10/08/2007
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Prepare to live ‘La Vida Dulce’

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IT should be obvious that, when considering park or holiday home ownership in Spain, it makes sense to deal with reputable developers and builders, those either with a track record – not easy, as park and lodge home living is a new concept for Spain – or businesses associated with leading players within the UK industry.

Above all, conduct your own due diligence by asking the right questions, and – if you have any concerns – seek advice from a knowledgeable third party. This is a theme to which I will return in future editions of this column.

Meanwhile, this month I want to focus on how you can greatly enhance your chances of making a smooth transition to living ‘la vida dulce’, simply by following some useful tips. Not surprisingly preparation and planning are at the top of the list.

Choose the right home

Thorough preparation for your new life is vital. This starts with your first visit to the park home factory or one of the many excellent industry shows and exhibitions.

Make sure the home you fall in love with in the UK is suitable for use in a climate that has 320 days sun each year. This includes important modifications such as:

* air conditioning
* an exterior that can accommodate the climate
* reflective glass
* window shutters
* appropriate window orientation for the site
* the right flooring material (not carpets!)
* adequate decking and outside storage facilities
* canopy/awning for shade and protection from midday heat.

Get to know the area and people

Having chosen your home, you must be sure you will be siting it in a location that suits you. Set aside some time in the area where you have chosen before you actually move there.

Integrating with the local Spanish community is becoming increasingly essential. A recent poll showed that 60% of Spaniards believe there are too many foreigners moving into the country, with immigration the second biggest concern to residents after housing. Like the citizens of most other major European countries, many Spaniards feel they are losing their national identity.

In order to get the most out of being in Spain and the people you will be living alongside, a degree of familiarity with the language is critical. This is especially important if you plan to be in business or get some part-time work, but it will also make your day-to-day life more interesting.

Spain is an ancient and noble country with a wonderful culture to match. It makes sense to make the most of it. And with rising numbers of Brits moving to Spain it would appear that integration really is the key to success.

Indeed, it is arguable that, even in Britain, most of the problems we experience are due to a lack of integration and the much wider gap between many immigrant communities and our own.

Understand Spanish culture

Of course, there are considerable cultural differences, but in many ways that is what you are buying into. Life runs at a different pace in Spain. Culturally, social and business etiquette really can be best described by the ‘manana’ maxim.

While this can be a little frustrating when you rush to move things on quickly in a typically ‘northern European’ way, the hidden benefit is that after a while you tend to relax as well… Well, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!

Spanish healthcare and your rights

This is a major topic. In essence, provision is very good in Spain, though you must remember to have your Residency Card with you at all times to ensure treatment.

An emergency will underline the reality that you are in a foreign country and, again, passable familiarity with the lingo always helps.

Building for success

While accepting that, in order to make the most of the opportunity before you, real changes in your life must be made, following a few simple rules will stand you in very good stead.

You will find that over a relatively short period of time, the local traditions will definitely become part of your own way of life. You will soon come to appreciate that:

* you can take three hours over lunch without feeling guilty
* your cost of living has gone down significantly
* your quality of life has increased enormously
* you are consuming top quality food and drink from local producers as never before
* you have a significantly better than even chance of waking up in the morning to clear blue skies!

Hasta luego!

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