Category Archives: Relocating to Spain

5 things to know about renting in Spain

One of the primary concerns people have when relocating is understanding how property rentals work. This article gives a flavour of what to expect in Spain together with some examples of properties available in the town of Alzira in the Valencia region of Spain.

For rent sign - Se Alquila

1: Furnished or unfurnished
Property in Spain is usually let as furnished. This is a contrast to the UK where many landlords will prefer to rent unfurnished. The side not to this is that many landlords will take out any furniture that is of good quality and replace with cheaper alternatives. If the furniture is not up to standard the tenant should be prepared to complain.

2: Length of rental contracts in Spain
Rental contracts in Spain will typically be eleven months long. The length of the contract though is relatively unimportant. If the tenant is paying the rent on time and in full and has not caused any problems at the property then the tenants have rights to remain in place and expect the landlord to issue further contracts.

3: Deposit and agency fees
The landlord has the right to charge a deposit to cover for damages. This would typically be one month rent for unfurnished property but landlords may ask for up to two month’s rent as the deposit if the property is furnished. Be aware that deposits are not protected in Spain. The landlord holds the deposit. For this reason it is always worth trying to insist on a one month deposit if possible. The landlord holding the deposit is a system that really fails to work in the favour of the tenant and expect a debate when you finally leave the property. Unofficially (and this will normally be written into a contract as unacceptable) a standard practice amongst tenants in Spain is to hold back the final month’s rent when leaving so the deposit is physically on the table and can be discussed and agreed between landlord and tenant. In addition to landlord fees, if you are renting through an agent the normal practice would be for the tenant to pay the agency fee. Again, this will usually be equivalent to one month’s rent. It is acceptable to negotiate this with the landlord and with the situation as it is now with many properties vacant some landlords may agree to share this fee or the agent themselves may be prepared to offer a reduction.

4: Other monthly expenses in addition to the rental
When taking out a rental contract in Spain check the details of what is included. The property tax, a community fee if it is a property on an urbanisation, water and other utilities are all potential additional expenses. Unlike in the UK, the landlord would normally pay the property tax. You may well get the landlord to agree to include the community fee too. Utilities including water, gas, electricity and telephone would normally be the liability of the tenant.

5: Buyer beware
It is far easier to get something dealt with before you move into the property. Check the appliances, the lights and the hot water are all functioning. It is a buyers market and landlords will be keen to get tenants into properties so do be specific. If you think a piece of furniture or an appliance needs replacing then say so.

Finally, let’s take a look at three sample properties available at the time of writing in the town of Alzira.

Property 1 – 550€ per month:

Four bedrrom detached propertyThis first property is a large detached property on the edge of town. It has four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a private swimming pool.

Property 2 – 500€ per month:

4 bedroom property with community pool

The second property is a modern house on an urbanisation on the edge of the town. It has four bedrooms, three bathrooms and shares a community pool with other neighbouring properties.

Property 3 – 350€ per month:

4 bedroom 2 bathroom flat

The final property is an example of a flat in the town centre. It has large terraces. It has four bedrooms and two bathrooms but he lack of a swimming pool or other communal spaces helps to keep the price down.

Live and work in Spain: The most accurate, practical and comprehensive guide to living in Spain
by Heleina Postings

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Relocating to Spain with family

So, you’re a teacher and are considering relocating to Spain to work but you have family. What about your partner and child/children?

As with all these posts I can only speak from experience of the schools I work with but hopefully this information will at least help in asking the right questions and making sure that any job offer you receive is right for your whole family.

It is often said that when you are moving to another country with a partner that there are two necessities for the move to be a success. Firstly, you should both make an effort to learn the language. Secondly you both need work. I can imagine that without something to occupy each day and the social interactions of work that life in a foreign country could become quite an isolating experience. One of the offers we make to families moving to work in our schools is to endeavor to offer a position to both parties. If both are trained teachers that is always a bonus but where the other person is in another line of work, if they are interested we offer a position within school. It may be that of classroom assistant, support class assistant or even librarian. That offer of work always helps the process of adapting to the new situation and also alleviates financial pressure. Assistant staff in school are paid on a salary of approximately 16,000€ so the extra wage certainly helps.

Children are offered a tuition free place in the school. Although not completely free, as there are still uniform and dining room expenses, this is a substantial help to most families with children. It means that children can continue in the British education system. Children of secondary age would go on to study iGCSE and A Levels as they would in the United Kingdom. Children of primary age or younger are working to the same curriculum that they would experience in the United Kingdom.

In terms of language support children below the age of five are usually quick to develop language, learning from their peers. It is unlikely that a child joining the school at five or younger would need any additional support. Children over the age of five are usually given individual support classes to help them learning Spanish. The successful social adaptation of children depends on a fluency with the language. My own daughter was six years old when we moved to Spain and after around 18 months had sufficient fluency and confidence to socialise in the same way as she would with children speaking her native language. We also offer language lessons to all our staff as learning the language certainly helps with integration.

If you are considering a move to work internationally and have a partner interested in finding work it is worth considering how to present as an asset to the school. Undertaking a TEFL qualification or even just volunteering in a school or youth setting may be of interest to a potential employer. Beginning to learn the language before you leave the UK, or showing a commitment to doing so, is also a move that sends a future employer a strong message about your determination to adapt and make your move work. Any evidence of preparing the family as a unit for the move is important to share. As an employer we always feel a duty of care to a family joining us and evidence of the family preparing as a unit for their planned move is always reassuring.

I hope this helps anybody considering moving to Spain, or elsewhere internationally, with their family. If anybody has any questions regarding moving a family please do post them in the comments section and I will answer as best I can from my own experience.

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Work life balance – A Spanish working Sunday

ThermometerI think Spanish Sundays are probably one of the biggest differences between teaching in the UK and in Spain. I’m writing this article sat on my terrace with the sun on my face and a view of the mountains in the distance. I do have some work to do. I have an assembly on the theme of ‘Tolerance’ to prepare in two different ways, firstly for Key Stage 1 and then for Key Stage 2. For the resources relating to this assembly read my first ‘Shareday Friday’ post. My giving back to the community started with a series of resources for PSHE – Virtues.

I also have a staff meeting to prepare on the topic of display. With a colleague preparing a discussion about what consitutes effective display my role is to plan the discussion leading to an agreed display policy. There is a wealth of excellent material on the Internet, not least the inspirational primary displays website.

But the weather is too good to waste so before I get ready for the week ahead I’m off to walk my dog on Cullera beach. Happy Sunday everybody and I hope the work-life balance feels good.

UPDATE:

Picture of Cullera Beach

Trying not to take for granted where I live. The Costa del Azahar (orange blossom coast) sits on the northern edge of Costa Blanca. A couple of hours of Sunday afternoon spent walking along the edge of the Mediterranean really helps that feeling of a work-life balance.

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Endings and beginnings

In the last few weeks I have had opportunities to reflect on endings and beginnings. One week before the end of the school term we moved house. In amongst all the activities of a school term ending it has made for a busy few weeks.
The house moving preparations began about a month before we actually moved house. There were two clear strategies in place. I was applying a pure energy to moving everything from one house to the other. With two weeks overlap where we had keys to the new property and were invited to move what we wanted prior to the official moving day, time around my working hours was filled with physically moving as much as possible to facilitate the final move. This was my strategy. It involved getting up at five thirty most mornings and taking a car load of hastily filled boxes from the old house to the new house. I succeeded in moving at least two car loads each day, one before work and one after work. My wife meanwhile was applying her own strategy to the moving preparations. It began in her own wardrobe with each item of clothing being reviewed, tried on if necessary and then a decision made as to whether it was to be packed, or put into a black bin bag and thrown away.
Both strategies for a new beginning in a new house are valid but arguably the strategy employed by my wife is more deserved of the ‘new beginning’ title.
And so we come to the end of the term. The last task for me was to deliver the whole school assembly to our primary pupils. The school has just received the data relating to the pupils completing their final year and again is sitting considerably above the best of the rest in the region. I started the assembly by inviting three final year A’ Level students to explain their own aspirations and then provided the link between hard work and the options that are available to us in our lives.
The assembly went well with input from our Year 6 pupils moving to secondary and time to say goodbye to the departing deputy head. As is customary we talked about ‘moving on’ and ‘new beginnings’.
Next week we have two non-pupil days to wrap up the term. In talking about ‘new beginnings’ in respect to a new school year I think we have the same two strategies available to us as we did when I moved house a week ago. We could blindly pack up all we have been working on this year and unwrap it all to start afresh in September. However, as with moving house, I’m not certain that would give us the energy that comes with a ‘new beginning’.
The other option is that favoured by my wife when moving house. To review each item before carrying over. I think my house move has taught me that the second option is more refreshing in creating that ‘new beginning’ and therefore at the start of next week I am going to invite an open feedback on what should be in the boxes that we pack for September. Which of our whole school strategies and systems have been effective and which do we need to review or discard before we move into the new academic year. With the School Development Plan reviewed in January this should provide an opportunity to check that we are moving in the right direction and that our plans are having the intended impact on teaching and learning. Hopefully, September will bring a new academic year that provides a genuine fresh start. Strategies that are effective in enhancing teaching and learning will be strengthened and those that are not having the desired impact will be left behind in the move.

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The Telefonica customer service treatment

It is an accepted part of life in Spain that eventually everybody will have a negative Telefonica/Movistar experience. It took a full four years of living in Spain for my turn to arrive but here is the ongoing saga of my current Movistar experience. Movistar own O2 in the United Kingdom as well as in many other countries across Europe. I think I understand how considered incompetence has given them the financial strength to buy so many national telephone companies.

In October 2010 I moved house. The chalet I moved to had never had a fixed telephone line installed but a call to Movistar (Telefonica as it was then) revealed that a fixed line was available. The installation, although much later than originally promised, was carried out and the telephone line worked. I had rejected the offer of Internet with the same company. Movistar had assured me that the Internet available in my area was upto 10Mb. I was surprised therefore when the company delivering the Internet provided my high speed ADSL service at speeds of only 3Mb. I should add that the Internet installation was considerably slower with the Internet company accusing Movistar of deliberately stalling the process.

I should warn that at about this point my conspiracy theories began to service. Within a few weeks of the telephone installation Movistar began a regular contact offering me an Internet service of either upto 10Mb or upto 6Mb depending on the day. Each time I politely declined despite the sales calls becoming ever more persistent.

Eventually in autumn of 2012 I went to make a telephone call only to find the line was dead. When I called Movistar the conversation went more or less as follows.

Me: Hello, my telephone line doesn’t seem to be working. Could you possibly check it for me please?
(After checking name, social security number etc)
Movistar: We have cut the line Sir because you have not paid your bill.
Me: I’ve paid every bill you’ve sent. Can you check that please?
Movistar: (After a short pause.) The problem Sir is we don’t have an address for you so we are not able to send the bill.
Me: But you’ve always sent me a bill. Why would you not have an address now?
Movistar: Your address doesn’t exist Sir so we can’t send the bill.
Me: The address does exist. I’m calling you now from the address. The chalet is exactly where it was when you sent your engineer to install the line two years ago. It is in the same place as where you have sent bills for the last two years.
Movistar: It isn’t on our database Sir.
Me: OK, so what do I need to do to get my telephone working again?

The answer is that a late payment of a bill (plus an expensive and unavoidable reconnection fee) can only be made in cash at a post office. After paying the bill the line was soon activated. This whole process repeated two months later. Against all the odds I then managed to convince Movistar to send the bills to an address that although not available on their system I could vouch, did in fact exist.

Fast forward to January 2013. At the end of January 2013 I received a double bill. I assumed something must be outstanding from the time of my address not existing soaked the bill in full. On Tuesday 26th February the line was cut. The following is the edited highlights of my last week of communication with Movistar.

Tuesday 26th February: The telephone line is cut at about 7pm. I know this is true as we were using the Internet after work and the service cut early in the evening.

Wednesday 27th February: I called Movistar to be told that the bill they had sent in January that I had paid in full was not in fact my full bill. There was an outstanding balance of just under thirty nine euros from November when they were unable to send me a bill excuse the address did not exist. If I went to the post office and paid the bill the line would immediately be reactivated. I paid the bill but the line was not reactivated.

Thursday 28th February: I called Movistar to ask why the line has not been reactivated. They told me it is because they have deleted my number. I will now need to apply for a new number. After protesting they confirm my old number is available and will be immediately activated.

Friday 1st March: The line is still dead so I phone to ask why. I am assured that the line will be activated immediately.

Saturday 2nd March: The line is still dead so I phone to ask why. I am told that when I had been informed yesterday that the line would be activated immediately this actually meant the process of reactivating the line would begin immediately. The process will take 24 hours and therefore on Sunday afternoon the line will become active.

Sunday 3rd March: The line is still dead.

Monday 4th March: The line is still dead so I phone to ask when it might be reactivated. The customer services lady informs me that the line was cut on the 7th December because a bill had not been paid. I tell her this is wrong, but also out of date information. I relay the conversations of the previous days. She tells me that it is not possible to connect me to the landline department because they are not answering the telephone and because she works in the mobile department she is not allowed to access my account. She takes my mobile number and assures me I will receive a telephone call very soon from the landline department.

Tuesday 5th March: The line is still dead. Tonight’s telephone conversation confirms that the information about being able to reinstate the line in 24 hours was false. I will need to raise an order for a new line and that process can take from 7-10 working days. Combining gets me nowhere except more frustrated so I raid the order the new line.

Finally, in the middle of March after many difficulties, the line was reconnected using the original number. The magical way of getting the reconnection ‘fast-tracked’ turned out to be to accept the Telefonica Internet package and drop my current Internet Service Provider. This then elevated me to the position of priority customer as I was new to the Telefonica Internet solution. Of course, the promise of doubling my Internet speed to 6Mb was a hollow one but with that accepted my Telefonica nightmare has ended and all is once again normal.

Fighting an overly complex system is one of the challenges of living in Spain. It seems as though there are numerous opportunities for simple processes to be made more complicated, often with a complete disregard to customer service. That said, it is May and Spanish summer will soon be here with long warm evenings and the opportunity to forget the obstinance of Telefonica and enjoy the fresh air.

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Spanish Sundays

Spanish Sundays

Sunday always seems like the embers of the weekend. I think the fact it was a four day weekend due to the All Saints’ Day Holiday only adds to that feeling. How do teachers secure a work life balance? I would suggest that the aspects of both work and life should be condensed into those things that matter most.

Somehow getting that balance seems easier working in an international setting. We took the dog for a trip to the beach this afternoon. He does love the beach and never tires of swimming to retrieve a stick. The dog, Rusty, is a rescue dog with certain abandonment issues. Having been found by the bins near a beach he never strays far from us even when out. Today the Mediterranean Sea looked just too enticing to leave only to Rusty so when his stick ventured too far for his usually brave retrieval instincts I waded in and joined him in the water. The day was hot but the water was cool – maybe 17 degrees. After splashing around for twenty minutes or so and avoiding a jellyfish the size of a basketball I dried off within five minutes of standing on the beach. It was one of those warm pleasant winds from inland and the views back towards the mountains were spectacular.

We were home barely an hour before it was time to take my daughter to her weekly horse riding session. We finally sat down at home at about half past seven this evening. Of course, all of those activities are available in the UK although the idea of swimming in the sea in November may take a little more courage in the UK than it does here in Spain. The difference is that with the bright sunshine here one is actively encouraged to go out for the day. The four day weekend was coupled with all the usual work of a teacher. Writing the Christmas nativity script, editing music for the Christmas production, marking assessments, planning for the week ahead. It is just that I genuinely do feel that in comparison to my UK work commitments as a teacher I do now find more time for family and relaxation and that the work and life are far more evenly balanced than they were when teaching in the UK.

How do you get your work life balance correct and if it is out of balance, how can you put it right?

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Spanish move has moved!

In March 2008 I entered the blogging community with the story of my family’s intended move to Spain. When the time came and we moved I felt the blog had fulfilled the intended purpose and so I stopped updating.
This new blog is the update. Four years on we are still living in La Barraca in Spain. This new blog will be the update of the relocation together with other thoughts and tales.
Stories from the classroom, from the perspective of my role as Headteacher, elements of travelogue, together with a sprinkling of stream of consciousness as it occurs.
I hope some followers from the original Spanishmove blog will make the journey to this new site and pick up on where the story left off over four and a half years ago.

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