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Once we arrived in Calpe there were a lot of changes we had to make, for a start we moved from a 5 bedroom detached house in Plymouth to a two bedroom ground floor apartment in Spain, I was surprised how much gear we had packed into a Volkswagen Transporter in addition to the two bikes (where was it all going to go?)

Calpe itself is a Spanish fishing town that has had an expatriate / tourist city built around it on the most part though the touristisation has been done with regard to the local area and it is not anything like Benidorm. I personally think Calpe is an ideal spot for tourists who do not want the 24/7 hype and nightlife of Benidorm.

With a lot of help from our hosts / landlords we got to know a little of the surrounding area and met up with a lot of people, both Expatriate (English, Belgian, Dutch and French) and Spanish.

I am still amazed at how friendly and welcoming the Spanish people are, I have friends who I can only talk to in what even now is still very very poor Spanish or hand signals, yet we are invited to their houses, asked out for meals and other social events and anything that they can do to help is no trouble at all.

After a few months we both decided that we would be happy to live in Calpe or the surrounding area, so the 6 months in Andalucia went by the wayside, we had driven down to the Southern Costa Blanca, but with one or two exceptions we did not see anything that tempted us away from Calpe.

So now it was time to go house hunting, I hate house hunting with a passion and even in Spain where the weather is pleasant (most of the time) it is still a drag. We did months of looking, a major problem we had was working to a budget, it always appeared that for a few thousand extra you got so much more house. I wanted a small farmhouse, with a bit of land but not too far from town as the wife has to fend for herself when I am at work.

We must have looked at over a hundred properties, ranging from the typical expatriate type newly built estate house to places that would have been around when the Moors and the Christians were fighting over Spain.

Eventually, an estate agent made an off the cuff remark about a finca (country house) he had for sale that was nice but did not have electricity. Unfortunately I was due back to work the following day so did not have a chance to see it. We booked a visit for a month later and fortunately it was still for sale, we looked at it and ended up buying it.

Next problem was getting the money together, Spanish property valuation is strange, what basically happens is a house is valued based on land value and house size. The market trends etc do not get applied in the same way as the UK which means the actual valuation can be very different from the asking price, some times a lot higher (normally when a lot of land is included) and sometimes lower. In our case the initial valuation was considerably lower due in part to the house being on country land as opposed to an urbanisation and partly due to no application of current market forces (property prices in Spain have been rising faster than even the UK)

This coupled with the fact that Spanish mortgages are rarely given for over 65% of valuation meant there were a few problems, eventually, because of the large deposit I was able to provide we managed to complete the purchase with a loan from a Spanish bank (Bancaja), this bank has subsequently proven to be incredibly helpful and I have no hesitation in recommending them although it could just be that we have a particularly good bank and account manager.