Online doctor’s appointment in Andalucia

How to make an on-line doctor’s appointment:

The website for booking doctor’s appointments has been revised which means that to make an appointment, you need to follow this new link:

You can identify yourself with your personal data: (click on  datos personales) Fill in your health card number and date of birth to access the system.

You can also log in using a digital certificate (click on Identificacíon con certificado digital). Most ex-pats don’t have them.

I hope that you found this information helpful.

Updated 16th September 2018

Cost of living – villa in Spain – annual costs

Please be aware these costs are getting out of date.

These were the annual utility costs for running a three bedroom detached villa with a pool in Arboleas in 2014:

Water €156
Rubbish €137
Electricity €750
Arboleas WIFI €144 (€12 a month is a bargain!)
Gas bottles €420 (usually 1 a week in Winter)
IBI €240 (it is going up in 2015)

Food is quite cheap, for a couple it is quite easy to live on €100 per week for shopping, including decent wines with meals.
Eating out is also very cheap, with many restaurants offering a “menu del dia” for €9 or €10 which is a three course meal, often including a drink and coffee.
Motoring is about the same price as the UK, although servicing is a little cheaper, as the hourly rates for mechanics are less, but the price of original parts can be higher.
Fuel has been cheaper than the UK generally, over the years, but the recent weakness of the Euro (March 2015) may mean that imported goods will rise in price.
In Spain individual houses do not have their own rubbish bins, everyone places their refuse in the street bins, which are usually emptied daily.

Registering a Spanish car with the DVLA in the UK

These are my experiences of registering my second hand Spanish left hand drive car in England.
I hope that this will help anyone considering doing the same.

First of all, I have to say that if you can sell your car in Spain and buy a UK car when moving back to the UK, it will save a lot of hassle and some expense. The re-registration process is really quite complicated, the garage which did the work on my car had no experience of the procedure, so it has been a steep learning curve for us all.

The reasons I brought over my Spanish car were:

  • We needed the car to move our animals with us to England.
  • The car is just what I need and has been very economical and reliable since I bought it.
  • The car is only 5 years old and has low mileage.

Steps you will need to take when returning to the UK to live with your Spanish car:
1. Within 2 weeks of arrival report the import to HMRC. This can be done online.  Use the NOVA system explained in this link. Until you have done this you cannot register the car.

2. Send for a DVLA registration pack from here which will include the most important V55/5 form.

3. Speak to a local garage, preferably one which is a dealership for your make of car. Ask them to order any parts to make the car legal in the UK. I had to have UK specification headlamps fitted, UK specification tail lamps, and wiring modifications so that fog/reversing lamps were on the correct sides. If your speedometer does not show miles per hour, then you will need to have your speedometer changed or modified.
Speedometer overlay cards can be obtained online from Prodash Limited who are a professional firm making them.

4. You will need to obtain a European Certificate of Conformity, which I obtained from Ford head office. This will state whether or not (probably NOT) your car can be registered in the UK without modification.

5. If your car needs modifications it will need a Mutual recognition certificate. To apply for these download the form from the Vehicle Certification Agency website – Follow the links to download the form.  To get this certificate your car must have left dipping UK headlamps, suitable tail lamps and a speedo registering in MPH and KPH. You will also need official garage invoices, carefully worded, as evidence that the changes required by the VCA have been carried out.

6. Once you have had modifications done, and have all the relevant paperwork for the Vehicle Certification Agency, send off the completed form with payment of £100 (fill in a debit card authorisation or it will be delayed) and the Agency will issue a certificate. Mine arrived 6 days after posting it. Keep copies of everything you send and use “signed for” post.

7. Complete the form V55/5 very carefully, most of the information comes from the European Certificate of Conformity. The form is partly self duplicating, so be careful how you handle it. You will need to work out the vehicle tax for your car. This is based on emissions, as mine was low (119 CO2) it was £30, but you will need to use the information supplied in the import pack to calculate the tax for your car. Add to this the £55 registration fee.

8. When you have completed the V55/5 send it off to DVLA, and ensure that the following are included:

Proof of name: (DVLA licence, passport, birth cert, marriage cert, or decree nisi or absolute cert.) Only one of these.
Proof of address: (Gas, electricity, water or landline phone bill less than 3 months old. Council tax bill. Bank statement less than 3 months old, medical card) Only one from this group, too.
Payment by cheque or postal orders to cover tax and registration.
European Certificate of Conformity
Mutual Recognition Certificate (Individual Approval Certificate or IAC)
Original non UK registration document – in Spain this is the “Permiso de circulación” (NOT the ITV test card). This will not be returned unless you send a covering letter asking for it back. You will need it in Spain to de-register the vehicle so that you don’t keep getting Spanish road tax bills.
Certificate of Insurance based on the Vehicle Chassis Number or VIN plate. This has to be obtained from a specialist insurance company. I used Acorn Insurance chassis number insurance but if you search the Internet others are available. Mine was temporary – for one month.
UK MOT certificate done using the chassis number.

9. The DVLA should reply by sending you a V5 in your name, having allocated a registration number. You can then take this to a car accessory shop to have your registration plates made up. You can then apply to a standard insurance company for car insurance.

WARNING: The law states that you must ensure that your vehicle remains insured at all times that it is being used on the UK roads.
I hope that you find this useful. All information is correct as at January 2015 – refer to UK government website links in case of changes. The cost of this changeover has been less than £1200, most of that in garage costs for changing lamps and inserting the new speedometer overlay. Paperwork and registration costs were less than £300 of that total.

Wording for contract of sale for a vehicle in Spain

Format for compraventa:
for a private sale of a motor car or vehicle in Spain.

If you wish to buy or sell a car in Spain, it is important as part of the transfer to complete a contract of sale. This is known as a “contrato de compra-venta“. This protects the seller from any claims arising from use of the vehicle after the date and time of the sale.

The format for this compra-venta (which should be in Spanish, as this example) is reproduced below. I have successfully used this format to transfer a vehicle at “Tráfico” in Almería without any problem. If you wish to be extra safe insert the time of the transfer in the date/fecha section.

If you wish to use this format, then you will need to change the place names according to your circumstances. If you cannot find the engine number, don’t worry, the index number/matricula and chassis/frame number/bastidor numéro are sufficient.

So here is the wording in blue:

Contrato de Compra-venta

En Albox (Almería) a _______________________________________________(fecha)

Reunidos de una parte D.__________________________________________________

Mayor de edad, de estado _____________________________

Con domicilio en calle ___________________, número ______, municipalidad de

_________________, C.P. __________ en su propio nombre y en concepto de

VENDEDOR, y de otra D. ________________________________________________

Con domicilio en calle ___________________, número ______, municipalidad de

_________________, C.P. __________ en su propio nombre y en concepto de COMPRADOR:


Que han convenido, como por el presente documento lo llevan a efecto, formalizar contrato de compra-venta del vehículo cuyas características son las siguientes:

TIPO: _______________; MARCA: ________________ :

MODELO ______________

MATRICULA: _________________; POTENCIA: ______________;

MOTOR NÚMERO _______________________________

BASTIDOR NÚMERO: ____________________________

Asimismo el vendedor declara en este acto, que dicho vehículo es da absoluta y exclusiva propiedad y se haya totalmente libra de cargas o gravámenes, por lo que responderá al comprador en todo momento de las responsabilidades que correspondan a actos anteriores al día de la fecha.

El comprador por su parta, reciba el vehículo a su completa satisfacción mediante las pruebas del caso, acepta cuantas responsabilidades nazcan contra el mismo a partir del día de hoy.

El precio en que ha sido concertado esta operación es de Euros ____________________

Pagaderas en la siguiente forma:____________________________________________

Y para que así conste y surta sus efectos donde proceda, firmamos el presente por duplicado en el lugar y fecha al principio indicados.

El Vendedor,                                                   El Comprador

Firmado: _________________________   Firmado:____________________________

Los Carrascos – a great place to live

Los Carrascos, Arboleas is a great location to live.

Ten good reasons to choose Los Carrascos?

I might be a bit biased as I have lived in this village from 1998, having bought an old cortijo in 1995 and then developing it.

When considering property in the Almería area, some advice is always helpful. I can tell you why Los Carrascos is probably one of the best places to live in Spain, and I can give you 10 good reasons why.
1. Los Carrascos, is not coastal, so not as expensive as beachfront areas, but it is within about 35 minutes drive of the closest Meditteranean beaches, so if you love sea views, they are never very far away.

2. Los Carrascos has 3000 hours of sunshine every year, that is an average of more than 8 hours every day!

3. Los Carrascos is not in the town, but is only 3 minutes by car, or 20 minutes walk down the rambla to Arboleas, which has a doctor’s surgery, (new medical centre is under construction), supermarkets, fitness centre/gym, bars, restaurants, dentist, town hall which has an openness and honesty policy.

4. Los Carrascos has a very good water supply, as the water for the village comes from underground wells in the Arroyo Aceituno.

5. Los Carrascos has developed from a small hamlet of 9 houses into a mostly ex-pat village of more than 220 houses. These ex-pats are from mostly Northern European countries, England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Belgium, Austria, Germany, and of course there are Spanish people living here. It’s a very friendly cosmopolitan place to live.

6. Los Carrascos comes under the jurisdiction of Arboleas town hall, which led by the current Mayor, Cristóbal García has been doing all it can to regularise the housing situation, which became out of control in the whole area, in the property boom in the “noughties”. The town hall have 4 British councillors, which reflects the high proportion of British people on the Town Hall Register of residents, (padrón).

7. Los Carrascos has its own fitness park, where there are exercise apparatuses, overlooking a view to the mountains to the south and the foothills of the Sierra Los Filabres.

8. Los Carrascos has access to Wi-Fi Internet from Arboleas Town Hall, which is economical, reliable and fast.

9. The surrounding hills, ramblas, and tracks are great for walking, mountain biking and off road quad biking.

10. Los Carrascos has wonderful wildlife. In the skies overhead, a variety of birds, raptors including golden eagles, in the summer beautiful bee-eaters, powder blue Indian rollers, hoopoes, Sardinian warblers, black redstarts. Mammals, from Ibex, wild boar, rabbits, foxes, further away from the village into the hills.

11. Los Carrascos has local delivery vehicles for gas, a baker’s van, frozen food on various days of the week.
Oh, this is number 11!
– Los Carrascos is so good I couldn’t keep to 10!

“The Albox News” (1998)

“The Albox News”

We are currently having a sort out at our house and came across a pile of copies of the “Albox News”. It was a publication started in the Autumn of 1998 and I thought I would share the first edition with you, or at least page 1…

It was published by ex-pats in the “International Office” in Albox which was in a building at the top of Av. Pio XII (opposite “Bar Gloria”). That building was later demolished, a sports shop and block of flats stands in that place.

So, here is the front page of edition #1 of the
Albox News – from October 1998.
You can click on the image and it should be large enough to read.

Albox News Oct1998

 By 2000 the publication morphed into the
“Almanzora Valley Neighbours Association Newsletter”

Ten important points about swimming pool maintenance

Pool maintenance is about plumbing, water chemistry and common sense. Listed below are 10 important things about looking after your swimming pool:

1. Most problems are caused by incorrect pH. pH is the acidity balance. Use a testing kit. A pH of 7 is neutral, 8 is alkaline, and 6 is acidic. Pools should be maintained at pH 7.2
As this is the most important thing, make sure that you adjust your pool to the correct pH. If your pH is above 7.4 ad pH- (which is an acid). If your pH is below 7.0 ad pH+ (which is an alkali). Chlorine does not work very well when the pool pH is too high and algae can more easily grow.
When adding chemicals first add them to water in a bucket to dissolve them, then add to the pool slowly at the inlets with the pump on.
Always follow the instructions on packs – pool chemicals are potentially dangerous.

2. The next most important thing is maintaining the correct amount of free chlorine in the water. It should be 1.5 ppm (parts per million) but a value between 1 and 3 ppm is OK. If there is no chlorine detected with your testing kit, the pool is not safe to swim. If there is no chlorine at all in the pool immediately add 10 grams of shock dose (granulated or powdered chlorine) per cubic metre of water. For an 8m x 4m pool, this would be about 450 grams. Add it to the skimmers while the pump is running, and leave it running for at least 4 hours.

3. Twice weekly checks are important. A pool should not be left without any maintenance for long periods. Checks should be for chlorine and pH levels and adjustments should be made. Keep the pool topped up – half way up the skimmer mouths is the correct level. If the pool gets too low it can suck air, annoying your neighbours with the noise, and possible damaging your pump impellers.

4. Once a week, vacuum the bottom of the pool, and brush the sides to remove all dust, soil and any slight algae growth. A well maintained pool should not grow algae, but we all lapse sometimes! Keeping your pool clean means that less chlorine is required to maintain sanitisation.

5. Deal with algae growth immediately! If your pool starts to turn green, get on top of the problem. Ensure the pH is at 7.2. Add 15 grams of shock dose chlorine to the skimmers for each cubic metre of water. This is about 700 grams for an 8m x 4m pool. Add it to the skimmers with the pump running. Hoover the pool and brush the sides and ensure that daily checks are made until the problem has definitely been cleared.

6. Do not add chlorine tablets to the skimmers. Use a floating chlorine dispenser. This helps to protects the skimmer area and associated pipework from extremely high chlorine levels which can damage the pipework.

7. Once a week in the summer months only, when the pool is above 18ºC add 450ml of liquid algicide to an 8m x 4m pool (approx 10ml per cubic metre). This will help to keep algae at bay.
NOTE: Different makes of algicide have different concentrations so check the instructions.

8. For safety reasons, it is best to never bathe alone. It is also imperative that young children are not allowed unrestricted access to pool areas. Sadly there are many cases of drowning in pools in Spain every year.
It is recommended that you do not bathe in the pool until 2 hours has elapsed after adding chemicals.

9. Remember that once the pressure on the sand filter dial reaches the yellow area, the filter needs to be backwashed. To do this, turn off the pump. Then move the multi-port valve to backwash. Run the pump for the time suggested in the filter manual. Usually 90 seconds or until the waste runs clear (if you can see it). Then stop the pump change the valve to rinse and run for 30 seconds. Always stop the pump before changing the multi-valve positions.

10. If you have difficulty with your pool call in an expert. Your pool is worth a lot of money and sometimes you need to spend a little on extra help.
Most of all, enjoy your pool and stay safe!

Information, blog and forum – life in Almería, Spain