One of the biggest challenges in relocating to Spain was arranging a place to live without actually being in the country. Our initial goal was simple. Find an apartment or house near Alhaurin el Grande that accepted pets and that we could lease for six months. We wanted a lease that would commence on May 1, but accepted the fact that we might have to pay for April even though we wouldn’t be in Spain. That would give us time to find a long-term home once we were here.
We monitored several websites every day. Among others:
We left messages and contacted agents only to find that the listing had already leased, or they didn’t accept pets, or they wouldn’t do a short-term lease. The six-hour time difference worked against us, as well. Twice we were told by an agent that the apartment was ours, only to find out that it was leased to someone else before we send a deposit. We also considered a long-term Airbnb if all else failed.
Then, we started getting lucky. A friend in Alhaurin put us in contact with a property manager in Mijas Pueblo (I’ll call him Carlos). We checked the map. Mijas Pueblo was only twelve kilometers from Alhaurin, a seemingly reasonable drive while we searched for a place in our desired area. Carlos came through right away. He found us a nice, 3 bedroom apartment overlooking the main square in the town, fully furnished, six-month lease, dogs OK.
Mijas Pueblo turned out to be a spectacularly beautiful place, but not without a few problems.
We resigned ourselves to making the best of the situation while we focused more intently on finding a place in Alhaurin before our lease was up. Then, another magnificent stroke of luck came our way.
Some images from Mijas Pueblo.
A lot has happened since my last post. Then, we were a few days away from departing Florida, Now, we are happily settled in Spain and the whirlwind of activity is beginning to slow down. And after a couple of weeks with no internet connection, I can bring readers up to date on our travels.
Perhaps the thing we were most anxious about was how our two Scottish Terriers, Duffy and Sammie, would handle sixteen hours in a crate in the cargo hold of a large airplane. Duffy, 11 years old, had never been crated and never traveled outside of Florida. Sammie, our 8 year-old rescue, had not been crated in years.
We were scheduled to fly from Miami to Madrid, with a connection to Malaga, leaving Florida on May 3, and arriving in Malaga on May 4. We decided to leave Tampa a day early and spend the night in Naples, Florida. That would give Duffy and Sammie a chance to get accustomed to the crates and give us plenty of time to get to the busy Miami airport with time to spare on our departure day. As it turned out, Duffy didn’t mind the crate at all, but Sammie hated it. Both enjoyed “people watching” in the airport before time to go in the boxes and the Iberia Airlines staff were helpful in keeping the boys calm.
The flight to Madrid was uneventful (all good flights are uneventful) and we arrived at 8:20 AM. Celia and I cleared customs in less than five minutes. The dogs and our stowed luggage would clear in Malaga so Duffy and Sammie didn’t get out of their crates for the three-hour connection time. We’d both slept some on the plane and felt good. A café-con-leche and pastry made us feel even better. At the gate waiting to board our short flight to Malaga, we saw the dog crates being loaded on the smaller jet.
After a nine-hour leg from Miami to Madrid, the short flight to Malaga was a breeze. We deplaned and headed to luggage claim where we would retrieve our luggage and dogs and clear them through customs. The dogs seemed none-the-worse-for-wear and most happy to be out those boxes. We had paid all the fees and prepared the paperwork, so getting Duffy and Sammie legally into Spain should be a breeze. It was easier than a breeze. No one paid the slightest interest in looking at the documents we had been so careful about preparing.
Finally, it was off to the car rental counter (we used EuropCar and they were excellent) to pick up the Volkswagen Tiguan we’d reserved. It was large enough to hold all of our luggage and dog paraphernalia.