In choosing an area of Spain to relocate to, we had some must-haves and some would-be-nice-to-haves. Pretty soon it became clear that everything on the would-be-nice-to-have list was as standard as the sunshine, so our list quickly became quite specific.
In the country but close to town
Within an hour of an airport with flights to south west England
Outside space more important than inside space
Good hiking potential nearby
Good for growing fruit & vegetables
Some seasonal change, but mainly warm and dry
Before we ever looked at any properties in person, we discounted the area around my beloved Andalucía because property was, in general, more expensive and you got less outside space for your money than in other areas. And so we turned to the Mediterranean east coast. An early contender was the beautiful countryside around Zaragoza ... until we found out that flight connections were not straightforward and - even worse! - there is quite a bit of rain annually and snow is not rare in winter. We also - very briefly - considered the area around Barcelona. But one thing we were sure of is we didn't want to move somewhere else that was inclined to be separatist, so that ruled Catalunya (and it's capital city, Barcelona) out.
In the first property viewing trip I came by myself and focused on the area within an hour of Alicante airport and the area within an hour of Valencia airport. I admit I fell in love with Valencia as a city. Beautiful architecture, great food and such friendly people. Not to mention the orange trees just growing away absolutely everywhere.
I spent a very pleasant couple of mornings looking around the towns of Montserrat and Montroi, about a half hour from Valencia city.
And, above all other things, what struck me was the gorgeousness of the entranceways to the buildings. All of them. Imposing wooden doors, front steps of marble or other decorative stone, exquisitely painted tiling all around, occasional intricate little balconies over the top. This is but a small sample of the door photos I took that day in Montserrat.
Although over 2 days I spent in the area the estate agent I had chosen showed me more than 10 properties, I realised the area would not give us one of the very important items on our must-have list: great outside space. This trip crystallised what that meant to us - no neighbours. Well, no neighbours within annoying-barking-dog distance, anyway.
So we turned our attention to the Alicante area, and that's where we eventually ended up.