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Expat Investor : August 2009
EXPAT SPAIN Follow the passion trail and find the real Spain Expat readers living in Spain need look no further for a holiday than their own Andalucian back yard. Situated along the ‘Caminos de Pasion’ (The Passion Trails) are 10 authentic Spanish towns strung across some of the most beautiful countryside Spain has to offer. Expats and foreign visitors alike will experience the warmest of welcomes and gain a real insight into local culture and lifestyle. The area, being promoted by the Spanish Ministry of Tourism, lies to the west of Seville, north of Malaga and east of Granada. Reasons for taking these caminos might include the chance to experience the region’s heritage in terms of history, archeology, architecture, and religion. Or you may simply wish to dip into the local population’s lifestyle. You can visit bodegas – sampling the most delicious wines, olive oil producers and even olive oil museums (which will teach you how to distinguish the best olive oil), as well as indulge in local culinary treats such as home- cured hams and home-made cheeses. Although the main centres are referred to, locally, as cities, in reality they are towns – albeit with architecturally splendid buildings (many warranting the label Palacio), monasteries, churches and pretty squares cooled by elegant fountains offering places to rest, excellent restaurants and welcoming bars. The towns to look out for are Marchena, Osuna, Lucena, Antequera, Priego de Cordoba, Alcala la Real, Baena, Estepa, and Ecija. I visited them all and was privileged to be present at many of their religious feast days. These unique celebrations display an exuberance that’s both mysterious and captivating. Each town and village along the caminos stages fairs and feast days from April through to October. Many process their most Why invest in Marabella? precious icon – usually an ornate statue of the Virgin Mary, others show off their thoroughbred horses and equestrian panache, or flair for flamenco dancing. All are accompanied by bands playing and singing ritual and folkloric songs (a kind of muezzin meets plain chant style) unique to the region. I was spellbound by the local singers of Marchena, who demonstrate a style of vocal celebration called Saeta, whose appeals and prayers are sung directly to their icons. None of the singers were professional, or indeed trained, but the power of their voices and the emotions their performances invoked were spellbinding. Aside from the religious festivals, there are gorgeous ceramics and other locally produced artisan objects to tempt the acquisitive visitor. Stopping over in Antequerra, I visited the megalithic tombs – dolmens – the oldest dating back to 2500 BC. These tombs are Once known as the playground for the rich and the famous and renowned for its golf courses, Marbella has long been in the sights of retiring expats.However, only a very few have ignored the damaging reports that affected the region’s reputation property market. Tales of Banking in Spain Banco Santander has bought up three expatriate offshore banks – Abbey International, Alliance & Leicester International and Bradford & Bingley International. Between them, these banks offer a full range of savings and retail banking accounts and services. Expat Investor readers can research products and services available to them by visiting the 24 EXPAT INVESTOR ? following websites: Abbey International (Jersey-based) www.abbeyinternational.com. We like Abbey International’s offshore current account. The Gold account lets you bank in sterling, euro or US dollars, or a combination of two, or all three. It comes with a Visa deferred-debit card, which lets you July/August 2009 overdevelopment, lack of planning permission and corruption, all took their toll and drove would-be investors away. Taylor Woodrow believes the subsequent criminal investigation and the election of new local government officials has brought a fresh start now that a number of untrustworthy characters from this debacle have been imprisoned and Marbella property officials and authorities have imposed stricter regulations. The conscious need by authorities in Marbella to be seen as being “whiter than white”, combined with a new law (due to be passed later this year) which will legalise the vast majority of all the properties that were granted illegal licences, has led to renewed confidence in the property market. Ignacio Osle, Regional Director of Andalucía at Taylor Woodrow de España, comments on the current situation in Marbella. “It seems that the economic crisis started in the Marbella area two years before the international crash. During this time the prices started to decline and developers reduced their new construction projects. Due to this continue to earn interest every month as card transactions (except cash withdrawals) are only debited to your account at the end of the month – so you can continue earning interest on money you’ve spent for up to 30 days. Alliance & Leicester International (ALIL) (Isle of Man-based) www.alil.com.im We like ALIL’s new Select International range of accounts because every new customer signing fantastically preserved. The vast stones covering the floors, ceilings and walls, really did offer a close-up of a prehistoric age. The oldest tomb’s entrance aligns precisely with a hilltop outline that sketches the profile of a sleeping elderly lady – a powerfully moving image on the landscape that can be seen for miles around. It offers a hint of some long-forgotten matriarchy. An accompanying audio- visual presentation suggests how these people may have lived and how they built these tombs. This region is the world’s largest olive oil producer. You can visit an excellent museum in Baena which tells the story of olive oil production from Roman times – when the olive was introduced to Spain – as well as learn how to taste olive oil and distinguish a good oil from an indifferent one. The museum’s staff are both enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Visitors to Ecija will be enchanted by the towns and fall in love with the churches and buildings. And the local history museum is a must; one of the prize exhibits is the internationally acclaimed Roman statue of an ‘Amazon’ woman. It was found in near perfect condition at the archaeological dig which unearthed a Roman bath-house in the main square. The local restaurant in this town, Casa Pirula, specialises in partridge dishes, including the best paté I’ve ever tasted, and an equally slowdown happening two years before the current slowdown we are now facing, Marbella is currently in a prime position to be one of the first places to recover. Indeed, the stock of properties has been reduced drastically with price discounts up to 30%. I truly believe that 2009 is the best year to buy a property in Marbella because of these exceptional price reductions. Additionally, the new Málaga airport, the San Pedro de Alcántara tunnel and the new urban plan will further improve the quality of this unique destination. I forecast that investing around the Marbella area, taking into account current prices and that new land to develop is very scarce, will be a superb mid-term investment with good revaluation after the next two/three years.” Taylor Woodrow de España confirms it is currently offering “generous” discounts on a couple of its developments situated in the Los Arqueros Golf and Country Club in Benahavis, only 10 minutes from Marbella. Both Las Encinas de los Arqueros and Los Robles de los Arqueros are situated on the Los up for one of these accounts or ALIL’s eSaver Offshore account is sent a free copy of Expat Money: The definitive personal finance manual for Brits abroad, written by Hannah Beecham. The guide is essential for any Brit abroad needing money management advice, whether it be on currency juggling, banking abroad, offshore mortgages, healthcare insurance, tax advice, investment advice or non- resident status. superb spiced partridge and rice dish. The Spanish are a welcoming race, keen to share their rituals, rites and rural ways with visitors. Those of you who feel you’ve lingered too long in an expatriate enclave without witnessing anything of your host country will not have far to travel before meeting an authentic Spain that is delighted to have the chance to share it all. For those planning a retirement or new life in Spain, stepping out along the Caminos de Pasion will give you a chance to experience the heart of the country before taking the plunge. Travel tips Airline: Iberian Airline. www.iberia.com Tour information Spanish Tourist Office, London, 020 7486 8077. 24 hour information and brochure request line: 08459 400 180. email: email@example.com www.spain.info.uk Local tour guide: David Cox. Tel: (0034) 645 350 750 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.reallydiscover.com Where to stay Hotel Casona de Calderon (Osuna) www.casonacalderon.com Hotel Convento la Magdalena (Antequera) Tel: +34 951 060 400. Hotel Huerta de las Palomas (Priego de Cordoba) www.zerchahoteles.com Hotel Becquer (Seville) www.hotelbecquer.com Arqueros Golf Club just a few minutes from Marbella, San Pedro Alcántara and Puerto Banús. Las Encinas consists of 30 two and three bedroom apartments in the style of a Mediterranean village with magnificent terraces, swimming pool, gardens and an over-ground parking space. All apartments are southeast facing with magnificent views over the golf course and sea. Where as, Los Robles de los Arqueros is situated in the heart of the prestigious Los Arqueros Golf Club whose members can enjoy the view of well-kept greens and fully equipped club house. It consists of 42 unique apartments that combine to forma Mediterranean village. Located in seven apartment blocks, all just three-storeys high, all the apartments face south or south-west, with magnificent balconies and gardens with views of the golf course and sea. “Prices at this internationally renowned resort featuring two desirable developments start at €168,255.” For further information on Taylor Woodrow de España visit http:/www.taylorwoodrow.es/ Bradford & Bingley International (Isle of Man-based) www.bbi.co.im We like BBI’s savings accounts range because they are market leaders on interest rates. Savers can check out these best paying accounts, be they on no notice or notice terms, fixed rate bonds or tracker bonds, through MoneyFacts, the independent rate comparison company at www.moneyfacts.co.uk
May June 2009
September October 2009