Holding My Nerve And, A Near Miss With A Rabbit Hutch.


Before I venture any further with this story, it might be helpful to first explain why in the end we decided to focus on Spain rather than Portugal as a place to re-locate to. Having previously waxed lyrical about the Eastern Algarve and living close to the sea, we soon realized that we were about 100,000 Euros short of what we needed if we were to find anything that ticked even half the boxes on our new home list. We could have looked further in land and or headed up to Northern Portugal for cheaper property but, the lure of tapas, the beautiful towns and white washed villages of Andalucía, and the fact that Spanish is for us Brits, an easier language to learn than Portuguese are among the reasons why ultimately we felt drawn to Spain. I’m not going to lie; I like Rioja and Cava a lot too.

blue-sky-and-lemon-tree

Ahead of my trip, Irishman and I spent long evenings discussing what each of us would most like in regards to a new home. Bearing in mind that this was to be the first house that we’ve bought together I felt a great burden of responsibility to get it right. This was not to be a holiday home but a permanent residence, somewhere to move to after our sojourn in Indonesia comes to an end. Fortunately we have similar tastes and aesthetics. Our mantra was the same. As long as it was habitable (had some sort of a roof on it) had good light, enough space to make a large studio, a fireplace and at least two bedrooms, we were half way to ticking the boxes on our wish list. Land would be ideal but we were prepared to sacrifice that if I found something that had all the other qualities that we were hoping to find in our new home. The only difference between us is that I can happily live on the side of a hill in rural isolation, but Irishman can’t. Whatever I was looking at had to be either in a village or within walking distance to one.

church-los-choppos-andalucia

Dream-finca-andalucia

All these thoughts and more were running through my head as I headed towards Alcala La Real early that Monday morning.

Out of all the houses that I’d made appointments to view that first day, there was one that I was particularly excited about. I was convinced that it was going to be the right house for us despite the fact that I knew that it was in terrible condition and needed a lot of work to get it back to scratch. I’d even taken to stalking it on Google Earth. How amazing that from my desk in Jakarta I could make a virtual tour of the area, view the country lane that it was on and then as a bird, soar up and look at it from above? As we approached closer to the property I astounded the estate agent by giving her directions to turn right, follow the road and then we would see the finca up on the corner by the bend before you get to the village. I’m sure she thought that I was some sort of psychic.

rabbit-hutch

It was indeed a lovely house. Set back off the road with an acre of olive groves behind it, it had the potential to become a very stunning home. I’ve never been fazed by restoration projects but I could see that this would be more of a challenge than I’d originally thought. The roof had an ominous sag in it, the walls all had cracks and it was clear that there was a serious damp problem. I’d looked at two other houses that afternoon but none of them came close to this one that I’d nick named ‘The Rabbit Hutch’.

olives-everywhere

Well, fate played its hand as later that day as it soon became apparent that The Rabbit Hutch was not meant for us. The vendor turned out to be a difficult man. Rather than snap my hand off with my offer for the full amount, he decided to put the price up another 6,000 Euros. Considering the house had been on the market for just shy of a year I couldn’t help but wonder if the man was bonkers. I didn’t burst into tears or blub. Instead I was quite sanguine. I had what is best described as an ‘Omm’ moment. My inner buddhist kicked in. Getting older has taught me that there is very often a reason for things. If, after my best endeavours this house was not meant to be, then I had to trust that something else would be around the corner. I was also secretly relieved that I’d been spared the job of turning up with Irishman a few months down the line and having to watch his face fill with horror at the thought of all the hard work that we’d have to do and no money to do it with. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise after all.

fancy-cooker

kitchen

That night I slept badly. The only other possible contender that day had been a sweet little house perched up on the side of a hill. It was very cute but rather dark inside since the back of it was built into the hillside. There was definitely a touch of the troglodytes about it. Although it had some outside space which in the future could come in handy if we wanted to build a swimming pool, and stunning views all around, I couldn’t help but feel that it would be too isolated for the Irishman. As I tossed and turned, I wondered if this might be the best house of the trip and if indeed it was, then how could I sell the idea of something so isolated to Irishman. I had only one more day if I was to find something and get all the legal stuff sorted out.

casa-lottie-two

L-shaped-room

It’s funny how things turn out. The following morning, the agent told me that she was going to take me to see a house that wasn’t on my list. The reason that she’d not thought to take me before was that it had no land, just a large courtyard. I wasn’t in the least impressed when I read the house details that she handed to me. In fact I was in two minds as to whether to tell her to leave it and go straight on to the other 3 that we had lined up to view later. How glad am I that I agreed to see it.

blue-shutters-andalucia

beautiful-cupboard

stable-with-wooden-window

tiny-window-and-fireplace

If you’ve ever been looking at houses to buy or rent, you will know that there is a certain feeling that you get when you’ve arrived ‘at the one’. It’s that sense of knowing, that feeling that you are home. This is exactly what I felt the minute that the huge double doors to the courtyard opened and I had my first glimpse of the house. From the street side the house looks quite tiny, the huge fig tree at the front disguises the fact that it’s actually quite a large L-shaped building. What I loved most about the house was the fact that it hadn’t been messed about with. All the original details were there, the doors, the floors, the traditional shutters, the simplicity of the place. The upper rooms were flooded in light and if I counted correctly there were 3 large double bedrooms and lots of choice of where to make a studio off the courtyard. I noted that the kitchen and shower room could do with some updating but aside from that it was perfect.

I never bothered to see the other houses. An hour after looking around, taking it all in, and getting a real feel for the place, Antonio the vendor, and I shook hands. As I wiped a tear from my cheek I noticed that the old man had one too. In a moment of panic, I asked the agent if he was ok, did he mind selling his house to an English couple? ‘Oh no Lottie’ ‘He’s crying because he says that he’s so happy that you love his house as much as he does. He knows how much you will love it here. He gives you his blessing’ and with that I couldn’t help but burst into tears. Against all odds, I had achieved what in moments of doubt I had thought might be impossible. In less than 2 days I’d found the perfect house for us in a beautiful village in Andalucia. The remaining couple of days were spent sorting out a new bank account, notaries, lawyers, NIE numbers and everything else necessary to ensure the purchase of our new house. Now all that’s left to do is to learn Spanish and find a way to make a living. I will be writing about this in the weeks to follow but for now I have a request – I will need a new name for this blog, has anyone any bright ideas of what I should call it once we move to Spain and start our new life there?

tiles-and-shutters

62 thoughts on “Holding My Nerve And, A Near Miss With A Rabbit Hutch.

    1. Thank you Amit 🙂 Cool name too! I’m glad that I had an OMMM moment too. In the past I would have thrown the most terrible wobbly. I’ve obviously grown-up. Well, sort of!

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    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it Jody and thank you. I wasn’t expecting to find something that I liked so much. It just felt totally right the minute that I walked through the door. You can view 100’s of properties when house hunting and not get that feeling, I think I was just very fortunate.

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  1. Oh Lottie! I just adore you! I am wiping the tears away as I type. Brilliant. The house, the adventure, and the fact you are sharing this journey. Thank you! I will try to think up a name. OOOOH I cannot wait to follow you through this, and the photos… xx

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    1. I’m feeling very flattered that you adore me! thanks darling. I hope that I have many adventures to write about and share with you. I’m sure there will be much to tell over the months as we have a lot of things to do and it won’t all be plain sailing. It’s fun to catalogue this adventure from the start and hopefully it will give folks an idea of the highs and lows of moving to a new country and having to start all over again. That said, I’m feeling positive and can’t wait to get started! 🙂

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  2. Great story and beautiful house. The exchange with Antonio was just lovely. Best wishes for you and the Irishman as you prepare to make the move.

    Perhaps a name could be Lottie Nevin: Lady of Spain

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    1. Oh Rod, you do make me laugh. Lady Of Spain! I’m really glad that you like the house, I’m pretty tickled with it too. I can’t wait for Pete to see it for real. He has no more idea what it’s like than you do so it’s a little frustrating trying to explain exactly how it all works and fits together. As you can see the kitchen needs a little updating and I might ask if it’s ok if we buy a new stove 🙂

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  3. Lottie!
    :’-) sitting here in Berlin with tears in my eyes!!! That must be Kismet/ fate or whatever… ¡Felicitaciones! The kitchen(?) tiles remind me of my grandmothers house… I wish you and the Irishman all the best for a wonderful new home :))

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    1. What a lovely comment Marta, thank you so much. I’m a woman of simple tastes and this house seems perfect for our needs. The tiles are great aren’t they? I appreciate your kind words 🙂

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    1. Thank you, thank you. I’m getting very excited now but I still have quite a bit to do in Indonesia before we leave and we will have to hit the ground running when we arrive in Spain so a busy few months ahead. I’ve got a few ideas which I think you will approve of, I’ll be writing about them in a future post. I like your idea for the new blog title but Irishman has come up with something quite sweet which I’m thinking about. The house is on Calle Jazmin (Jazmin street) so I was thinking maybe of using something with Jazmin in it. I have a fancy for having some large pots of jasmine growing up the walls of the courtyard, the smell will be blissful 🙂

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  4. Oh my. I was crying too. Such a lovely ending to the house hunting and the gentleman so glad that you purchased his home.

    Yes I believe in Karma- Kismet, guardian angels. But I am also very sentimental and can cry over anything that is very nice and ever so sweet. I love the look of your home. I think that it will be a place that you will treasure and thank God that you were guided to the right place at the just the right time.

    And I think that you mentioned a large fig tree near the entrance or did I confuse that with a different house. Is there any extra yard space that goes with the house. Houses generally come with a front and back yard here in the US so having a bit of yard would be a bonus for you and Pete.

    I found the two posts about your house hunting an absolute joy to read. I am anxious for the two of you to be on your way soon and out of Indonesia.

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    1. You are lovely Yvonne, thank you so much and I’m really happy that you enjoyed reading these last 2 posts. It’s been quite an adventure even this far! I was so lucky in that I had an excellent estate agent and such a nice vendor. Everyone worked very hard to make it happen for me and that made such a difference. It looks like we complete on the purchase in 2 weeks time. The only thing that is holding it up is trying to get Pete’s name on the deeds. As he couldn’t be in Spain with me, he’s having to do everything through POA with the lawyer and the Spanish embassy here in Jakarta. It’s not a problem it’s just a bit more paperwork and time, that’s all. Hopefully we will be up and running soon 🙂

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  5. Well you did it. Despite reservations the number of crossed fingers out here in Blogland certainly got you property hunting Mojo working. The Irishman can’t help but be delighted by your choice. It looks a wonderful place . I wish you both much happiness and much success there. xxx Hugs xxx

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    1. And I appreciate every single one of those crossed fingers! Thanks so much David for your wonderful enthusiasm and kind words, what a lovely generous spirit you have. Hugs right back at ya! 🙂 XXX

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  6. How about “Deja vu all over again”. Well, just kidding of course but isn’t this the second time you made an old man happy by buying his house?

    So happy that you found a home that makes you happy. You are indeed the heroine and I am looking forward to hearing the rest of the planning while you prepare for the move.

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    1. How very kind of you, thanks Steve. As I mentioned in an earlier comment, I’m really a girl of very simple tastes so for me personally, this house ticked all of the boxes, I’ve even discovered that there is a field that I can rent right next door. I may get my wish for a donkey after all! 😀

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  7. Sniff…sniff…you know how to pull the heart strings my dear! As soon as the shower works I’m coming to occupy one of those extra bedrooms for…how do you Brits say it…a fortnight? I can just imagine the striking home you’ll make for yourselves there. I love it!

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    1. My imagination is in overdrive thinking about how I might make all the rooms look. I have a plan for putting in a large wood-burning stove as there is no heating system installed. I’m actually quite relishing going through a winter again. It’s been very weird not having the 4 seasons for the past couple of years. Nothing like a sharp nip in the air to wake one up! I’ll be sorting out the shower as soon as we arrive, in fact probably the first words that I learn in Spanish will all be plumbing related! 😀

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  8. Hi Lottie, I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now (I’m an old friend of Pete) and looking forward to your next adventure . . .
    Congratulations! What a beautiful house . . .

    Say ‘hola’ to Pete frome me,
    Leonieke (& Richard)

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    1. Leonieke, how fantastic to hear from you! Pete has mentioned you before to me but I had no idea that you’ve been reading my blog. What a small world eh?! We are very excited to be moving to Spain and have quite a few plans and ideas. Pete says Hola back and sends you his best. Keep in touch. Lottie 😀

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  9. Yep you have me blubbing here too, I love the house and can’t wait to read about your Spanish adventures. No ideas for a name, but Richard is nice. 😉

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    1. wot you like Mrs! I’m heartily relieved that you like the house and I hope that I can entertain you with further Andalucian adventures. Learning the language is going to be fun, linguistics are not my forte. I’ve managed to learn basic bahasa indonesia so I’m hoping that I can master spanish over time. No one in the village speaks english which is a blessing really as it will force me to knuckle down and get on with leaning the language quicker.

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  10. Ah, and here are the tears and gorgeous photos. Felicitaciones! Well done, Lottie. Very well done. I never doubted you for a moment. Casa Lottie is perfect. You are both going to be so happy there!

    As to the new name for your blog…check out my comment on your previous post. xoxo

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  11. poco esconderse
    Good one again Lottie. I know the feeling of having found a ‘home’. You know you made the right move. We have always followed our instincts in home choices. In that part of Spain one could be happy perched on an olive tree. 😉

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    1. I think you are absolutely right, Gerard. Being perched on an olive tree, surrounded by the most beautiful countryside, it’s about as far from the dirt and fumes of Jakarta that one can find. I’m relishing the thought of going for long walks and breathing in fresh air, I cannot tell you how happy that makes me! And regarding finding the right home, it’s a weird thing isn’t it? You just know when you’ve found the right place. It’s a definite feeling, an instinct 😀

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  12. Congratulations Lottie, nice to see you back, and isn’t it great when things just fall into place. I seem to recall you describing another heartfelt transaction with the owner of a house in the wilds of coastal Scotland a long time ago? Looking forward to following your journey toward becoming Senora Nevin!

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    1. Gosh you have a good memory! I did indeed Hayley, but it was in North Yorkshire, not Scotland. Thanks for your kind comment and I’m thrilled that you will be following the adventure! 😀

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  13. Congratulations Lottie. I’m more than a little jealous, I’ve long fancied a similar sort of house in Greece; congratulations on such a wonderful find, and a wonderful sounding man to buy it from. Have fun.

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    1. Chris, I love Greece too! I hope that you find a property there for you. The vendor was a lovely man, so kind. It makes a huge difference if you buying a house of someone nice. It leaves a good feeling for when you move in. I’m sure that we will have a lot of fun and our fair share of ups and downs. It’s going to be a learning curve, that’s for sure!

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  14. Congratulations! Amazing what you accomplished in just a few days…but on the other hand, like you, I believe that everything for a reason. And I also agree, with houses you just “know.” They are extensions of ourselves, so they have to fit in with our personalities. Best of luck to you!

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    1. Thank you Beduwen. I was speaking to a friend about the ‘everything has a reason thing’, and she said that I was just talking stuff and nonsense! But I’ve always felt that it works for me and that’s what matters at the end of the day. Learning how to deal with disappointment or difficult times. Houses are definitely extensions of ourselves, I think they say a lot about someones personality 🙂

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  15. Ah déja vu. The ‘no papers’ and ‘let’s put up the price for the foreigner’ trick. Some things never change in Andalucía.

    We had a list as well of what we wanted. Didn’t get any of them 😀

    I think your first choice looks rather nice, oh and our house has an ominous sag too.

    Your 1st (non) vendor was obviously house proud eh? Makes me look domesticated and that is not an easy achievement.

    Well done though. That is no mean feat in four and a half days. Needs must I guess.

    We so wanted ground, and ended up with a patio and a terrace instead (and a huuuuue workshop/trastero, chicken shed, pig sty etc). One of the Spanish traits I most admire is how they make the most of a small outside space.

    Title? How about something original like Lottie Nevin – an account of my life in Andalucía. Sorry couldn’t resist. You’d only have to change one word and it would keep the continuity.

    But if you start a new blog which I doubt seeing as you have got a domain name, can you change the background or layout, something really makes it slow to load and unload. So slow I have time to go and do some washing up while I am waiting for it and that will never do.

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    1. Very funny Ms Rough. Regarding the uploading of this blog, I’ve done a small survey and 9/10 followers don’t seem to have any problem with it. I have crap internet connection both in Jakarta and Bali and it works fine here.

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      1. That’s interesting. I think I should do one on mine. I’ve tried to get rid of superfluities to speed up time, but I’m still not sure it is fast enough.

        Let me know when you cross provincias and visit Málaga province. We could have the odd bottle glass of cava together.

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  16. Such a delightful post. I don’t have any brilliant suggestions for new name, but I do like the other commenter’s suggestion: Lottie Nevin: Lady of Spain. Always glad to find a post from you in my inbox!

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    1. And likewise, Susan! I’m not sure that I really qualify for the title of Lady! I’m really quite course and loud-mouthed at times and often quite badly behaved. I always appreciate your comments and thanks as always for stopping by 🙂

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  17. Congratulations in buying a house in Andalucia. I really do wish you well and that your purchase and life here is all what you hope for.. I have bought and renovated a flat in a small village south of Ronda and I love where i live with so many friends both Spanish and foreign to them.
    It’s a blessing that you have made a friend with the old man. His family probably litters the village and countryside around your house and probably all the tradesmen you need will be related to him.
    You also seem to have a good agent who is steering you through the rigours of Spanish paperwork. Good luck. We all go through it. 😀

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    1. It certainly helps to have a good agent. One of my frustrations with dealing with the Portuguese agents was the fact that they were not good communicators. Living in Jakarta, it’s frustrating having such a huge time difference to start with but also unanswered emails and questions left me feeling rather impatient. I think as well that agents get so little commission on a budget as low as 40,000 euros that they couldn’t really be bothered to take us on. I understand that.

      You are spot on about Antonio. He is one of the highly regarded, and much loved elders of the village. He’s a very good man to know and I look forward very much to being able to converse with him properly once I have a bit of Spanish under my belt! Thanks for your kind comment, it’s much appreciated. Lottie 😀

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      1. Mind you, if you walk around the Spanish village wearing the outfit in your avatar photo you would probably be elected mayor 😉

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  18. Hi Lottie – I came to your blog at the suggestion of my friend Yvonne Conroy. (I live in America, but spent a couple of years in England in the early 80’s and consider myself a die-hard Anglophile! How Yvonne and I met is an interesting story for another time!) Anyway, I absolutely love your blog and look forward to each new installment! This story of finding your new house was priceless. Have you written any books? Your writing style is so engaging – I would love to curl up with a good ‘Lottie Nevin’ book! Congratulations on the new house and I look forward to “sharing in” your continued adventures!

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    1. Very good to hear from you Jackie and thank you so much for your wonderful and kind comment. It really inspires me to keep on blogging when I get such nice feed back as yours. I’ve never met your friend Yvonne, but she has been a loyal follower of my blog for sometime and been very supportive. I’m now intrigued to hear how you two met!

      I’ve never written anything aside from this blog but who knows, maybe one day I shall bite the bullet and turn some of these stories into a book. I’m hoping that the new Spanish adventure will unearth lots of things for me to write about and hopefully a few laughs for you guys too! 😀

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  19. Congrats on finding a house in Andalusia! I traveled through there last month and loved it, except for the heat. I would love to “retire” to Spain. Hopefully I’ll have more trips there over the years to come. My travels have definitely given me something to blog and write about. I look forward to following your Spanish adventures.

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    1. It sure is hot! It’s a nice heat though and despite it hitting around the 40 mark when we were there, I loved not having to deal with the humidity that I find quite unbearable in Jakarta. I look forward to following your adventures too and I hope that some day you can realise your dream and live in Spain. I think Pete and I shall have our work cut out when we move there but we are looking forward to it very much. Thanks again, Lottie 😀

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    1. Thanks Sandra. Moving from our frenetic life in Jakarta, and island hopping around Indonesia makes our Spanish move seem relatively sane! I have no doubt that we will have our struggles, not least the fact that we need to learn the language fast. I’m have every confidence that we will manage albeit with plenty of laughs about us along the way 🙂

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