British Passport fees reduced

passportGreat news for British nationals living in Spain who need to renew their passports or apply for a new one for their child, as from 7th April there’s a 35% reduction in fees for people applying from overseas. This equates to a significant saving of £45 for adults and £28.50 for children, made possible by efficiency savings made by closing down the Madrid passport processing centre and bringing the service back to the UK, amongst other things.

You can renew or replace a passport or apply for a new passport for your child using the really useful Gov.UK website, it takes three weeks to get a new passport, longer for the first passport for a child. Visit this page and it will walk you through the stages of the passport application. You can download the form and send it with all the required documentation to the UK for processing and you can track the process online as well.

Learning Spanish – Celebrating Spain

dia-d-andaluciaLast month’s Día de Andalucia was a great opportunity to celebrate what we love about living on the Costa del Sol and all the fantastic culture, food and traditions in Spain. So for our regular language feature we thought that we’d give a few nice phrases to speak about Spain and all things Spanish!

¿Hace cuánto tiempo estas aquí en España? (How long have you been here in Spain)

Estoy aquí hace …… meses/años, ¿y tú? (I’ve been here for …. months/years, and you?)

¿Dónde vives? (Where do you live?)

Vivo en ……., ¿y tu?  (I live in …. and you)


¿Te gusta España? – Do you like Spain?

Si me gusta mucho – Yes I like it a lot

Me encanta las playas y la clima – I love the beaches and the climate

Me gusta la vida relajada – I like the relaxed life

¿Cual es tu cosa favorita sobre Espana? – What is your favorite thing about Spain?

Me cosa favorita es ……… – My favorite thing is …………


¿Te gusta viajar? Do you like to travel?

Me gusta mucho viajar/No he viajado mucho – I like to travel a lot/I haven’t travelled much

He viajado mucho – I have travelled a lot


¿Has viajado mucho en España?

He visitado muchos lugares en España – I have visited a lot of places in Spain

Hemos estado a Sevilla, Madrid y Granada – We have been to Seville, Madrid and Granada

Creo que Granada es muy bonita, me encanta la Alhambra – I think Granada is very beautiful, I love the Alhambra

¿Donde recomiendas visito en España? – Where would you recommend I visit in Spain?

Recomiendo vas a ……….. – I recommend you visit ………………



¿Te gusta comida española? – Do you like Spanish food?

Mi gusta mucho comida española – I like Spanish food

¿Cuál es tu plato favorito? What is your favorite dish?

Mi encanta paella/albondigas/solomillo/tapas – I love ……

¿Sabes un restaurante bueno cerca de aqui? Do you know a good restaurante close by?

Mi gusta mucho un restaurante se llama …. – I really like a restaurant called ……



España tiene muchas fiestas – Spain has a lot of festivals

¿Cual es tu fiesta favorita? – What is Your favourite festival?

Me gusta mucho los dias de Semana Santa – I really like Easter

¿Has visitado la Tomatina? – Have you been to the Tomatina (the festival where people throw tomatoes)

We hope you love renting long term in Spain as much as we do and that your Spanish is coming along well to help you experience even more about the lifestyle and the people. ¡Hasta la proxima!

Registering your child for Spanish state school

primaryAlthough it can seem early in the year to think about schools, March is the month to register for a place at a Spanish state school.

Children can enter into school this academic year if they are three before the end of 2014 and the recommendation is to put children in at this stage if you want them to go into the state system, as after this age places are fewer and further between and so getting into the school of your choice could be difficult.

No matter what stage of education you’re at, this is the time to enter for the next academic year and there are descriptions, help and advice on the Junta de Andalucia Website.

You can search online for the schools in your area, or visit your local education office to ask your questions in person. Once you know the schools in your catchment area, ask around, post on forums and generally ask for advice on the best schools available as there don’t seem to be league tables where you can rate the school easily.

Once you know which school you want to apply to, fill in the application form which can be found online (different forms depending on the age of entry) and present it before 31st March at the chosen school to register for your place.

You need a “certificado de empadronamiento” from the town hall to prove where you live and documents which show your earnings and the hours you work such as your self-employment certificate or employment contract. You will also need copies of your identity documents such as your NIE certificates, Libro de familia and passports. It is recommended to go into your nearest centre for education to make sure you fully understand all the paperwork you need as it can get a bit complicated, especially if you don’t speak the language so well.

You apply for extras such as lunch and after school activity during the registration process when you have been allocated a school. This is at the beginning of June.

If this all seems a little daunting, there are professionals who can act as translator and advisor and guide you through the process and help avoid misunderstandings.

Alternatively there are many International schools on the Costa del Sol which are private and so have easier and more flexible entry requirements and all speak English and therefore make the process easier for you. There are schools teaching the English curriculum and also the International Baccalaureate which can be a good option if you’re not sure where you will be going next as it’s an easily transportable qualification for maximum flexibility. There’s a talk on the IB at Sotogrande International School on March 5th to explain how it works for younger children in the primary phase of education.

For more information on relocating and renting long term on the Costa del Sol please visit our website.

Day Trips from the Costa del Sol – Jerez de la Frontera

jerezAt the end of January the world’s eyes were on the city of Jerez, as the new 2014 Formula 1 cars descended on the city for their winter testing at the city’s race track. Just under two hours’ drive from Marbella, this track hosts a large number of motorbike races, classic car events and of course the testing and is a really fun and different day out.

In addition to the track, Jerez is probably best known for producing sherry and there’s an excellent opportunity to tour the different producers, learn about the history and of course sample the product. We can personally recommend the Tio Pepe tour on a little train through the beautiful production facility, which was really interesting and great fun.

There is also a lovely cathedral, large plazas, excellent shopping and great restaurants and bars and it is a great day trip from Marbella, an easy drive on well maintained and empty roads through some stunning countryside. If you are staying overnight, we’d highly recommend the restaurant Meson del Asador which serves beautiful steak and a coal barbeque at your table so you can cook it to your liking and it’s a great activity too!!

Renting long term in Marbella gives you a great base if you want to explore Andalucia, Granada and Cadiz at the weekends, with excellent road links. You can be up on the ski slopes of Granada in two and a half hours, or at the Alhambra in two hours, visit the traditional white villages inland in less than an hour and visit the monkeys in Gibraltar in an hour, so there’s lots of options!! Let us know if you’d like advice on relocating to Spain or things to do in the area, we love living here and we’re sure you will do too.

Social Media for British people living in Spain

Computer UserLiving in Spain as an expat can be tough whether you own a property or are renting long term as you may require support, help and advice tailored to your needs. The 800,000 Brits living in Spain now have an online support system from the British Embassy in the shape of a Twitter account @BritsliveSpain and Facebook page called Brits living in Spain where you can access news and advice from the embassy as well as interact with fellow Brits in your area.

There are also many websites and online communities which have been set up by English speaking expats to offer more much needed support such as the excellent Costa Women which offers women all around Spain a raft of social and business opportunities and the ability to reach out and make friends online and also follow that up with face to face networking meetings and groups.

There are also social groups and business groups such as –

British Chamber of Commerce

British Society in Benalmadena Pueblo

British Association of Marbella

British Legion

Irish Club Marbella


Check the clubs listing section of Sur in English for groups near you.

If you need any help with finding a long term rental property on the Costa del Sol and some general advice on living and working here we are happy to help. Please give us a call on 0034 952 83 95 95 or visit our website for more information. 

Owning a Dog on the Costa del Sol

Dog on BeachFor dog lovers looking to settle on the Costa del Sol and wanting a dog of their own, there are many options for finding that perfect pooch. There are many animal charities caring for unwanted dogs that desperately need loving homes such as ADANA in Estepona. These charities are really feeling the pressure of the challenging financial climate and need help to re-home animals. You can find a list of Costa del Sol animal charities where you can look for your new pet on website AngloInfo.

Please note that rules are quite strict when it comes to potentially dangerous dogs and owners require a licence and must register their dogs with the local municipality. These dogs must also be muzzled and on a lead of no more than one metre long and they may not enter children’s leisure or recreational areas.

In the main it is not allowed to have dogs on the beach, particularly off the lead, and there have been cases of people receiving hefty fines, so beware. However in January a new municipal bylaw will come into force allowing dogs on some beaches. Artola, Las Chapas, El Pinillo in Marbella, and an area between Linda Vista and Guadaiza in San Pedro are those affected by the change.

There are also many great parks including a dedicated dog park near to Fuengirola in the area of Los Pacos, which is the largest of its kind in Andalucia and receives rave reviews. The Mijas and Fuengirola areas seem to be particularly dog friendly and at the end of last year Fuengirola Town Hall approved plans to create a beach area particularly for dogs and also to allow them on specially equipped local buses – great news for dog owners.

Recently Marbella has made significant strides forward to becoming more dog friendly. In June 2013 a 10,500 square meter dog park was opened in the Nagüeles area. San Pedro dog owners have been treated to a new 4,500m2 dog park in the Parque de los Tres Jardines which includes an exercise area, play area and two areas for jobs to relieve themselves.

If you have a pet and are looking to rent long term on the Costa del Sol we can request written agreement from the owner that pets are allowed in order to make it easier for you and your pet to find a comfortable home which suits you all.

Learning Spanish – Fish & Seafood

The Costa del Sol is well known for its fantastic cuisine and particularly the very fresh and reasonably priced fish and seafood which you can buy in the markets, supermarkets and of course in the hundreds of specialist restaurants. A popular afternoon out for many Spanish families is going to a “chiringuito” or beach restaurant, where fish dishes are the specialty and if you’re renting on the Costa del Sol knowing the right Spanish phrases can really help you to make the most out of these great places.

Here’s our guide to ordering fish and seafood by our Spanish teacher Michelle Lewis

Vamos a un chiringuito - Let’s go to a beach restaurant.

¿Qué pescado fresco hay hoy? – What fresh fish is there today?

Hay rosada a la plancha, o frito. – There is red hake grilled or fried.

Tenemos espetos de sardinas. – We have sardines grilled on a stick.

¿Cómo está cocinado? – How is it cooked?

Está frito / a la romana / a la parilla / al horno / hervido / cocido al vapor. – It’s fried / deep fried / grilled / baked / poached / steamed.

filetes de merluza – hake fillets

pez espada – sword fish

lenguado – sole

mero – grouper

salmonete – red mullet

boquerones en vinagre – anchovies in vinegar

rodaballo – turbot

dorada – gilthead (bream)

rape – monk fish

angulas – eels

bacalao – cod

lubina - sea bass

pescadilla – whiting

Spending Christmas on the Costa del Sol

To stay on the Costa del Sol or to head back home is a common dilemma for expats renting on the Costa del Sol. It’s obviously a highly personal decision and if the family in the UK is calling you home then it’s not easy to say no! However, there’s a lot to attract you to stay here over the festive period, not least the warmer temperatures and the option to stroll on the beach to walk off that Christmas lunch!!

Now that the Christmas lights have gone on and the temperatures have dipped it is feeling a lot more festive and there are loads of things you can do which can get you into the Christmas spirit. The first is to get the local Christmas guide from your nearest Town Hall which will tell you what’s happening, for Marbella, San Pedro and Nueva Andalucia it can be downloaded here. There’s lots happening such as carol concerts, kids’ events, markets and of course religious ceremonies, so there’s no excuse to be bored.

You must go to Malaga to see the Christmas lights, they are famous throughout the region and will really get you in the mood. Whilst you are there, head to the lovely port area which is full of restaurants, cafes and shops and well worth a visit and stock up on Christmas presents on the famous Calle Larios shopping street.

If a white Christmas is what you want, no problem! The nearby Sierra Nevada ski resort is just 2 hours from Marbella and opened on 23rd November and is open throughout Christmas and New Year. You can easily go up for the day, or stay overnight in a hotel or a chalet, although accommodation is limited and expensive. Alternatively you can stay in Granada which is a great city, with excellent nightlife and loads of reasonably priced accommodation and ski during the day.

We have produced a guide to Christmas on the Costa del Sol which you can download and have just posted on our sister site HolidayRentalontheWeb all about Christmas in Marbella to help  things along (link to that post)

Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, we wish you ¡Feliz Navidad! – Happy Christmas! and Feliz Año Nuevo – Happy New Year!

Networking for new business on the Costa del Sol

Living on the Costa del Sol is a dream for many but, unless you’re retired, then either getting a good job or making a success of a business is critical for making that dream a reality. The good news for people looking to move, or living here already is that the worst of the recession seems to have passed and in the main profits are increasing and things are looking up.

Job opportunities on the Costa del Sol and particularly Gibraltar are increasing, and if you have experience, skills and particularly several languages your skills will be in demand. Gibraltar has excellent career opportunities with significantly higher wages than in Spain, but as you will have seen on the news lately it can be difficult to get across the border and properties in Gibraltar are in short supply and very expensive. We recommend living somewhere like Sotogrande, Estepona or Manilva where you can rent properties relatively inexpensively and enjoy the Spanish lifestyle whilst working in Gibraltar without too much of a commute.

The Costa del Sol is still a difficult place to run a business, but if you are skilled and entrepreneurial it’s possible to make a good living and give your family an excellent lifestyle. There have also been new rules introduced lately to make employing people easier and cheaper which is hoped to make things better for businesses and give the job market a boost.

Networking is a very important way that small businesses succeed on the Costa del Sol, as it offers you contacts, advice and of course potential clients. It is the best  way to gain a good reputation and trust relatively quickly which is crucial here. There are many groups set up for this purpose which will suit you depending on your nationality, location, commitments etc and we did a short list a few years ago which you can view here .

One networking event taking place on 10th December in Nueva Andalucia is bringing together a number of local networking groups at Italian restaurant Salotto for a free evening of networking. This would be a great first taste of networking, as you can meet representatives from lots of different groups, businesses and nationalities and make some friends too. As well as the networking there will be samples from Salotto’s new menu and wine list and it’s a great opportunity to start the festive period with a swing. To find out more and register, visit their Facebook page.

Living in San Pedro de Alcantara on the Costa del Sol

San Pedro de Alcantara is close to Puerto Banus and Marbella, yet has a character all of its own. It has a lovely old town, with a car-free street leading up to the pretty town square with a great café culture. There are often special events, parades and a huge weekly market to take advantage of and there is a plethora of language schools if you want to work on your Spanish. The old town area is pretty and quaint, but can be tricky to navigate in a car, with lots of one way roads and limited parking.

This is balanced by the other face of San Pedro which is the area between the sea and the main road. This area has a large number of modern developments of attractive flats and houses which represent excellent long term rental properties and are decorated to appeal to foreign tastes. The sea front has a great promenade, restaurants and bars, wide sandy beaches and plays host to regular events such as the forthcoming Arte Sano festival at the end of November.

The residents of the area have been suffering whilst the long overdue bypass was being constructed and a lot of the main street was undergoing construction and repairs, but now they are reaping the rewards and have a beautiful public park, lots of new amenities and much less traffic going through the centre. But it doesn’t end there, the council has just announced something more to look forward to, which is a new bus station covering 120 square meters with parking around the old 340 bypass road. This is due to be open for next summer and will make bus travel even more convenient and there are other building projects planned for this area.

Rental properties are surprisingly well-priced, especially compared to nearby Puerto Banus, and renting long-term in San Pedro allows you to mix comfort, modernity and space with the benefits of being able to be part of a thriving Spanish community. Read our San Pedro area guide for more information.