Tips for Holidays on the Costa Blanca or Costa Cálida
(This section is out of date.) I don't have definitive information on buying property as I have not bought a property myself, but from talking to people you might think about looking for property independently rather than go through one of the big British companies that lay everything on for you. For one thing they mainly only sell properties that are not yet built, so you often hear the complaint from clients that they will have to wait a year or longer before they can move in. The other thing is that (according to an estate agent I know), the big companies only use builders who give a high margin to the selling agents. This makes economic sense for them; they offer to fly you over and put you up in a hotel and feed you; they also have to employ staff to look after you and show you around. They have to recoup these costs somehow. On the other hand for you, buying with such companies means you may be able to get a comparable property cheaper if there are builders with lower margins. Travelling independently gives you the time to go where you want. There are plenty of independent estate agents around, and many or most speak English.
I have also heard that if you go for property away from the main "British" areas, you will pay less and of course be in a more Spanish environment. The place I know best, San Pedro del Pinatar, is just south of the main development areas, and I'm told you'll pay something like 10% less there than you would further up the coast (it also has the advantage of being only 10 minutes form Murcia airport which is rapidly being flown to by more budget airlines). See this article from the Independent about the advantages of buying in the Costa Calida region.
Another area worth considering is the Alcoy area (description). This is away from the coast which gives you the benefits of being in 'real' Spain, cheaper property, while still being relatively close to Alicante airport.
There is also useful information at
idealspain.com with many topics relating to buying, and the main site has
good general advice on most issues concerned with buying and living in Spain.
Another very useful site for those thinking of moving to the Costa Blanca is
Costa Blanca Expats (also their
non-commercial links page contains a lot of interesting links on most aspects of
Spanish life). Also check out Spain Expat
which looks pretty useful.
Note: prices quoted here are out of date; they will be quite a bit more now.
Most services tend to be cheaper than in the U.K. For example, if you need a good physiotherapist, try the Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Centre (Cetrade S.L., tel. 968183356) in Lo Pagan (next to San Pedro del Pinatar) opposite the BP garage on the main road. They charged 15€ for a session (35-40 minutes). (I went with a bad knee on the recommendation of two acquaintances with back and neck problems).
The general area of the Costa Blanca South is supposed to be a great place for a number of chronic health conditions. According to the World Health Organization, it is the second healthiest place in the world (this is probably apocryphal, but I've heard it any number of times). The salinas (salt lakes) along the coast (the largest of which is by Torrevieja) contribute to a special microclimate. I have come across frequent stories of people with severe arthritis or similar conditions who are immensely better when here.
The very salty water in the Mar Menor lagoon (San Pedro round to La Manga) is
supposed to be very good to bathe in, especially for skin conditions. Many
people come to Lo Pagan (San Pedro del Pinatar) at the northern end of the Mar
Menor to cover themselves in the black
mud from the salinas, which is supposed to be full of all sorts of nutrients. (According
to an analysis carried out by the University of Murcia these sediments
contain a high percentage of calcium, potassium, magnesium, and fluoride, as
well as chlorine and sulphur, with a PH varying between 7.12 and 8.45.)
Just drive along the narrow road from the windmill at the northern end of the
beach, and look for the sign "Lodos". If this seems a bit basic for
you, go across the road to the Aguas Salinas and pay to have someone do it for
you in more luxurious surroundings.
You can get free ("emergency") health care with your E111 (available from post offices). Don't forget to bring it. I have heard that if your E111 is more than a year old, some places will not accept it, although this has not been my own experience. To be on the safe side it's worth renewing every year. It's a good idea to get copies made as when you go to a local clinic they will need to keep a copy, and they may not have a photocopier going. The standard seems much the same as in Britain (queues, waiting lists etc.). However you can always go to a private clinic, and get seen quicker. Generally you can go straight to a specialist even in a local clinic, which usually have a variety such as cardiologists, rheumatologists and the like. You'll probably pay around 35 euros (out of date) for a consultation. If you need a referral to a hospital, it may be worth paying privately for quick treatment (unless you have insurance of course). Costs are substantially lower than in the UK (e.g., scans seem to cost around a quarter of what you might pay here, but check in advance). We have used the new private hospital on the outskirts of Torrevieja (San Jaime Hospital) but our impression was that it is quite a lot more expensive than local clinics that offer a similar service. There are good scan centres in Cartagena and Murcia; also one in San Javier (they'll do MRIs etc.) but you need a referral letter from a local doctor.
For alternative therapy on the Costa Blanca North (Moraira,
Calpe, Alfaz del Pi), you could try Total Wellbeing with Miles & Lynne
Copp (Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs, Colonic Hydrotherapy, Shiatsu,
Detoxification & Nutrition, Holistic Psychotherapy) Tel: 965-577-433 or
646-928-679. (I have no direct experience however.)
The Owl and the Sparrow
The Owl and the Sparrow is a book about a battle that takes place in a forest. The battle is between the birds on one side of the forest, which they themselves call the good side of the forest, and the birds (vultures) on the other side, the dark side of the forest.
Owl is the leader of the good forest and his adversary is the Condor, reputed as being the darkest force in the forest. Into the story enters an apparently naive sparrow who is seduced by Condor into the dark side of the forest against the rulings of Owl. Owl refuses to send help because he does not want to endanger the lives of more birds, but also because he is furious with the sparrow. He says that sparrow was asking for trouble.
Also on the good side of the forest are an incredibly silly group of finches who like to play games and torment the vultures. But their silliness and game-playing skills are no match for the profound darkness of the vultures, and some are captured, and terrorised.
Golden Eagle rules over the whole forest, but he gets little involved because he has left Owl a set of rules. Finally he gets angry with what he sees happening on both sides of the forest, and realises that rules are not enough. So out of his concern and love for the birds , he sends his son, Silver Eagle, to the forest. The book covers the events that follow including a bitter battle and the discovery that there is an unknown traitor within their camp.
Author Ruth Thomas
Editor Joan Mitchell
First version typed up and suggestions made by Deborah van Welie