House Hunter: 'We want to work from home - in Spain'

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The Independent Online

David Snell writes: "I am in my early fifties and have recently come to the decision that, as I'm not getting any younger, now is the time to live abroad.

THE PROBLEM

David Snell writes: "I am in my early fifties and have recently come to the decision that, as I'm not getting any younger, now is the time to live abroad.

"My wife Daphne and I are tired of the rat race and feel that we should strike out and enjoy a totally different lifestyle for the next 20 or 30 years. Having come to this momentous decision we set about seeking a suitable home in Spain and - this is where we have come across a problem - we can't find what we are looking for!

"We have chosen Spain because the people are wonderful, the weather is excellent, the Spanish lifestyle suits us, and, of course, it is only a short flight time from the UK where our three daughters live. However, the homes we have seen tend to be in huge conurbations where you live cheek-by-jowl. This may be fine for some people but, at our stage of life, we want a little more space around us although we don't want to be too remote.

"In some ways we have been spoilt by living in Sussex, where we have a nice Grade II-listed home in about half an acre. We are close to amenities and the beach, so we want to recreate this type of environment, except in a sunnier climate.

"Another factor in deciding to live abroad is our business. We work from home and with modern day communications, broadband and the Internet, we can run the business from almost anywhere. We therefore need a home, which is big enough for us to set up two rooms as offices. Our budget is around £400,000 to £500,000, depending on whether work is required."

THE ADVICE

Tony Sparkes replies: "Buying inland may be the perfect answer. By moving away from the coast you achieve much better value for money and, depending on location, get as much as twice the house and land for the same money.

"The Murcia region in south-east Spain has much to offer including stunning countryside and beaches, fabulous golf courses, and, when the new international airport at Corvera opens in 2007, easier access to the UK and the rest of Europe. In fact, my wife and I are so impressed with the Murcia region that we are actually moving there ourselves.

"The Spanish Costas have always been perennial favourites, people like creating the atmosphere of their holidays and enjoy living in close-knit communities, but recently there has been a marked change in buyers' requirements and we have had a number of enquiries from people like David and Daphne who want something more special. As they live in the Sussex countryside I'd definitely advise them to consider buying inland to appreciate the Spanish countryside, which has miles of unparalleled beauty, a greater variety of lifestyle, fresher temperatures and an opportunity to mix more easily with the locals.

"The Murcian interior is ideal for those in search of relaxation, nature and good food. The mountains here are full of wild game and lakes are stocked with fish. Quiet, sleepy towns, such as Calasparra, Moratalla, Mula, Bullas, Cehegín, Caravaca, Jumilla, Yecla, and numerous other localities are ideal for visitors and residents who want to lose themselves amongst holms, pines, oaks and junipers, visit archaeological sites and experience traditional lifestyles.

"With the Snells' budget, frankly the world is their oyster! We currently have brand new homes in Calasparra, which is around 45 minutes' drive from the coastal area of the Mar Menor. Located in a small complex on the edge of the village each brand new home can be personalised with a wonderful choice of tiling and colour schemes.

"By buying a new home, the Snells won't have to worry about maintenance problems. If they do not want to live on a complex then there are individual homes either in the villages or set in the lush valleys. Prices vary, but a four bedroomed house in good order with a large amount of land and pool would cost around £190,000."

Tony Sparkes is sales director of AGS Properties (0800 587 6718)

THE SOLUTION

Property one: Country house in Lorca.

Agent: Espanol Homes: 01395 260311

Price: £678,000.

Agent's details: This fabulous country house is set in 8000-sq-m with full size pool and lies around 20 minutes inland. There are nine bedrooms, two bathrooms and huge lounge and dining room featuring traditional wooden beams. Externally there is a large terrace and plenty of space to park or build a double garage.

Property two: Arcos de la Frontera, Costa de Luz, Spain.

Agent: Lacey & Co: 01702 603210

Price: £475,000

Agent's details: This large and unusual property has four bedrooms, two en suites, two bathrooms, guest cloakroom, magnificent fully fitted kitchen, two reception rooms and utility room. The property is set within three acres and is less than an hour to the coast.

Property three: New villas in Calasparra.

Agent: AGS Properties SL, 00 34 966 718 722.

Price: From £140,000.

Agent's details: A selection of three, four and five bedroom, two-bathroom high-quality detached villas on 1,000-sq-m plots. The properties have central heating, air conditioning and are fully double-glazed. Price includes swimming pool and landscaped gardens.

THE VERDICT

"Moving inland is something that we considered but we found it hard to find agents dealing with these areas. Being country bumpkins we are happy to live surrounded by open countryside and, from what we have seen of Spanish roads, 45 minutes' drive to the coast will not be nearly as hazardous as a drive along the M23 to Brighton. My wife is a keen cook and enjoys visiting restaurants, so being near Murcia city and the country villages is appealing.

"I'm not sure if we will choose new or resale but the idea of moving inland to get better value for money certainly appeals.

"We are looking for a home, not a holiday retreat, and need to know that an area has all the facilities we need and that our home is built to a good specification so that we are not blighted by repair bills throughout our later years."

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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