I guess looking back this journey must have started around 50 years ago with my first visit to Spain, Torremolinos was then no more than a small fishing village which boasted only 2 hotels and few properties for sale. The ride from Malaga airport lacked a motorway but more importantly, very few buildings. Indeed the whole coast from Malaga to Marbella and beyond, there were very few buildings apart from around the town and villages of Torremolinos, Fuengirola and Marbella.
I fell in love with Spain through that visit and have visited either for holidays, golfing trips and business almost every year since, sometimes two or three times a year, travelling from Barcelona in the east, to the Portuguese boarder in the west and including most of the Balearics. Each visit building my desire to one day at least to own a property or indeed live in Spain full time.
My wife and I often discussed the possibility of buying somewhere where we could holiday and have short breaks away. Eventually making the ultimate decision to look for a property.
We agreed that ideally we would like a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom (essential) apartment, close to the sea in a relatively quiet area. We could visit with friends and family and enjoy the climate and lifestyle that Spain offered, but also to be able to lock up and return to UK without having to worry about gardens and such like.
Several hours on the internet eventually revealed the Costa Tropical/Costa Granada, somewhere I had never been, but looked of interest as it boasted “This is real Spain".
In July 2003 we set off for Spain.
Our journey started in Malaga and took us east along the autovía for about 50 minutes and then onto the coast road, we were heading for the village of La Rábita where we had arranged to meet English agents who had properties for us to view.
All together it took us in excess of 2 hours to reach our destination, but on the way there were wonderful views of sea, mountains and many attractive whitewashed villages. Today of course the journey would take around 1hour 20 minutes as it is autovía all the way.
Arriving at La Rábita was a bit of a shock, we had not realised that this was the main growing area for vegetables and fruit, supplying the whole of northern Europe and as a result there were plastic greenhouses everywhere. I remember saying, What have we come to??
Nevertheless we were here and it was only fair to give the agents the opportunity to show us around..
Having arrived on a Sunday our “search tour" commenced on Monday in La Rábita, where we viewed several re-sale appartments, it was then onto La Mamola, about 8 kilometers along the coast, for further viewings, all the time of course becoming more aware of what the area offered.
Tuesday, another beautiful day saw us in Melicena, a small tranquil village about mid-way between La Rábita and La Mamola and situated on the coast road right next to the Mediterranean sea. Today it is ideally situated between 2 junctions of the completed autovía giving quick access to East, West and Northern Spain.
In Melicena we viewed a newly completed apartment, 3 bed, 2 baths, large kitchen and through lounge and dining room, with a balcony giving a side view of the sea, only 150 meters away. It was perfect!
Our search continued however and gave us the opportunity of seeing more of the area. By Thursday our opinion of where we were, had completely changed. Yes this was very much a working area but once you looked past the plastic greenhouses you realised it had a beauty and character all of its own. Sea and mountain views together with traditional Andalucía whitewashed houses and the lack of commercialisation were absolutely wonderful.
Our mind was made up, this is where we wanted to be.
On Friday we were introduce to a Spanish but English speaking solicitor (essential) and having decided to buy the apartment in Melicena, we paid our 10% deposit, realising of course that if we did not complete we would lose the deposit. Similarly if the vendor “pulled out" he would have to give us twice our deposit
Our solicitor handled everything for us and we completed on the apartment in November 2003.
For the next four years we spent many holidays and long weekends being joined at times by friends or family and all enjoying the climate, the different way of life and the beauty of the area and of course wine and free tapas helped!