Two weeks ago, I was flying off on a mission. Armed with a motley assortment of Irishman’s maxed out credit cards, airplane tickets, vouchers for hotel and car hire in Malaga and whatever clothes I could stuff into a cabin bag not much larger than a pencil case, my brief was to find and buy a house in Andalucía, Southern Spain. My budget was €40,000. I had four and a half days to complete my task before returning to Jakarta.
Prior to the Andalucía house-shopping spree, the only time that I’ve recently spent in Spain was a day trip to Seville from the Algarve 2 months ago. You may remember that Irishman and I had a fancy for living in the Eastern Algarve, somewhere close to Tavira. However, on our return to Indonesia, the more I trawled the Internet for properties, the more disheartened I became. With the best will in the world, the sort of house that we were looking for simply could not be found with the money that we have. Determined not to give up, I decided to cast my net further and jump ship to rural Spain. Away from the coast and up into the hills I reckoned we had a better chance of success.
In an ideal world it’s probably best to have a little longer than four and a half days to find a new home. As we are currently living 7,600 miles away, spontaneous reconnaissance’s to the Iberian peninsula are out of the question and very expensive. Not least the fact that over the past six weeks it’s become increasingly apparent that any prospect of extending our contract with Irishman’s employment in Jakarta would ultimately be paid for in blood. With the sobering realization that in less than 3 months we shall have no monthly salary, it was time to get the show on the road and start focusing on pastures new.
Although I had less than 5 days to achieve my goal of finding and buying a house in Spain, in the week previous to my trip, I had done much of the spadework from my desk in Jakarta. Once Irishman and I had both agreed on an area, it was simply a matter of finding an estate agent who specialized in the sort of properties that we were looking for and a good knowledge of the region. Through the help of a good friend I contacted an agency based in Alcala La Real, 45 minutes drive north west of Granada. After a skype call to introduce myself, and several emails to describe what it was that we were looking for, by the time I left Jakarta for Spain, I had appointments made for 10 properties to view over 2 days.
Lord only knows what I did to deserve it, but by sheer good fortune, Emirates out did themselves and gave me a free upgrade to Business class for the entire trip back to London. I shall be waxing lyrical about this in a future post but for now it’s suffice to say that I was spoilt rotten for the entire16 hour flight back to Blighty.
No need to bore you with the details of a night spent at Gatwick airport, nor the joys of flying with Easyjet, the antithesis of Emirates Business class, but on arrival at Malaga at 9am the following morning I did have a small wobbly. As I wrenched the gears of the hire car, and wondered why on earth I couldn’t get the damn thing to move, it occurred to me that my driving skills are a little out of practice. 2 years of not being in the driving seat and a manual car to boot left my nerves feeling decidedly frayed as I left the airport car park, stalling more than once and incompetently jerking the tiny Fiat Panda straight onto the rush hour traffic of Malaga’s ring road.
That said, I did have two splendid traveling companions. My calm, sweet-natured daughter Annie who had joined me at Gatwick for the Spanish leg of the trip, and an infuriating Tom Tom Sat Nav, who between them managed to safely steer us out of the mad Malaga traffic and northwards towards Granada. As the gear crunching lessened, my thoughts started to turn to the reality of my mission. Was I being naive, stupid even, thinking that it might be possible to find a new home, within our budget, and negotiate a purchase in such a short space of time? Only the next few days would tell.
To be continued…