There are so many posts out there about what to look out for when buying a house in Spain or what pitfalls to avoid before committing yourself. Well, in this post, I want to tell you about what I have learned from living in a Spanish home from a personal point of view.
For the past 9 years, Valencia has been our home. So you could say that we have a fair amount of experience and figured out how to deal with those things we can’t change.
Things I Have Learned About Living In A Spanish/Valencian Home
1. Window bars or rejas are actually useful
Though they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, most Spanish homes have rejas on their windows. Unless your buy is a brand spanking new home, these bars are a part and parcel of a traditional Spanish home. The bars are designed to keep unwanted visitors out and a requirement for most homes for insurance reasons. It may take time to get used to them, but they are great for security.
2. So are window shutters…
Persianas or shutters are designed to keep the sun and light out. During the height of summer when the temperature reaches 40 on some days, having window shutters can certainly make a huge difference in cooling down your home. The trick is opening the windows early in the morning when it’s cool, and persianas down when it reaches around 9 am! They’re also useful when we have windy days or severe storms!
3. During the winter it’s good to invest in fluffy rugs and comfy blankets
Bear in mind that Spanish homes especially chalets and villas are designed for the summer. So will find many Spanish homes will have tiled floors and walls and you might find the lack of carpet can make a home a little less homely. Some of the positives of having tiled floors are that they are easy to clean. It also keeps your home cool during the stifling hot summer days. However, once winter comes, it can also make your floor cold to walk on. Placing rugs on the sides of the bed, living room and walkways can make a Spanish home a lot cosier during the wintertime.
4. Learning to live with gotelé (textured & stuccoed) walls
Fourty years ago I’m sure someone thought it was a brilliant idea to use gotelé on walls and ceilings. You will find that many Spanish homes have them, especially the ones in the campo. At first, I really can’t bear them, but after accepting that it will be expensive to fix it I have finally learned to live with them. To improve the appearance of textured walls, it’s a good idea to paint it. Our exterior walls need a clean once in a while and I repainted our interior walls into a neutral colour. It hides the texture and sometimes you can’t even tell.
5. Learning to live with hard water
I’m not sure about the rest of Spain, but Valencia is known for having hard water. Though it’s perfectly safe to drink tap water we don’t like the taste of it. We have an osmosis system installed in our home, which makes tap water better to drink. It will also avoid any hard scaling clogging up your kettles, and faucets.
6. A paellero/outdoor kitchen is a necessity
You will find that many homes in Valencia will already have an outdoor kitchen/bbq area. Even if you live in an apartment, they seem to find the space to have a paellero. Paelleros are handy as many Valencians love to cook and eat outdoors while spending time with family and friends. I know my Valencian friends do this every weekend, just like how we have Sunday dinner back at home. It’s a great feature for any home because it’s so much easier to entertain outdoors especially in the summertime or when our family and friends visit. I don’t think I could live without it now. Paelleros are often equipped with a sink, cupboards, and of course a large cooking area. So much better than having to take your party indoors.
7. A shaded garden is an oasis during the summer
Summertime in Valencia can get pretty hot. During July and August temperatures can reach up to 45ºc, so the best way to keep comfortable is to stay indoors during the day. However, if you like to enjoy the outdoors in the afternoon, then having a garden with lots of shades can make a difference. Install a toldo (awning), gazebo or plant some large trees to use as a shade. I’m not a fan of the summer in Valencia, and much prefer to enjoy the outdoors during the evening. But if you want to spend the rest of your days outdoors, then I would recommend choosing a home with large shaded areas or plan to build one of your own.
8. Having a pool is hard work but worth it
You will find that Valencia is not short of water parks and swimming pools. Even if you live in an apartment, a sports centre with an outdoor pool is not far away. If you decide to buy a house with a pool, be aware of the maintenance it will need every year. You will find that during the summer you will need to treat your pool more and make sure that the filters are on at least 3-4 times a day to keep it clean. This year we have noticed that a few of our pool tiles are coming off and algae have settled in between. We’ve obtained a quote to have it cleaned and regrouted which estimated to cost between €1,500 to €2,500.
9. Learning how to tolerate creepy crawlies
Most insects in bugs in Spain won’t do you any harm. But if you live in an old Spanish home or have a home in the countryside, then you will more than likely encounter spiders, cockroaches, mosquitoes, ants etc… Every summer we have a reoccurring problem with cockroaches and ants. No matter what we do, they just keep coming back. After 8 years, we have learned how to live with them. It’s a case of being prepared when the time of year comes round and stock up on pesticides, citronella and mosquito nets! Yes, they’re not nice, but it’s just part and parcel of living in a Spanish home.
10. Lack of drains and guttering
Just because the sun shines in Valencia all year round, it doesn’t mean that we don’t get rain. Rainy seasons are usually during April/May and Sept/Oct. And when it rains you’ll know about it! Some parts of Valencia suffer from flooding, and even though we live in well-kept urbanisation we’ve had drainage issues. Simply because there are not enough drains installed and we do not have guttering around the house. Twice already our garage was flooded which damaged a few items. Even though we have complained to the council, nothing has been done, and I guess it’s up to us to ensure that the drains are fully accessible during the rainy season.
The bottom line…
Like many foreigners who want to live in Valencia, we came here not thinking too much of the finer details. As the saying goes ‘you live and learn’ and that’s how it’s been for us. Of course, sometimes I miss the comfort of carpets, smooth walls, drinking water straight from the tap and not having to deal with those pesky cockroaches. But hey, we can’t have everything right?! If you currently live in a Spanish home, then I’m sure you can relate. But if you’re thinking of living in Valencia, then it’s good to bear these things in mind. They’re not the worst things in the world, it’s just a case of knowing what to expect. 🙂
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