Cash is King in Barcelona—The Chicest City in Spain
Barcelona is like Paris or Rome—only smaller and a fraction of the price. All the trendy European and American designers have shops here. It’s also safe, cheap…and easy to get around. And it has some excellent—if bizarre—architecture. Real estate prices have come down to 2005 levels and if you're buying with cash you can negotiate down a further 10% to 20%.
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Population: : 47,042,984
Capital City: Madrid
Climate: Temperate; clear, hot summers in interior, more moderate and cloudy along coast; cloudy, cold winters in interior, partly cloudy and cool along coast
- News & Notes from Around the World…Ecuador’s Markets
Posted on April 22, 2013 by International Living
Ecuador is justly famous for its markets. In the country’s guild towns you can buy handmade leather goods, high-quality instruments and silver jewelry. Each town has its farmer’s market, too, where you’ll pick up enough fresh produce to last a week for around $10.
- How We Found Our American Dream on the Spanish Med
Posted on April 22, 2013 by Shanna Kurpe
There’s a slight chill to the breeze here in Castelldefels, on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. But the sun is bright and warm. It’s a perfect day to enjoy the long stretch of beach, just 30 minutes south of Barcelona, which is now my backyard. On a typical summer day, my Catalan neighbors would join me for a few hours of sun bathing, but at this time of year children are still at school, parents are busy at work and vacationers are just beginning to arrive.
- The Secret to Instant Upgrades, Hotel Gifts, and More
Posted on April 18, 2013 by Suchi Rudra
I love to travel…but the experiences I have tend to be a little different from the usual vacation. That’s because these days, I get special treatment wherever I go.
- Three Little-Known Havens in Italy, France and Spain
Posted on April 17, 2013 by Steenie Harvey
If you’re in love with classic Europe and its history, romance and culture, take heart: Spain, Italy and France aren’t only for the vacationer who saves for months just to visit. Each one of these three countries has numerous small towns and villages that lie under the radar—places with enticingly affordable properties to rent or buy
Spare a thought for the citizens of Belgium. Their beer is great and their waffles tasty but they also suffer from the highest effective personal tax rate in the world. That’s according to a survey by KPMG. The auditing firm looked at income tax rates and other deductions like social security to calculate their results.
We’ve been keeping an eye on what’s been happening in the property market of crisis-hit Spain—and there’s no shortage of bargains. Check out the articles below for more on the type of real estate opportunities Europe’s economic downturn has thrown up in this varied, culture-rich nation.
- News from Around the World…Destinations in Panama Today
Posted on January 24, 2013 by International Living
A dense skyline of high rises juts into the sky, homage to dozens of varied architectural styles. Numerous LED screens displaying advertisements and neon restaurant signs have led some folk to call this “little Hong Kong.” But Panama City is much more than its skyline.
The scent of orange blossoms permeates the air. Faint traces of flamenco guitar can be heard from all corners of the city and beautiful women walk past in their “faralaes” (traditional flamenco-style dresses) that swish with every sway of their hips. Proud young men saunter after them in their “trajes cortos” (Andalusian horsemen’s outfits) complete with wide-brimmed hats and riding boots.
When I first learned about volunteering in Spain to speak English with Spanish executives, my reaction was “What fun! I can meet and get to know Spaniards without needing any Spanish!” I instantly filled out the application. For that reason alone I would have done it. Of course, free room and board at a four- or five-star hotel in exchange for talking seemed like a good deal, too!
Experience the Day of the Dead in Mexico on November 1 when people gather to honor their departed love ones with big parties across the country. If you’re in India the ﬁrst two weeks of November, then head to the capital, Delhi, where you’ll ﬁnd music, theater, dance, ﬁlm, and poetry in 50 venues across the city for the Delhi International Arts Festival.
The euro may implode at any moment. The euro zone is deep in recession. The slow-motion debt crisis there trundles on. We still don’t know what will trigger a full-scale meltdown. All we know is that there’s now a good chance it will happen.
In Spain banks have foreclosed on, or control, hundreds of thousands of completed unsold condos and homes. This is the type of scenario that could throw off some very interesting opportunities. As you know Europe is in crisis. But let me back up and take a look at Spain. Home ownership in Spain (now over 80%) is encouraged through policy and a range of tax breaks. Municipalities were encouraged via windfall payments to designate land for development.
Parades, dancing, and the election of a Sara Ñusta (Queen of Maize) mark the Fiesta del Yamor in Imbabura, Ecuador, the ﬁrst week of September. Join in and offer thanks to the sun god for a bountiful harvest. Street traders take over the French city of Lille for the Grande Braderie on September 1 and 2.
Europe is in crisis. The weaker economies and PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain), borrowed and spent more money than they could afford and now the debt well is running dry.
The euro hits new lows by the day and real estate values are tanking in Europe’s periphery—in Ireland and Spain in particular. This means opportunity for you—there are property deals to be found in these two countries. But, you need to know how to buy.
In the latest edition of your Quarterly Wealth Advisory, real estate expert Ronan McMahon explains what happened in Ireland and Spain…and details the best way to buy property now.
- Europe: Now More Affordable Than Ever for North Americans
Posted on August 22, 2012 by International Living
Right now, doom and gloom in Europe runs deep. But there is a story not being told…one of opportunity borne of this crisis. A story of places where you could own your own piece of the Old World…for less than half the price of a budget family sedan. In Greece and beyond—prices are falling like a rock. And for anybody who ever mused about a European retreat, that’s the silver lining.
When I was young, Spain was just another exotic, far-away place, full of bullfighters and flamenco dancers. I never thought I’d end up living here, much less in Pamplona, the city where bulls run through the streets. My first real contact with the country was as an exchange student in Madrid. I loved the experience and, by the time I left, I was irresistibly drawn to everything Spanish.
The Spanish Soccer team aside, the doom and gloom in Europe runs deep. But there is a story not being told…one of opportunity borne of this crisis. A story of places where you could own your own piece of the Old World…for less than half the price of a budget family sedan.
Any weekend from August 4 to September 16, head to the Parc Floral near the Château de Vincennes in Paris for the Festival Classique au Vert (Classical Festival on the Green). This year, performers will set the words of famous poets and authors to classical music. Bring a picnic and blanket: It’s a gorgeous park.
It’s 6:30 a.m. and I’m out the door for my daily run along the winding mountain roads. Cowherds and their cattle pass me; they are on their way to new grazing grounds. The salt-water wind kisses my face as I make my way past ﬁelds of wheat and myrtle. After four years of running these roads, I no longer get strange looks. The locals are used to the crazy Canadian!
- Spain’s Secret North: Fiestas, Food and 13,000 Vineyards
Posted on July 26, 2012 by Eoin Bassett
Slow down, smile, and unwind, because this is what village life is all about. I’m leaning on a moss-covered stone wall admiring a patch of juicy strawberries and watching sparrows root in the loamy soil. Woodsmoke carries on the breeze, along with the rhythmic sound of someone splitting logs. Time has taken one giant step back.
Navigating the residency and visa rules in a foreign country can be tricky. So, we’ve broken down everything you need to know about getting your paperwork ready for a long-term stay in Spain.
U.S. citizens can visit for up to 90 days without a visa. If you wish to remain in Spain for more than 90 days, you must obtain a visa/residency permit from the Spanish embassy, or your local consulate in the U.S. before you come to Spain. At certain (unspecified) times, a limited number of visa applications will be accepted each day, on a first-come, first-serve basis.
When I was Young I had dreams of being an artist and traveling the world…then came a short spell imagining life as an astronaut…ﬁnally, I settled on saving the planet. I grew up, spent an insane amount of money on an environmental science degree, and went to live and work in the Mojave Desert counting tortoises. It was while there that I started taking photographs.
I ﬁrst went to Europe—on my own—in college, spending a summer exploring a dozen countries. From then on, smitten, I went as often and for as long as I could. Twice I wangled jobs there—ﬁrst in England, then in Spain—that enabled me to stay for years.
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. I dreamed of feeling that epic adrenaline rush as I ran for my life, hoping to make it all the way down the 825-meter course and into the bullring without wiping out on the dew-slicked cobblestone streets and getting trampled, crushed, or gored. Or even worse…
Everything is modern, new, and shiny. This area is convenient like Florida is to a New Yorker. The visitors I’m watching are desperate for some spring sunshine. Some (mostly Scandinavian or Russian) are even here to pick up real estate on the cheap. There are deals to be done.
You may not often celebrate Independence Day outside the States, but July begins with some intriguing alternatives… Toulouse’s Tangopostale Festival, for instance, when the jewel of southwest France taps its feet to the rhythm of Argentine tango. It takes place July 2 to 8.
- Spain’s Real Estate Market: Up to 50% Off Property Prices
Posted on June 26, 2012 by Ronan McMahon
Everywhere historic buildings bring alive the romance of old Spain. Granada is the country’s most beautiful city, the jewel in the crown of Andalucía, and today, thanks to the country’s crisis, you can ﬁnd distressed real estate here for up to 50% less than what you would have paid for it four years ago.
Steeped in history, Granada, Spain attracts visitors from around the world. Its international airport has flights from most major European cities, and it’s within a two-hour flight of northern Europe’s major population centers. This could just be the perfect location. There’s culture. Three World Heritage sites, including the exquisite Moorish palace of the Alhambra, are just the headline draws.
Come June 1 expect fi reworks, parades, fishing tournaments, and sailing competitions in ports all over Mexico as the country celebrates Navy Day. You’ll find gastronomic fairs, photo exhibitions, and traditional and contemporary cultural offerings in the city of Chachapoyas, northern Peru for Semana Turística (tourist week) from June 1 to 7. The highlight is known as the “Raymillacta” procession, which sees groups sing and dance their way through the streets.
- Spain’s Crisis, Your Opportunity: Up to 50% Off the Jewel of Andalucía
Posted on May 28, 2012 by Ronan McMahon
The spring sunlight glints off the snow-covered Sierra Nevada mountains. When I left Marbella on Spain’s Costa del Sol, 90 minutes from here on a modern highway, it was a balmy 75 degrees Fahrenheit. I haven’t seen a cloud since. At 2,200 feet above sea level, in Granada’s historic center, it’s 63 degrees, and sunglasses and short sleeves are the order of the day.
While on a working vacation in France, I decided to take a week-long side-trip to Spain. I had some friends from the Catalonian region in the north of the country and they invited me to visit. I’d never been there before, so I jumped at the chance to see a new part of the world.
A blue sky, blue-water scene is unremarkable in the tropics. But this is Europe. I’m in southern Spain, on Murcia’s Costa Cálida—the “warm coast.” Whoever thought up the name wasn’t exaggerating. Summer temperatures soar above 90 F, and there’s an annual dose of at least 320 days of sunshine. On the coast, spacious furnished rentals are $508 to $635 monthly.
Not needed: coat, scarf or sweater. But some sun-block would be welcome. Early December and the afternoon temperature is nudging 70 F. Sunbathers are on Isla Plana’s beach, and children are building sand-castles. I can even see swimmers.
Times are tough in Spain. Half her young are unemployed—if they haven’t emigrated. Her economy, banks and real estate industry is in tatters. Like in Ireland, they built too many homes. Homes that nobody would ever want. Speculators snapped them up, betting that prices would go even higher. Then the party ended in 2007. By 2008, all activity stopped completely.
Wine has been produced in Jumilla and neighboring Yecla since the proverbial mists of time. If you’re a frequent wine-drinker, you’d make some serious savings living here. At less than $1 a bottle, it’s very nearly as good as free…
The economies of the PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain) are in disarray. Europe is in the throws of sovereign, political and financial crises. Greece is bankrupt and burning. Yields on Portuguese bonds hit 17% earlier this year.
What Life Overseas Really Looks Like…
Skeptics inquire: Are the opportunities overseas really as great as we at IL portray them to be? The short answer is “yes.” But don’t take my word for it… Listen, instead, to the many ﬁrsthand stories we’ve collected in this month’s issue—on-the-ground reports from folks who decided to answer the question for themselves…at the beach…in the hills…in cities…or on islands…
Firmly in Spain’s sunny south, between Andalusia and Valencia, Murcia is one of the country’s autonomous regions that gets overlooked in the dash elsewhere— usually farther south to the Costa del Sol or north to the Costa Blanca.
Europe’s sunshine doesn’t disappear in winter. It’s hiding away in southern Spain. Largely unknown to foreign travelers, Murcia slots between the regions of Andalucia and Valencia. Strung with beaches, its 156-mile coastline is called the Costa Calida—the warm coast. Summers can be blistering, but winters are really mild.
Saturday night in Murcia City, southern Spain. I’m in El Secreto tapas bar, trying to summon up the willpower to eat a sea urchin. It looks absolutely bizarre. And in all honesty, absolutely vile. But as all vacationers need to eat, food stories are a travel writer’s staple.
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