Things to do around Marbella – Camino del Rey

Camino del ReyFor those of you renting long term on the Costa del Sol and looking for fun and exciting activities for your weekends, or days off, there’s so much to choose from, such as the many pretty white villages inland, Fuengirola zoo, several aquariums, and even a crocodile park and ice rink, but something which is really getting people talking is the reopening of the Caminito del Rey in the stunning countryside outside of Malaga.

This aerial walkway hugs the cliffs and crosses the stunning but vertigo inducing El Chorro gorge has been being restored for what seems like ages, but is now due to open in time for Easter. Already people are getting excited about it, with the Lonely Planet’s new booklet 26 of the world’s hottest new experiences for 2015 putting it at an amazing number 5 and dubbing it “one of the world’s scariest hiking routes” with views to take your breath away.

Malaga Town Hall announced at the end of January the Easter opening date and said that access to the Caminito del Rey will be free for the first few months and open every day apart from Mondays. You will not be able to just turn up, but to book online on the official website (unfortunately this hasn’t been released yet) and judging by the Lonely Planet and the Guardian’s reactions there will be a lot of interest. Residents of the Costa del Sol need to keep their eyes peeled for information and openings to make sure they can benefit from this great new attraction before they start charging.

There’s an excellent website with the latest information about the area as well as the path here which you can check out http://www.caminodelrey.es/ and if you want to find out more great things to do on the Costa del Sol download our free guide.

Learning Spanish – Asking for & Understanding Directions

Directions in SpanishIs improving your Spanish a New Year’s resolution for 2015? So many of us that live and work on the Costa del Sol want to be able to speak Spanish better, especially if you’re renting long term and are trying to battle with Telefonica for your phone line, or trying to sign up for an important piece of paper at the Town Hall.

Thankfully, there’s lots of help out there for you, with Town Halls having people ready to help us foreigners in our own language and long term rental companies like us dealing with landlords and service providers on your behalf, and providing services such as an out of hours helpline as part of our tenant support service so you don’t need to worry.

But when you’re lost and need help, then some vocabulary is very important. Here are some key phrases to learn to find your way around the Costa del Sol –

  • Excuse me – Perdóneme
  • Can you help me? – ¿Puede ayudarme?
  • I’m lost – Me he perdido
  • Where are we? – ¿En dónde estamos?
  • How do I get to Marbella? – ¿Cómo puedo llegar a Marbella?
  • I’m looking for… – Busco…
  • Where is the …? – ¿En dónde está el/la …?
  • Where can I find a …? – ¿En dónde puedo encontrar un(a) …?
  • Are we on the right road for…? – ¿Estamos en la calle correcta para…?
  • Is the … far? – ¿Está lejos el/la …?
  • It’s very near – Está muy cerca.
  • It’s a bit far – Está un poco lejos.
  • Straight on – Todo derecho.
  • To the left – A la izquierda.
  • To the right – A la derecha.
  • The second street on the right – La segunda calle a la derecha.
  • On the corner – En la esquina.
  • Can you show me on the map where I am? – ¿Puede enseñarme en dónde estoy en el mapa?

You can check out our previous learning Spanish posts for more helpful Spanish vocabulary, or join a local class to improve with help of a teacher. ¡Buena suerte! (Good luck)

Things are looking up for Spain in 2015

growthIf you’re living and renting long term on the Costa del Sol then you’ll want to know what’s in store for the economy in 2015. You will probably have felt the increasing positivity over the last 6 months of 2014 with a strong summer and improving property market and things are predicted to continue to improve. The government has put in place incentives for companies to try to generate more employment and a strengthening international economy is expected to help our area significantly in terms of tourism, international investment and property sales.

Things are looking better than the pundits expected and so revisions were made to cautious predictions at the end of last year. The Foundation of Savings Banks (Funcas) estimate that the economy will grow by 2.4% in 2015, two tenths more than they previously predicted. It predicts that private consumption will increase by 3% and even construction will see an increase with a 1.8% rise. They also expect a fall in unemployment of 2% in 2015 (330,000 jobs being created) which will be a huge boost.

BBVA bank has argued recently that the property market has finally reached a turning point into recovery and they predict that “2015 will mark the start of a moderate recovery in residential development.”

This is such great news for Spain, a fantastic country to live in, which has been challenging to work in for the last few years. We are looking forward to an even stronger 2015 and expecting an increase in demand for long term rental properties as people come back looking for opportunities as well as a fantastic standard of life, but aren’t ready to commit to buying just yet.

If we can help you to relocate to the Costa del Sol in 2015 and find you the perfect long term rental property, we’d love to hear from you.

Happy Three Kings – Don’t Miss the Processions Tomorrow

3 kingsWe hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year, whether you spent it on the Costa del Sol or back with your family. If you were in Spain did you try the tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight – one for each chime of the clock? Share your experiences, it’s something I have never mastered!

Please don’t think that the festivities are at an end – the most important is still to come, the arrival of the Three Kings!

In Spain they celebrate the Three Kings on 6th January with a public holiday and a day spent with family. This is the day traditionally children will receive their presents as the Three Kings brought their presents to the baby Jesus on this date and it is more important than Christmas Day for many Spanish families.

The day before there are brilliant processions through the towns, with favourite kids’ characters, as well as the three kings throwing sweets to the crowds. It’s a really fun event and everyone gets out into the streets, so there’s no excuse for the January blues! Go and visit your local Town Hall for the events and times, as there may well be other festivities happening too. Look out for anything to do with “Los Reyes Magos”, a “cabalgata” is a parade.

The following day, make sure you head out to your local park or seaside promenade, even if you’re not celebrating, as it will warm your heart to see all the kids with their shiny new bikes, scooters, roller blades and whatever this years’ craze is, showing off to everyone, whilst the families stroll, chat and have fun.

Normal life resumes on 7th January officially, but expect it to be a slow start and be patient until 12th when people will start to work as normal.

Marbella’s campaign to increase its registered population

register_marbellaThere’s renewed interest in the municipality of Marbella from people looking to rent long term, buy, set up a business or own a second home. Let’s be honest, the climate, leisure possibilities, business opportunities and the reduced property prices make it a very attractive option and the area has seen the sharpest increase in population in the Costa del Sol and beyond.

At HomeRentalontheWeb, we are also seeing a big increase in people who want to try out the great lifestyle, but who haven’t decided exactly where to live and want to be sure the property market has reached the bottom and so are renting long term rather than buying.

Did you know that if you are renting long term and living full time on the Costa del Sol you should be on the Town Hall’s official register? Many people don’t know, or don’t want to and this is causing big problems for the municipality as they are only allocated funds on the basis of the registered population.

According to data provided by the Junta de Andalusia’s Institute of Statistics and Cartography, 39.500 new foreigners were registered last year. But it’s clear that there are many more residing in Marbella who can still not be found on official lists.

To improve the situation the Town Hall has launched a campaign to encourage us foreign residents to register by making it really easy! They have a regular presence in markets, El Cort Ingles and shopping malls Las Cañada and Marina Banus, they are holding meetings with representatives of the many foreign residents associations here and even have a trailer at all the markets in which citizens can sit down and register on the spot.

Whether you own a property or are renting long term in Marbella, there are loads of benefits to being registered, such as being able to use the state medical facilities and school and there are also discounts for lessons, clubs and facilities. Find out more here

Getting in the mood for Christmas on the Costa del Sol

921344_christmas_presentAlthough it may feel like the summer has just ended, because of all the amazing weather we’ve had on the Costa del Sol during autumn, we can’t hide from the fact that December is here and Christmas is almost upon us.

For those of us renting on the Costa del Sol from the UK, Ireland and Northern Europe who associate Christmas with cold and dark, we may need to work a bit harder to get into the Christmas spirit, but there are loads of great opportunities to feel festive. The lights went on at the end of November and so the streets are now sparkling and there have already been a host of Christmas markets and there are more festive markets, shows and parades in the pipeline and here are some highlights.

If you’re renting long term in Marbella, there’s loads going on…

  • Outdoor Ice Rink Puerto Banus – Have a surreal experience in the sunshine and go ice skating in Antonio Banderas Square in Puerto Banus, open now until 6th January from 5pm to 9pm Monday to Friday and 12.00-9pm weekends and holidays until 19th December and then every day 12.00-9pm from 20th December.
  • Christmas Concert in Marbella’s Main Church 12/12 20.30 – Enjoy carols and lots of traditional Christmas charm in Iglesia del Encarncacion in Marbella’s Old Town
  • Performance of the Nutcracker in Marbella by the Imperial Russian Ballet 14/12 – Marbella Town’s main theatre, cost 25€ per ticket
  • Christmas and New Year Concert 26/12 – For a fun boxing day treat head to Marbella’s theatre for a two part show – classical Christmas, featuring a trio and quartet of classical musicians playing classic Christmas songs from the likes of Bach, Haendel, Tchaikovsky and Strauss. Following this there will be a celebration of American “crooners” and Broadway classics which all celebrate this special time of year.

If you’re renting long term around Estepona there are some fab options…

  • Los Pequeños Ángeles Christmas charity party for children, Funky Forest 13/12 16.00-20.00. This charity kids’ event at an indoor play centre near to Estepona will be a great way to support a good cause and have a wonderful time with face painting, a magician, creative activities including making presents and gingerbread and of course a visit from the man in red himself.
  • 14/12 El Campanario Christmas Artisan Market 11.00-18.00 – Buy gifts, cards, sweet and savoury food, face painting, kids’ activities and mulled wine to enjoy.
  • 13th & 20th December – Christmas Wonderland and kids event –  This Christmas Heaven Duquesa in conjunction with the Foreign Residents Department of Manilva Town Hall and My Party Perfect are bringing the Magic of DISNEY to Puerto de la Duquesa and have created a WONDERLAND FOR ALL, come and revel in a jovial assortment of festivities crafted just for the season

There are also Santa’s grottos in shopping centres and town squares, and look out for the programme of events in your local area by visiting your Town Hall or tourist office. For more general information on spending Christmas on the Costa del Sol download our free guide.

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!