Life is full of adventures, some bigger than others, the best ones are those that in reality sweep you off your feet. It´s taken us a few months of pondering about the idea of taking yet another leap. As mentioned in my previous post, the decision has been made, we´re moving on again!
Here´s the “shortened” background story of how we moved to Spain and why:
We lived in a house in the UK all our married life, worked hard, brought up two kids, then they “flew the nest”. So the question was, do we stay here and wallow forevermore in a big house when we only use four rooms? Or,, what?
First idea was moving to Florida where we´ve been many times, but the visa process is a nightmare, it can go on for two years with no guarantee of a positive outcome so, No.
The second idea couldn’t be more different (than like, anything). We´d often go for walks along canal towpaths, enjoyed the peace and quiet, the fresh air away from an urban town, it was beautiful.
One day we stopped off at a marina café and saw a Dutch barge for sale… We spoke to the owners for four hours and learned all about life afloat, the boat was only a year old, but they had to sell up due to health reasons. A few weeks later we put in an offer, did a test drive and ahoy, “TakeyTezey” (Take It Easy) and shortened to TT was ours. Twice the width of a narrowboat, like a floating apartment, we lived aboard for seven years, made many friends and had a great time.
However, there´s an old saying that “a boat is like a money pit” it´s true. For many years we didn´t mind spending cash on various (expensive) technical equipment that failed, after all, each replacement was an upgrade that would work proper, right? Wrong.
The first major problem was memorable for many reasons, we wondered why the bedroom carpet always felt damp, after a while it felt WET. Were we slowly sinking? It turned out to be a small leak from a water pipe located under the bow. So we had the pipe replaced, but everything wood in the bedroom had soaked water up, including that on the walls. Outcome? Complete new bedroom including wooden lining and insulation of the sides.
Talking about this is like Deja Vu at the moment. Are water pipe leaks, regardless of house or boat destined to occur for us? Oh wait! They must be! I´ve just remembered the one at the house in the UK, it would´ve been around seven years before the boat started sinking.
Anyway, returning to the boat disaster, we were not alone, our good friends further down the pier had the exact same problem at the exact same time. We shared the same plumber, shared the same skip for throwing furniture out, and had new furniture delivered in the same van.. Disaster turned to hilarity when we both ended up with each other´s new fixtures and fittings, then had to work out who´d bought what and which boat things were supposed to be on!
“Well I think this one´s ours, no wait that´s yours, no hang on it matches this box, oh wait they´ve sent the wrong bedside cabinet?” By this time both deliveries were spread at random across two boats. Sod it, we each built what we´d got, and carried the wrong bits to the right boat.
I don´t believe in fate, but after years of original tech stuff going wrong, then new, more advanced replacements also dying quick. By then we truly believed the boat was cursed, as did everyone else, including the technicians, electricians and engineers who practically lived onboard with us.
For the last two years of living a curse, apathy began to set in, even though the boat had a wood burning stove and central heating we decided to escape winter in the UK, and go somewhere warm OUTSIDE for a few months. I´ll never forget the night we walked off the boat onto the jetty, suitcases in hand, the front screen of the cabin blew out. OK it was a gale force wind, but no-one else`s boat partially exploded.
It was deliberate, I swear it was, the timing was impossible to believe. We had a taxi waiting and a plane to catch bound for Spain, but that boat wanted to kill us first. A friend of ours heard it, went and got a wooden board, started drilling it across the empty space and shouted “GO, GO, WHILE YOU CAN”. He knew the score.
In Spain we stayed in a five star hotel at the back end of Benidorm, next door to the mountains for six weeks. Visited Albir and Altea either side, the old town, and it was only a two kilometre walk to the beach. In winter I can confirm that Benny`s Dorm is not filled with human ants or rowdy yobs.
It was then, one day, we said to each other “we can do this” and meant it. By that time we didn´t care if the boat had sunk itself deliberately while we were gone.
When we got back “TT” was assessed, and a whole new cabin had to be built. Don´t ask how much that cost, by then we´d had enough, and technical experts working on other problems started paying rent to move in. I remember well the long running saga of the “bow thruster” which turns the front end of the boat right or left. (Well it´s supposed to). It didn´t work for MONTHS. Meanwhile the engineer was truly baffled, and also lived onboard the “TT” Titanic.
To be honest, we thought, nay KNEW, this exceptionally bad behaviour was all about us doing a year´s research of moving to Spain, and putting the dam thing up for sale.
In the winter of 2013 – 2014 we spent 4 months renting an apartment in the area of Spain we´d chosen, after having done almost a year´s worth of research, and a full month looking at properties with several estate agents, eventually we found the right house for us, and bought it.
When we returned to the bad ship TT, we just wanted out. By then we´d spent more than 20,000, yes twenty thousand quid on it over the years, and things were still baffling boat technicians. Another NINE months later, problems were solved and we had a buyer who was interested. A new life in Spain was waiting for us, so we escaped one night in pitch black darkness, jumped on a plane and left the sale with the broker at the marina. All our stuff had been in storage for quite a while! It was delivered to us three weeks later.
Walk the plank and run to the sun, quick before anything else fails………… So we did, and never looked back. Moving from one house to another here in Spain, well we know how it all works.
Being fiscal residents makes things even easier, (no loose ends to deal with in another country either).
One small spanner in the works is Brexit, it won´t affect us because we´re protected by the Spanish Government. BUT it has made some Brits nervous to buy. The upside is European citizens from other countries are not deterred, but we´ve lost about 30% of interest because of it.
Our timing is crap, but we will not be deterred.
Did I say the “shortened background story?” Believe me, this is as close as it gets. You still awake?