Local Elections in Spain

Election_MG_3455This month Spain goes to the polls for the local elections and you will see a lot of campaigning on the streets, posters, flyers and events to gain support from the town for a particular party.  The date of the election is 24th May and if you are living in Spain and registered on the electoral role and the padron then you’re entitled to vote, even if you’re renting long term.

Local Town Halls are finally realising the importance of the foreign residents’ votes and making it easier for them to vote, as well as offering incentives such as reduced IBI tax for property owners, which you apply for whilst also applying to vote. The Mayor of Marbella wrote a letter to the foreign residents of their district back in April, encouraging them to get involved in the elections. In this letter she also introduced the new mobile app “Marbella vota” where you can find your local polling station and get involved.

If you’re out of the country but would like to cast your vote, you can do so before 14th May in any post office. You may have received an electoral census to your address, but don’t worry if you haven’t you can find your nearest polling station by asking in your Town Hall. Please note that if you plan to vote on 24th May, you must take photo ID.

Costa del Sol long term renters and foreign property owners are an important part of the community and if you work here, use the health system, or schools, then go and have your say on 24th May.

Unfortunately, if you didn’t register on the electoral roll then you won’t be eligible to vote, so you will have to wait until next year. However, check at your Town Hall if you’re not sure, as many official processes obliged you to register, so you may have done it without realising.  

Get to grips with the Spanish holidays!

bigstock-Teenage-flamenco-dancers--81977894We’ve just had Labour Day (Día de los Trabajadores) and then a surprise extra day on Monday when many schools were closed and a lot of expats we know are heading into the summer with trepidation wondering when the next holiday is due.

Did you know that last Sunday was Spanish Mothers’ Day, or did it pass you by? Don’t worry if you missed it, you are not alone, because it is different to the British Mothers’ Day it catches a lot of families living on the Costa del Sol out. The first many of us know is when their child comes back with something from school!

The Spanish love their holidays and they are peppered through the year, giving those expats lucky enough to live on the Costa del Sol a nasty surprise when they suddenly realise their child doesn’t have school, or that all the shops are closed. So here’s our guide for all you long term renters to make sure you don’t miss out, or get taken by surprise!

01-Jan

New Year’s Day

06-Jan

Día de los Reyes Magos/Three Kings

19-Mar

Father Day´s

02-Apr

Maundy Thursday

03-Apr

Good Friday

05-Apr

Easter Sunday

06-Apr

Easter Monday

01-May

Labour Day

03-May

Mother’s Day

24-Jun

San Juan Night

15-Aug

Feast of the Assumption

12-Oct

Spanish National Day

01-Nov

All Saint’s Day

06-Dec

Día de la Constitución

08-Dec

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

25-Dec

Christmas Day

You will also have your local feria and saint’s day which will be a local holiday, so check your local town hall calendar if you’re not sure. For more advice on living and renting long term on the Costa del Sol please browse our blog or feel free to ask, we’re here to help!

New Foreign Residents’ Office Opens in Marbella

Foreigners OfficeBack in June, we wrote a post about the great services available to foreign residents on the Costa del Sol through the different Town Halls, and the lengths they are going to in order to ensure that we are happy, well-looked after and can get the help we need in our own language.

One of the new services we mentioned then was the opening of a new, dedicated office for foreigners in Marbella and I am pleased to say that it is now open in the area of La Patera – Calle Duque de Lerma 3.

This office has been created by the National Police to improve the quality of services for foreign residents and adapt to the interests and needs of the highly international community in Marbella. The large 180m2 building will make it a lot easier to process documents such as invitation and nationality letters, residence certificates, return authorisations or student cards, amongst others, and will reduce the load on the general police station by giving a dedicated centre for these activities.

Please note that this does not replace the foreign residents’ department office in Glorieta de la Fontanilla, s/n 29602 Marbella (in the tourist office by Da Bruno on the Paseo Maritimo), but is an additional resource for processing documentation.

The Town Hall also have created a useful information hub particularly for foreign residents which you can review here http://www.marbellaexclusive.com/en/international-residents-community.html

In other foreign residents’ news, the Marbella foreigners’ department has been running a campaign to improve the amount of people registered on the Town Hall census (empadronamiento) and is making it even easier to do.

If you’re renting long term in Marbella, we would highly recommend registering on this, as it gives you access to council services such as health care and schooling and you can often get discounts on state services such as sports and language classes. It will also improve your area, as the budgets are allocated depending on how many people live in a certain district, so if you want better roads, services or activities, then registering will help you to get them! Click here for information on how to do it, or contact your local foreigners’ office and they will help you to do it, quickly and easily.

Vaccinations in Spain

syringe-417786_640If you’re living on the Costa del Sol with kids, you need to know about the vaccination programme and make sure your kids are correctly protected. Vaccinations protect your children, and your whole family, from serious and potentially deadly diseases. The schedule of jabs needs to be respected, even if you’ve recently moved over and are just starting to figure out the system.

As a long-term renter, you have put down some roots, but may be playing things by ear. This is a huge advantage of renting long term on the Costa del Sol, however can be disruptive to your children’s health care, as you may not have fully entered the system and therefore miss routine check-ups.

If you (or one member of your family) are working and paying your social security, then you and your extended family are entitled to state medical care. If you speak some Spanish, or have someone who can help, this is the most cost-effective way of getting healthcare for you and your children.

You need to apply for a social security number and card, sign on to your Town Hall register (empadronamiento) and then take your number and your padron (registration) certificate to your nearest doctors’ surgery to register. This process is pretty straightforward if you have someone who understands the system and the language, but can be difficult without, so either reach out to a friend, or consult the local foreigners’ office and ask for their help.

Once you have registered your children at the doctor, they will be entered into the “Niño Sano” (Healthy Child) programme and will have a series of vaccinations planned. They have vaccinations at birth, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 months and 3 years at the doctors’ surgery under this programme. Then jabs will be given at school at the following ages; 6 years, 12 years and 14 years. As well as the mandatory vaccinations such as Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria and MMR, you will also be offered optional vaccines such as chicken pox, which will be done through the doctor, but which you have to pay for.

If you don’t want to go into the Spanish health system, due to issues with the language, or convenience and flexibility, there are some excellent private health care providers. They offer affordable health plans which include vaccinations and can advise you if you feel you have missed anything whilst you’ve been getting settled.

We are here to help if you’re struggling with living and renting on the Costa del Sol and have some useful relocating to Spain information on our website as well as this blog. We also have a number of guides about living on the Costa del Sol and our team are all long term residents, so can give you their personal experiences of sending kids to school, healthcare, driving, insurance and much more. Please don’t be afraid to ask.

Moving children to the Costa del Sol

VacationWe meet hundreds of people each year looking to make the move to the Costa del Sol with their family and deciding to start by renting long term in order to have flexibility and be able to make an informed decision about where they want to settle down.

Spain is the most wonderful place to raise a family, the Spanish love kids and will make them welcome everywhere you go. Plus, the climate is brilliant for an active, outdoor lifestyle and children think nothing of popping to the beach or taking a swim in the pool after school. You can also give your kids the most amazing start to life with a second language and a high level of cultural awareness.

However, it is a daunting step to take and many of our long term renters are worried about how their kids will adapt to a new life in Spain. We were really pleased to see this helpful article online with helpful tips on how to make the move easier and have summarized the key points below, click here to read the full article

  • Keep the kids’ informed about the move and make them feel excited about the adventure ahead
  • Take advantage of the many social groups, websites and forums offering advice and support for newly arrived parents and get together with people to share experiences and learn Spanish
  • Don’t miss the application dates for state schools & consider the schools when you’re choosing where to live. Don’t just consider International Schools if you want your children to integrate fully
  • Don’t neglect your kids’ English – although they will keep their spoken English level if you speak it at home, their written English will really suffer if they are in Spanish school, so extra work is needed from the parents or a tutor to give them the option to study in an English speaking country at a later stage
  • Help them to get to grips with the language before you leave the UK and work on Spanish at a language school or private classes at holidays so that when they get to school they will feel prepared. Kids are like sponges and will pick up the language quickly and confidently, but it makes everyone feel better if they have a baseline
  • Don’t think any children are too old to move, but make preparations to help them settle depending on their age. Make sure you prepare them for the language if they are older and you are putting them into the Spanish system, or ensure you have enough money for the international schooling system
  • Enjoy the freedom and safety for kids in Spain and let your children explore and make friends, it’s a treat but can be hard to adjust to when you’re used to the more restrictive life in the UK
  • Learn the culture yourself and pass it on to your children by getting involved with everything around you as much as possible
  • Embrace all that is good and different about Spain, let them stay up (really) late like the Spanish kids and take them with you when you go out in the evenings and discover the restaurants and bars in Spain are all child friendly! It’ll help you all to settle in and make new Spanish friends.

Enjoy it, and don’t be afraid to ask others for help and advice, we’ve all been there and Mums and Dads are always happy to share stories, put people in touch and generally make it easier for you. At HomeRentalontheWeb, we’re happy to advise on schools, medical facilities and family friendly activities in the area you’re looking to rent. We all live and work here and so can give you the inside knowledge. Many thanks to Dave Bull for this great advice.

Staying safe on the Costa del Sol

sosThe Costa del Sol is a great place to live and rent long term and feels very safe. Families notice how much more relaxed it is to have children running around whilst other families help you to keep an eye on them, and there’s a friendly and positive atmosphere on the streets.

However, sometimes we all need some help from the emergency services and should be prepared. If you do need to call the emergency services, dial 112 and this number will connect you with the police, fire and ambulance. There’s a useful post with numbers to call for other emergencies here, which also has a list of a few Spanish phrases to use and would be worth printing out and having around just in case.

In addition there is a new smartphone app which has been sponsored by Mijas Town Hall which gives an immediate alert to your location. It has been designed specifically for hearing and visually impaired members of the community and is totally free to download online for both Apple and Android phones. When the GPS facility is activated, any calls you place requesting assistance will make it easier to pinpoint your location ensuring a rapid response to your call. You can find out more by clicking here

Another danger which you need to be very mindful of is the ever present drowning hazard from being close to the sea and having easy access to pools. Children can drown even in shallow water, so be really careful, ensuring kids are constantly supervised around water, always wear buoyancy aids and are educated as soon as possible to be confident and safe swimmers. Ensure pools are safely gated off or covered when not in use so children can’t just wander in unsupervised.

Being close to water is a huge benefit of renting long term on the Costa del Sol and many of our long term rental properties have private or communal pools, but always remember that they are also potentially dangerous places and take precautions to protect children other members of the family.

Stay safe!

Taxes in Spain

taxesAs Benjamin Franklin famously said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”, but what is sometimes not so certain for expats living and renting long term in Spain is what taxes apply to them, how much should they pay and should they still be paying taxes in their country of origin.

This is a constantly evolving topic and varies depending on where you are from and what your status is in Spain, so the key is to research properly, make sure you’re looking at the most up to date information and ask for professional advice. Anglo Info has some excellent general information about the different categories of tax, including the new declaration of overseas assets here – http://costadelsol.angloinfo.com/information/money/general-taxes/

We have some useful information about financial and tax matters on our website and our trusted partner Perez Legal Group have a wealth of interesting articles on legal and financial matters on their site. They recently highlighted important changes to the EU Inheritance Law in 2012 which will make international successions easier to resolve from 17th August 2015 and is important if you are tax planning for the future. Read the article by clicking here.

We suggest that you find an English speaking accountant and tax advisor who can guide you through the minefield of Spanish taxes and you see a few companies before choosing the one you feel most confident about. We can put you in touch with some highly recommended specialists, so please just ask info@homerentalontheweb.com

Networking for business success in Spain

networkingIf you’re renting long term on the Costa del Sol and working for yourself, you are not alone! During the financial crisis, more and more people decided to set up their own business and many have survived and are looking forward to better times. There are definitely green shoots appearing and high tourism and more optimism generally is encouraging spending, but it’s still important to get out there and establish yourself to boost business, increase exposure and, very importantly on the Costa del Sol, generate trust in you and your company.

One very good way to do this, as well as making good business contacts and making friends is networking.

No matter where you live there are groups arranging regular meetings in your area. September is the start of the business season after summer, so there are lots coming up, here are just a few:

Charity Networking Marbella 10/09

A special networking event to promote social entrepreneurship from environmental charity Arboretum Marbella and raise money for their campaign ‘step by step to make a dream come true’. The event will be held in Arboretum’s stunning edible garden on Wednesday 10th September from 18.30-20.30hrs with refreshments, speed networking and group discussions about sustainable business practices and developing a strong local economy.  Cost – 20€ per person (all proceeds go to the construction of the Domo Confianza) RSVP – maria@arboretummarbella.com

Networking Manilva 17/09

A new networking group is being launched on September 17, 2014 from 18.30 to 20.00 in Villa Matilde, Sabinillas in association with Costa Women and supported by the Manilva Town Hall. This monthly networking event will offer the business community on the Western Costa del Sol a friendly and open environment to build their network, find suppliers and make new contacts. The event will cost 5€ to include the networking activities and refreshments and will take place on the third Wednesday of each month. To register please email info@shawmarketingservices.com

Golf Tournament & Networking 25/09

Doing business on the golf course is a well-known side effect of a great game and with this in mind the British Chamber of Commerce in Spain in collaboration with Marbella Golf Country Club is organizing their 5th Annual BCCS Golf Tournament on 25th September, an all-day event including a Golf Tournament followed by an evening dinner and live entertainment, presentation and prizes. Non-member price/person: 85,00 € RSVP andalucia@britchamber.com

Best of luck growing your business and establishing yourself on the Costa del Sol, it’s a great place to live!

Moving to Spain with your family

Family Dining Al FrescoIf you’re planning on relocating to Spain it is an exciting but daunting prospect, especially if you’re moving the whole family and have to worry about how kids and elderly relatives will cope. However, with the right preparation and planning the move can be made much easier and in our experience the stress and strain is soon forgotten when you’re sipping a cocktail on your terrace, or taking the kids to the beach to play every day.

There’s a really useful guide to moving to Spain with the family which can help you prepare for the big move which you can download for free. Prepared by a moving company it covers topics such as preparing the family for the move from an emotional and practical point of view, packing tips, advice on getting through the move day and then settling into your new home. It’s a really comprehensive guide of things to think about and do to make the move easier and better for all so is highly recommended.

We have also got loads of interesting and helpful information on our site about relocating to Spain, including a free guide to Spanish legal system  which includes getting a Spanish will, becoming a resident and buying and selling property which you can download free of charge.

Remember, we’ve all made the move ourselves, as have thousands of others and so whilst it is stressful, the rewards of family life in Spain far outweigh the stress of the move itself. You will find that Spain offers a very family friendly environment which welcomes children almost everywhere you go and puts them at the centre of the community. The kids love it as they get to play outside, enjoy a healthier lifestyle full of sports and activities and be part of the family life no matter what is happening. Plus they get to learn a second language and the younger they are the easier it is!

Keep an eye on the blog for information about schools and family life in Spain and feel free to ask us any questions by commenting on the blog or getting in touch by email, phone or online here: http://www.homerentalontheweb.com/contact.asp.

Marbella’s campaign to encourage residents to register

empadronate_ayto-marbellaIf you are living full time in the Marbella district you need to register on the municipal register known as the “padron” in order to show where you live and be able to access services such as healthcare and schooling.

It is really important if you want to see investment in the area you live in, as the number of people registered on the padron is how public funds are allocated to certain areas. The Costa del Sol has suffered for this because there have been such a high number of foreign residents which have not registered and you can see that reflected in the quality of the roads, the schools and the health centres.

Once you have registered you are also able to vote in local or European elections, but you will need to ask for a separate form for this when you are at the office, as you are not automatically added to this list.

It’s easy to register and the Town Halls are really improving the amount of information available to help. There’s a great page on Marbella Exclusive all about registering to live in Marbella and the different ways to do it. There are several offices to register for your padron in the Marbella municipality including in the Plaza de los Naranjos in the Old Town Marbella, Las Chapas, Nueva Andalucia and San Pedro. You need to take your passport, your NIE if you have one, proof of ownership of the property or if you’re renting long term in Marbella a rental contract and in some cases utility bills to prove you live there. Make sure you have copies of all of these and the information for all the people living in the house as everyone will be listed on the padron.

Once you have registered you are on the council’s list, but the physical certificate is only valid for three months, so if you need to register for school for example you will need to go back and request to be issued with another one.

If you have any more questions about renting long term on the Costa del Sol, rental contracts and registration requirements check out our frequently asked questions.