Category Archives: Expat Guide

Book Review: Divulgence by Kate Nicol

Divulgence is a contemporary literary romance, set in the Costa del Sol and Ronda’s white villages. This is the story of an expat who settles in Spain, gets married, and then her life falls to pieces. Download from Amazon UK: Divulgence.

Anyone who loves the western end of the Costa del Sol and inland territory as far as Ronda in the Serranía, will find Kate Nicol’s Divulgence very familiar. Grace Marchant seems to have everything. A successful business, a happy familiar home life with her husband, Leo, and friends.

Her life is a cliché of course, which is rarely true of anyone. An indiscretion on her part brings the entire house of cards crashing.

Two years later Grace’s guilt leaves her torn, almost literally as dream Grace leaves her husband. She starts a new life teaching English in the Genal Valley, from the back of a horse transporter she’s kitted out as a classroom.

Barely-awake Grace tries to continue her life, with Leo’s detachment and refusal to acknowledge her guilt adding to the tragedy. Her employees suspect, as does the little old lady Grace sees every day.

Each Grace needs to deal with her demons, perhaps poorly, and each is forced into situations she would prefer to avoid. The Spanish lover, Leo’s visiting sister, and her own friends, all with their often unwelcome advice.

This is the story of two Grace Marchants, both seemingly at a loss to reconcile the indiscretion, and valiantly trying to make sense of a world that she now can’t understand.

Kate Nicol, has pulled together an account of her protagonist’s life that is stimulating and fully believable – with a strongly written character I wanted the best for. The supporting cast in Grace’s life are instantly recognizable to any expat. I could imagine each character having a real world equivalent.

Intertwined in Grace’s fall, we are amused with many humorous events that catch Grace unaware. We are also introduced to expat life in Spain, warts and all.

Happily, Grace Marchant finds peace and there is a happy ending. Though, perhaps not quite what the reader expects.

Kate Nicol's Divulgence

Online Shopping from the UK for Spain Residents.

We frequently hear from expat women living in Spain that shopping can be difficult, Spanish sizes just aren’t the same as UK sizes, or Northern European ladies aren’t the same shape as Mediterranean women, or perhaps a particular brand is desired and not available in Spain.

In Ronda and other small towns most shopping is limited to small family owned fashion stores, Spanish high street brands such as Zara, or to foreign brands that tailor their range to Spanish sizes. Typically this means that plus sized ladies often struggle to dress fashionably without either visiting Marks and Spencer or BHS on the coast or Gibraltar.

However, it is possible to shop online using a debit or credit card, and in some cases a Paypal account, and have items shipped to Spain to your home address. Most retailers also offer free or cheap delivery if orders exceed a minimum amount, and if shopping for the season or several people in the family, this can amount to paying not much more than visiting a UK high street store and all without the cost of a ticket back home.

We’ve excluded online shopping portals such as Amazon, eBay, Pixmania etc because these companies operate in Spain. If you know of any other UK-based online retailers who deliver to Spain that aren’t included in our list, please let us know.

All information below is accurate as at May 2012. Delivery costs quoted may change in time.

Childrens Clothing
Adams operate an online store with a full selection of clothing, books, toys, swimwear, and baby items. Standard delivery to Spain takes upto 8 working days and is free if order exceeds £50 otherwise £4.99. Payment via card, Paypal, or Amazon payments.

The Kids Window operate a large site covering the majority of their product range priced in Euros in the international site. Spain residents need to click the “Outside UK?” link at the bottom of the page and then select Europe from the options. Delivery charges start from €6.50 with items dispatched in 24 hours. Payment with all major credit cards.

Mothercare‘s website is extensive and offers children’s clothing, footwear, pushchairs, cots, car seats, and maternity wear, and they offer to deliver to Spain from their UK website. Couriers are used so fees start from £14.95 and will be delivered in 3-7 working days. All major credit cards are accepted.

Fashion Clothing
Wallis (womenswear) website offers the complete range of instore items, including blouses, pants, jackets, dresses, skirts, accessories, petite clothing, and shoes. Standard delivery to Spain is £5 or free if order is over £75. Payment by Wallis card, major credit cards, and Paypal.

Topshop offers women’s clothing, shoes, accessories, and make-up on their website. Standard delivery to Spain is £5 or free if order is over £75. Payment by Topshop card, major credit cards, and Paypal.

Dorothy Perkins website covers their entire range of women’s clothing, collections, shoes, accessories, and the magazine. Standard delivery to Spain is £5 or free if order is over £75. Payment by Dorothy Perkins card, major credit cards, and Paypal.

Evans Plus Size online shopping is for women sized 14-32, and includes cothing, lingerie, shoes, and accessories. Standard delivery to Spain is £5 or free if order is over £75. Payment by Evans card, major credit cards, and Paypal.

Miss Selfridge have their complete women’s store online including clothing, accessories, shoes, petites, collections, and going out items. Standard delivery to Spain is £5 or free if order is over £60. Payment by Miss Selfridge card, major credit cards, and Paypal.

Monsoon carry an extensive range of womens clothes and shoes, weddings, children, and mens clothing, as well as accessories. Delivery to Spain costs £3.95 taking 4-7 days. Payment is by major credit card.

Topman men’s fashion provide an extensive range of clothing, shoes, suits, and accessories. Standard delivery to Spain is £5. Payment by Topman card, or major credit cards.

Shoes
Jones Bootmaker offer their range of brand-name shoes including the ever popular Timberland, Birkenstock, Geox, Gabor, Hush Puppies, Sketchers and more online. Delivery to Spain is by Royal Mail and starts at £17.50. Payment by major credit card.

Department Stores
Debenhams, every item on the Debenhams website can be delivered to Spain, with delivery fees starting at £7 and taking 5-6 days. Payment by Debenhams card, and all major credit cards.

Harrods website covers fashion and clothing, shoes, sport, food and wine, and gift hampers. Delivery costs to Spain start from £20 and expect 5-6 days. Payment can be made with a Harrods charge card, and major credit cards. Harrods gift certificates cannot be used in their online shop.

House of Fraser claim to have over 1000 brands catalogued in their online shopping website, including beauty, clothing, shoes, handbags, furniture, electrical, and more. Standard delivery to Spain starts at £6 and takes upto 8 days t deliver. An express service delivered in 3 days starts at £10. Payment via House of Fraser store card, and major credit cards.

Marks and Spencer have stores in Spain, but their complete product range is available from their UK website such as clothing, lingerie, home and furniture, technology, food, and gifts. Delivery charges start at £7.50 with arrival in 6-9 days. Payment by Marks and Spencer cards or gift certificate and major credit cards.

John Lewis have a very large website, covering home and garden, electrical, clothing, beauty, babies and children, toys, and sport. They deliver to peninsula Spain (sorry, no islands) with fees starting at &pound7.50; and between 4 to 7 days to receive the package. Payment by John Lewis card, major credit cards, and Paypal.

Littlewoods have put almost their entire catalog online, including mens and womens fashion, child and baby, sporting goods, home and garden, electrical, entertainment, jewellery, beauty, and toys. Delivery fees are quoted as £5, with occasional free delivery over &pound30; and taking upto 8 days. Payment by major credit cards and Paypal.

Next have their catalog online, but it’s necessary to change location to Spain to see which items are available to delivery amongst clothing, shoes, accessories, sports, and homeware. Delivery is currently free, taking 3 working days via DHL. Payment by credit card.

eBook Review: Spanish Legal Property Information by Perez Legal Group

The current financial crisis in Spain, dwindling property values, and the desperation felt by many as they try to sell their homes before they are repossessed has created a buyers market for those with cash or approved funding. It seems prudent therefore to be aware of the legalities of buying or selling Spanish property, and thankfully Perez Legal Group in Marbella have created a freely downloadable ebook that runs through almost everything you should know.

Raquel Perez created Perez Legal Group with the objective of being different from other legal offices in Spain, and with her offices in Marbella, she and her team are very accessible to expat residents in Malaga province. Her group is the first to offer a weekly free legal clinic, and has created a book entitled “Spanish Legal Property Information” that can be downloaded free from the firm’s website.

“Spanish Legal Property Information” is a mini format ebook, that if printed on paper would be about the size of a typical language phrase book, and is 55 pages of legal advice that aims to give English speaking people a solid introduction to the basics of buying and selling property, property taxes, resident status, Spanish wills and inheritance taxes, and bank accounts.

The first thing to realise is that any transaction of property needs to be completed correctly in accordance with Spanish law, and the laws here in Spain are not the same as the UK, Ireland, or the USA. As well, Spanish law when followed correctly offers all of the protections expats expect back home, but in Spain many have lost a lot of money through incorrect application of the law. In many cases this has been due to unscrupulous sales agents, but the majority of cases might have been avoided if local laws had been better understood.

This is where “Spanish Legal Property Information” steps in. The guide briefly and succinctly explains how property ownership is registered, who has to pay the taxes, what your lawyer (abogado) has to check to make sure your rights are protected, and defines the various values that can be attached to property.

Specific vocabulary that is mentioned and explained includes plusvalia, IBI, escritura publica, catastro, hacienda, fiscal representative, NIE, incremento de patrimonio, padrón, usufruct. Whilst the guide is short (only 55 pages), this type of vocabulary is essential if you wish to understand the jargon used in property transactions, and without which you may misunderstand something important.

As an expat writer in Spain I find the majority of property owners will quickly learn about the legalities of owning property, but often never take the time to understand wills and inheritance, and as a consequence blindly ignore what Spaniards know in the mistaken belief that their foreign will protects them, or that they can register a foreign company to own their assets in Spain and never worry about inheritance tax.

This is dangerous thinking and has led to many dependants losing far more of their inheritance than they needed to, simply because the relative was too bloody minded to research their options for leaving assets to spouses and children before they passed away. In fact a family trust in the form of a Spanish company is possible, but only with foresight and the writing of a Spanish will. Chapters 7 and 8 of “Spanish Legal Property Information” should be considered a mandatory read.

Furthermore, the authors explain that it is possible under existing Spanish law to mitigate upto 95% of the inheritance tax payable upto the 120,000 euros if you were resident in Spain prior to dying. Given today’s depressed property values this amounts to a significant saving.

Whilst “Spanish Legal Property Information” should not be considered an exhaustive guide to property ownership, it is a worthwhile read for anyone considering or already owning property in Spain. It as also small enough that most readers will take on board the essentials in a very short time.

The ebook can be downloaded free from the Perez Legal Group website.