We have lived in Spain for more than three years and moved hassle-free to new locations four times on a modest budget. Buying a used car recently added more joy to our experience and for us Spain is a well-functioning society full of dedicated and service-minded individuals.
Reading different expat forums is very useful when you move to a new country and I am spending some time every day there to check out the latest advice and news. Spain is often criticized for its bureaucracy and Mañana mentality. In the beginning, the many stories about terrible landlords and neighbors, unfriendly and frustrating bureaucratic processes, unreliable and cheating craftsmen made me worried. Would I be able to navigate safely here?
My husband arrived first only knowing a few Spanish words and fixed what was needed on his own. NIE number, tax residency, social security and Spanish driving license. The only problem he got was a kind but unfocused lawyer he hired to prepare the papers for my residency application. It was a nail-biting and challenging experience that had to be solved very fast, but we managed by taking right decisions and I wrote a little about it here.
It was natural for me to take over the communication with Spanish authorities since I knew a little Spanish when I arrived and my experience so far is very good. And that also goes for landlords, internet and telephone companies and all other services. We are using online banking (BBVA) since traditional Spanish banks are more expensive than we are used to, and we always do good research.
So far, we have lived in La Herradura (on the coast of Granada), in El Hierro (the smallest of the Canary Islands), in Icod de Los Vinos and then in Buenavista del Norte (both in North Tenerife). The latter was the most expensive flat we have rented: a new furnished three bedroom/two bathroom apartment with private roof terrace and fast fiber internet for a price of 480 Euros including water and community fees, close to grocery stores, restaurants, beaches and public transport on a one year renewable contract. All our landlords have been attentive and very helpful and I guess the secret is to avoid the tourist ghettos and holiday urbanization. We also avoid real-estate agents who ask a month’s rent for their services. Responsible landlords and rental agencies follow the new rental law that gives great protection to the tenants and they are the kind of persons to deal with.
We have managed fine without a car. Spain has a modern public transport system that has served us well. But we have just found a great furnished flat in an area with unreliable public transport on Costa Blanca and our brave intent of not having a car has come to an end.
Used cars are relatively expensive in Spain. People are normally keeping their cars for a long time and the second-hand market is a bit limited. The cheapest way is to buy direct from the owner, but of course it is the riskiest. It also involves a lot of paperwork so the safest is to find a good and professional dealer.
Car dealers in typical tourist zones tend to be a little expensive so my husband started to look for dealers that mostly serve Spanish customers. He was lucky to find one he liked in an industrial area in Alicante only 45km from us, Carrera Sport Car, that advertised a 2007 Hyundai Accent that had gone 71,000 km with one owner and one year warranty.
© Photos by Eldar Einarson
Here is a link to more info about buying a car in Spain.