Home News I Bought a Second Home Near Barcelona, Spain. Here’s How I Did It.

I Bought a Second Home Near Barcelona, Spain. Here’s How I Did It.

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  • Michael Stephen Grant and his partner have purchased another house in Sitges, a town near Barcelona, ​​Spain.
  • The couple still live in the United States and are able to visit for long periods due to remote work.
  • Grant, who plans to retire in Spain, shares his advice on buying a home abroad.

This candid essay is based on a conversation with Michael Stephen Grant about his decision to purchase a second property in Sitges, Spain. Grant has been involved in nonprofit fundraising and in July began working for VistaFutura, a company that helps Americans buy and maintain real estate in Spain. Grant declined to name his partner, citing his professional privacy reasons. Conversations have been edited for length and clarity.

After years on the West Coast, I’m back in Manhattan on the East Coast. Eight or nine years ago. A year ago my partner and I were thinking about where we would like to buy a second location in hopes of retiring and living full time in the future.

I’ve lived in California, Hawaii, etc. before, but couldn’t put my finger anywhere in the US. You may.

settled in Sitges

We decided to look for something close to the big city but more like a beach resort within about 30 minutes drive of Barcelona. I did some research remotely and visited Sitges quite often.

Sitges is a very European beach town just three blocks from the Mediterranean Sea. Apartments there are half the price of Manhattan and double the value.

Michael Stephen Grant on the beach in Sitges

Michael Stephen Grant

Last September we flew to Barcelona and drove 30 minutes to Sitges. We stayed for about 2 weeks, mainly for vacation but also to look into properties for purchase.

We looked at a lot of places but didn’t do anything – such as making an offer to a place that spurred the moment.

I had a fixed budget in mind because I still have a place in Manhattan with a mortgage.

As for the budget, we wanted to keep it below $500,000, which was about €300,000 at the time.

At our price point, it was a pretty tight list of what we could see.

We also opened a Spanish bank account in Santander. The process took an entire afternoon and had to be accompanied by a lawyer. As opposed to opening a bank account in New Jersey or New York, it’s quite a hassle.

Back in New York, I was looking at places mostly online. It’s up to you, the buyer, to do the research. It’s like Manhattan. If you really want something, you can find it yourself. It’s all out there, so realtors will try to sell you what’s on their list, which may not always fit in your budget.

We returned to Spain in March of this year and looked at 10+ places and didn’t like any of them. Then I found another listing called Idealista from this popular listing service. And we arranged to see the apartment with a lawyer.

The most advantageous thing was that we had a lawyer with us who could handle all the documents and everything. He handled all the conversations and negotiations with the older lady who was really selling it.

Overseas purchase logistics

We were probably one of the first. of First — show the apartment. I wanted to buy at the list price, so there was no round trip negotiation. We took everything as is.

She just renovated the whole place. Located on the 2nd floor of a 4 story walkup. 2 units per floor. Really good. The apartment faces the back, so you don’t have to worry about street noise.

Cityscape of Sitges, Spain.

Sitges roof.

Jordi Anglil/Getty Images

The next day our lawyer met her and us and our banker in a neutral office to do all the paperwork. I got a mortgage from the bank I opened an account with. Our lawyer helped us through it.

Some believe that it is not possible to take out a mortgage from a bank account in another country. I got a mortgage there for about half the value of the apartment. We invested in the apartment for much less than our $500,000 budget (his €235,000, which at the time was just under $250,000).

We will keep this place for several years until we finally move there. And of course I might buy another one. We do it quarterly for a few weeks and every three months.

patience is the key

There is no heating in the apartments and houses there. On a winter night he might be 60 or he might be 50. During the summer we run a small air conditioner in the living room. Electricity bills are not high.

In Sitges and Barcelona, ​​business is conducted in a very personal, one-to-one manner. Of course, some things, like payments and deposits, are done electronically, but many things were done in a way that would have been done 40 or 50 years ago. is needed. So there are a lot of small details that I would never have been able to do on my own.

I think for many Americans, we have to be very patient. Yes, different countries, different languages, different banks, different real estate.

As long as you’re patient and say, “Okay, I’m going to the bank. This will take a couple of hours,” and accept that, it may have lunch, drinks, a nap, and that’s all it can do for the day. I feel sick when I try to finish certain things too quickly.

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