Peña Mayor and Les Praeres, Nava

I’ve often heard Asturias described as ‘Wales on steroids’. The truth of this really came home to me one day when I realised that the ‘wee hill’  behind Nava in the Comarca de la Sidra is actually higher than Snowdon!

Dwarfed by its imposing background of the mountains of the Cordillera Cantábrica and Picos de Europa it may be, but Peña Mayor is a beautiful mountain in its own right and is criss-crossed with great hiking and biking trails to explore and from where to drink in the stunning panoramic views. On a clear day you can see as far as the sea to the north and to the south its snow-capped sisters are almost always in view, although ever-changing according to the varying light of different times of day and year.

cabin on Peña Mayor, Asturias

Cabins on Peña Mayor, Picos de Europa to the background

Peña Mayor actually straddles four counties; Nava, Piloña, Bimenes and Laviana. On the Nava side of its slopes lies the open expanse of Les Praeres, easily accessible via a 4km track that ascends steeply from the village of Piloñeta topping out at the famed bar-restaurant. A unique establishment, Bar Les Praeres is off-grid and chock full of authentic rustic charm, as well as having views to die for. On weekends it does a splendid barbecue with meat often supplied by local hunters. Great for replenishing energy after a day spent exploring some of the many trails that set off from here. Although if you get too friendly with their adopted resident deer Bambi then you may find the meat grill losing its appeal….

This year, on September 8th 2018, Les Praeres will host a stage finish of the prestigious Vuelta a España, bringing its charms to the eyes of a wider international audience with the televised footage. But for a sneak preview and a proper bird’s eye view of it check out this drone footage from Turismo Asturias.


If you like what you see and you’re interested in grabbing yourself a more permanent slice of Peña Mayor then we can help you. We have cabañas for sale in various locations on the mountain itself as well as houses in nearby towns, villages and countryside. Contact us with your specific requirements and soon you could be hiking these trails whenever you want!

 

 

More than just an estate agent…

I’ve never liked the term ‘estate agent’. There are far too many negative stereotypes associated with it. I am not that person. So I was delighted to read this piece written by some Danish clients of mine and find that they had coined a new title for me. Ambassador? I’ll take that…. 🙂

Read their beautifully written story here – and get inspired!

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We are Signe, Tarje and Roar, Danes and recent homeowners in the rocky part of Asturias; Quiros. We met Mary more or less by chance after having spent half a year on the road with our baby Roar. Before that we were working as respectively an academic and a nurse, but we have always had that nagging feeling that fulfilling the ideals of society was properly not the road to meaningful and happy lives for us. The courage to do something about it, however, only came with parenthood. And while it does take a lot of courage to break away from your routine, we have learned along the way that the shackles don’t just fall off simply because you start to rattle.

We had an idea that we wanted to find a place in Catalunya – and start building towards self-sustainability. However, while Spain is littered with old ruins in need of love – finding a suitable one for sale turned out to be an insurmountable task. While we liked the experience, Catalunya seem to be hit hard by drought-spells and increasing heat – and didn’t really feel like home to us. With a few rock climbing images from Asturias, our heads turned west, and the lushness here immediately felt right.

It is only after you have gone through the process yourself you realize how much work Mary has put into finding properties suitable for expats. Mary calls herself an estate agent, but we feel a more descriptive title would be ambassador. Of course she runs a business, but you can immediately tell her main focus isn’t improving her own margins, but bridging the substantial cultural gap it is for northern Europeans to buy property in Spain.

One show of the abandoned village Eros – halfway up a mountain – and we were sold. We are now a few months in, the house seems to have stopped crumbling down – the once omnipresent brambles are starting to reappear less and less and we are making the first moves at making our house liveable and our garden edible.

 

Latest Client Testimonial

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Dave and Anna Renner are a young British couple who got in touch with me in autumn last year looking for assistance in finding their ideal property here in northern Spain. They had already been searching for some time when they had the good fortune to meet some former clients of mine who are currently renovating a house they bought through me in Cantabria and they recommended they contact me.

Cordillera Cantabrica mountains in central Asturias

Dave and Anna fell in love with views like this in the mountains of central Asturias

Below, in their own words, is the Renner’s experience of house-hunting with Spanish Property North.

Mary made our property search relaxed and enjoyable, when previously it had been quite a frustrating process. She had a long discussion with us about our requirements, and had a good knowledge of our search area, meaning she was able to quickly narrow down the search to properties that matched our criteria and budget. Unlike some agents we had worked with in the UK, she didn’t waste time showing us unsuitable properties, and she was also very easy to contact and get information from. We were looking at properties all over Asturias, and Mary took loads of time driving out to meet us at various remote locations to investigate potential purchases. Once we’d decided on a property she managed everything to make the actual purchase process easy. She also acted as our translator with the Notary and the Vendor during the completion meeting, making sure we understood the contract and patiently going over clarifications and corrections to the deeds. She was really great with little details that might have tripped us up, like helping us get our NIEs and making sure we opened a non-resident rather than resident bank account, which would have caused problems on completion day. Overall it was a really positive experience and if you are looking for property in the area we would definitely recommend contacting Spanish Property North.

Dave and Anna Renner

The Brexit Effect

flag of Europe

Brexit. The B word that is on everybody’s minds right now, especially any Brit who is living in or considering a move to a European country. It’s hardly surprising then that a number of clients have asked me to write an article on the potential effects of a British exit from the European Union. So here’s my two (euro) cents’ worth.

The first thing to say is that nobody really knows exactly what’s going to happen with Brexit. Least of all, it would seem, the British government. Just yesterday Britain’s ambassador to the European Union and one of their most experienced EU diplomats resigned amidst a row over his candid observations that Brexit negotiations could take as long as 10 years.

This thing could run and run. In the meantime, there’s really no point in getting bogged down in pointless speculation but there are some things that we do know for sure and which I’ll try and outline here.

I can tell you for one that currently Brexit is, somewhat counter-intuitively, serving to give a push to my core market as Brits rush to get themselves established in Spain before Brexit kicks in, in whatever format it ends up taking. Many people who may have been dreaming for years of a move to Spain have suddenly found their plans firmly shoved from the back burner to the front as they see the possibility of their dreams being snatched away from them by external forces.

For the Brits who are already here and legally resident it is likely that not a huge amount will materially change although there will almost certainly be more bureaucratic hoops to jump through.

Facts for residents:
– if you have been legally resident in Spain for ten years or more you can apply for Spanish citizenship. (Note, Spain doesn’t recognise dual nationality although Britain does.)
– If you are an EU citizen who has been a legal resident for 5 years or more you have the right to permanent residency without any conditions.

EU nationals living in Spain are required to register with the Spanish authorities (Extranjería). This resident’s document has no expiry date on it and many Brits are now keen to get over here and get registered as an EU resident as soon as possible in order to try and protect their automatic rights to live and work here. It is possible that the rights of those already resident before Brexit takes place will be protected, plus the sooner you get registered as resident the sooner you start clocking up years of residency, accumulating rights and moving towards a position where you could apply for permanent residency or citizenship. That being said, until negotiations take place over the rights of EU citizens in Britain and vice versa we can’t know for sure what the outcome will be.

The right to buy property and the right to own a business are enshrined under international law and so will not be affected by an exit from the EU. 

The process for purchasing property in Spain is exactly the same for non-EU citizens as it is for EU ones. I have sold properties to South Africans, Americans, Brazilians and Australians as well as Europeans and it has been equally straightforward in all cases.

Where rights do differ is in the right to residency and to work. If we take the worst-case scenario and imagine a full-on hard Brexit, where Britain gives no quarter, leaves the single market and completely rejects free movement of labour then we would be looking at Brits having to go through the same processes as, say, an American citizen in order to obtain the right to live and work in Spain.

The thing to remember is that Americans and other non-EU citizens can and do manage to get work and residency permits for Spain. It may be a convoluted and time-consuming process but it is do-able and there is help out there. Sites like Spain Guru provide great advice on the processes that non-EU citizens need to go through in order to live and work legally in Spain.  Check out their article on the main routes to getting a work-permit in Spain here.

As many of my clients are entrepreneurial types with aspirations to develop a business or work on a freelance basis here in Spain I know that the self-employment (or autónomo) option and that of owning a business will be of particular interest. Other routes to residency are also available however, such as a non-lucrative residency visa if you have funds to support yourself and do not need to seek employment in Spain – I have some South-African clients who now live here on this basis, for example.

So those are the worst-case, hardest-Brexit scenarios. As I said at the start though, we don’t know when or how Brexit will really happen and it’s not something that we have any control over. The bottom line is that if you really want to move to Spain then you need to find a way to make it work for you. And you will.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year!

mountain view in Asturias

It’s January 1st 2017 and this is the view I’ve woken up to. Today the choice is between mountains or beach and my seven year old has spoken and decided on a hike and a bike ride, so mountains it is. The sun is shining and the sky is blue, as they have been all of this Christmas holiday. I could not be happier with where I live. Will 2017 be the year you make a move and seek out your own piece of paradise?

Wishing you health and happiness for the new year.

 

Renovating and Letting a Holiday Cottage in Asturias

For a lot of our clients the dream is to buy a traditional property and renovate it, often with the aim of ending up with some tourist accommodation to let out as well as a family home. It’s a dream we can relate to perfectly, having started out from that very same place ourselves over 11 years ago. It’s also a dream we can help turn into reality as we’ve done exactly that for ourselves several times over as well as helping countless clients along the path to their own little piece of paradise.

If you’d like to know a little more about our own latest renovation project and the resulting holiday rental then check out this neat video we made. There’s some pretty cool drone footage of the mountains of Central Asturias in here as well as shots of our traditional Asturian house and holiday rental and some talking heads interview with us, as well as our ‘celebrity’ guests, North Face athletes and world-class rock climbers Caroline Ciavaldini and James Pearson.

And, of course, if you’d like to find out more about the realities of buying, renovating and renting out property here in Asturias then please do get in touch!