Travelling between the UK and the Costa del Sol

transport options to costa del solOne major reason that the Costa del Sol is such a popular destination for British expats to live and work is how easy it is to travel back home and have visitors come to see you. It’s just a few hours travel time from the UK, yet the climate and the lifestyle couldn’t be more different. With many low cost airlines flying out of different regional airports in the UK to Malaga, the competition is fierce and therefore prices are kept down.

Michael O’Leary has announced some great perks for travellers with Ryanair, including decreased ticket prices and simplifying and reducing tariffs for luggage and cases. Something of interest to residents of the Costa del Sol who need to travel regularly to see family or for work is that if you join the My Ryanair Club, you will get a free flight for every 12 flights reserved from October. These are just a few of the range of improvements announced by Ryanair last month and you can read the full list here

As we mentioned back in February, anyone living on the Western Costa del Sol should also consider flying from Gibraltar airport, which now has more routes than ever before and as a small airport is very quick and easy to get through. Firefighters gave a water salute and there was an official guard of honour to welcome the first Monarch flight into Gibraltar on the 1st of May and EasyJet’s route from Manchester will start on the 3rd of July. This will make this an increasingly attractive option for anyone west of Estepona.

If you don’t want to fly, or you have a lot of possessions to move over if you’re relocating, driving can be a good option. It is a journey of 1,400 miles from Marbella to London, which would take around 23 hours, traffic dependent. However, if you have a few days then it can be a really nice trip and a great start to a new adventure in the sun.

Alternatively, there are some good value bus routes from London to Malaga with eurolines and Alsa for around £100 and a travel time of just under 35 hours. This is a slow way to travel, but if you have big bulky luggage and don’t want to drive it can be a good option.

Finally, train lovers might want to ride the rails. You can go from London St. Pancreas to Malaga in between 17 and 22 hours, with three or four changes along the way. While not the most direct, or cheapest route it does allow you to have a wonderful journey and visit Paris, Barcelona and Madrid, before riding the superfast AVE to Malaga, so it can be a great way to combine an amazing holiday with the start of your new life in Spain.

However you get to the Costa del Sol, life here is amazing and it’s great to know that it’s very easy to get back to the UK or have friends and family over to stay. If you fancy trying life on the Costa del Sol, but don’t want to over commit, we’d suggest arranging a long term rental property in your favourite area. This gives you a great way to try to lifestyle, explore the area, look for a job and start putting down roots, without being too tied.

Long term rentals on the Costa del Sol are also surprisingly affordable, normally being the same as a one week rental in the summer and starting from around 400€ per month. Let us know if we can help you make your dream of living in the Costa del Sol a reality, by finding you a great place to live.

Looking forward to summer 2016

Summer 2016 MarbellaThe sun is shining and it’s starting to feel a lot like summer, so we thought it was a good time to look ahead to what’s going on this summer, as there’s loads of brilliant things being announced all the time.

There’s a packed schedule of live music events, including over 20 stellar acts at Starlite 2016 including Robert Plant, Santana, Tom Jones and Alejandro Sanz. As if that wasn’t enough, Seal is performing at the Puente Romano in July and Simply Red will be in Fuengirola in August.

The beach clubs will be opening their doors at the end of this month, with regular events starting in May and ramping up throughout June, July and August. Once the beach clubs are open, there’s always something going on!

If you’re an art lover, head to Malaga to enjoy the summer shows, which include Jackson Pollock’s Mural at the Picasso Museum.

Foodies should make a beeline for Fuengirola for the Feria de los Pueblos at the end of April, and the Malaga Gastronomy Festival from the 29th April to 5th May, not to mention Estepona’s great ham festival in August. Read more about food festivals on the Costa del Sol

Remember that the ferias begin with Marbella’s Feria in the second week in June and continue on throughout July and August, so keep your eyes peeled for your nearest one.

Don’t miss the San Juan celebrations on the evening of the 23rd June, it is a really magical experience where people light bonfires on the beach and party all night long. We recommend heading down to Sabinillas for the coast’s biggest San Juan party with bonfires like art works.

You will be the envy of all your friends living on the Costa del Sol in the summer and there’s always something going on. It’s such a treat to be able to just head to the beach or to the pool after work, enjoy sundowners at your favourite beach bar, or stroll down the promenade late into the night on one of the many balmy summer evenings.

If you’re planning to move over to the Costa del Sol before summer to enjoy all of this, then don’t delay in sorting out your long term rental property. Once the summer starts (from June onwards) then most landlords will choose to let their property short term and that will be a lot more expensive for you – a week’s holiday rental is generally the same price as a whole month long term. Please contact us for a list of good long term rentals in your preferred area before May to ensure you get a good selection, or browse our properties online. We look forward to hearing from you!

Using the Spanish Health System

bigstock-Closeup-portrait-of-a-woman-ho-95914568If you’re living on the Costa del Sol, then you will need access to medical care. Although it’s a very healthy place to live, and life expectancies are long, you need to feel protected should you, or your family fall ill.

The Spanish National Health system is generally very good, with excellent reputation for specialists and we’re lucky to have a wonderful hospital on the Costa del Sol. There are many local health centres which you can join depending on where you live.

You need to get a NIE number and a social security number, then register on the padron in your local Town Hall. This “padron” shows officially where you live and enables you to register for both schools and your local doctor’s surgery.

As long as you, or one member of your family is working and paying their Social Security payments you are all entitled to healthcare. If you aren’t both working, then one of you needs to be a “beneficiario” on the other’s card. Some Doctor’s surgeries will allow you to register as a dependent in the surgery itself, others will ask you to go to your nearest social security office to do it. Here is an excellent guide to getting healthcare in Spain which goes into much more details about the different ways to register and the ins and outs of the system.

Once you’re registered you can make an appointment in person at the surgery, but we recommend using the website of Salud Responde  which allows you to do loads of things from home including making an appointment, choosing a doctor, changing contact details and downloading forms. There is also a mobile phone App of the same name, which enables people to book appointments with their doctors and health centres, which has seen a lot of traffic in 2015, as more people use mobile devices.

The main problem for foreigners is ensuring their level of Spanish is up to visiting the doctor, as it can be tough to explain what’s wrong and understand complicated diagnosis or instructions on what to do. Some doctor’s surgeries in the most popular expat areas and the Costa del Sol hospital have volunteer translators on hand to help you, but it’s best to be prepared to speak Spanish if you can.

There are lots of ways that you can learn Spanish. One great resource is Notes in Spanish, where they do regular audio recordings about different topics to help you hear the vocabulary and be able to pronounce it properly as well as understand it in a spoken setting. They have a podcast all about illnesses and doctors with both phrases and vocabulary that will help you to deal with visiting the doctor.

If this is too daunting for you, then there are loads of options for private health cover including the biggest players such as Sanitas (like Bupa). Shop around, as prices vary hugely and it depends on what you need as to which service is right for you.

One popular option here on the Costa del Sol is Helicopteros Sanitarios, which is a middle option as it is a home doctor’s service, where they will come to your home to treat you, as well as having some clinics where you can pop in for an appointment. They also have ambulances and helicopters which can take you to a national health hospital quickly, treat you on the way and help you on arrival to the hospital, briefing the doctors before handing you over to their care. In an area with few ambulances and big distances between hospitals this can be a good option and is a lot cheaper than the more comprehensive health insurances.

For more information on living on the Costa del Sol, the benefits of renting long term here, or advice on where to live please browse our site. We’re here to help you find the best long term rental property and make yourself at home here, so please don’t hesitate to ask.

Improved flight routes to Gibraltar for 2016

Improved flight routes to Gibraltar for 2016Great news for anyone living on the Western Costa del Sol and using Gibraltar airport – both Monarch and EasyJet have announced new routes starting this summer.

Monarch will be running flights from London Gatwick to Gibraltar four times a week from May 1st, with a mix of early morning and afternoon departures. This adds to Monarch’s flights into Gibraltar, from Luton, Manchester and Birmingham.

EasyJet are also starting a new service which will connect Manchester and Gibraltar from 3rd July. It will run twice a week, on Wednesdays and Sundays, with pricing starting from under £40 one way. This adds to EasyJet’s existing flights from Gatwick and Bristol into Gibraltar.

These new routes show the increasing importance of Gibraltar and its capabilities to handle more passengers since the new terminal was completed in 2012. In addition to Monarch and EasyJet, British Airways runs a route from London Heathrow to Gibraltar and you can also fly to Tangier and Cassablanca with Royal Air Maroc Express.

For anyone living from Estepona to Sotogrande, Gibraltar is a much easier airport to use than Malaga, not simply because of the distance to travel, but also because the airport is much smaller so it is much easier and quicker to get through. Travelling through Gibraltar is very low stress, with less walking and queuing, the only downside is some flights struggle to land due to high winds and a short runway, so there are some delays because of this.

Bus connections are not as good as from Malaga, but there are buses from La Linea to most parts of the coast. There are buses leaving La Linea for Estepona at 6.45, 8.30, 8.50, 10.00, 12.15, 14.30, 16.30, 18.30, 19.00 and 20.00 Monday to Saturday. It takes 1 hour 30 minutes to reach Estepona, going through San Roque and Sabinillas, amongst other destinations on route.

If you’re being picked up, or collecting friends and family, you can park in La Linea and walk across, to avoid taking the car over the border. It’s an easy five minute walk across from the airport to Spain.

For more information on living on the Costa del Sol or advice on where to live please browse our site. We’re here to help you find the best long term rental property and make yourself at home here so please don’t hesitate to ask.

Why move to the Costa del Sol this year?

Why move to the Costa del Sol this year? In our last post we gave you 7 reasons why expats love the Costa del Sol which we hope gave you a good idea of why it’s such a great place to live. In this post we wanted to expand the theme a little to say why now is the time to move over and stop dreaming about your life in the sun.

First and foremost we’d say that now is a great time to relocate to the Costa del Sol because the economy is finally improving and Spain is officially out of crisis. After five tough years you can see things really turning around with more people recruiting, restaurants, bars and shops busier and everyone feeling much more positive about the year to come. This is brilliant news whether you’re looking for a job, or want to launch your own company and the signs are that the economy will continue to improve for many years to come.

Property remains affordable but the market is rising, so this means that time is of the essence to relocate, find your feet and get ready to buy. We recommend renting long term first so you can get to know the area and find your perfect place before you take the plunge, so it’s a good idea to come over as soon as possible before you get priced out of the market.

The start of the year is normally the time to make changes and take action, so if your new year’s resolution was relocating to the Costa del Sol, start making it a reality and contact us to find an affordable long term rental property.

Plus this time of year is a good one to come as there are a lot of properties to rent long term, flights are still cheap and everything is quieter. If you leave it until closer to summer you will struggle to find something before September.

We look forward to making your dreams come true in 2016! Here’s some handy information about moving to Spain and what you need to know to point you in the right direction, if you want to know more please don’t hesitate to ask.

7 Reasons why expats love the Costa del Sol

7 Reasons why expats love the Costa del SolThe Costa del Sol offers one of the best climates, lifestyles and gastronomy in the world, within easy reach of Europe, the UK and Scandinavia, and we love living here. As long term rental specialists, it’s brilliant to be able to give people a chance to start a new life here, without too much commitment, and to see them thrive. To give you an insight into why we think it’s a great choice, we’ve listed our top 5 reasons to live on the Costa del Sol

This is an area with a huge amount of different nationalities living side by side with the Spanish who were lucky enough to be born here. The British in particular have been moving here in their thousands since the 1960s when Marbella became a favourite with the international jet set and package holidays made travelling abroad affordable.

So why is it that all these British “expats” choose to call the Costa del Sol home? Here are the main reasons we think it’s such an expat paradise –

  1. The weather is so different to the rain, grey and cold we’re used to in the UK and the wonderful quality of light, endless sunny days and blue skies lift our spirits and make us never want to return home.
  2. The cost of living is so much lower than the UK, especially if you live in the big cities. Costa del Sol long term rentals can be found from as low as 400€ per month, a fraction of the cost of renting somewhere like London or Manchester. Plus, petrol, alcohol and eating out are all much, much cheaper, so you can have a much better standard of life for much less.
  3. You can still find all the English favourites of tea, marmite, traditional biscuits and sweets in your local supermarket. If you’re looking for something unusual then Iceland will normally stock it, or you’re just a short trip away from Gibraltar and the big English supermarket there. Spanish food is amazing, but if you’re going to call somewhere home then it is nice to be able to buy your favourite foods, go to an English café for a fry up or fish and chips when you want to, and the Costa del Sol has everything you can want.
  4. Most people speak English and local Town Halls and service providers are set up to deal with English people who don’t speak Spanish. Whilst we always encourage people to try to learn the language, it is brilliant that the English speaking community is so well supported.
  5. There are loads of excellent international schools for expat families. This means you can keep your options open and allow your kids to follow the English curriculum or the international baccalaureate system, but still give them an amazing place to grow up and the chance to be bilingual.
  6. It’s easy to get back to the UK to see family and friends, or even to do business. With low cost airlines flying into Malaga and Gibraltar regularly, people even commute from Spain! The short distance and low price tag means that you don’t feel cut off or isolated and you’re sure to get plenty of visitors as everyone loves the Costa del Sol!!!!
  7. There’s a strong international community of like-minded individuals who welcome new arrivals with open arms and go out of their way to help them and make them feel at home.  You can find friends who speak your language and have similar interests and beliefs really easily by joining clubs, networking, taking Spanish lessons and getting involved in the expat community.

Now we’re not saying that moving to a foreign country is easy, but the Costa del Sol is one of the easiest places to relocate to if you want to make a change and give yourself a better standard of living. We can help you start the ball rolling by finding you an affordable Costa del Sol long term rental in an area which fits with what you want your new lifestyle to be. We’ve all made the move so we know the pitfalls and have even written this article on how to make life on the Costa del Sol work for you to make it even easier. Don’t wonder what if, take the plunge and try it out – you can always go back!

Hope to see you here in 2016, let us know how we can help.

Learn Spanish in 2016

Learn Spanish in 2016¡Feliz Año Nuevo! That’s Happy New Year from all the team at HomeRentalontheWeb, we hope you had a great Christmas and that 2016 is going to be a good one. What was your New Year’s Resolution? ¿Quieres aprender Español? (Do you want to learn Spanish?)

We think that if you are planning to relocate to Spain, or you’re renting long term on the Costa del Sol already, that you should be aiming to learn some Spanish this year. Whilst you can get by without it in international areas such as the Costa del Sol, you will be able to enjoy life here so much more with a good level of Spanish. Plus you’ll be able to navigate the bureaucracy and get set up with phone lines, electricity and water without help! The people that really make a life for themselves here tend to speak Spanish. It opens so many doors and allows you to integrate, have many more options for work and saves you money, as you don’t need to rely on private healthcare and international schools.

Now we know that believing that you can reach a high enough level to speak to the doctor or service providers is hard, but trust us, everyone can do it if they try and there are loads of great resources out there. Plus when you start and make an effort to speak to the locals, you will get a lovely response and it will inspire you to learn more.

We recommend starting with some of the free online language learning resources, there’s a great list of free Spanish classes here and the BBC has a very good mini-site with loads of good activities which are fun, as well as helping you learn. Head down to your local library and see what they have, audio courses like Michel Thomas are brilliant for building up vocab and confidence without too much boring grammar and there are more traditional courses out there too of course.

Once you are learning, whether it’s with classes, or at home with books and tapes you should look for opportunities to practice it and get used to speaking naturally. There is an excellent website called Meetup where you can join groups all over the world and “Meet up” with people doing all kinds of things. The Spanish ones are brilliant, as you can meet in a social and friendly atmosphere and put what you’re learning into practice. Trust me, this relaxed practice will really make a difference, as it will take the language out of the books, let you apply it, but without it being too scary.

If you are planning to move over to Spain with the family, why not hire a private teacher and learn together, it will help you prepare for the move, bring you together and give you a grounding in the basics. With a private teacher you can also ask them to prepare you for specific things such as registering kids for schools, so you’re ready to face it when you arrive.

If you’re already living in Spain, then group lessons are a good way to get to know people as well as improve your Spanish. You can supplement your classes by setting up a language exchange (intercambio) with someone Spanish, so you can help each other improve your language skills, whilst having fun and making friends. Ask in your local Town Hall foreigners’ department whether they have any spaces in their classes, these are normally the most affordable.

Try a few different methods and see what works for you. It’s a beautiful language with many similarities to English and no matter your age or ability, if you really put your mind to it you will be able to master it! Buena Suerte (good luck)!

Check out our useful Spanish phrases blog post and our other learning Spanish articles to get you started, it’s worth it for the amazing life you can lead here. Remember that we can help you to relocate to Spain and find your perfect long term rental on the Costa del Sol.

Beat the Winter Chill in your Long Term Rental

Beat the Winter Chill There are many advantages to renting long term on the Costa del Sol, a major one being that you don’t have to worry if something breaks. However, renters sometimes feel they can’t make changes to the property to make it feel like home, without realising how much you can change without painting the walls or doing anything structural. With the right know-how and a bit of inspiration you can actually do a lot to really put your mark on the place without doing anything permanent. One thing that people often complain about is feeling cold in their long term rental during the winter. Whilst it is true that not all Spanish houses are built for winter weather, with some tips and tricks from us, you can turn your marble-floored summer pad into the perfect winter snug.

  1. Talk to your landlord to discuss options – Often homeowners are happy to make improvements if you can handle the arrangements and make it easy and low cost for them. If you have an open fire which doesn’t work too well, but you’d like to use it, then check out the options for improving it. It could be that it just needs a good clean, or to have something fitted on the top to stop the wind blowing back into the chimney, or you could install a wood burner in the grate. There are some really affordable options and with a small amount of building work you can install a wood burner and make a real difference to the property. We have had tenants and owners share the cost of this to improve the property for both parties, and the difference in heat generated and the amount of fuel used is amazing.
  2. Winter-proof the property – Windows and doors in Spanish properties tend to be badly installed or of a lower standard than the UK, so drafts come in and there’s a lot of heat lost from these areas. There are a few options for improving things. One is a simple draft excluder for the doors, which works well and is very inexpensive. Another very effective option is to fit heavy curtains on a curtain pole which can be easily removed in the summer (check out Ikea in Malaga for affordable options). You will be amazed the difference it makes in both the heat lost and also the feeling in the property. Buy rugs for the living rooms and bedrooms, so you don’t have to put your feet on the cold marble. Fluffy or woollen throws and bed spreads are brilliant for the sofas and beds to make it look and feel cozy and cuddling up on the sofa under a fluffy throw is perfect for winter evenings.
  3. Explore heating options – There are a range of portable heaters which you can buy to warm up the property. We recommend the small oil fuelled radiators on wheels. These give a really nice ambient temperature and gently warm the room and because you can wheel them around, then just one or two will do. They also use a lot less electricity than the hot air heaters, so are much more economic and environmentally friendly. It doesn’t have to be complicated – even the old fashioned hot water bottles are great to make your bed cozy when you get in and electric blankets are also a good choice if you feel chilly at night.

If you feel the cold and want to have something prepared for the winter please let us know and we can give you a list of available properties which fit the bill. We have a wide selection of long term rental properties on the Costa del Sol, many of which have heating and double glazing. But remember the winter here doesn’t last for long and before you know it the spring will be here again and all thoughts of cold will be banished from the mind for many, many glorious months!!

Tips for making the most of Christmas on the Costa del Sol

Costa del Sol ChristmasIt’s official – Christmas is here and we’re feeling very festive, with mince pies aplenty in the office. Malaga’s amazing lights were lit at the end of November, all the other towns followed suit at the beginning of December and everything is looking gorgeous. How’s your town looking? We’d love to see pictures!!

When you’re an expat renting on the Costa del Sol, Christmas can feel a little odd. Whilst we’re not complaining, having a sunny Christmas can make you lose that festive feeling, and not having family around can be tough. Don’t worry though, you just need to follow our handy tips and you’ll have a brilliant time.

  • Go to Malaga, marvel at the lights, stock up on Christmas presents on Calle Larios and enjoy a drink and some tapas to rest those aching feet. A visit to see the Malaga lights is a must for a perfect Christmas on the Costa del Sol and sure to get you in the mood.
  • Stock up on your Christmas favourites from a local international supermarket, or take a trip into Gibraltar. Having these goodies around you will make it feel like Christmas no matter where you are.
  • Make sure you’re warm enough – Stock up with wood if you have an open fire, or invest in an oil fuelled radiator and some lovely scented festive candles to make it really cozy and special.
  • Arrange special events – Get together with friends and arrange to have little parties at different houses, a Christmas Eve cocktail party, or a Boxing Day buffet to bring together friends who are staying makes it feel really fun.
  • Check what’s on – The Town Hall often holds events and there are theatre productions such as Swan Lake, but these do not tend to be well publicised in English, so keep your eye on the Town Hall website and posters which should be going up any time now.
  • Take full advantage of the lovely weather – Go and walk along the beach, or collect pine cones and fire wood in the hills and stunning countryside around Marbella, have a game of golf, or arrange a champagne brunch or cocktails on the beach with friends, you’re on the Costa del Sol so why not!!

If you’re feeling chilly and you haven’t found the right long term rental property where you want to spend Christmas don’t panic, we can help you find somewhere warm and comfortable, that will be a great base all year round. Please let us know as soon as possible so we can make sure you’re in and settled in time for Christmas.

To stay or not to stay in Spain for Christmas – that is the question

Stay in Spain for Christmas If you are still in denial that Christmas is coming, it’s time to wake up and smell the mulled wine! We’re just eight weeks away from Christmas Day and so if you’re renting long term in Spain it’s time to make the decision on whether to stay here for the festive season, or make the annual exodus to friends and family elsewhere.

It’s a tricky decision if you’re settled here and have found your perfect long-term rental property, as you feel at home, love living in Spain and can probably already imagine the tree and the stockings by the fire. However think carefully, as Christmas can be lonely without friends or family around, so make sure that there will be enough people around, or that your loved ones are willing to travel over to the Costa del Sol to be with you.

There are loads of benefits of Christmas on the Costa del Sol, not least the weather, which is often good enough for a stroll along the beach after Christmas dinner. The Christmas lights in Malaga are a real highlight, the old towns are lovely to stroll around and do a little chilled out shopping and there are some lovely Christmas events organized by the Town Halls.

However, we want to be honest with you, it can be hard to get into the festive mood here in Spain, as it’s much more of a low key affair in general and let’s be honest, most people don’t associate Christmas cheer with a drink on the beach. Most expats living in Spain will probably head back home and the “traditional” Christmas events like the markets and carol services take place earlier in December to allow for this. So unless it’s your dream to escape the cold and dark in the UK, or you have a good group of friends around you, or the family is over, it can feel a little sad to be living abroad at this important time of the year, so if you’re not sure we’d recommend you head home.

Travelling from Malaga or Gibraltar to the UK is surprisingly affordable before Christmas and after New Year. Be warned though, travelling back to Spain between Christmas and New Year can be expensive, if you’re looking for the most affordable fares and don’t mind much about New Year’s Eve, then travelling on 31st December or 1st January is a real bargain!

Kids are at school until 23rd December, but then their holiday lasts until 7th January because of the Three Kings. Also bear in mind that here offices tend to be open right up to Christmas Eve and only have Christmas Day as a public holiday, going back to work on Boxing Day, so make sure you book holiday asap if you’re working.

We hope this post has helped you make the decision on whether you’ll be staying over Christmas or not, if you haven’t taken the plunge and moved over here yet, we have more great advice on life in Spain on our website, not to mention loads of great Costa del Sol long term rental properties.

If you want to stay, then in our next post we’ll be sharing our tips for making the most of Christmas on the Costa del Sol.