Wednesday, January 31, 2007

BBC Real Story: Pain in Spain

Just watched the BBC 1 programme Real Story, with a report entitled "Pain in Spain" (how do they think them up?).

It detailed some of the all too familiar horror stories that many expats seem to experience after following their dream of moving to Spain.

Illegally built homes, for example: residents on a development built near the popular town of Albox, are pulling their hair out, since - surprise, surprise - the project never had permission from the town hall. Therefore they enjoy no street lighting, no roads, no mains water and the ever present threat of demolition. Not exactly a stress free retirement.

The majority of the residents are UK expats and most used the lawyer that the developer Procoal recommended. So no conflict of interest there then.

The Beeb hack dutifully tracked down the Procoal MD at his offices for a showdown. They couldn't have been in and out faster if the office had a revolving door. A piss poor impression of Roger Cooke and an Adios later they were back on the street.

By the way Procoal are still advertising, so you have been warned!

Healthcare was also on the agenda: retired couples found that they were not entitled to coverage under the Spanish state health service until the age of 65. The rub is, that the UK will not afford them healthcare after 2 years of residency abroad. So that leaves a lot of retirees, stuck between a rock and a hard place, having to cough up for private healthcare. Ouch!

Complaints were also aired about the lack of out-patient and social care. Whilst commonplace services in the UK, Spain sees these more as responsibilities of the family. "But my sons live in Australia" complained one old guy.

Whilst I wouldn't wish the above problems on my worst enemy (OK, maybe my worst enemy) - I am constantly astounded by the incredible lack of judgement people show when making some of the most profound, expensive and life changing decisions.

Where is the healthy dose of skepticism Brits usually reserve for any slick suited salesman?

Where is the fastidious research that normally precedes a weekend in Filey, let alone a lifetime in a foreign clime?

Good sense appears to be wined, dined then royally shafted by an unoriginal mix of naivety and seductive marketing.

I hope this programme (along with the endless similar press stories) shakes those contemplating a move abroad out of their reverie, and forces them to really do their homework.

But then what do I know? I landed here with about 25 quid and wide eyed optimism. So shut up Millsbomb.

Read more here. And if you missed it, keep an eye out on BBC News 24 for a repeat.

Millsbomb you idle get

Had an appropriate knuckle rapping from Mal Jones regarding my utter lack of follow up on anything I promise to do. Harsh but fair.

Prompted me to get right on and..

oh wait, erm..

found this really good game...

Speed Card Game

Can you see the trouble with me? As my ex-girlfriend pointed out - no committment. Or did she say staying power? Ah well.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Rental Profitability Calculator

This is quite neat. Its a calculator to work out the rental profitability on your property.

You put in a bunch of figures and it tells you how many weeks of the year you need to rent your place to cover the mortgage and other costs.

Kudos to the guy who thought this up.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Online Telly

Sshhh, don't tell Jack but I found this chestnut of dubious legality:

It links to loads of my fave telly programs, whole series in fact, which you can watch via streaming video. Free of charge.

Missed an episode of 24? Or my favourite CSI Las Vegas?

Watch them all here, there's chuffing loads.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Agent Survey

Like a Spanish Esther Rantzen, Justin at has had the bright idea for a consumer survey of Spanish agents and vendors. He wants your opinions (but no rude shaped vegetables) at:

The idea, presumably, is to poll results and get a top 10 (or even better a worst 10!), to help inform new buyers about the outsanding moral fibre - or otherwise - of their prospective agent or developer.

Any bets on where Aifos will be in this poll?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Chris McCarthy buys back Viva Estates

With more twists and turns than an Eldorado christmas special, Chris McCarthy, the ousted former MD of Viva Estates, has apparently bought back controlling shares in the company, thus putting him back at the helm.

The company had recently been seeking investment, following a fairly shaky period which has seen them adopt then abandon a 2/3% commission rate, switch staff from commission to salary and toy with the idea of selling products in emerging markets.

The big question is, can McCarthy turn round the ailing company? Answers on a postcard to Marcus Tandy.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Reasons to be cheerful Part 1

Just been mulling over the start of a new year in that am-dram entertainment we call the Spanish property market.

Maybe its the unseasonal sunshine that is affecting my outlook but I'm sure there's a slightly more positive vibe going on.

Is the January sunshine dispelling the doom and gloom of 2006? Or am I still drunk from New Year? My air of optimism stems from a quick glance about at the web:

1) Justin from reckons 2007 will be a great year for buyers

2)These Valencia agents appear to be seeing significant growth in their area

3)Then there's this:
Holiday Home Buyers Return To Spain
Capital growth in Spain has fallen from 12% earlier in the year to 10.8% currently and is likely to continue slowing into 2007, after which it will probably stabilise. British holiday home buyers will continue to support the market, which is also underpinned by strong demand from Spanish locals for their own holiday homes, as well high levels of tourism.


4) And read this. Investment experts Assetz and Sunday Times journalist Mark Stucklin both seem to be in agreement that we can expect a price check, but that the overall outlook is stable and positive.

Reasons to be cheerful then? Well, on the whole yes. There may be some vendors who are in for a rude awakening when it comes round to valuation time, but Spain still retains its charm for the British buyers it would seem.

And besides, I'm househunting this year and I'm definitely not after a unique fixer upper in Romania. Viva EspaƱa.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Use Gmail to store your files

Here's a demon clever little thing: GSpace

Whats that then? For those of you with a gmail account it allows you to select files from your PC and upload them for safe keeping to your gmail account. As well as being secure storage, this has the added advantage of making the files available to you from any machine with an internet connection.

It is an add-on for Firefox (a much better browser than IE!). For those who haven't tried this browser yet, give it a go. Its got tabbed browsing and millions of useful add ons like this one.

So there you go.