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Spanish Secrets: Location, Location, Location

…For the past four years we’ve lived in our dream holiday home, enjoying a holiday lifestyle. Unfortunately, holidays can’t last forever. With our cash-flow reduced to a dinero-drip, it was time to take some positive action…

Craig Briggs continues his search to find a property in Galicia which can be renovated and rented out as a holiday home.

For more of Craig’s Galician adventures please click on Spanish Secrets in the menu on this page.

For two former residents of Yorkshire, England’s largest county, the rolling hills and lush green forests of Galicia bear more than a passing resemblance to the Yorkshire Dales. That fact aside, life on Spain’s Iberian Peninsula has little in common with that of England’s industrial north.

Before emigrating to Spain in May 2002, we’d planned to generate an income through property letting to holiday makers. We’d initially toyed with the idea of buying a large rambling estate and converting its outbuildings into self-catering cottages.

It wasn’t long before we realised that this idea could easily stretch our meagre finances to their limit, and most likely beyond. After a great deal of deliberation we decided the best course of action was to buy two properties; one to live in and the other to let.

It wasn’t long before we’d found our dream holiday home and promptly named it El Sueño (The Dream). Finding a suitable second property proved much more difficult.

After countless failed offers on a host of different properties and a nagging concern over potential rental earnings, we decided to suspend our search and wait.

For the past four years we’ve lived in our dream holiday home, enjoying a holiday lifestyle. Unfortunately, holidays can’t last forever. With our cash-flow reduced to a dinero-drip, it was time to take some positive action.

At the beginning of April 2005 the serious business of house hunting began in earnest. No sooner had our search begun than a trip to England to visit family and friends brought a temporary halt to proceeding. Whilst away we experienced a further set-back, Melanie slipped awkwardly in the street and fractured her elbow - worse was to follow.

On our return home at the beginning of May, our property search suffered yet another delay. A telephone call from the hospital in Monforte de Lemos notified us that Melanie’s long-awaited keyhole surgery, on her troublesome knee, would be undertaken the following week. Whilst Melanie convalesced I continued the search alone.

Day-after-day I scrambled through tumbling ruins and decaying properties. The size of our budget seriously limited the available choices. It’s difficult to remain objective when viewing these charming old buildings; all of which have such great potential. A lick of paint and lots of TLC is one thing, but most of these romantic facades hide a bottomless money-pit and a world of heartache.

Through our own experiences and those of other likeminded adventurers, we’d learnt a great deal about buying and renovating properties here in Galicia. It was time to put this knowledge and experience to good use.

For those like us, on a limited budget, it’s important to remain focused on the objectives and hold realistic expectations. Falling in love with a romantic ruin did not fit into either of these guidelines.

After two weeks of intensive viewings, I’d seen every property in the area that fell within our limited budget. From over thirty viewings my shortlist stood at just two. The first of these was a small ruined cottage situated a short distance along an unmade track. The asking price was low and restoration costs would be proportionate to its small size. The second was a much larger property. Like the first, this too was in a ruinous condition but its size provided the possibility of dividing it into two separate properties.

With Melanie’s mobility improving after her operation, it was time to seek her opinion. Their ruined state meant that getting a key from the agent for viewing wasn’t necessary. Doors and windows had long since decayed and in the case of these two properties, most of the floors as well.

Early summer temperatures were equally as high as the unkempt weeds creeping over the abandoned ruins. Melanie hobbled bravely along unmade tacks and into perilously dangerous buildings. Upon further investigation, the smaller of the two houses had no adjoining land, quite an important factor when wanting to sink a septic tank.

The second and larger of the two houses was very appealing. Situated at the end of a leafy lane it had a romantic rustic charm. Unfortunately the asking price was very close to our limit. Being such a large property the cost of restoration would be high. The thought of running out of money before completing the work, did not appeal. Our search would have to continue.

With all the reputable estate agents exhausted we decided to follow up on a previous contact and seek out Pablo.

To be continued……….

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