So Helen and I have been back in the UK now since the end of March, at the time we thought only for a few months, but alas COVID surprised us all! If you’ve read the previous posts you also know we shipped the boat back around the end of May, initially to Southampton and then onto Plymouth. We’ve spent most of our time in the apartment in London (thank god it wasn’t rented out) and managed prolonged visits back and forth to Plymouth.
Our initial reaction to the restraints of COVID and our necessity to return both ourselves and the boat to the UK was a mixture of apprehension, disappointment and frustration, but dealing with these issues was somewhat diluted by the fact we could cruise the Med once the restrictions around COVID were relaxed. However as mentioned in the last post, Boris has managed to screw that up too, he hasn’t negotiated a reciprocating deal for the residents of the UK to have the same deal as EU residents have with us which is 180 days (6 months) stay in any year. This potentially dashed our Plan B Med cruising plans, as cruising the Med in 3 months cycles just doesn’t work, meaning we would have to be back in the UK for 3 months too.
Then there was always Plan C….
Plan C literally came about by accident. We had pigeon-holed between 5 and 10 years cruising on Allegrini on our world tour, after that, it was always our intention to retire from cruising life to buy a nice little place in Spain, somewhere warm for our aching bones. Nothing too fancy, near enough to a main town/city for the shopping, restaurants, amenities etc, but far enough away from the hustle and bustle that is Brits on holiday.
Whichever way I say this we’re still going to sound like spoilt brats, but suffering a halt in our plan to cruise the world on our wonderful yacht in lovely warm climates, beautiful sandy beaches crystal blue water, knocked us for six and come back to the UK really felt like moving backwards! “Oh boo bloody hoo, my heart bleeds for you”, I can hear you saying, Everybody was fed up being in lockdown, everybody was really in the “Same Boat” this time. But you have to understand compounded to everybody else in lockdown with us, our main gripe was WE WEREN’T SUPPOSED TO BE HERE! Our entire life had been turned upside down.
We thought to ourselves, “Ideally if we had already owned a property in Spain now, we could apply for Residencia” which would allow us to be a resident in the EU on December 31st and then be afforded the same status as the other brits living in Spain and therefore stay in Spain as long as we wished”, the only problem was we didn’t own a property in Spain, nor did we have the benefit of time to logistically sell the apartment in London and find our ideal property, so we were screwed. However, after speaking to Chris, a mate of mine who I used to work with at Selfridges that lives in Spain, his other half reliably informed us that she knew people that had got Residencia by just renting property long term.
The wheels and cogs started to whir and slowly turn in our heads, could this be the answer to our problem? We immediately sprung into research/surf mode and started trawling all the websites offering residencia application, legal services etc. We initially started looking around Murcia and Almeria area, after watching some channel 4 program called “Sun, sea and selling houses” we liked the look of the area, but after a couple of rather wishy-washy email conversations from “TVs estate agents” decided to look further afield.
I had previously lived in Spain nearly 35 years ago, but much further up the coast nearer Benidorm. Benidorm itself is a well known to be the Spanish equivalent of Blackpool/Skegness/Brighton/Whitby all rolled into one, frequented generally by the rowdy party people, who want all the trappings of the UK but with sunshine. A very successful TV show was made about it! Don’t get me wrong I’m not knocking it, after all, I had a bar there in the ’80s, and these same people put plenty of money across the bar and made me a living. Anyway, I worked there but lived outside town, in nearby Albir, so knew the areas around Benidorm quite well.
We found a place we liked in the foothills surrounding Calpe, we also found a local legal team, so all we had to do now was secure the property and get the legal wheels in motion.