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So you want to live in Spain and bring your 80 with you.

Dave2000

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Today I thought I would help perspective buyers who fancy moving to Spain

We discussed about living in an apartment or house avoiding certain areas, for example a nice house near the beach would be perfect for some people, whilst staying at a friends apartment in town (I needed a break from the silence where I live and the boredom as not being able to get out and drive either of my vehicles) well I was out walking my dog 'Cookie' this morning at around 5.30 and this apartment is three roads back from the beach, and within two roads you could hear the beach parties that have been going all night! True I could not hear them from 'Ana's' but another street nearer the beach and they were there in your head loud music screaming an shouting along with someone version of singing LOL, but hey this is Spain, so give that a thought when visiting and remember we are still a couple of months away from the holiday season! There is an upside, you can always go on holiday yourself during the summer months!

So 'campo' or countryside living which I have done for some considerable time now. Many people live in the countryside in the UK, but most have electricity and gas and even toilets and running water! Well the issue here is to define 'countryside'. First if you are more than say well........500 metres out of town you will not get gas, that will be bottled. Electricity is different and I live around eight kilometres out of town and have electricity, "woooo look at you" I hear you say.....just give me a moment to finish that line with 'most of the time'. I do recall when electricity was temperamental when I lived about 2 kilometres out of town but it has improved. But now at eight kilometres it is shall we say tolerable? So no mains gas, no mains water, no mains sewers and an 'iffy' electricity supply which to be fair may go on and off three times a week often for one or two days, two being the longest so far. As I mentioned gas will be bottles and will remain so for years to come. The thought of lugging around heavy steel gas bottles in and out of the boot of the car is not very appealing but can be done, it will be a bit of a bind as you get older (more of getting old in a moment), so what's the answer? Big gas bottles! Yes big, are are talking five foot or more in height and silly heavy. Get a contract for TEN bottles and then have a cupboard constructed to hold them, they will be propane so there must be vents in the top and bottom of the doors if you want keep them hidden, many have them in a simple cage so obviously well vented, remember propane being heavier than air will vent out at the bottom so allow for this. So now the ten bottles are connected to a manifold with ten being the maximum, but only five in use at a time. So ten bottle connected to the manifold and there is a changeover tap (not a switch but possibly doable if allowed?). So now you have a decent boiler for showers a gas supply for cooking, bathing and showers, a gas fridge freezer which are very reliable and even central heating (yes it gets cold here and UK pensioners who live here DO NOT get the winter allowance each year), and you have five of these great big bottles connected. There has to also be a tap near the boiler to turn of the gas in an emergency or servicing. Now obviously depending on usage you have a great gas supply, and when it runs out you simply go to the cupboard and use the changeover to to allow the supply from the other five bottles, the tap indicates from which 'set' you are using. Go back indoors and everything returns to normal, make a phone call and five more bottles will be delivered with a truck with a small crane within a couple of days, he or she will then disconnect and remove the bottles and fit five full ones in their place and reconnect them, you now have your back up supply reconnected. Usage, to give an idea how long these bottles will last is very difficult indeed, obviously in the summer if you are all salads and sangria, and of course no heating in use then the gas will only be used for an early morning showers as the water will be a little chilly depending on your 'deposito' or well supply, so to give you the closest guess was a good friend of mine used five bottles about every 7 - 8 months she lived alone in a four bedroom house with double glazing but no carpets except a large one in the lounge, radiators were kept on in all the bedrooms but set on minimum during the winter to keep dampness to a minimum, summer usage rose considerable when her three daughters came over with their friends, showers some home cooking and so forth, that's the best guess I am afraid. To add a little information, I live in a three bedroom country house alone and have three small gas bottles. There is one in a cupboard next to the cooker, one out in the boiler cupboard and one I use in a gas heater, I have an electric fridge and no central heating. The gas bottle for the cooker lasts a long time, mine has been in there three (3) years and has not run out, the oven is electric as is the kettle. I cook perhaps three or four times a week, a shower every day and during the period between October and unusually this year end of April use the gas heater for an hour each morning and a couple of hours each evening. I do have air conditioner with the inverter fitment which is a good back up for heating the lounge. I also have a log burner and these are great, they will heat my entire house and it will stay comfortable for at least 24 hours, they are cheap to use, you can can get logs delivered just like the gas, Store them dry but keep an eye out for quite harmless snakes as they like to live in the log storage are, I have four large plastic boxes where my logs or wood supply is kept, I have even cut up old pallets I have picked up at the side of the country roads, so literally zero heating cost! Discounting the somehow self replenishing gas bottle for the cooker I purchase one bottle per week, so it may be needed for the boiler one week or the gas heater the following one.

Now to the water supply, I have a well, yes I can see you thinking already, a deep hole in the ground with bricks built in a circle around it and a bucket hanging from a rope, well your wrong.....there is no bucket! :) The well I draw from has a well pump, these are long narrow pumps with filters on them, picture a small tubular exhaust silencer and this is lowered into the well with a pipe attached along with a cable for the electricity supply, the pump is a demand pump, that is it is only on when you run tap or a shower for example. There are a couple of problems here, Spanish water tends to have a lot of calcium in it so one way valves and toilet cisterns and so forth do not last long, You may need to pull the pump out of the well and clean the filter once every six months, easy five minute job with a wire brush. So let's remove the one way valve that stops the water running back and you do not have to wait three or four minutes to get the tap to run! And with the tap turned off and no one way valve the water returning to the well pushes out the calcium from the pump filter saving you cleaning it, so now it's just a once a year job...if that. So the trick it to have a small water deposit, on the roof of my house are two one thousand litre storage tanks joined together, they have a similar ball cock valve in them to stop them being over filled and the valve switches off the electricity to the well pump. The storage tank is gravity fed to another pump in garage and this is also a demand pump, you turn on the tap and the pump starts up within a second and pushes the water through three filters and onward into you home. The water filters need changing about once a year and are sold in a kit of three, each individual filter doing a different job, this includes one to make the water more palatable but, I NEVER drink the water or even use it in a kettle, bottled water only for drinking and the kettle for coffee, it is perfect for showering and the washing machine etc. If the property you purchase does not have a well then it will almost certainly have the aforementioned deposito, this could be a closed in version or an open one (not the best option). You then get a tanker delivery of 'agua potable' or drinking water, and no I would not drink that either! There is another option and that is have a well drilled for you, cost varies with depth needed to get to water,the cheapest I have seen was 5,000 euros and the most expensive IIRC was 8,000 euros. Bu this does include the special pipe that is supplied. The drill 'bit' is around 25 cm wide and like an oil rig the guy will keep adding sections to the bit until he strikes water, he then goes down about another 10 feet. once he is happy the hole has not collapsed he pushed down a tube around 15 cm wide but this is no ordinary tube, it is a filter tube, it has thousands of small holes in it and it is lowered to the bottom of the pre drilled hole and now semi filtered water fills the tube, filtered meaning no stones or whatever bigger than say a match head get into the well pump I mentioned earlier, and the job is done so now just pump to a deposit or storage tank, building a brick circle with a roof and a bucket on a rope optional.

So to toilets, and all that stuff. It's a hole in the ground and that's that. Most country houses have dug a large hole and have them lined with concrete along with purpose made holes around a couple of feet up the walls. When you flush the toilet the waste go into the 'pozo negro' or cess pit, solids sink and break up and the water level as it rises goes out through the purpose made holes in the concrete liner, depending on size the need to empty will vary. You can dig a large hole and purchase a concrete tube that is cut into rings like a tin of pineapple rings if you like and stack these in the large hole, fill around the rings with gravel as a 'soak-away' and of course make sure the pipes to your house are well support with the grave and you pop a lid on top of it as you would a sewer drain. Mine has never been emptied and upon checking it may be another two or more years before it needs to be. One of the thinks we need the cess pit to do is break down solid waste and it does this by creating bacteria, so the Spanish tend to see some road kill perhaps a cat or dog and pick it up and drop it in the pit , the bacteria breaks down the solids and you may never need to have the pit emptied. Well what about the washing machine water, well herein is the problem, the soap power or liquid kills the bacteria, so you can have nowhere to run the washing machine and sink pipes to (some point the pipes out to the campo and let it drain there. including bath water) or you can have a separate pit for that as well. One of the best solutions (no pun intended) is to purchase packets or sachets of dried bacteria from the supermarkets....no honest, you flush one of these down the toilet once a week and that's it, the liquids run out of your toilet deposit and the sachets of bacteria keep the solids breaking down, when it needs emptying you call in a guy with a tanker and he lifts the lid and hoovers out everything, and you start over apart from the emptying process there is no smell from these whatsoever..........of course there is always the road kill option.

I mentioned pensioners earlier, in the big scheme of things men tend to die before women, it's one of those facts of life. But men without being rude tend to be more practical with country house 'stuff' than the average woman, so if the man of the house dies could 'wifey' cope with all this, it is odd that so many women are living the dream in a beautiful house but cannot drive, so keeping that in mind along with the fact that most country areas do not have a bus service, it can be a hard graft unless you have a phone and a healthy bank account to call in for taxi's, and people to maintain the property.....by the way I did say call in for help? But what about if you don't have a mobile phone signal, there are no hard lines for phones here, same in that you need a good (read excellent) satellite or microwave signal if you want to watch TV. Of course none.....or shall I say most of this is insurmountable but keep it in mind eh?

So in a nutshell:

Electricity most of the time, if not then solar panels and a backup generator.
Water to be from a well, or brought in by a tanker.
Gas again brought in by a small lorry along with small bottles which can be delivered but are expensive.
Toilet system in the ground.

It really is not as bad as it sounds but the key here is as usual.....money.

Regards

Dave
 
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