Property in Northern Spain

Buying or thinking about purchasing a house in northern Spain, especially in the region's of Galicia and Asturias, is on the increase with British and north American visitors to green Spain.

Many people who once sought a holiday villa or retirement home in southern Spain are now thinking twice. Parts of the south of Spain are becoming nothing more than a satellite of Britain with pubs, fast food chains and the English voice as a semi official second language.

Places like Galicia, with its stunning coastline and historic cities like Santiago de Compostela and Pontevedra, plus beach resorts like Sanxenxo are now offering an alternative. The same is true if hunting for property in Asturias, another of Spain's "green" regions. More below.

Finding a property in Galicia is also becoming easier as a number of ex pat Britons (plus the odd American and Canadian) set up businesses to help you through the house or "casa" hunting process. An increasing number of Galician estate agencies, called inmobiliarias, are also choosing to duplicate part or all of their websites in English (although often only using an internet translator).

Getting the right property

Finding the right property in northern Spain still remains a bit of an art, or at least something for those with patience and imagination, the later relating to the volume of properties that require refurbishing or renovation. Property prices also surprise many as the main cities and larger towns in Galicia can command high tariffs, particularly the newer developments.

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Finding a reliable builder to work on the property is the next task and this may be a daunting one. Certainly anyone going down this route without a command of Spanish should enlist the help of a translator and probably an English speaking architect.

What to do once you have your perfect Galician house is another challenge. Do you plan to rent it out during the summer, is it for friends and family only, or are you planning a permanent move to green Spain. If the later is the case you also need to consider resident registration and whether or not you now need a Spanish income.

Galicia has high levels of unemployment, quite unbelievable legal employment discrimination against not just foreigners, but anyone who does not speak gallego, so think carefully if you plan to make your living there. Any form of public sector work is out (unless you speak the regional tongue) and this also applies to teaching English in schools. That said, if you intend to set up your own business, no one will stop you, but beware of tax laws that require you to pay, often before you make any money.

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