House Hunter: 'We want a house in Spain which has privacy and a friendly local community'

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Angela Bell writes: "I'm British, my husband Dan is originally from California, and we have lived all over the world but our life plan has always included moving permanently to the States.

THE PROBLEM

Angela Bell writes: "I'm British, my husband Dan is originally from California, and we have lived all over the world but our life plan has always included moving permanently to the States.

"In recent years, however, after having our two children, Lauren, five and Danny, three, we settled in the UK so that the children could get to know their grandparents. We bought a house in Eastbourne and I thought that we might never move as the house with its cherry tree and location near one of the best schools in the area was perfect! However, after a cousin of mine moved to Spain and we began going on holiday there, we have now decided that Spain is the best compromise for us. The climate is wonderful and would give us, and our children, a much better lifestyle. We hope to be able to spend far more time outdoors and of course it's only a couple of hours from the UK so Dan can get back for work and our friends and family can easily visit us.

"We would prefer a villa in a good community, yet we also want a garden of our own and some privacy. So far, however, we have had difficulty finding exactly the right property for us. Dan is so busy with work that it's hard to find time to keep popping over. Also we've searched all over the country. We started off in Alicante and searched all the way down the coast as far as Cadiz, we even looked on the coast between Spain and the Algarve in Portugal but, while we've found many properties that we liked the look of, the location has never been quite right and not one has given us that 'buzz' that we need to buy."

THE ADVICE

Jason Wild replies: "Angela and Dan's search is a fairly typical one for our company. We have all sorts of properties from plots, apartments, townhouses and villas and do resales as well as selling directly from developers from Elviria down to Sotogrande all on the Costa del Sol. What became clear from talking to this couple was that they are both extremely sociable and want to be able to fit into a community as soon as possible as opposed to those who come here to relax and get away from it all.

"Angela is good friends with someone who has bought a villa in Spain and isn't at all happy with her new life here. She finds it hard to meet people and the children are alone in their own garden and pool so, apart from school, they aren't making friends either. Angela is aware that she is often going to be alone when Dan is away and the children are at school so she wants to be able to meet people easily and not feel isolated.

"This is where townhouses on urbanisations such as the ones I've suggested here, really come into their own. I know that the one at Atalaya in particular has a large community which is always organising social events such as barbecues on the communal grassy areas and there's a pool and tennis courts so you are always going to bump into people, which makes it much easier to settle. Angela and Dan also need a fairly big property for when friends and family visit which this development gives them.

"We are now seeing many more young buyers often with young families who are moving here permanently in search of a better lifestyle. There are also many buyers like Dan with businesses in the UK and they can easily fly back and forth to check on them but they are also starting up mainly PC and internet companies over here.

"People start to think that if others can do it why can't they? They will find that schools here are excellent as are medical facilities and without the waiting that you get in the UK. Traffic problems and the weather also persuade them to come but one major factor is that school terms are organised so that they see far more of their children and get to spend some real quality time with them."

Jason Wild is sales manager at Continental Estates: 00 34 952 853 126, www.continentalestates.com

THE SOLUTION

Property one: Townhouse in Dominion Beach

Price: €388,500 (£255,000)

Agent's details: A luxurious property close to Estepona with three bedrooms and two bathrooms as well as private sauna and peaceful roof terrace with views. Dominion Beach is a wonderful beachfront urbanisation with two swimming pools, restaurant, beach bar and "Alhambra- style" gardens

Property two: Townhouse in Atalaya

Price: €425,000 (£279,000)

Agent's details: Extremely spacious townhouse in a residential urbanisation in Atalaya, close to San Pedro. The property has four bedrooms and four bathrooms together with large private pool as well as communal facilities. The vast open plan living area has a conservatory complete with bar. There is also a 120sq m basement.

Property three: Townhouse in Estepona

Price: €350,000 (£230,000)

Agent's details: A three-bedroom, two-bathroom townhouse set in a tranquil urbanisation above Estepona with views of Gibraltar and the mountains of North Africa. The property has marble floors throughout, a spa bath and a double garage. Community facilities include colourful gardens and a large swimming pool.

THE VERDICT

"After looking around Estepona we knew instantly that this is the right area for us. It has everything we need and, for us, location is definitely more important than the property. Having said that, when we saw property number two we knew instantly that we wanted to buy it!

"It's a townhouse, not a villa as we originally wanted, but we realise that this is so much better as it will give us the community that we want. It is at the very top end of what we are able to afford but we think that it's worth it. There is a great local school nearby where the children will both go and the facilities on the development are excellent, there's a pool and tennis courts. One other great thing is that it's not overlooked so will give us all the privacy we need."

If you would like House Hunter's help, write to House Hunter, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, or e-mail with full details: househunter@independent.co.uk

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