very long journey and you should allow 2-3 days with 1-2 overnight stops plus of course your journey in the UK down to Dover. If you really wanted to go for it this journey can be done in 24 hours with stops only for the toilet & fuel. Alternatively you can travel from either Portsmouth or Plymouth on a 24 hour ferry journey which will dock in northern Spain. The car journey down to the Costa Blanca is around 8 hours. Most people choose to fly to Spain and the flying time is around 2 hours from any UK airport. Access to the Costa Blanca is excellent with numerous low cost airlines flying daily from all over the UK to Murcia San Javier & Alicante airports. Flight prices can be as low as £9.99 (or less) each way plus taxes! You can also have your car bought over on a car transporter for around £500.00
What is Spanish bureaucracy like?:
Spanish bureaucracy can be fairly slow, similar to most of mainland Europe. We can advise you on all aspects & introduce you local lawyers & gestors who can guide you through all aspects of buying a property & living in Spain. To purchase a property you need to obtain an NIE number which is a fiscal number similar to your UK national insurance number. You will also need to register on the padron at your local town hall. These two tasks are very simple to achieve, at a very small cost & can usually be done in a day. If you are planning to live in Spain for more than 6 months at a time you will need to apply for a foreigners residence certificate. Again this can be done in 1 day for a small fee. This will confirm you as an "official" resident and will save you money on any income & property taxes you may have to pay.
How safe will I be holidaying or living on the Costa Blanca & how secure will my property be?:
Despite recent paper articles & TV documentaries your personal safety & property security are far greater living on the Costa Blanca than they would be in any main town or city in the UK. Burglary, violent crime & violent deaths are part of everyday life in the UK. Burglary rates are so high that for many years the police have not turned up to investigate break ins (unless you are a celebrity of course) & hardly a day goes by without news of someone being murdered in their home, on their doorstep or in the street. Most new properties on the Costa Blanca are built with security doors, security grills & sophisticated monitored alarms. There is no problem in leaving your property unattended or empty for long periods of time, it is safe to walk the streets during the day or night & it is perfectly safe to drive with your car windows open or convertible roof down. This is not to say there is no crime on the Costa Blanca. Wherever you are in the world, any destinations popular with tourists or holiday makers will inevitably have criminals waiting to take advantage & petty crime such as pick pocketing, bag snatches & break ins do occur. This is mainly because people are in 'holiday mode' and do not take basic precautions. You should not leave doors or windows open when you are not in your property, do not leave valuables or keys on show in your property or in your car. Do not have large amounts of cash in your property or on your person & do not walk alone in poorly lit quiet areas at night. A lot of communities now have there own neighbourhood watch schemes & these communities report almost zero crime. The Costa Blanca does have a higher crime rate than inland Spain but it is a fact that inland Spain has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe. The Costa Blanca has a significantly lower crime rate than any main town or city in the UK.
Is there work available on the Costa Blanca & how easy would it be for me to start my own business?:
Due to the increasing amount of British people moving to the Costa Blanca there is a constant & increasing demand for British workers. The type of work available covers a very broad spectrum. Due to the huge property market there are always vacancies within estate agencies, property cleaning & maintenance, building & home improvements & gardening & landscaping. There are also vacancies within the computer industry, various sales opportunities & advertising & promotional work. The beauty industry always has vacancies particularly for qualified hairdressers, nail technicians & beauty therapists. There are several training centres on the Costa Blanca where you can gain city & guilds & other internationally recognised qualifications in a range of professions. For example hair dressers, nail technicians, plumbers, electricians, air conditioner engineers, web designers & many more. If you can speak some Spanish there are even more options open to you. If you are only interested in some part time work again there are numerous vacancies within British run shops, bars & clubs. Most vacancies are advertised in the many free British local papers that are published weekly on the Costa Blanca. To give you an idea of what is available right now log on to www.costablanca-news.com & look through the situations vacant column. Numerous successful businesses are franchised in Spain so you can always buy into an established profitable business. If you have an interesting or unusual idea the Costa Blanca is an ideal place to work for yourself or set up your own Spanish registered SL company (similar to a UK Ltd. Company). If you have some form of building or associated trade, working for yourself should be very easy. If you have the drive, are good at what you do & are reliable & trustworthy then you should easily be able to run your own successful business here on the Costa Blanca.
What is Spanish healthcare like & should I take out private medical insurance?:
The Spanish healthcare system is excellent and there are numerous doctors, dentists, health centres, hospitals & every kind of medical specialist on the Costa Blanca. Children under 18 and pensioners are entitled to free healthcare within the Spanish healthcare system. If you are not within these age brackets you can only get Spanish healthcare when you are paying into the social security system. This happens when you start work or set up your own company. You may be able to get Spanish health care paid for by the UK using an E106 form. To see if you are entitled to this you need to contact the pension service in Newcastle upon Tyne on 0191 218 7547. Private healthcare is excellent, cheaper than in the UK and far more comprehensive. Most private health insurances will include hospital inpatient & outpatient treatment, visits to your GP, GP visits to your property, dental costs & emergency ambulances. We can offer help & advice on choosing a suitable medical insurance company. Finally you can choose to use private doctors & "pay as you go". A typical cost for a visit to a private doctor would be around 25 euros. Whatever healthcare you have you will have to pay for prescriptions and you are charged for the actual cost of the drugs. A typical charge is around 4 euro per prescription.
Can I bring my pets with me?:
Yes you can & due to the recent introduction of the P.E.T.S (Pets Travel Scheme) it is now possible to take most family pets out to Spain with you without the heartache of quarantine. Please bear in mind however that there are specific rules and regulations for different animals travelling within the E.U under the P.E.T.S Scheme. To qualify for the P.E.T.S travel scheme, pets can only travel by air from Heathrow, via sea from Dover or Portsmouth or by the Channel Tunnel. Atlas would recommend that you book your trip with the bigger carriers such as British Airways or Iberia and we would remind you that there is limited availability, so please be sure to book well in advance. It is not possible to enter into the P.E.T.S travel scheme unless you travel on these specific routes and you cannot re-enter the UK on a private boat or plane.
There are many different veterinary practices within the Costa Blanca area offering high standards of care at reasonable prices. If you are planning to move to Spain permanently, it is advisable that you register with a vet as soon as possible. You can then arrange a medical for your pet where you will be advised on any matters you need to be aware of. You will also need these contacts for your return trip to the UK. The UK Government Department, DEFRA has dictated that your pet must be inspected by an approved vet 24 hours prior to the return trip to check for ticks and parasites.
What is the education system like in Spain?:
The education system for non Spanish residents is excellent in Spain and particularly good on the Costa Blanca (mainly due the large number of British people living here). Spanish state schools are very good and most already have a large contingent of English or English speaking pupils. International (fee paying private schools) are excellent and there are many on the Costa Blanca. Pupils are accepted usually from age 3 to age 16 or 18 and are taught in both English & Spanish. A typical cost for a 14 year old child in a private fee paying international school is around 6000 euros per year. There are also numerous nurseries, playgroups & mother & toddler groups.
Can I drive my UK registered in Spain?:
You can drive your UK registered car in Spain but it should be registered onto Spanish plates within 6 months of arriving in Spain. Your car must be legal as if you were driving in the UK. I.E. it must have a current tax disc & MOT and you need to get a green card from your insurance company. It is very easy and relatively cheap to insure your car on the Costa Blanca through English speaking insurance offices with English insurance paperwork. Most Spanish car insurances policies insure you throughout Europe and also include European breakdown cover. You can drive using the new UK photo driving licence & you do not need to exchange this for a Spanish driving licence. If you do not have one we would strongly recommend you apply for one before you leave the UK. In Spain you can now learn to drive & take a Spanish driving test in English. This is in the form of a written theory test & an actual driving test. The total cost would depend on how many driving lessons you need but an average would be around 1500 euros to include both driving tests & around 40 driving lessons. Millions of euros have been ploughed into the Spanish road system particularly around the Costa's and the majority of roads are excellent with very little traffic or congestion. We can help in re-registering your car onto Spanish plates or you can sell your car in Spain (there are several dealers who specialise in buying UK registered cars on the Costa Blanca) & we can help you purchase a new or second-hand LHD Spanish registered car.
Will the language barrier be a problem for me?:
Generally the language barrier will not be a problem. There are many thousands of English speaking people living on the Costa Blanca & millions staying during the holiday periods. Along the coast you can easily get by with little or no Spanish. The further inland you go the less you will find Spanish people who speak or understand English. You should really try to get a grip of some of the popular words & phrases & a little Spanish will get you a long way. The Spanish are a very warm people and if they see you trying to speak Spanish they will do their best to help & understand you. Try learning from one of the many Spanish learning language CD's available in the UK before you come to Spain. There are many low cost language lessons and courses on offer throughout the Costa Blanca and many town halls offer free Spanish lessons for anybody who wants them.
Can I bring my electrical appliances to Spain & can I watch all my favourite UK TV programmes?:
Most small UK electrical appliances will work perfectly well using European adapter plugs (stereo's, hairdryers, lamps, microwaves, kettles etc.) Televisions are OK as most British people watch digital TV through a satellite dish. If you only want to watch Spanish TV then you will need to buy a Spanish television. Fridge, Fridge / freezers, dishwashers & tumble dryers will work perfectly well but be careful because they may not fit into the spaces available in some Spanish kitchens. Washing machines are a definite NO as Spanish washing machines only have a feed for cold water & not hot & cold water feeds. Kitchen appliances can be slightly more expensive than in the UK & the popular silver finish appliances are much more expensive than standard white appliances. You can watch all your favourite programmes on digital TV & you can also get sky +. A typical digital TV package will cost 590 euros for installation but will then only cost 20 euros per month subscription for 40 channels. We can arrange digital TV to be installed for you.
Will I be able to get a telephone & internet line?:
Telephone & ADSL internet lines are available across most of the Costa Blanca. There are still some remote inland areas where there is little or no chance of getting a Telefonica (Spanish BT) telephone line. However with today's wireless & satellite technology, telephone & ADSL (high speed) internet lines are available virtually everywhere. Costs vary from location to location & are getting cheaper all the time. All modern Spanish urbanisations will have access to Telefonica phone lines. We can help you with all aspects of communication technology. Did you know that if you have a computer connected to the internet through an ADSL connection you can download Skype free software & with the purchase of a cheap internet phone you can talk all day for free to anywhere in the world to anyone else connected to the internet through an ADSL line & using the Skype software.
You can also use Skype to call landlines around the world at incredibly cheap rates. For instance call a UK landline from Spain, via your computer & Skype for less than 2c per minute. Via Skype you can have a UK number (or local number from any other country) allocated to your computer. When someone from that country calls you they are only charged for the price of a local call in their home country.
Can I get my state pension paid to me in Spain & should I make a Spanish will?:
Your pension entitlement & payments will not be affected if you move to Spain. Payments can continue to be made into your UK bank account or straight into your Spanish bank account direct from the Dept. of Work & Pensions. The amount you receive will depend on the exchange rate & the sending & receiving charges. If you are not yet retired you can continue to pay into your UK pension and life / critical illness insurances & claim on them should you need to & get your pension payments when you retire. Spanish inheritance laws are complicated & vary depending on your age & marital & residency status. Making a Spanish will is essential and you will need to speak to a Spanish tax specialist in Spain to get the very best advice. We can recommend a tax specialist for you.
Can I continue my hobbies in Spain?:
You should be able to continue all you hobbies on the Costa Blanca. All sports activities are catered for with many new purpose built sports centres & gymnasiums. Water based sports are very popular along with horse riding & cycling. In 3 hours you could be skiing in the Sierra Nevada. There are bike clubs, car clubs, card playing clubs, bowls clubs, tennis clubs, dance clubs, football supporters clubs & all faiths & religions are represented. In fact there is almost every type of club you could think of. If it's not here why not start one yourself?
What if I do not like the food?:
The Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest in the world consisting of lots of salad, olive oil, fish, rice & superb BBQ's. The Spanish people love their food and the choice of really fresh food is second to none. If you are not keen on certain aspects of the Spanish diet there are lots of foods especially meats which are almost the same as you would eat in the UK. There are also numerous restaurants owned by British people and you can eat roast dinners, fish & chips, pie & chips, burgers, kebabs, Indian, Chinese, French and Italian food. In fact just about everything you could eat in the UK. There are numerous supermarkets specialising in all your UK favourites. Tell us what you like to eat and we can send you in the right direction.
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