Graham and I are often asked about our ‘Spanish Story’ and why we made the decision to move here with our three girls 19 years ago…. and yes we can’t believe that we have lived and worked here for 19 years. At that point, Grapevine Properties wasn’t even a figment of our imagination!
Our answer is always the same, the main reason was for what we hoped living in Spain would give our children. We had visited Guaro and other villages in the Guadalhorce Valley and it felt very much like we imagined the UK was like 30 years ago, unmaterialistic and above all, safe for the girls. We also wanted to give them the gift of being bilingual which we hoped would allow them to work and travel all over the world.
Moving for me felt like adventure and I was sure that it was a perfect choice for our girls but we now often sit on our terrace with glass of vino looking back and thinking, what were we thinking? How did we know if was going to work for our children and how on earth did we think we were going to be able to earn a living? And if we had known how difficult it has been to survive here financially, would we have made the move?
One of the most important things when we first moved here was integrating into the village and being accepted here. Our daughters made friends here in the village and spent afternoons playing volleyball at the sports grounds in Guaro.
Work-wise, Graham and I already owned two apartments here on a golf course near San Pedro. Our plan was to continue to rent those out to pay the mortgage and achieve an income, we also began cleaning them and laundering the linen. After our first summer, we had been approached by several other owners asking us to look after their apartments too; providing rental clients, cleaning services and laundering their linen… our house began to look like Chinese laundry! Within several years we had 45 apartments that we were renting out and 100 apartments that we were managing… yes we were just a little busy.
We decided to franchise the property management side the business around 14 years ago with the hope of listing and selling properties in the valley we love. To be honest we had no experience selling properties, but we knew how to work hard and we hoped that would be enough! We drove and drove through the valley dropping leaflets to trying achieve property listings and build up connections. Eventually after over one year we made our first sale! The rest as they say is history.
As for our girls, two of the girls took their IB at their secondary school in Coín. In fact they were one of the first English children to achieve their IB in Coín! Laura our eldest daughter, then headed off to Chile to work with a charity in Santiago. On her return she went to university in Madrid to study for a double degree. Her third year was spent abroad at a university Mexico City where she met her Luis who is now her husband! Laura now works with us at Grapevine as does Luis. Alice also went to university in Madrid taking a year to attend university in San Diego.
Alice now works and lives close to Bilbao with her boyfriend who she met University in Madrid. Our youngest daughter went to university in London and now lives in the UK with her husband. She actually got married in our village last year… a small wedding due to COVID in the village where she grew up… it couldn’t have been more perfect!
We are often asked why we enjoy living here so much. Of course the weather helps, but for us it is all about lifestyle and culture. We listen to Spanish music and have been to see Spanish bands live, we are also a member of our local Peña Flamenca, we have travelled extensively around the Spain and love the food, local culture and visiting new locations within the country. All this helps you to integrate and invest in the country where you live which is the key to settling here I believe.
Would we ever live anywhere else? The answer is no, I cant see that happening. We would like to travel a little more but we will always return to our lovely mountain in Guaro that we call home.
Jo Wood – Grapevine Properties