The next part of the process was to decide what to take and what not to take. Moving house always provides a good opportunity to de-clutter. However, moving to Spain is a lot more expensive than moving locally. We therefore knew we had to be very selective and start early.

Our first attempt included clearing the loft which revealed a skip full of stuff that we knew we would never need again. Gradually over the next few months we reduced what we had down further. A lot went to the charity shops. Some things we were able to sell and the rest went to the skip. We tried to sell a lot at a car boot sale but ended up bringing most back. In the end there were some things which we brought that we could do without and other things which we should have brought. We still ended up with a van full which cost us £5,000 to transport!

At the same time we were buying new furniture for our house in Spain. We drew up plans of each room and worked out how each piece of furniture would fit. After all we didn't want to arrive in Spain only to find that the new furniture wouldn't fit in. Some of the furniture was delivered to our house and stored packed in the garage. Other items we had stored by Marks and Spencer who we bought it from. They delivered it straight to the removal firm just before we were ready to move.

Alongside all this clearing out we had to sort out our finances and paperwork. This meant canceling the many direct debits we had and at the same time notifying people that we were moving so that we wouldn't receive demands for services we no longer required. In some cases a simple letter was not enough. We had to cancel direct debits to get a response from quite a few companies. The most amusing thoughwas the TV rental company who offered to reduce the rental by 25% until they realised that we were moving to Spain. Spain was perhaps a bit too far for a service call!

One thing which we didn't do though was to change our driving licences. You can drive in Spain with a paper licence issued after 1990 or with one of the new phone card licenses. If you have a pre 1990 paper licence you need either an International Driving permit or a translation of your license into Spanish. Of course once you are in Spain you can't apply to DVLC for a change of license so we are stuck with old paper licences. We could get International Driving Licenses on one of our trips back to England but it would be better to change our licenses for Spanish ones.

We did remember to to notify the tax people a) that we were no longer working and b) that we were moving to Spain. We also remembered to apply for E106 forms which entitles us to free health care in a Spain. At the same time we let the Pension Service know that when the time came we would need our pension packs sending to our Spanish address.

Strictly speaking once you have left England you are no longer entitled to health care there except on an emergency basis. We cheated here and registered at our daughter's address.

Our passports did't run out until 2008 so we had a bit of leeway there before we needed to apply to the British Consulate in Spain for a renewal. You need to carry your passport here in Spain to prove your identity for a whole range of things including using a bank card. So it is important to have a valid passport at all times.

We had two cars which were four and five years old. We had thought about bringing one out to Spain and are glad that we changed our minds. Legally you can only drive an English plated car in Spain for six months. After that you have to either return it to the UK or transfer it onto Spanish plates. That process is expensive because e.g. the headlights have to be changed and if you don't have the right paperwork they will refuse to issue Spanish plates. Right hand drive cars are more expensive to insure and have very low resale value. So we sold both cars in England with the intention of using the money to buy a left hand drive car in Spain.

Torre carnival
Valencia fallas
Valencia fallas
Horses at Caravaca





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