Saturday 3 December 2022

My life in 2022 (about money)

I was shocked when I realised that my last post here was over a year ago, in August 2021. So it is time to do a little catching up.

I really enjoy telling you about my life in Spain... in Catalunya and in Lanzarote. It has been one huge adventure, especially in Lanzarote with my battle over the first house that I wanted to buy.

In my last post, I described a Conciliation held at the Law Courts between me, Pablo the owner and the estate agent. But I never wrote about the result.

At the last moment, Pablo the owner paid the €2,500 to the estate agent and the meeting was therefore cancelled. I could have taken this as an admission of responsibility. I actually sent him a WhatsApp message to thank him for paying the money; it was a big relief for me. He replied that he had done me a favour! I mentioned the €7000 again but I knew in my heart that I would be saying goodbye to that. I really didn't want to pursue this any further - I had found a better flat to buy, so in the long term, I had gained. In a way, the €2,500 claim against me and Pablo caused me more sleepless nights than the €7000 which I could have switched off at any time. Which is exactly what I did. 

And that is the last I heard of the story. I don't even know if the neighbours who built on the roof were fined. It is a shame that they suffered but I am sure I would have been paying the estate agent too if I had not alerted the Town Hall.

Often I think about these events (with pleasure but with a kind of thrill). I took a big risk. And that was despite losing a huge sum of money (and my mental health for a while) over the house which I bought in Celrà. I put myself under pressure to buy a place here in Arrecife. And many parts of the city (and it had to be Arrecife) were out of the question, for example Argana Alta, which is a long way from the centre. The coronavirus pandemic was under way and I felt that I could not simply go back to Catalunya without buying a place; travelling was complicated. This was my only opportunity. I felt rather stranded! So I was in rather a "gung-ho" mood (dangerous) and decided on the first house despite the electricity and water not being fitted. I was lucky to escape. Maybe Pablo would not have been able to complete it by the time of signing the compraventa with the notario, so maybe I would have escaped anyway.

After the Conciliation, I returned to Girona but only for a short while. I spent most of last winter (2021-22) in Lanzarote and returned to Catalunya at the end of May.

I have to admit, I don't do very much when I'm in Lanzarote. I enjoy the sun, the beach, I go swimming. I take excursions to other parts of the island by bus (guagua it is called here). I have been to Tenerife twice, to Puerto de la Cruz. It is quick and cheap on Binter with their ATR-72 turboprops.

I got involved with the Anglican Church in Lanzarote and attended services there. But this year it all turned a little bit sour (which obviously I can't write about here). And I no longer attend church there.

At the start of 2021, I finally cut one important financial tie with the UK - I cashed a savings bond which I had held for many years going back to 1990. The company paid me free of tax because I no longer pay tax in the UK and I then expected to pay tax in Spain in May 2022. But there seemed to be confusion among my advisors whether this was a capital gain or considered as income. That latter would have cost me much more. I visited the tax office in Arrecife and the man there actually wrote "Renta Patrimonial" on my document meaning capital gain. In May, much to my pleasure, I completed my first tax return online in Spain. Previously it had been done by my accountant in Girona. At the end of June and on November 6th 2022, the Tax Office sucked the tax out of my bank account. I hope I did everything correctly. The amount of tax I paid was what I was expecting. Next May in 2023, things will be much simpler because I will just be paying tax on my pensions which don't change much from year to year. But the State Pension is due to rise by 10%, which is a lot. This is thanks to the controversial Triple-Lock in the UK and to the huge increase in the cost of living index (RPI).

In 2022, Barclays Bank in the UK, finally told me they were closing my account. This is as a result of Brexit and Passporting rules between the UK and the EU. I have three private pensions (I know it sounds a lot but it's not big money) and they were paid (in Sterling) to Barclays. But I have an account at Wise with an account in Sterling. It is actually a Barclays account with a UK sort-code. What could be simpler than asking the pension companies to switch to paying Wise? Two of the three, both large well-established companies changed over without problems. But the third (I won't mention their name because they have now acquiesced) argued and argued for ever. I have a mountain of letters between us because they did not have secure mail online. They were happy to pay the money to my Spanish bank for a fee of £50 with, of course, my having no control over the exchange rate. Sure they were!

In the end, they sent a ludicrous request for my passport (the original or a certified copy), a utility bill and my Wise account (which conveniently showed payments from the other two pension companies!) Did they not know who I was?

I suspected this was to save loss of face because their reasons for not paying Wise were ridiculous, quoting the UK financial protection service (FSCS). They were effectively deciding how I should protect my money.  On 14th October, the money arrived in my Sterling account in Wise. (Hard-fought) battle won!

The next post (very soon) will be more colourful with lots of photos. This post is all rather dry... all about money! But I just wanted you to know that I'm still alive and enjoying life!

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