The summer solstice, the longest day, June the 21st, will forever be associated in our mind with the day that we completed the purchase of our house in Galicia. Today sees the first anniversary of us sitting in the offices of a Ribadeo Notario surrounded by a multitude of interested parties all waiting for their slice (of varying sizes) of our hard earned cash as we received the key to our pile of rubble on a remote Galician hillside.
Some of the time it feels like it was only yesterday, but on the daily commute to Salford it feels like a painfully long time with very little to show for our efforts and our cash.
It has been an interesting roller-coaster journey over our first years, from elation to despair and back. So what are the twelve key things that we've learnt during our first year of overseas property ownership?
- Forget extended legroom on EasyJet. Sit as close to the front of the plane as you can, and then you'll be first off, and hence first in the queue at the car hire desk. It will still take twenty minutes to get your keys but you'll save yourself upwards of an hour of waiting and tutting.
- The laws on smoking in the workplace don't appear to apply to Notarios.
- When trying to estimate how long a bureauratic process will take; think of a reasonable period of time, then triple it and add three months.
- When your new Spanish neighbours find out that you don't have children they will offer condolences rather than congratulations.
- The more important the documents, the longer it takes the Spanish postal service to deliver them.
- Guttering is an infrequently accepted optional extra in Galicia. Surprising for a region with the same annual rainfall as Manchester.
- It is guaranteed that as soon as you place an order for Euros with your currency broker the exchange rate will improve.
- The visual appearance of food is inversely proportional to the way it tastes (e.g. percebes, scorpion fish pate, cabrales, spider crab, etc).
- Speaking a little Spanish opens doors much more easily than waving your arms about and shouting in English.
- It is impossible to find something that isn't taxed in some way. The government get their little slice of everything, or at least everything that is declared!
- The more you panic, the more laid back your gestoria will get, and the longer it will take them to answer your e-mails.
- While you are in England your Spanish neighbours will continue to use your property as though it is their own, keeping their livestock in your barn, hanging their washing on your line, and harvesting your fruit.
One year passed as long distance Gallegos, and looking forward to our second year of ownership.