Wednesday, 21st August 2019
IN MY OPINION Article
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This Month's Magazine
Stop being taken for a ride!

Stop being taken for a ride!

It is up to us to keep the Costa clear of chancers!

by Edwin L. F. Gladstone

The other day, while shopping, I came across a business card advertising riding lessons at €20 for 40 minutes. No address, just a mobile phone number, so I thought I’d follow this up and enquire.

It transpires that the advertiser is not registered with the Spanish Federation, nor with the British Horse Society, nor any other official body and his only qualification would appear to be his own verbal account of his riding experience. Such a person would not be allowed to teach in England, so what makes him think he can here? Perhaps the fact that nobody bothers to check until someone complains?

The location would seem to be in the middle of nowhere, in the campo, and the only practice ring is an open air corral. Although children are provided with hats, small ponies are not available and, in my opinion, the horses on offer are far too big for young kids. I believe there is no insurance cover for the business other than the signing of a form releasing the teacher from all responsibilities in case of accident, which, by the way, is illegal without proper insurance cover. No consideration seems to be given to the fact that even the horses have to be trained for teaching otherwise it could be quite dangerous to put a child on them. Horse riding is a dangerous sport and it is essential it should be taught by professionals who know what they do and can prove it.

These lessons may be a few Euros cheaper than other riding schools but then these other schools are paying for registrations, for professional qualified teachers, for the right premises, insurance and the rest; in fact they are cheap at the price, considering what they have to pay for to provide a safe and professional service. Rreally that €20 compared to a professional school is very expensive for the little that is on offer.

I have taken this only as an example to illustrate the typical problem that has been plaguing the Ccosta del Sol in all walks of life. Cheaper is actually much too expensive when you consider what you really get for the price.

People come to the Costa with the idea of starting a new life in Spain. The climate is great, the food is great, the drink and cigarettes are cheap and the natives are friendly. So, why not? There is nothing wrong with making that radical change, I did it 17 years ago, however I do believe there is a radical difference between people like myself and those who come over thinking they are going to live the “Life of Rriley” with the few pounds they might have in their pocket. For a start, I never expected I was owed a living.

I was not fooled by the fact that English is widely spoken, I realized was moving to a foreign country with its own language, laws and customs to which I had to adapt, so the first thing I did was to register as a “resident”, then, before starting business and while learning Spanish and studying the market, I registered for I.V.A., taxes and Social Security. Well if you are going to eradicate yourself and emmigrate with your family, you have to do it properly and responsibly. Don’t you? 


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The Costa is not la Côte d’Azur by any means, it will never be, and I do not understand why so many come here thinking it’s a cheaper version of it as well as a British colony. They come over with a completely wrong idea in their mind, believing that they have made it and can now live like film stars with the few pounds they raised from their mortgage or the sale of their home in UK.

Unfortunately, when their money starts to run out, which it always does, they are faced with making a choice between going back and finding a way to earn some money. This is when they re-invent themselves. Do you ever watch the program on BBC 2 “A place in the sun”? In every instance, without fail, the candidates try to start a business, invest their few pounds in a venture they usually know little about and then say “now we need some clients urgently to get money in or else...”

The Costa del Sol is a holiday location where everyone is welcome and if you have enough capital or a large enough pension or regular income, it is a fantastic place where to retire or have a second home. But Ii am afraid this does not apply to those who need to generate an income on the Ccosta.
Thankfully the Ccosta is getting cleaned up because of the crisis and many failures have and are returning back home. Iit is now up to us the remaining residents, workers and business owners to make sure that it stays that way. Ddo not be fooled by cheap prices which in reality can be far more expensive than the right product or service.

In my opinion, every body is always welcome to holidaying on the Costa del Sol, but if you do not have capital or a ready income, before you decide to move and make a living here because someone else you know is doing it, do your homework.

  1. Don’t become a cowboy. Do not attempt to do something you know little or nothing about.
  2. Make your research and ensure there is or will be ample demand for what you propose.
  3. Register with the Authorities not just as a business but also with any official body if you are a professional. (Doctors, lawyers, dentists, etc. Must do so by law).
  4. Remember you are in Spain you have to speak and write Spanish with all official bodies.
  5. Most importantly make sure you have enough capital for the business and for you to survive while the business is building up. Work, work, work is the order of the day; it usually takes a while before you see the rewards.

Work is the common denominator for succeeding on the Costa and if you do find a job do not even attempt to compare the wages with the UK.

If you want to start your own business, first make sure that you choose doing something you have experience in and then research the market to see if the proposed services or products are in fact useful and there is demand for it. It does not follow that you should copy what someone else is already doing, just because they make a living at it. Apart from the fact that you have to be good at what you do, the market is very small and limited and the more people do the same the less of a living everyone can make, including yourself.



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