Skip to content

personal: places lived 13

places lived, Spain, El Pedroso, 2021 to present, España

When I wrote this series of posts last year, I never dreamed another entry would be needed so soon! Such is life. A friend & I began househunting online during the height of the pandemic, mainly as a way to pass time. So without trying, we learned a lot about the real estate market in Spain. When our landlady decided not to renew our lease for 2021, I put all that research to work & became a first-time property owner.

El Pedroso, España

places lived, Spain, El Pedroso, 2021 to present, España

Over the course of five years, Rafa & I had turned our Sevilla apartment into a cozy home. We even grew to love our neighborhood of El Porvenir & got along well with everyone in our building —no small accomplishment. During the pandemic, ultra-right neighbors made their political feelings evident, & we toyed with the idea of searching for a new apartment in a different part of the city. No rush, or so we thought.

In December 2020 with Christmas festivities in full swing, our landlady advised that she wouldn’t be renewing our lease. Complete shock to us & incredibly poor timing on her part. Evidently as a retiree, she’d be eligible for a huge reduction in property tax when selling the apartment in the future… provided it was her primary residence for three years prior to the sale. So Esther wanted to move back in. Fine, the property belongs to her. But eight months notice gave us more time to worry & put a big damper on the season.

The search begins

January is the worst time to find apartments in Sevilla. Pickings are slim & prices high. As another alternative, Rafa & I decided to look for a place to buy. Property values had not decreased during the pandemic as many predicted, but they hadn’t risen much either (about 2% compared to 5% pre-pandemic). Real estate in Sevilla is not as expensive as Madrid or Barcelona, however most places were out of our budget… especially with Rafa just beginning to resume tours & me not working at all.

places lived, Spain, El Pedroso, 2021 to present, España
● El Pedroso, Sierra Morena/Sierra Norte de Sevilla

Rafa took a break from the stress & visited a small town about 1 hour north of Sevilla with lots of outdoor hiking options: El Pedroso. As he walked around town, he sent back photos of houses with For Sale signs. Neither of us had considered the Sierra Morena, so I got on the internet to have a look. Affordable prices, only 2,000 people in town, train & bus connections to Sevilla, & better weather. More important, a town we could visit in person given COVID travel restrictions. We planned to rent a car to see properties in Higuera de la Sierra, Aracena, even Cumbres Mayores… but until the number of COVID cases dropped, we couldn’t go to the adjacent province.

places lived, Spain, El Pedroso, 2021 to present, España

Long story short: Rafa & I visited only two places in El Pedroso but kept thinking about the first one. Got it right the first time. We didn’t even bother with those other towns due to cost & transportation issues. As you can see from Rafa’s sketch above, there’s very little regular about our place on an almost V-shaped lot… one of its main charms.

Built in 2007 from part of a 1967 house, the previous owners took immaculate care of the property. Half is a two-storey house, the other half is a split-level patio & both have a very Andalusian, rural vibe. At 118 square meters (1,270 sq ft) with 1.5 baths, the house isn’t huge but just right for the two of us. The back patio adds another 48 square meters (516 sq ft) to the property.

places lived, Spain, El Pedroso, 2021 to present, España
● The property as advertised. Owners inherited items from both families, so the house had been packed full.

At first I had difficulty envisioning the house with our belongings inside or seeing it with our choice of paint. But we dove in… negotiated the price, signed a contract of intent to buy, issued a check & dealt with the notary. The entire process had stressful moments, but overall everything proceeded as planned. Rafa & I became homeowners on Pride Day, with movers taking our stuff from Sevilla two weeks later!

places lived, Spain, El Pedroso, 2021 to present, España

We’ve spent the past few months cleaning, assembling, drilling, painting, designing, ordering things we forgot we needed on Amazon, meeting neighbors & just settling in. Compare the photos above & below to see the difference. We’ve yet to spend our first winter here, but with a chimney & plenty of firewood Rafa & I will be just fine.

places lived, Spain, El Pedroso, 2021 to present, España

Still lots to do: add a bit more decoration, get plants + a table for the upper patio, turn the lower patio into a food garden, get the bookcase unit from the carpenter (our large library is still in boxes!), find hallway light fixtures… as with all houses, the list goes on & on. But Rafa & I are having fun with the process.

Interestingly, many people we know in Sevilla were less than enthusiastic when we told them of our decision to move to a small, rural town. Comments ranged from “how boring” to “you’ll soon get tired of the train ride.” As if we hadn’t considered all options before spending a huge chunk of our savings & making this big change. Is it so difficult to be happy for others? We’re thrilled to be here, still love the train ride & for the moment I can say this is a dream come true.

Update (01 Apr 2024): We’re approaching the third anniversary of buying this house & making a huge change in our lives. Are we still thrilled? You know it! Of course, there are still projects that need to be done, but the patio has turned into a green bit of paradise where we hang out as much as we can.

Still learning how to best care for the lemon/orange tree, which plants like certain locations & trying to decide on tiles for part of the wall. At least we got the lower patio refit, dryer installed & a permanent place to store wood for the fireplace:

places lived, Spain, El Pedroso, 2021 to present, España, patio

The house itself is slowly coming along as well. I designed the bookcase for the local carpenter, then I stained all the sections & got to work organizing the library. We actually need more shelves now but will figure that out later. We’ve also got most of the decoration done upstairs:

places lived, Spain, El Pedroso, 2021 to present, España, living room, upstairs hallway

I’ll continue to update as we get more projects done… like a shelving system for the kitchen coming soon!

Places lived series: Florida/Iowa/Alabama 1970-75 ● Memphis 1975-88 ● On campus 1988-94 ● Seattle 1994-98 ● Cádiz 1998-99 ● Memphis/Seattle 1999-2000 ● Buenos Aires 2000-08 ● Sydney 2008-09 ● Buenos Aires 2009-13 ● Esquel 2013-14 ● Seattle yet again 2015-16 ● Sevilla 2016-2021El Pedroso 2021-present

10 thoughts on “personal: places lived 13”

    1. I can’t wait to get back to Buenos Aires… been so long, I probably won’t recognize anything! We’re all looking forward to traveling again. See you there or see you here 🙂

  1. What a gorgeous house for two beautiful people to live in. The interiors are simply worthy of the best House and Home magazines! I hope you and Rafa will enjoy your new home for many years to come. Obrigado for sharing your house with us.

    1. Thank you so very much, Enamuel! We still have a bit of decorating to do (especially tiles in the patio, many more plants, changes to the fountain) but that will come in time. And thanks for the good wishes — you guys are invited if you ever make it to the Sevilla area!

      1. I was so excited to receive your kind invitation to visit that we rushed to get a flight out to Spain, only to find out that you were not home when you knocked on your door. It was later that I discovered you had gone away to the USA! LOL
        But never mind, we hung around your place and enjoyed the outdoors before flying back to Toronto. (Just kidding, but would be nice if we could meet you both someday!)

  2. What a beautiful home, Robert! Thanks for sharing the pictures. I’m so pleased for you and wish you many, many years of happiness there.

    1. Thanks so much, Kristine! Just saw your comment… we were in Iowa visiting my aunt & celebrating my birthday a few days ago. Can’t wait to start on those big house projects!

  3. Robert,
    I can’t tell you how often I think of you and the amazing tour my wife and I took in October 2002. My wife passed away about a year later and I reverted to my previously repressed gay lifestyle. I think you were probably aware of that as I developed a crush on you that of course could never be a reality. The last night we had dinner together and I will remember it forever.

    Now 20 years later I am very happy with my partner Michael and we now live in the North Carolina Smokey Mountains, after living in Tucson, Las Vegas, Oregon, and Fort Lauderdale.

    Nothing would make me happier that having you and your husband visit us and enjoy the beautiful mountain views from our deck. We have lots of room.

    If there is someway you can let me know you actually see this message, I would appreciate it!

    Ed Sanders

    1. Hello Ed – What a pleasant surprise after all these years! I will email you shortly but also wanted to leave a response here. I recently talked with a friend of mine about a similar situation & said: We all have our own journeys & need our own time to get there. I’m very glad you reached out & super thankful for the invite… Be careful because one day Rafa & I just might show up!! Take care!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *