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The Spanish Digital Nomad Visa

 

What is the Spanish Digital Nomad Visa?

Recognising the significant rise in people's ability to work remotely, which was strengthened by the recent Covid pandemic, and a widespread desire to experience living in various locations, the Spanish government introduced at the end of 2022 a visa which would enable such people to reside temporarily in Spain. The government's motives were not altruistic. They were aware that such nomads are often highly paid professionals and Spain would benefit from both their spending power and their taxes. Spain is a very attractive location for people who are able to work remotely: the climate, excellent communications, fast internet speeds, low cost of living relative to most European countries, availability of coliving facilities and the friendliness of its people.

 

Who Is It Aimed At?

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The Spanish Golden Visa

 

What is the Spanish Golden Visa?

The Spanish Golden Visa is a residency-by-investment program that grants non-European Union (EU) citizens the right to reside in Spain by investing in the country's real estate market (or other qualifying assets). Established in 2013, this initiative has gained popularity among non-EU nationals looking to live permanently in Spain.

 

Investment Options

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¡Buen provecho!

 

¡Buen provecho! or ¡Que aproveche!, it is something Spanish people in their mid thirties and up (and almost certainly the more elderly Spaniards) may call out to you if you are ever found humbly sitting alone in an outside space having a bite to eat.

 

It is one of the things that I adore about living in Andalucia, Spain. I’m not sure that the younger generations would be caught saying this, but it is certainly something I have experienced countless times. It always puts a smile on my face and makes Andalucia feel like home to me. The openness of the people, the willingness to chat and the love for all things related to food…

 

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New Subsidies For Energy Saving Improvements

 

The Andalusian government has launched the so-called Ecovivienda Plan, which will mobilise €133.5 millions for the refurbishment of homes and buildings, with the emphasis on energy efficiency and sustainability. The programme, which includes funds from the European Next Generation programme aims to benefit more than 25,000 families in Andalucia with subsidies of up to 80% of the total cost of energy saving improvement. The higher the energy saving, the greater the percentage of subsidy. The overall aim is to reduce emissions in the Andalusian residential stock by 30%.

 

Various types of improvement will be covered by the scheme, for example: insulation in façades and roofs by installing new windows and doors, installing renewable energy systems such as photovoltaic panels, solar panels for hot water, aerothermal energy, biomass boilers or more efficient lighting systems.

 

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Jardín Cervezas Alhambra back in Granada with cultural events

 

From the 29th of September to the 23rd of October 2022, Jardín Cervezas Alhambra will be holding a range of cultural events at a unique temporary venue that Cervezas Alhambra, Granada’s local beer company, will be setting up to their taste. Having already visited five other major Spanish cities this year, Jardín Cervezas Alhambra finally arrives in Granada and they have chosen a stunning location to do so: the magical Jardín de Gomérez, a romantic and double-height garden set behind a palatial house built in the 16th century. 


While visiting with friends for an evening spent together in the gardens will be a unique and exciting experience in and of itself, there are also a range of events on during these four weeks: 


4 workshops held my local artists (each Friday at 19:00) - you need to sign up to the lottery system and if you are lucky, you will be chosen.

2 mid-week gastronomic lunch experiences with renowned chefs - information still to be released.

Beer tasting events with Beer sommeliers 5 days each week - 5 euros per person.

5 concerts (2 in the first week and 1 each week thereafter) - 7 euros with a beer included.


Apart from the programmed activities that require prior registration, the space will have free access until full capacity is reached.

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The Magic Of The Alpujarras

 

No trip to the province of Granada in Spain is complete without visiting the gorgeous mountain villages known collectively as The Alpujarras. In villages like Pampaneira and Capileira, you can buy handmade rugs and all sorts of woven goods, baskets, jewellery and typical food. 


One of my favourite things to do here is just wander around getting lost, trying to spot all of the gorgeous little corners bursting with potted plants and beautiful old wooden doors and imagine all the life, people and stories that these tucked away villages have witnessed over the past centuries. The place truly has an eerie, magical feel to it.


If the Alpujarras steals your heart like it has mine and you'd like to investigate further, we have a load of properties in that area.

Check out our website with just properties from this region: https://www.alpujarrasproperties.com/home/ 
or browse and search all our properties on our general website: https://www.anotherwayoflife.com 

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Out On The Water

 

Just twenty minutes drive from the Albayzin is the lake at Beznar formed when a dam was built across the rivers Torrente and Ízbor as well as several streams running down from the western end of the Sierra Nevada.

 

A great place to picnic with large expanses of grass and very few people. There is also a chiringuito (bar) that serves drinks and you can hire kayaks and pedalos from €10/hour for a kayak and €15/hour for a four person pedal. It's a wonderful feeling to be out on the water in such a quiet environment with fantastic mountain views, and so close to the city.

 

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University Entry In Spain - A Curious System

 

In Spain secondary school runs from 12 - 16 years old, four years split into two cycles of two years. After this students can either leave school or opt for one of two paths: academic (choosing between four bachilleratos: Sciences, Social Sciences, Humanities or Art) or practical (formación profesional) for a further two years. At the end of the this time, in the academic path, a series of external exams are taken (selectividad) which, together with the average of course work marks for the ten subjects studied, forms the basis for entry into university.

 

The curious element of this sytem is that it is based not as a percentage but as a mark out of fourteen, which is particularly strange given that the bachillerato course comprises ten subjects.

 

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The Most Beautiful District In Spain

 

The travel magazine Viajar has just published an article entitled The 15 Most Beautiful Districts of Spain.

 

At Number 1 is the Albayzin in Granada.

 

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World's Best Olive Oil?

The Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) 'Montevilla Chorreao' from the Granada municipality of Montefrío is the healthiest in the world for its composition in fatty acids, bisphenols and oleocanthal (a natural anti-inflammatory present in it that causes the sensation of itching in the throat when tasting it).

 

Or so the jury of the international competition The World Best Healthy EVOO 2021-2022 (The 10 Best EVOOs in the world), one of the most prestigious in the sector, in which EVOOs from all over the world participate, whose decision was recently announced.

 

Montevilla Chorreao oil, from the San Francisco de Asís de Montefrío cooperative, won the gold medal in the healthy composition category, along with others from Spain, Greece and Portugal.

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Back To Nature

Granada is one of the most beautiful cities in Andalusia. It combines a vibrant city full of life with astounding natural scenery of Sierra Nevada. It is one of the favourite places for expats looking for a property in the South of Spain to retire or to work remotely. However, even though the cultural heritage in the city is extremely well preserved, some of its urban natural resources have not been so well taken care of. This is the case of its principal river, the Genil.

 
Rather than being an oasis for natural life within the city, the Genil has been neglected by the local government since 1995, when the urban watercourse was concreted and contained to modify its course as part of the city's efforts to prepare for the World Ski Championships that took place in Sierra Nevada that year. This resulted in a functional but hardly natural environment, that lacked vegetation and animal life, since the concrete riverbed affected the natural flow of the river, resulting in a slower flow and a less interesting environment.
 
While the Darro river, Genil's affluent, beautifully flows through its natural course below the Alhambra and is one of the city landmarks, the city has turned its back on the Genil for decades, something that looks about to change thanks to the will of both political and naturalist groups, as well as the help of European Next Generation funds.
 
There have been several attempts to recover the river's natural biodiversity for the enjoyment of both locals and tourists. However, none of them have been successful to date. Just two years after being modified and covered in concrete, in 1997 NGO Naturalistas en Acción started campaigning for its recovery, and since then, several local policy groups and associations have presented up to four different plans to bring the Genil's urban riverbed back to life.
 
The most recent initiative, promoted by a coalition of two of the parties in the local government in Granada, suggests investing Europe's Next Generation Funds to finally accomplish the recovery of the river. The plan involves the introduction of local species of flora such as bushes and grasses that can take root in the riverbed and, over time, attract the fauna typical of these environments (lizards, fish, frogs…). To this end, the ecologists are calling for the removal of concrete where possible, or the introduction of stones and other rough materials to restore the river bed and allow vegetation to take root.
 
This project is of vital importance for the city of Granada, because recovering natural resources not only has ecological benefit, also economic ones. With the improvement in the natural surroundings, the urban environment also benefits from this, attracting more neighbours and visitors to the area and improving the quality of life for the locals who prefer to live in the city and not in a country house, but still enjoy nature. A very good example of this is Madrid, a capital that in the last decade dedicated a lot of effort to the recovery of the Manzanares river and is now seeing the investment pay off, with Madrid Río blooming with life both from local fauna and local citizens. The people of Granada now aspire to do the same with the Genil and pay their decades-long debt with their river. 

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Losing Our Way?

One of the benefits of owning a property in Andalucía is enjoying the astoundingly vast and beautiful natural surroundings. From the seaside to the mountains, one can choose from such a vast collection of different routes and paths that getting lost in nature every so often becomes part of normal life. Often we come across new wonders by accident, but are the days of such accidental discoveries over?

 

While our parents and grandparents used to tackle excursions with nothing more than a map and their intuition, we have become increasingly more dependent on new technologies to do something so simple as getting from A to B. The arrival of GPS drastically changed the way we navigate the world, both figuratively and literally. In fact, scientists are now arguing that the excessive use of GPS is actually modifying our brain structure, making our hippocampus, the special place in the brain dedicated to special orientation, much smaller. Consequently, we are losing our natural orientation skills. When we force our brain to calibrate, identify landmarks and find our path, it expands its network of neurons and promotes connections between them. However, when we look at our GPS and just follow directions on Google Maps, the brain does not need to form those connections, and thus it loses its ability to form them in the future.

 

Spatial orientation, an intrinsic human ability that has allowed us to evolve over the years, is now in serious danger. It is a vicious circle: the more we use GPS, the more we damage our sense of direction, and the more we need to use it.

 

But it is not only our spatial ability that can be affected by the modern habit of following GPS directions. Because the hippocampus is also responsible for storing our memories, not training it properly can also lead to memory loss and an impairment of our mental abilities later in life. The brain, just like any other muscle in the body, needs to be trained periodically, and Google Maps is the equivalent of taking an elevator instead of using the stairs: convenient but not too good for our overall health.

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Escape To The Country, A Dream Come True

 

Think about how many times you have found yourself daydreaming about leaving everything behind and starting a new life elsewhere. Somewhere far away from the hectic city life, where you could swap big supermarket chains for local farmers markets where fresh produce went directly from the land to your table. Where, even during the peak of the pandemic and full lockdown, you could have still enjoyed sunlight and fresh air on your face without risk of catching Covid. Or whatever the next pandemic brings. Instead of living in a cramped house under grey skies in Northern Europe, you could enjoy a beautiful country property in Andalucia with a garden, a pool, and breathtaking views.

The pandemic has forced us to rethink our lives and has reminded us that we are not chained to our office chairs. Indeed, people with administrative and creative jobs can almost certainly continue carrying on working from anywhere in the world. So, why put up with insane housing costs, an unhealthy lifestyle of commuting, pollution and stress when you could be living your best life in the countryside? That is no longer a hypothetical question, you can move to the countryside now and start enjoying the slow life amongst friends.

It is no secret that Spain is Europe’s little gem. More than 2,500 hours of sunlight per year, an amazing gastronomic offer and a very reasonable cost of living make it a coveted destination for people all over the world. Flexible working practices and tele-working have blossomed as unexpected perks of the covid pandemic. Many villages and towns in the south of Spain are seeing how professionals from all around the world choose to start a new life “made in Spain”

The former depopulation of the rural areas of Spain has halted and is being reversed. Even whole villages, practically deserted since the mid-1950s due to the exodus towards the cities, are being bought, optic fibre connections installed and the buildings renovated, creating whole new communities. Peaceful surroundings, affordable properties and an infinitely lower cost of living are only some of the perks. The open, approachable character of Andalusian people, along with a great quality of life are among the main reasons that make professional expats choose Andalucia as a home away from home.

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How Much Cash Can I Legally Carry?

 

We are often asked this question by clients intending to buy property in Andalucia. Very often it is because they have been asked to pay for "furniture" separately from the purchase of property and to do so in cash.

Firstly let's deal with how much cash you can bring into the country. Law 10/2010, of 28th April, on the prevention of money laundering and the financing of terrorism limits the maximum amount of euros or equivalent in other currencies to €10.000 per person. Beyond this level each individual must make a declaration on entering or leaving. Obviously, if someone leaves with more than they enter, the supposition is that they must have earned/gained it while in the country, for which reason they may be liable to tax.

Secondly, within the territory of Spain there is a limit of €100.000 that may be moved in cash without need of declaring it.

Thirdly, in all transactions involving a professional (retailer, accountant, plumber etc.) there is a limit of €1.000 that may be paid in cash. This was established in Law 11/2021 of 9 July. Above this level, a bank transfer or credit card payment is necessary.

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New High Speed Train Service Granada - Malaga

 

The Spanish long distance railroad network is known for its reliability and safety. Spaniards have embraced the train as one of the fastest and more convenient ways to move around the country. For Andalucía, the train is a vital infrastructure to ensure not only good connections with Madrid and Barcelona, the key business nodes in Spain, but also between the eight Andalusian provinces. Andalusia is the second biggest region in Spain by area. With 87,5 km2 and eight provinces, it has the largest population of any region in Spain, and thus it relies heavily on a strong train network.   

The first high velocity train route in Spain ran between Madrid and Seville. The AVE (which stands for Alta Velocidad Española, Spanish High-Velocity) was inaugurated shortly before the 1992 World Expo, held in Seville, Andalusia’s capital. It was a huge milestone for a country that was just recovering from an economic crisis, and wanted to show the world that it could get up to speed – both literally and figuratively. The route Madrid-Seville quickly became very popular and has already reached the milestone of 83 million passengers. 

Since then, Spain has been expanding its high-speed network which now extends to more than 4.300 kms, with a further 1.380 kms under construction, including seven routes in Andalucía. This positions Spain as the second country in the world in terms of a high-velocity train network. Only China has a more extensive network. 

There is another very popular train service in Spain, the AVANT, which is particularly useful for Andalusians. These trains, which are not as quick as the AVE but reach higher speeds than conventional trains, cover medium distances and Spaniards mainly use them for trips between neighbouring autonomous communities, or to travel to other provinces within the same region. 

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Let's talk tapas

Everybody has heard of tapas bars, most of us have eaten in them, they’re ubiquitous in many European countries. But what exactly is tapas? And where does it come from? 

According to the Real Academia Española, voice of authority on the Spanish language, a tapa, in this context, is a small portion of food served as an accompaniment to a drink, usually alcoholic, such as wine or beer. But where does the custom come from?

The origin is debatable. There are many versions as to how the custom started. Let’s look at a few of them. Before we do though, we should examine the meaning of the word tapa

 tapa = a cover (tapas is the plural)

tapar = to cover

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Covid Update Spain and Andalucia

 According to recent press reports, by December 23, 202,  85% of the population of Granada province, excluding the under 5's and the  5 - 11 age group whose vaccination programme started in early December, have now received a double dose of vaccine. 

Interestingly, since December 10, 2021 when the Junta de Andalucia announced that a double vaccine passport would be required for entry into bars, restaurants and other indoor events, 7.300 more people have received a first vaccination. Far more effective than compulsory vaccination, which is controversial and risks resistance, is to restrict entry to the pub! There has been little negative public reaction to the measure.

The lack of public resistance to vaccination, together with the continued compulsory wearing of masks in any indoor situation, has so far prevented Spain's health system from suffering an overload to the same degree as many other countries. Although mask wearing in the street has not been obligatory since July 2021, anecdotally around 80% of people in the cities have continued to do so. And, although outdoor sporting events have taken place without restriction in numbers, it has been compulsory to wear a mask throughout the game.  

The Ministry of Health announced today, December 29, 2021, a reduction of the period of isolation for those who have been in contact with a person who has tested positive, from 10 days to 7 days. There is pressure from the autonomous regions to reduce this to 5 days as, nationwide, 90% of all Spanish residents have now been double vaccinated and 80% of those over 80 have received a booster dose. Currently anyone over 58 can receive a booster, often at walk-in clinics with no appointment necessary.

As of today's date, nationally 1 in every 12 hospital beds is occupied with a covid patient. Here in Andalucia it is 1 in every 16.

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The Art of Cobblestones

 

 Andalusia, and Granada province in particular, is well known for its beautiful dark grey and white cobblestone patios and squares. It is an age-old custom that can still be appreciated today walking through the streets of many of the towns and cities of Andalusia.

It is rewarding to see that the tradition still lives on. Public squares are often revived and rebuilt in this traditional way using designs that haven't changed for centuries or new designs from the fertile minds of master stone layers. The desire for such traditional paving is not restricted to public spaces. Proud owners of carmens and new houses sometimes incur the expense of laying out their patio in thsi way. One of our new properties, currently under construction, had a new cobblestone patio laid down this past week. 

Speaking to the men laying the stones we were told that the white stones are sourced from rivers and the flat black or dark grey stones are from the beach. These darker stones are more difficult to obtain as there are now restrictions on the quantity that can be "harvested". The extent to which this type of work is still appreciated today is evidenced by the fact that their company only does this type of work and there is no shortage of clients. They travel all over Andalusia, and even outside Spain, to perform this skilful task.

There is a great varietyof design. In Granada it is common to see the shapes of pomegranates (the fruit from which Granada derives its name: granado in Spanish), leaves and flowers inlaid into the pavement, although there is really no limit to the plethora of geometric shapes, animals and objects that can be found.

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Winter in Granada

 

Here in Granada we live a privileged lifestyle. Hot summers, cold winters, with sunshine for over 300 days. The photos above were taken on December 4, 2021 and, as you can see, all ages could enjoy bright sunshine while eating on restaurant and cafe terraces.

The photo on the left was taken in the Plaza de la Romanilla, near the Federico Garcia Lorca centre and the one on the right in Calle Nevot, behind the City Hall and one of the most popular streets with residents and tourists alike to have lunch or dinner. At week-ends Calle Nevot is thronged with people at all times of the year.

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Leave Your Shoes At The Door

I have always admired the Japanese practice of removing shoes on entering a house and leaving them in the vestibule, usually in a cupboard designed especially for that purpose. I have never, however, seen anybody remove their high heels before entering a church with a cold stone floor. The owner of the red shoes in the photo even took car to place them on newspaper!

Seen in Calle San José, Albayzin, Granada, on December 20, 2021

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