Expats decide to move back to the UK for many reasons. Some may never have really settled in Spain, others want to be closer to their family, especially the grandchildren, and it is quite common for health reasons to feature in the decision. Whatever the reason, this process can be quite daunting, so here are a few ideas to make the process easier.
Look for a reliable removal company. You can use a British company or a Spanish one, but in either case make sure they are members of a trade association - in the UK this is BAR (British Association of Removers), and they should be a member of BAR Overseas if moving people to and from foreign countries. In Spain, you are looking for a member of IAM (International Association of Movers) or FEDEM (Federation Española de Empresas de Mundanzas). If you are selling your property to British purchasers, you might be able to arrange to use the same removal company as them, so that their belongings are brought to Spain and yours are taken back to Britain on the same lorry. This is both convenient and will cut costs for both parties.
Both UK and Spanish removal firms will pack for you at an extra cost and both will charge you for insurance. You could check with your own insurance company to see if they will cover the move at a more competitive price.
Should you take back everything? Whenever we move, it is hard to decide what to take and what to leave behind, and this goes double if you are moving from one country to another. You probably divested yourselves of many items when you came to live in Spain and now you will probably need to do the same. Flatpack furniture rarely travels well, so consider leaving that and buying new in the UK. You can use all white goods in both countries, but remember you will need to change all the plugs to 3 pin UK standard ones. Fridges and fridge/freezers are not usually happy being moved unless kept rigid and upright. Even then, the shaking of the lorry can shorten their life, so it still might be better to leave your fridge in Spain.
Homes in the UK are very different from those in Spain, usually carpeted with heavy curtains. Look at your soft furnishings carefully, and think about whether they will fit into an English house or flat. You will no doubt have collected lots of things during your time in Spain some of which you hold dear and will want to take with you, but let the others go - the cost of removals is based on the cubic meterage, so the more you take, the more expensive it will be.
How do you get rid of things before you leave? There are many channels open to you. Books in English are always welcome to other expats, so offer them to expat association members or hold a “book morning” and invite people round to take what they want. You could of course ask a small amount per book. Car boot sales or street markets are places where you can have a stand with your unwanted items for sale and you will find several most weekends in your area. Why not hold a “garage sale” and let people know about it through Facebook or other social network sites?
Online sites such as www.ebay.es or www.segundomano.es are good for larger items, as is an app called wallapop where you can advertise things to an audience in your local area; this app is very popular in Spain.
Clothes and unsold items will be welcomed by charitable organisations such as Caritas. They will sell them in their “shops” and the money will go to help people in need. Clothes, shoes and bags not good enough to sell can be put in the clothing bins which are placed in every town in Spain. These too, will help charities.
Plants will be better off staying behind as the climate is very different from the UK, but if you have really nice planters and pots, they can still be taken on the lorry as a pleasant reminder of your time spent in Spain.