There’s no single reason why we ended up in Lubrin but rather a lot of research, common sense and luck.
Lubrin is in the province of Almeria in the region of Spain called Andalusia. To find it on a map either head south from Alicante or east from Malaga until you hit the city of Almeria. Once there you head north east for 45 odd miles through the semi desert until you reach the whitewashed village in the Sierra Filabres Mountains. The nearest beach is Mojacar Playa which is about 35 minutes away if you’re brave enough to drive that fast on the VERY twisty mountain roads but the views are amazing so you just take your time! For those of you old enough to remember Clint Eastwood as the “man with no name” you’ll recognise the terrain as it’s where all spaghetti westerns were filmed. In fact, 30 minutes down the road is a theme park dedicated to all the film made in the area.
Lubrin itself has a population of around 1500 and boasts two, yes two supermarkets (we’d say they were mini markets), a library that includes the local gym, three restaurant/Tapas bars, a butcher, a fishmonger (yipee), swimming pool that unfortunately is only open July/August and a market once a week.
The village has a socialist mayor which probably accounts for how well presented the whole place feels. We went to a number of other villages in our search and found a lot of them would have graffiti and dog shit in abundance. Lubrin very obviously stood out as being different. The first time we went there was a fiesta celebrating San Sebastián which seemed to consist of throwing extremely large bagels at an effigy and other villagers. It was a glorious January day (20c) and the village was packed with people from all over the region. We wondered if the place had been spruced up accordingly but found it just as beautiful on our second visit. The streets were all clean and the buildings looked newly painted.
Originally the plan was to buy somewhere near the coast and just use it for holidays but the more we looked the more we realised that wouldn’t be enough. We wanted a more immersive Spanish life and going inland would provide that. Also, very importantly, the cost drops dramatically and you can get an amazing property for a lot less. I’d always wanted to go as far south as possible and Almeria province, along with Cadiz, is the hottest driest place in Europe. Unlike Alicante and Malaga, this part of Spain has not been massively developed in terms of tourism, so again the price of property is lower. There are lots of demographic and economic reasons for the abundance of low cost property but two seem to be most obvious. Firstly the mass migration of young people out of the villages to the cities looking for work that has been going on for quite a few years. Secondly, the economic crisis that has gripped most of Europe for the past ten years. I’ve read somewhere that there are over two million empty properties in Spain and most of them are in the Costa’s. It’s most definitely a buyers market with some places we went to view being for sale for over ten years.
We have all heard the horror stories about buying in Spain but this seems to be a thing of the past? The whole process is much more regulated starting with each party putting €3000 into a holding account so if there’s any problems with the property that is forfeited and given to the other side. It means there’s far more of an incentive from both parties to get it right. Also, from the Spanish side, they want to encourage us to come over as we bring a lot of money and so jobs into the economy. So far it’s been not too stressful but we still have quite a way to go!
We’ve been very lucky to have been helped by our fantastic estate agent, Karen and her partner Paul. Karen has been out in Spain for about 15 years and has worked hard on developing her business. Walk around Lubrin with her and everyone, Spanish and British, will stop to chat and it is obvious she is a well liked and respected member of the community. They both couldn’t have been more helpful throughout the whole process and actually our growing friendship has definitely been a factor in our choice of location. It’s worth looking at the website to get a flavour of the extremely diverse nature and price of the property she has available, http://www.casaycampo.co.uk
So our new address will be Plaza San Sebastián 8, Lubrin 04271, Almeria Spain. If you’re interested in looking at the house we’ve bought this is link http://www.casaycampo.co.uk/propertydetails.aspx?SalePropertyID=637124
As you will see it’s quite typically Spanish in terms of lots of smallish rooms but as it’s been owned by a British couple for a while it’s not full of what we would see as chinsy clutter. Originally we’d intended to buy something that need a reasonable amount of renovation for a lot lower price. The cost of a builder is only €10 per hour so less than a third of the cost in the UK. However, after seeing about 15 properties we realised that most of them had no outside space for either us or the dogs. What is the point in moving to somewhere with such a fantastic climate and being stuck inside? Neither of us wanted to be out of the village (country property is even cheaper)as we felt we’d be too isolated. Also I plan to do some teaching to supplement our income so being in the village made sense. The trouble is that means no outside space and you definitely want a swimming pool! So we looked at San Sebastián and realised this suited perfectly. Two roof terraces, fantastic views, a courtyard, a separate holiday let for added income, only very basic decoration and most importantly, a vacant plot right next door that we hope to buy and build our own swimming pool. Yippee!!!! On the other side of our courtyard is the bakers shop which is also vacant. Again we hope to purchase this as it would make a perfect workshop for Sam’s jewellery business, a great teaching room and even a small garage to put my Ducati. The buildings and land are perfectly placed for us to be able to wall the whole thing so we can have a garden, a pool and somewhere for the dogs. Once we are in Lubrin the empire building will commence.