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Inquisitive newbie !!

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Inquisitive newbie !!

Post by richieangie1 on Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:09 am

Hi everyone,

My hubby and i have been researching property in Almeria/Granada for the past 6 months with a view to buy in the new year. We have made a couple a visits over in the summer, mainly to Almeria which we love but we have now stumbled across 'cave living' on the internet and are most intrigued and fascinated by this type of home. We plan to come over for a visit next month (will probably book a cave holiday to try it out !) but are there any recommedations of areas anyone could suggest please ? We have heard of the main town Baza, Caniles, Cullar etc, we are just not sure where we should aim for ! We have 3 children (7yrs, 6yrs and 9 months) so whilst we would like to be quite rural we would also need to be near schools and other amenities for them should we decide to evetually make our home there. I guess somewhere central in order to get the most out of our trip is the ideal. Any suggestions ?

Also just a question to those with young children.......how do they like living in Granada (and in a cave house) ? Have they settled well into school etc ? Would you say living in Spain has been a positive change to them in general ?

Thanks
Angie
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Re: Inquisitive newbie !!

Post by Dave on Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:24 am

Hi Angie, welcome to the forum and thanks for introducing yourselves. As I dont reside full time in the area, I dont feel that I can give you the information that you need personally, but if you have a good look around the forum and on the links, you should find loads of helpfull advice. Im sure some other members will be along soon to advise you. Kate (aka Pebbles) is probably a good source of knowledge for you, as she is a young mum and lives in a cave B&B in castillejar (The B&B may be of interest to you too)
I hope you get all the information you need and wish you good luck in finding your dream cave, you shouldn't have to look too hard! Very Happy

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Re: Inquisitive newbie !!

Post by Jenny on Mon Sep 20, 2010 1:31 am

Hi Angie -

Welcome!

I don´t have young children myself but have friends here who do, and I´ve coached a few ex-pat teenagers at UK Key Stages 3 & 4 in English. One of the main problems in connection with schooling is one of logistics. Public transport is very thin on the ground here so, unless you want to be locked into a twice-daily school run, you´ll need to choose somewhere near a bus route or near a town where there´s a school - although, given the ages of your children, I´d imagine you wouldn´t want them to be travelling independently for a while.

From what I´ve seen, children as young as yours are usually able to make the transition much more easily than children of secondary school age. They´re less inhibited about picking up the language, and generally do so very quickly and integrate with their Spanish schoolmates happily. I can´t comment on teaching in local primary schools but, from what I´ve observed of secondary schools locally, the teaching methods seem to be locked into a 1950s time-warp. Some will think that´s a good thing. I don´t. Creative thinking and curiosity (i.e. learning) seem to be discouraged. That is less likely to be the case in a larger school in a town.

Also, in rural areas and small villages up here, there is absolutely nothing for teenagers to do - and your small children will be teenagers before you know what´s hit you. I´m all for getting back to the simple, non-consumerist life but, ironically, the lack of facilities for youngsters hereabouts means that they´re more likely to end up spending solitary hours engaged with anti-social computer & console games. And, whether people care to admit it or not, there´s a bit of a problem with drugs and alcohol being used by teenagers, both Spanish and British, to fill the activity vacuum.

Sorry to sound so negative. It´s a wonderful life up here for adults, but it´s important that you´re aware of some of the potential problems, too.
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Re: Inquisitive newbie !!

Post by mikey on Mon Sep 20, 2010 6:33 am

I have two daughters who were 5 and 10 when we moved here and they love it here, my youngest is still in castril school whih i have to disagree with Jenny about as it is a very good school which shows as when my eldest moved to secondary school in Huescar her and the other students from castril were way ahead in what they were being taught, the only thing i would recommend for schooling is to try and get your children in a school with not many other english children, this will get them learning spanish so much quicker, my eldest was the only english in her class when she got here and was near enough fluent within 6 months because she had to learn the language to get on, my youngest was a bit slower as she had another english girl in her class that translated for her.
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Re: Inquisitive newbie !!

Post by pebbles on Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:33 am


Welcome to the forum

I cant really help with any info re.schools etc as my little one is only 10 months old but there are a lot of people on here that should be able to help.

I know that in some villages (remote) the local policeman picks up the children to take them to school as there is no bus route!!!

I dont think you would regret moving out here - the children are a perfect age to settle in and be fluent very quickly (wish I had moved out when I was younger!)
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Re: Inquisitive newbie !!

Post by LUHG on Mon Sep 20, 2010 9:46 am

Hi,

I tend to agree with mikey on this one. My son also went to Castril and now is in school in Huescar. He, like mikey's daughter was the only English child in his class and was soon in the top half of the class regarding marks etc. Yes he plays PS3.....but show me a child who doesn't!
My niece's and nephews and god children back in the UK also play on consoles's given the opportunity, so i think that remoteness of the area is not really relevant. Also i have yet to hear of a school anywhere in this wonderful area of ours that does not provide transport to and from school. A friend of mine's child is picked up along with 3 other children and taken to the school 6 km away by the local policeman. How's that for safety Smile

As far as the schools being stuck in a 1950's time warp i totally disagree! If Jenny means by that the teachers are still allowed to cuddle the kids and actually discipline them without the threat of legal action which we so often see today in UK schools, then i am all for the 1950's. My son was given his own laptop to study on in his primary school. Again i never saw this happening in the UK school that my son went to. My wife is a teacher, my sister is a teacher and two or three of our friends are teachers. All of them have agreed that there is nothing wrong with the schooling here. All having visited here and loved it.

The next thing to mention is that there is plenty to do for the children. Apart from making friends in their respective schools they have the whole of the Altiplano to explore. I take my sons and his friends kayaking regularly on Lake Portillo, Lake Bolera and Lake San Clemente. We dive off the rocks, swim and bird watch, where you can see anything from Eagles to Herons. The beaches are only 1.5 hours away. Most everything that you can do here is free. Walking, rock climbing, mountain biking all free and safe. We went to Huescar 4x4 event yesterday and were very impressed with the time time trial, event 3 or 4 hours of entertainment loads of people to meet, beer 1.50 and a bocadillo 2 euros. Terrific value....oh and it was free entry. Beat that! It's true that if the children want cinemas and other paid activities etc that you will struggle here, but if you want a slow down of life and a lovely safe enviroment to bring your children up in and spend more family time together, then this could be the place for you.

Last thing to mention is the drugs. It's no worse here than any other rural place in Europe. Having been brought up in a rural town in England i can honestly say here is no worse and in fact certainly where i live it is better as there is no problem. There is a fair amount of weed puffed upon in some villages but no worse than anywhere else. Also i had a house in rural France for 16 years and they also liked a bit of weed. So i think it's pretty general and not just indicitive of here. Also is this not where parenting skills should come in?

Certainly i think you should come and have a look at the area and make your own mind up. Castril is beautiful and one of the top white villages in Andalucia. Also there are some other lovely villages and towns to look at.

I hope this helps.
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Re: Inquisitive newbie !!

Post by Cave Bunny on Mon Sep 20, 2010 11:04 am

Hi and welcome.

All good advice above, but please don't discount Baza itself. We are in the outskirts, seeminlgy deep in the campo, yet only 10 minutes from Baza hospital via the backtracks. Good schools, shopping, cinema, playgrounds, swimming pools, a sports centre, a huge market all 15 minutes away. A huge variety of outdoor activities and rural bliss is outside our front door. I think it's great for kids.

Good luck with your choices.

albino
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Re: Inquisitive newbie !!

Post by richieangie1 on Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:07 pm

Hi and thanks for all the info. Have just been speaking to Les and spanish inland properties and he too told me about the policeman taking the kids to school ! I do two school runs a day here (sometimes more if one has an after school club !) 10 mins each way, so im not to adverse to doing them, although if there was a bus or indeed other secure way of sending the little darlings that would be great Very Happy .

One of the reasons we want to move to Spain is for the outdoor lifestyle and pursuits mentioned above. Both our older two children are very active and thrive much better in the summer months in the UK when they can be outdoors. Swimming, mountain biking, walking, fishing are all things they love to do and would hope to be able to lots more of out there. Our 5yr old is also midly autistic (aspergers) and his whole demenour and behaviour improves drastically when he can be outdoors and energetic - but this is true of most boys i would say Wink !! He also responds very well to firm boundaries and no nonsense approach to discipline, so if the schools are a little 'old fashioned' and possibly a littler stricter then that would be fine too.

Our daughter is a keen horse rider and has been riding since she was 4yrs old in the uk, so she will be in her element i expect, she wont take much persuading to move i would imagine !

Does anyone know much about the Fuente Nueva and Orca areas ? eg. schools, medical facilities, supermarkets etc ?

Really cant wait to come out next month and start having a look around. You all sound so happy with your moves.......is this the norm for the expatriate brit in this area ? Any of have any regrets ? Miss anything from home ?

Thanks
Angie
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Re: Inquisitive newbie !!

Post by HappyChic on Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:36 pm

Benamaurel school is brill, my daughter moved here at the age of 14, she was given private Spanish lessons, passed all her first year here exams with flying colours, she failed one subject.....English ! The teaching methods are abit old fasioned, very different, as is life here, she did find it hard at first, but soon made friends, the teenagers here do find life rather boring, as do most teenagers anywhere in the world. In our village they hang around in large groups, they are allowed in the bars to play pool, and games and dont get 'asbos' for doing so, they are also so polite and have alot of respect for the older generation, i wish i had brought her here as a young child.
Drugs are available here, and used by teenagers, but alot less so than the Uk. Its a totally different life here, a nice one. We lived 8kms from the school in the deep countryside, a school bus picked her up from a nearby pick up point, on finishing school they were all given a meal, books have to be paid for, but the school bus and the meals were free of charge.
The older teenagers do tend to move on to Baza colleges and then on to Granada University.
The only problem i have seen here is with an English teenager, thieving, drugs, a complete nightmare, and he has no friends! His own fault!
My daughter, now as a 19 yr old resides in the Uk but loves it here, she states if she could find work here she would not hesitate to move back here, her heart is here.
Good luck with you choices, happy cave hunting. Smile
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Re: Inquisitive newbie !!

Post by pebbles on Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:43 pm

Fuente Nueva and Orce are lovely areas

Devon Dave and Santamaria on the forum live over that way so they might be able to give you some more info

I have no regrets about moving out and there really isnt much I miss from yUK.

Keep us updated with how you get on with your search........



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Re: Inquisitive newbie !!

Post by Dave on Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:48 pm

Ive pm'd you Angie. Very Happy

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Re: Inquisitive newbie !!

Post by Dave on Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:49 pm

Pebbles, dont let everyone know about Fuente Nueva (we're trying to keep it a secret!) Laughing

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Re: Inquisitive newbie !!

Post by Jenny on Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:19 pm

@ Mikey - No disagreement at all. I did specifically say, "I can´t comment on teaching in local primary schools".

@ LUHG - No, I wasn´t talking about discipline or physical teacher-pupil contact in local schools. I specifically referred to teaching methods. Quite agree with your comment about parenting skills, and that also applies to the types of activities you listed. All available and all constructive and healthy, but calling for a great deal of parental input, if only for transport. Unfortunately, most teenagers sooner or later reach a stage where they´d die rather than spend leisure time with their parents! I didn´t mean to imply that the drugs problem is any worse here than anywhere else, merely that it exists. I´ve come across several people who have assumed that it would be unknown in remote Andalucian villages.

Angie - in reply to the last part of your second post, just about everyone I know up here is very happy with their choice. The only things I sometimes miss are cinemas and theatres, and restaurants with varied menus, but there are so many compensations that it just doesn´t matter.
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Re: Inquisitive newbie !!

Post by LUHG on Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:50 pm

Hi Angie,

I would say that with young children Fuenta Nueva might be a little isolated ( pretty though ) The nearest pool would be in Orce which is a few miles away. Also the lakes for kayaking are a bit of a drive. If your children enjoy the outdoor life such as the things i listed above then Castril and the surrounding area is worth considering as it has 3 very accesible lakes and a National Park with mountain biking and walking trails already set out for you to follow. Also there are a myriad of tracks to walk in the valley itself along the riverbank. Might not be everyone's choice but i love it Very Happy

I think its difficult to ask people about certain areas because we have all bought in areas we love over other areas. As they say: One man's meat is another man's poison
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Re: Inquisitive newbie !!

Post by Cullarfamily on Mon Sep 20, 2010 5:54 pm

Hi Angie

We love it in Andalucia. We live less than a five minute drive from the village of Cullar. People think we're in the middle of nowhere, but in reality we are in walking distance of the village and we're minutes away from Galera, Benamaurel, Baza.

We came to Spain nearly 6 years ago and spent over 4 years on the Costa Blanca - mistake!! The schools are unable to cope with so many different nationalities (more foreigners than Spanish) and as a result the schooling is very poor. Sorry, can't comment on primary schools in Cullar but my son now goes to the secondary school which is virtually next door and the teachers are brill. As your children are young, they will integrate with the Spanish easier than older kids and they'll be fluent well before you will sunny. We wished we'd moved here years ago. Definitely no regrets and can't think of anything I miss from the UK. Apart from family of course.

All of the villages in this area have their own charm as do the cave houses and they are all very different. Take your time to discover the area. Are you looking for a dooer upper Question or one that has been reformed? Whatever you're looking for good luck and happy hunting. Very Happy

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Re: Inquisitive newbie !!

Post by richieangie1 on Mon Sep 20, 2010 6:15 pm

Are you all on commission with the local mayor ? Laughing Seems no-one has a bad word to say about this area or cave living......which dont get me wrong is great, but we have spent the last 6 months researching and visiting various places (albeit mainly in Almeria province) and there have been more than a fair share of moans and groans from the resident brits !!

Seems like we have uncovered a rare piece of community where the expats actually love where they live, help each other and try to integrate into local life, which is of course how it should be ! I have been most touched and impressed by all the replies we have had, it has certainly helped us start to build up a picture in our minds of the area and we are certainly looking forward to our visit in Oct/Nov and hope to maybe meet up with some of you for a coffee (or a wine Wink ) and a chat.

We are looking for a cave that has probably been reformed or at least part reformed - habitable should we say ? So we are gradually compiling a list of properties we would like to see and we will go from there.

Thank you all for all your comments, if i think of more questions can i keep coming back and picking your brains please ??? Embarassed

Angie
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Re: Inquisitive newbie !!

Post by La Mancha on Mon Sep 20, 2010 6:27 pm

We don't live in our cave full-time but love the time we are able to spend there. For the sake of balance there are a couple of things that you need to be aware of and perhaps others can add to the list. Firstly the weather can be more extreme in the Altiplano than Almeria, into the 40s in the summer and regularly below freezing during the night in winter. It is not unusual to get snow during the winter even if it never lasts for long. You will also find that you really do need a car as public transport is somewhat limited. As I said we don't regret our decision to buy a cave house but I would always be suspicious if you only ever heard how great an area is.
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Re: Inquisitive newbie !!

Post by richieangie1 on Mon Sep 20, 2010 6:44 pm

Very true La Mancha and to be honest it was me moaning to hubby that i would miss the winter and get bored of all that sunshine that led us amoungst other reasons to widen our search to Granada for the more diverse weather.

We both agreed that having the long hot summers follwed by cold (and often snowy) winters would be something that would appeal to us. I worked and lived abroad for many years all over europe, Spain, Portugal and Greece islands and after months and months of endless scorching sun it was always lovely to see something different, be it rain, cloud or snow lol !! Hubby also is a keen skier so this was another draw to the area being so close to the sierra nevada. He would like to see all of us all going up there in the winter time to teach the kids to ski etc.

We are looking into options regarding transport at the moment, we had thought we might bring our own car with us and get in converted to spanish plates but i dont really fancy driving a right hand drive car in spain. Buying a car once we are there was the next option but have been told its extremely expensive ? So we had thought we would probably buy a left hand drive car in the uk before we leave and have it put onto Spanish plates once we are there. What do most people tend to do ?

Thanks
Angie
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Re: Inquisitive newbie !!

Post by Dave on Mon Sep 20, 2010 6:58 pm

Cold in the winter..............
This is Reece, 3 years old outside our cave in Jan 2010. He likes it!






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Re: Inquisitive newbie !!

Post by richieangie1 on Mon Sep 20, 2010 7:01 pm

Hey Dave,

That is such a cool pic !! I love that. Thats the kind of thing we are looking for (along with the sunny days in summer of course Very Happy ) !!
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Re: Inquisitive newbie !!

Post by pebbles on Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:06 pm

Fab pick Dave

I am already preparing for winter fun - trying to get a sledge for Alejandro! (already got him some baby snow boots...............I hope we get some snow now!!!!)
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Re: Inquisitive newbie !!

Post by LUHG on Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:47 pm

Which one is Reece? Laughing

I love the 4 distinct seasons here. It's one of the reason's we chose this area too Angie. Although i notice you are from Suffolk and as i was brought up in Norfolk and have married a Norfolk girl maybe i should be recommending Almeria!!! Laughing
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Re: Inquisitive newbie !!

Post by Dave on Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:50 pm

Yep, they look alike dont they, although the one on the left has got very thin arms! Laughing

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Re: Inquisitive newbie !!

Post by Dave on Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:54 pm

Here he is with Granny, Mummy and his uncle Kez


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Re: Inquisitive newbie !!

Post by Imagemaker on Tue Sep 21, 2010 12:13 pm

The only thing I would mention, is that employment after school/uni may be a problem. Spain and in particular country areas such as this, has and always has had, a high unemployment rate. This is why there is a big gap between the young population in these villages and the (relatively) old. After uni, because of the lack of opportunities in this and many other areas in Spain, most 18-25 year olds, tend to leave to go to the big cities or overseas. That happens all over the world for sure, but it is quite noticable here............the demographic is 'top heavy'.

However, this is a wonderful place to live but that statement is coming from the viewpoint of a 60 something oldie.........who, incidentally, loves to mountain bike in the campo and go hiking in the sierras!

P.S. When my daughter and family lived for a year on the Costa Blanca, the children were almost fluent within a year - the middle child at 9 years old found it easiest with the then 4 and 13 year olds finding it more difficult.
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