Lucas Fox’s Rachel Haslam talks to us about relocating to the vibrant town of Sitges
TS: What made you decide to relocate to Sitges?
RH: I came to Sitges in 2002 after living in Singapore for seven years. I used to come to Spain in the summers and on one visit to Barcelona I went to Sitges for the day and loved it. People were very open and friendly, the town is very appealing with its pretty white washed houses, and of course the beaches are great!
TS: What can you expect from the buying process?
RH: I bought my first place on a whim (on a 2 week holiday). I remember using up my whole cheque book writing cash cheques to a dodgy agent! These days I’d recommend you go with someone much more reputable who can hold your hand through the process, help you decide where you want to buy and advise on the stuff that most matters to you. E.g. is it quiet or lively, are there good public transport links or good schools in the neighbourhood.
TS: Why did you decide to renovate, rather than buying somewhere ready to move into?
RH: I have very clear ideas about what I like and have very rarely found a property that I could live in without adapting it to my own style. Being able to work from a blank canvas means you’ll end up with what you really want rather than adapting to someone else’s aesthetic. However, it’s not for everyone and it can be time consuming and stressful.
TS: What are the pros and cons of renovating?
RH: Transmitting your ideas to an architect and builder. Rarely do things turn out exactly as you envision, but sometimes they are much better. I am creative and like to make things up and adapt things as I go along so it requires a very patient builder or architect!
TS: What advice would you give to someone considering moving to Sitges?
RH: Get to know the different areas and price ranges a bit better. A lot of enquirers have unrealistic expectations of what their money will buy in Sitges. There is limited land on the coast so sea views are very expensive. Also having a sea view normally entails living on a steep hill which has its drawbacks such as limited outside space and a car journey to the town centre or beach.
TS: Is it better for families, young couples, singles?
RH: Sitges is a place that really does work for everyone: young international families, retired couples, gay couples, singles etc. This is one of its great qualities, it’s very open and inclusive.
TS: What are your top tips for people once they arrive?
RH: I love Cinnamon Restaurant and often take my clients there. It is inexpensive and has delicious Asian cuisine. For a drink I go to the Vivero Club overlooking the sea. It is a great place to watch the sun go down. For a family day out Barcelona is only a short drive away and my kids love going to the science museum at Cosmo Caixa. Nothing beats rollerblading or wave boarding (my kids not me!) on the Paseo Marítimo.
TS: As a Mum, what would you say are the benefits of bringing up children here?
RH: The weather is beautiful, it’s a very safe environment and there are lots of international families living here so it’s easy to integrate.
TS: How have you found the language especially in terms of both Spanish and Catalan being spoken?
RH: If you speak Spanish it is not too difficult to understand Catalan. Apart from the very hard core “independentistas” most people you come across are equally happy to communicate in Spanish.
TS: If you learned one key lesson from the relocation experience to share with others, what would it be?
RH: If you have a good feeling about the place and the people go for it (but maybe not with a 5 week old baby!).