Having bought your dream home in the sun your next major step is packing up your belongings and actually moving to Spain. The vast majority of ex-pats who buy in Spain are retired people who face the headache of sorting through a lifetime's possessions and deciding what they simply can't or won't do without in their new life. Younger people with fewer possessions and more of a taste for adventure might decide to hire a van and do the move themselves. This is easier than it used to be since customs clearance is no longer necessary in EU countries but it's still hard work and bear in mind that if you hire a van in your own country you're going to have deliver it back after the gruelling move.
Most people opt for a removal firm to take the stress of out of what is already a highly stressful experience in most cases. Prices and levels of service vary enormously so make sure you get at least three quotes from removal companies before you commit yourself. It's best to plump for a firm that specialises in removals to Spain and avoid the temptation to go for the cheapest quote because it doesn't always represent the best value for money. If you skimp on the removal costs you might find you end up with thousands of pounds worth of missing or damaged items. The better companies send a representative to your home to assess the goods to be moved before giving you a final quote.
It's vital to ensure your belongings with a reputable insurance company - don't go for the removal firm's in-house insurance scheme because they're more likely to argue the toss when it comes to a claim. It's a good idea to take photographs of your most valuable items and allow the removal firm to pack breakable goods (because if you've packed them yourself this may invalidate your insurance). Insurance premiums are normally around one to two per cent of the declared value of the goods being shipped, depending on the type of cover you choose.
A good removal company will be able to ship your load from the UK and other northern European countries within three days, giving you an exact arrival date. If you're not in a particular hurry to get the shipment sent, you can save money by sharing the removal truck with other customers (this can reduce your costs by as much as 50%). But make sure you agree a deadline so the delivery doesn't take months to arrive.
Weigh up the benefits of discarding or selling furniture and other bulky items before leaving and replacing them on your arrival in Spain. Many Spanish properties are sold either fully or part furnished because they're bought and sold among ex-pats who don't want to go to the trouble and expense of shipping heavy goods. Spain is awash with "muebles" shops selling good quality, reasonably priced furniture. And you can pick up some incredible bargains at house clearance sales organised by foreign owners selling up and moving back to their own country.