We choose the rural life . . . for as long as possible

Fountain in Plaza de la Reina, in Palma de Mallorca

Plaza de la Reina, Palma de Mallorca

Last weekend British broadsheet newspaper ‘The Sunday Times’ named Palma de Mallorca as the world’s best city to live in – an accolade that has since been doing the rounds of social media among those of us who know and love the city.

Although we are very happy country dwellers, on a finca in rural Mallorca, we enjoy visiting the island’s capital on a fairly regular basis. Palma is a city with a lot to offer: a rich history, wonderful architecture, museums and art galleries, theatres, excellent independent restaurants, bars, cafes, beaches, and a year-round programme of cultural and traditional events.

Casal Solleric, Palma de Mallorca

Casal Solleric in Palma de Mallorca – one of the city’s many cultural centres

“Like being in a village”

The previous owners of our finca – who have become dear friends – sold this place when its maintenance became too much for them, and now own a charming palacio apartment in the heart of Palma. They describe living there (which they do for various periods of time during the year) as “like being in a village”, because people in the local shops and other businesses always greet them like neighbours – and everything our friends need is within a short walk of their home. Their apartment is easy maintenance and they don’t need to own a car – hiring one when necessary.

Gran Hotel, Palma de Mallorca

The former Gran Hotel in Palma de Mallorca . . . another cultural centre.

These friends are older than us, and we can imagine that, in years to come, we too may wish to lighten our labour load by moving somewhere that’s easier to look after. It’s not a conversation we’ve really had in earnest yet, hoping that we have a good few years before it becomes necessary. But where would we move to?

This is certainly an issue worth bearing in mind if you’re contemplating the purchase of a finca later in life. What would you do if you could no longer physically maintain it (or afford to have someone else do it)?

Selling a rural property to move back to your home country can be an expensive business – and we have known people who have returned to the UK and regretted the move. Reinvesting in another main residence in Spain leads to some relief on the capital gains tax resulting from the original property sale – in itself a good reason to stay in Spain.

Looking ahead

Financial matters aside, we love living on Mallorca and hope that – if and when the time comes – we shall find another home somewhere on the island where we will be as happy as we are here. It could be in Palma de Mallorca – the world’s best city in which to live – but something tells me that property prices in the heart of the capital could be set to soar.

Until then, we’re happy to live in rural Mallorca and visit Palma when we choose to. As much as we love the island’s vibrant and sophisticated capital, we always say that it’s easier to find some buzz and bustle when you live in the country than it is to find some peace and space living in a city . . .

Cat napping in the sun

A nap in perfect peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving to Mallorca? Prepare to have house guests!

Suitcase packed for holiday on Mallorca

“We’ve arrived!”

“Visitors and fish stink after three days.”  Those words were apparently spoken by the 18th-century American statesman Benjamin Franklin.  We’ve heard variations on that quote several times since we’ve lived on Mallorca, and some horror stories of house guests nobody should have to tolerate. Fortunately we’ve not had cause to use the phrase ourselves.

It’s a sure bet that if you move to Mallorca – or any other place where people like to holiday – your popularity will suddenly soar. In our first year here we had 11 lots of guests come to stay – and most of those would have experienced living with no usable electricity sockets and only the benefit of two hours’ lighting a night. Their curiosity about our new life satisfied, some of them haven’t returned!

As the years have passed, our visitor numbers have thankfully settled down to a more reasonable level. In that first summer, the guest room mattress barely had time to cool down between visitors and, although it was fun, hosting so many visitors was also more tiring than we could ever have imagined. With fewer people coming to stay these days we find ourselves looking forward more to our next visitors.

In less than four weeks we’ll be welcoming our first house guests of 2015: our great friends Duncan and Kristina. We know we’ll have a fun week, with lots of good food and excellent Mallorcan wines. Our only challenge will be fitting everything we’d like to do into our week together.

Here are a few tips – based on our experiences – about dealing with requests from people who want to come and stay:

  • If they haven’t been in touch with you for years, think carefully about their motives for wanting to visit. Cheap holiday? (Sounds suspicious, I know, but I do know someone who allowed an old out-of-touch friend to come and stay with her. The ‘friend’ used her place as a vacation station, disappearing out every day after breakfast and only reappearing at bedtime, and they spent barely any time together).
  • Keep a note of any visits on a chart – that way you can conveniently see what’s already scheduled when you receive a request.
  • Give yourself sufficient time between visits to deal with household, work, and personal matters. You’ll probably eat and drink more than usual when you have visitors, so your liver and waistline may appreciate some recovery time.
  • If you’ve not yet experienced the heat of August on Mallorca, think twice about accepting any bookings for  that month. August is for doing as little as possible!

From Mallorca to the UK . . .

Leaving the finca – for anything more than the occasional night away in a hotel on Mallorca – is not very practical. With eight cats – including our Birman, who lives indoors – we can’t just throw stuff into a bag and head off somewhere for a few days. It’s one of the reasons we haven’t had a proper holiday since we moved here, apart from a few days in Seville – when some kind, animal-loving friends looked after our brood a few years ago.

Hardly plane-sailing

So when my cousin’s husband died suddenly recently, I returned to the UK for the funeral alone, leaving The Boss in charge of everything at home. My blog was neglected as I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to find flights that were (a) into conveniently located airports, and (b) didn’t cost more than a week’s package holiday on Mallorca! Air links between Mallorca and the UK are woefully inadequate during the winter months, but things could improve next winter, as the Majorca Daily Bulletin has mounted quite a campaign  . . .

The disappearance of Shorty

Shorty relaxing in the largest plant pot in the garden.

Shorty relaxing in the largest plant pot in the garden.

To add to the stress of the past few weeks, Shorty – the ginger feral cat in our glaring – disappeared. He’s a very affectionate cat, who enjoys a cuddle. Or, more accurately, often demands one. He’s also very greedy and was never known to miss a meal.  When he didn’t turn up for breakfast one morning, it was strange enough. As the days passed, and my trip loomed, I began to fear the worst.

In the more densely populated UK, we would have wandered around the vicinity of our home, checking with neighbours that he hadn’t become shut in a shed or garage, or made himself at home with them. Here, where we are largely surrounded by fields, enclosed within dry-stone walls, looking for a missing cat is not so easy. We did, however, search the sides of the lanes to satisfy ourselves that he hadn’t been in a road accident.

Slimline cat returns

When I left Mallorca, The Boss promised to let me know immediately if Shorty returned, but there had been no news about him by the time I returned. But, to our great surprise and delight, the ginger one nonchalantly rocked up for breakfast on Wednesday this week – as though he’d never missed a meal.

Shorty had become somewhat barrel-like over the winter, because of his greed, and returned to us looking rather more streamlined. Where had he been? We’ll never know – but it could have been fat-cat boot camp . . .