With the recent bout of insufferable ‘scorchio’ weather across the island, I have found myself spending several sticky afternoons glued to the TV in a quest to keep entertained as well as cool. A swoosh of faithful air-con along with the back-up whirr of a free standing electric fan, not forgetting a flutter of the traditional ‘hand fan’, which, although seems to take up more energy than any cooling benefit received (I obviously have a very bad technique and am employing far too much enthusiasm) is actually brilliant for swatting irritating flies and mosquitoes who love this weather and think it’s early feeding time!
Therefore, it was with great interest that I found myself watching ‘A Place in the Sun’, an intriguing programme where optimistic Brits, with the professional assistance of an enthusiastic estate agent, seek to buy a property abroad.
Mrs X from ‘wherever’, had come to our island of Majorca with a slightly uppity attitude, along with a rather quiet and oppressed husband, broadcasting a budget of £250,000. Mrs X knew exactly what she wanted, like most first-timers who come to invest in a home on the island. And she was determined to get it. She wanted EVERYTHING! But with only a £250,000 spend she wasn’t really likely to get her dream, although Mrs X knew better than everyone else, convinced she would break through the Majorcan property market. Perhaps she should have done her homework before applying to appear on such a mainstream programme?
The first property Mrs X was shown didn’t have the sea views she had insisted upon. “And we really don’t need a stone built outhouse,” she said, “as we shan’t be keeping animals!” Ermm! Sorry Mrs X, but that’s not a stable, that is actually the ‘property’. A cave, halfway up the mountain didn’t quite cut it either! OK, it did have the sea views she required, albeit on the distant horizon, yet didn’t quite deliver the sweeping terrace for entertaining, or the Olympic sized swimming pool for showing off!
Finally, it all began to sink in. Mrs X realised that she wasn’t about to get her 5 bedroom beachfront villa in Puerto Pollensa for a staggering £250,000. The estate agent did show her one in that prime location, but it was priced outside her budget at three and a half million, which slightly fazed Mrs X.
Eventually, the X family landed on Planet Earth and the missus was persuaded to re-think and compromise her fantasy with a more realistic option, setting her sights lower and successfully exploring inland. Of course you can buy a property here in Majorca for a budget of £250,000, but it certainly won’t be either beachfront or second line with sweeping terraces, designer pool, all mod-cons, set within a pristine Mediterranean garden with a granny annex thrown in for good measure. At best it will have a roof, and four walls which you can work with! Sorry, but this isn’t Milton Keynes!
For all those ex-pats watching these TV programmes, who already have a ‘spanking’ property here on Majorca, you can’t help but feel just a little smug, can you? It’s not all about having the perfect property, but making the move, uprooting and relocating to a different country, whilst engaging successfully with a totally different culture. It’s a brave choice and doesn’t work for everyone, yet a monumental achievement!
Like most who came to Majorca to ‘live the dream’, we originally plumbed for the archetypal ideal of a Mediterranean home. In fact, to get it right, we decided to build it ourselves within 15,000 sq metres of glorious countryside, resplendent with fig, almond and fruit trees. We definitely had Mrs X’s terrace, the pool, the orange and the lemon trees, PLUS all the work that went with maintaining a small estate. Admittedly, at the time it was all great, and only a five minute drive along a rural track into a picturesque village, or a fifteen minute stroll, which could prove tricky at night when attempted by torch-light.
But ideals have a habit of changing, and how do you know exactly what you want until you have experienced it? After six happy years we decided to try something different and moved to a townhouse, which was again, at the time, brilliant; with a small patio garden to the rear affording surprising and spectacular views across the countryside. Even townhouses can have views if you hunt them out!
Living ‘bang smack’ right in the centre of the village was a completely different experience. It was more convenient to country living on many levels, and we could just step outside the front door into the hub of things. The main village square was only a one minute stroll away. It was however, extremely noisy, with “locals’ vocals” and passing traffic. Our bedroom faced the front of the property, overlooking the principal road running through the village, and every other vehicle managed to connect with a loose manhole cover directly beneath our window. ‘Kerchang!’
Then, when a dysfunctional couple decided to open a noisy bar almost opposite the house, enough was enough. That was it! We enjoyed the village/town living experience as it was convenient and much easier to maintain. Easy to lock up and leave. But it was simply far too noisy. Yet where there’s a will there’s a way! And until you try various options and styles of living, it’s almost impossible to decide that which suits you best.
We now have another, larger townhouse, but this one sits on the edge of a historic village/town in a raised cul-de-sac with great views, yet no passing traffic. We are approx 3 minutes stroll to the main church square and the principal bar, which is fantastic as you can immerse yourself in the local culture at the drop of a corkscrew, or remove yourself with the same effortless ease. You don’t need to take the car out, and there are shops. We have a pharmacy, a small supermarket, a bakery, a restaurant, a library, five bars, a sports centre, a community hall and an outdoor swimming pool, so all in all it’s pretty well perfect for the moment, until needs evolve and change.
On these hot nights throughout summer into autumn, it is so lovely to be able to walk down to the local square, and as night falls, sit out in the cool air with an iced coffee or drink. The place wakes up after dusk, and comes alive once the sun goes down, with neighbours and friends meeting up to put the world to rights, chat, laugh, eat, have fun and simply relax in a congenial atmosphere. We can binge on people watching, practice our Spanish and take pleasure in the knowledge that we are part of a real community, and have found, for the moment, our perfect place on the sunny, irrepressible island of Majorca.
Mind you, we also have a lovely apartment overlooking the whole of Pollensa Bay, so we are lucky to have the best of both worlds. In fact, two perfect places!!