In March 2011, we spent a week in the costa brava looking for a house to rent. Being English, I thought I'd do a search on the internet and arrange lots of viewings. Perhaps I'd been watching too much "House in the sun" but I had visions of spending the whole week traipsing from house to house.
Ha ha! My first experience of 'modern' Spain. I managed to find an estate agent that someone recommended to me. They had what looked like beautiful houses. I emailed them. No response. I emailed again. No response. I phoned (several times due to my bad spanish). They understood that I wanted to see the houses but for some reason I wasn't allowed to, just pop in when you get here they said.
I think I managed to arrange 2 viewings before we left the UK.
So, we arrive in Spain and head off to the estate agent. But they tell me that I can't view these houses because they're second properties and I want to live there all year round. Hmph! But we arrange to see some others.
Did I mention that we had 2 young children in tow? (And luckily some grandparents to help out.) Did I also mention the 2 days in 1 system that they have in Spain? Shops (and estate agents) are open in the morning (generally from 10) to lunch time (12.30/1ish) and then close for the rest of the afternoon…until 5 and then they are open again until 8. Which isn't great if you have to get back to feed children and put them to bed. (Spanish children stay up much later than British children. It's not unusual to see 2 year olds in prams at 10 at night.)
So, my week of seeing loads and loads of houses turned into a week of going round loads and loads of estate agents. We did manage to see quite a few houses, big ones, small ones, ones with swimming pools, ones in the sticks, ones with furniture, ones without. It was exhausting.
And miraculously we managed to find one house in a small town called Palafrugell which we had never heard of before. What a stroke of luck. A town near the beach (not that that had really been the plan). A house big enough to fit us all and for my husband to work.
And that was it, we signed the contract and arranged to move in at the beginning of May. Goodbye rain, hello sun...