Retiring to Spain and Healthcare

early retirementSpain is a brilliant place to choose for a more relaxed retirement. There’s a great climate, positive attitude to the elderly and lots of opportunities to stay active and healthy on the golf courses and as part of the many clubs and societies.

Things to be aware of for a great retirement on the Costa del Sol-

  • The fluctuating exchange rate can affect pensioners for good and bad so factor this in when working out your funds – there are some exchange companies which offer the option to peg the transfers to a particular exchange rate, so shop around for the best option for you
  • If you’re retiring early, be aware of the change to the residual S1 payments which formally entitled those retiring early up to 30 months of UK funded healthcare. From July 1st 2014 this is no longer available, so those under 65 will need to get private medical cover. There are lots of good healthcare options in Spain and they are reasonably priced so don’t worry and after the age of 65 the S1 forms will still be issued
  • Think of the future – When choosing a home and location, think ahead on what will suit you a few years down the line as well as right now, especially if you’re buying. Alternatively, stay flexible and rent long term on the Costa del Sol so you can chop and change as you grow older. This allows you to live the dream now (whatever that might be) and then make the move to a more accessible one story villa or apartment for example when getting around isn’t so easy and your priorities change.
  • Avoid loneliness by being active and getting involved – It can be hard to start a new life at a later stage and it can get lonely if you don’t make an effort. Make connections online before you arrive via Facebook groups, websites and expat forums and you can get to know people before you arrive. Then join some clubs, start language lessons, join your local golf course and pop to your local bar to start to get to know people so you don’t feel lonely. This really makes a difference as whether you can make retirement in Spain work for you.

We have loads more useful information on relocating to Spain on our website. HomeRentalontheWeb can help you to find a great long term rental property to allow you to enjoy your retirement on the Costa del Sol to the full. Plus we can advise you on the best areas for certain interests, public transport, hospitals etc. Please feel free to give us a call on 952 83 95 95 or email to find out more.

Experiences of international schools on the Costa del Sol

International Schools on The Costa del Sol

When people consider relocating to the Costa del Sol and renting long term, one of the most popular questions we get asked about is what is international education like here and what does it mean to live and study in Spain. Usually we answer this from our own perspective, but today we decided to organize an interview with a student of Sotogrande International School , to see what it’s actually like “from the inside”.

HomeRental: Why did you decide to move to Spain and choose Sotogrande International School?

Inna Kuzminykh: Originally studying in Russia, I used to spend summer holidays on the Costa del Sol, but then my parents offered me to stay and go to international school here.  We did some research and the best option was SIS, as it was also a boarding school.

HomeRental: Was it hard to get in to the school? Did you have to pass any exams?

Inna Kuzminykh: I obviously had to go through some exams, but I passed them easily and got accepted to 11th grade (M5).

HomeRental: What Education programs does the school offer?

Inna Kuzminykh: PYP (Primary Years Program) for younger students, MYB (Middle Years Program) for secondary school and IB Diploma as a highly academic course. I’m finishing the MYP program this year.


HomeRental: How do you find life in a boarding house?

Inna Kuzminykh: I definitely enjoy it! We live in the old San Roque 4 star hotel in single rooms with our own bathrooms. Could it get any better? But it’s not just the living facilities; it’s a whole experience of living with students from all different parts of the world and being a member of this community. All kinds of activities, like golf, polo, tennis and horse riding are provided. The amazing climate is combined with a fun lifestyle.


HomeRental: Was it hard for you to become a part of the school, make friends?

Inna Kuzminykh: Maybe just in the beginning, when it was hard with the different languages, so I had to stick with my native language-speaking students. But after about two weeks I became friends with almost everyone, not just with people from my year (boarding house helped a lot). And in general, everyone is very nice and friendly. There are not very many students here, so we all are like one big family.


HomeRental: What about education in general? How difficult do you find the learning process?

Inna Kuzminykh: Well, I obviously need work a lot not just in school, but at home too. But school has to be challenging and I like having stuff to do all the time. And teachers also help a lot and explain everything very well.

There is a lot of choice in terms of schools on the Costa del Sol, including English, German, Swedish curriculums as well as good quality Spanish education. From nursery level there is bi-lingual options and it’s much more cost-effective compared to other countries. You can check out a list of international schools and we can give you advice on schools depending where you decide to live. Aside from the sun and sea, your children will gain a fantastic education and unforgettable memories. So, if you’re thinking about relocating to the south of Spain , you don’t have to worry about school for your children. There will be something here to suit everyone.

Costa del Sol looks after its foreigners

manilva_extranjerosThe Costa del Sol is a unique region in Spain with a very high number of foreigners living and working here, many of them without the level of Spanish required to deal with bureaucracy. Thankfully, the Town Halls are adapting to our needs and providing dedicated offices and council officials to deal with the issues faced by foreign residents and help us cut through the red tape.

Most areas have services for foreigners, so check out your council website, or visit the council offices and ask. The word to look out for is “extranjeros” which means foreigners.  Below are some of the offices we know are working hard for the foreign residents.

One of the most active offices and in fact the very first of its kind in Spain is the Mijas Foreigners’ Department, which is located in La Cala de Mijas. It is open from Monday to Friday 10.00-14.00 and they speak seven languages to be able to help as many foreign residents as possible in their own language. They also put on trips to the local area and informative talks on different issues which are relevant to foreign residents. Unfortunately their website isn’t great, so pop in and ask.

Marbella has had a great foreigners’ office for a while now and a real champion in the form of the Councillor for Foreigners and Tourism Jose Luis Hernandez, who supports initiatives by the foreign population and is very aware of their needs. It was reported in April that there are plans afoot to improve these services by creating a new office in Edificio España in the area known as La Patera which will deal with all issues to do with foreign residents. This is due to open after the summer, so watch this space.

Estepona has also recently launched a foreigners’ department, as we reported last month, and the group arranged a forum with the Mayor in May to improve the dialogue and allow the foreign residents to have a strong voice within the community. However they don’t seem to have a website, so look out for news online and in the local press, particularly The Resident.

Further along the coast the Manilva Foreign Residents department is very active arranging trips and events such as a regular coffee morning as well as offering information and support in residents’ own languages. Also in San Roque, they have a packed calendar of events and tours and a really helpful multi-lingual councillor offering assistance and information to break through the red tape in English, Spanish, German and Italian.

If you’re renting long term on the Costa del Sol these services are perfect when you first arrive and can guide you through the process of registering and establishing your life here. If you need any advice on what to do when you first move here, we’d be happy to help so please just ask!

Explore inland Spain

CasaresWe love living on the Costa del Sol, for its international community, vibrant towns and amenities a plenty and it’s a great place to rent long term. However, if you are living here, don’t get trapped on the coast, there’s so much to explore inland and just a fifteen or twenty minute drive will take you into another world! Alternatively, why not consider basing yourselves in a rural idyll, but within a short drive of the coast, this can give you a very different experience of living in Spain. 

All along the Costa del Sol you have easy access into the countryside and can discover sleepy, picturesque white villages and stunning mountain scenery. There are amazing opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, horse-riding, mountain biking and quad biking and lots of providers offering tours. If you value peace and tranquillity, but still want to be within easy reach of the coast, then renting long term in the white villages can also be a fantastic option.

Inland from Fuengirola you can discover Mijas Pueblo a gorgeous little white village with excellent hikes and a well-established tourist offering.

Head up from Marbella and you will come across a plethora of quaint villages just 10 minutes away, as well as the route up the iconic La Concha Mountain. Going up from Estepona you can enjoy Casares, arguably the most picturesque of the “pueblos blancos”. This is a very popular option for tourists and foreign residents and we have some excellent long term rentals in Casares.  Benahavis is an interesting village, as it has become a gastronomic hot spot and very popular with artists who have flocked to the area for its beauty and light and changed the village into a very international location.

Further up into the mountains is Gaucin, a slightly more remote but incredibly pretty little village. We went up to Gaucin for the 10th Anniversary of La Herriza Hotel and despite the bumpy, winding road, we were delighted with the breath-taking scenery of the Alcornocales national park. The hotel has a lovely restaurant with amazing views and also arranges activities for guests to make the most of the surroundings and feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of Estepona. There’s also a Swedish wine maker making award winning wines at Cezar Viñedos and offering tours of their bodega, which looks like a great option for a day in the countryside.

These are just some options for long term rentals in the countryside around the Costa del Sol. Please contact us with your requirements if you’re not quite sure where to be based and we can offer some helpful advice and options to suit.

Spanish Health Care System

healthcareGreat news for anyone renting long term on the Costa del Sol is that that according to Bloomberg, Spain has the 5th most efficient health care system in the world and the most efficient in Europe. There is an average life expectancy of 82.3 years, compared to 80.8 in the UK, due in part to the better lifestyle, weather and healthy Mediterranean diet. Click here to read the full article

We have many people renting with us who have retired here and say they feel better than they have for years. They are keeping their minds busy with lots of clubs, societies and language learning and their bodies moving with golf, swimming and walking incorporated into their daily life. Spain really is a lovely place to grow old and stay young at heart!

Should you fall ill the public health service is excellent (as well as highly efficient) with some of the leading specialists and facilities available for more serious conditions and many local GP surgeries. There are translation services available in many doctors’ surgeries and through the service Salud Responde which allows expats to call a special number and have help with communicating with medical professionals during their appointments.

In order to register for the national health system you need a social security number, to be paying your social security payments and be registered on your council’s register (empadronamiento). You then get issued with a green medical card and can take your padron to the surgery to register.

If it seems a bit difficult in Spanish, or you don’t want to wait, there are lots of private options as well, which you can read about in one of our past blog posts about accessing healthcare in Spain

If you are relocating to Spain and want to find a place to live and get insiders information don’t hesitate to get in touch. As well as a great network of long term rental properties on the Costa del Sol, our team are all here enjoying the Spanish dream and can give you information, advice and insight, we also have a number of useful guides on the area to help before you arrive and whilst you’re settling in.

Estepona for Expats

esteponaEstepona is a great place to live, work and rent long term for foreigners, with a pretty town centre, port and long seaside promenade with fantastic wide sandy beaches. Popular for those people working in Gibraltar, or using the airport regularly, but still wanting a friendly Spanish town, there has been a lot of investment in the town lately to make it pretty and a pleasant place to live, such as colourful flower pots scattered throughout the old town.

There’s a great mix of nationalities, with a third of the residents being foreign, the other two thirds Spanish. Aware of the importance of the expatriate residents, an expat association (AREME) has just been launched to give a voice to all the foreign residents. It has support from the Junta de Andalucia and has already made an impact to restart local bus services. The committee will meet every three months and there will be bi-monthly forums to address critical matters. To take part, pick up a form at the tourist office in Estepona Port.

We have lots of great properties in Estepona for long term rental, such as this four bedroom villa or this three bedroom apartment in Estepona. Feel free to contact us with your requirements, budget and preferred area and we will let you know the selection available

Learning Spanish – Talking about your work

bigstockphoto_Business_Woman_5135305Renting long term on the Costa del Sol and living and working here means that the Spanish you need to get to know someone often starts with discussing what you do for a job. This means you need a good grasp of the vocabulary for professions and know how to ask and answer questions. Here’s a short run down of helpful vocabulary to talk about what you do: Continue reading »

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.