buying a bar on Costa Del Sol

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    • #51944

      Hi Again, we are moving to the Costa Del Sol either later this year or early next year. I am a qualified plumber and heating engineer and i’m also doing an air conditioning course next month. I intend to advertise in “sur” and “town crier” rather than look for a full time job because we want to buy a bar!
      can any one offer us advice, we are aware of the obvious things like using a reputable estate agent and english solicitors
      can any one offer “out of the box” advice that they may have picked up from their own or freind’s experiences
      look forward to your replies


    • #63128

      At the risk of being shot down in flames I would say think very carefully before committing yourself to a “life at the bar”! This is not the advice you are asking for I know but anyway…

      I owned a pub in the UK ( Yes, I know it”ll be different here in Spain, but the theory is at least the same!). I didn’t go in blind either as I had worked in the pub in question for a year before buying and I got all the relevant training and qualifications needed to do it, but….it was personally the worst decision of my life and I totally regretted it after about the first 6 months and the novelty had worn off and then it took me 2 years to sell it! Once you’re “in” it’s very hard to get “out” and the rent etc has to be paid on the dot every month….

      It is a 24/7 committment, you get to have no social life, it wrecks family life and you are permanently physically exhausted and stressed! I lived above the pub so just had to climb the stairs to go to bed but here in Spain it would be even harder because you very rarely find accommodation WITH the bar so you would be travelling home at 2 or 3 in the morning and having to get up early to do the same thing all over again.

      Until you’ve actually done it you have NO idea what hard work is involved – there is always something needing doing whether it’s cleaning toilets/vomit, going to the cash & carry, dealing with staff problems (they always let you down esp on your only night off! Or else they steal from you!), organising entertainment, dealing with bureaucracy/drunk customers, bottling up, bookkeeping, stocktaking, countless trips to the bank, having the same smalltalk over and over and over again with the customers…I could go on endlessly! And for very little return when you work out the hours you put in. No sunbathing on the beach for you! It is not a glamorous life.

      If it’s something you feel you have a real “vocation” for try it before you buy. Go and work long hours in someone else’s pub/bar first and see what’s really involved. Why do you think there are so many bars up for sale here? There are too many, too similar, too low profit-making establishments to go round.

      My advice would be stick to what you know. But good luck anyhow. Just don’t say you weren’t warned! And check the books VERY carefully…(I know 😉 )

    • #63129

      You should be aware that very few bars make a profit, there are just too many of them. Many of these bars change hands every year with people returning to the UK broke. If you do decide to go ahead be very careful with the lease and get a lawyer who is independant from the seller/agent. Some short term leases double the rent on renewal.

      Avoid Benalmadena and Fuengirola Port.

    • #63130

      If you are planning to make a living from a bar, I would forget it. Just take a look away from July & August. There are hundreds upon hundreds of bars around the costa del sol that are empty apart from the sad faced, desperate to sell owners night after night. 😉

    • #63133

      Not sure if your looking for advice in general, being a tradesman or buying a bar.
      If it’s buying a bar then there are so many things you will need to consider, firstly if you don’t own a property already, then your first step would be to RENT, as the final location you choose for a bar will ultimately dictate where you live, as running a bar is incredibly hard work, long hours and very tireing you will wish to be as near to the bar travelling wise as is humanly possible.

      Secondly there are thousands of bars in competion with one another trying hard to make a living and hundreds are for sale due to people suddenly realising that having a bar is not an easy option as a way to earn a living, so my next piece of advice would be to take your time and do your research on any area and bar you are interested in, don’t ever take the owner or agents word for how well/busy an area/bar, visit at all times of day over as long a period that you can.
      If you watch places in the summer months, take into consideration that the winter clientel are very different, it’s far quieter, the people are generally much older, which means they usually spend far less BUT your overheads will still be the same.

      When you say buy a bar, do you mean freehold or leasehold (trespasa) if it’s a lease your buying then you will pay your landlord a monthly rent and many will generally put the rent up for a new tenant by anything up to 15% of the current owners rent, he can and will also increase the rent annually by the cost of living, some more wise landlords will add this on top of the 15% to start off 🙄

      When you are working out your monthly budget do not forget to include landlords tax (for the bar) , as a landlord does not pay tax on the rent he receives from you, you are liable for his tax (around 17%of the rent) and you normally pay this ON TOP of the rent 😯 . This is paid quaterly.

      Next to budget for is social security, the exact figure illudes me but is somewhere in the region of 260€ per month for a couple.

      There is also the cost of a gestoria (or historia, not sure of the title) they will look after your accounts and set up your tax’s and social security and they do this on a monthly basis at a rough cost of 100€ per month not including the start up fee and opening licence costs which are variable.

      Also need to budget initially for any new equipment and or renovation work, menu’s, leaflets, advertising and start up stock.

      Annual costs to think about: FUMIGATION, you pay annually for protection against cockroaches and the company SHOULD do a quarterly inspection and spray. You can then claim the cost of this back from the government via your gestoria. Also annual servicing of fire extinguishers and also any air conditioning. Another annual charge is the performing rights, that you should pay if you play music or have a tv.

      After this it is just your run of the mill, water, electricity, staff and stock, Utility bills in Spain are paid every 2 MONTHS.

      Sorry to go on about finance but this is such an important aspect when trying to consider the viability of a business.

      Running a bar is very tiring, long hours and if succesful, hard work BUT it is also very enjoyable. If going down this route it is VERY ADVISEABLE to have a back up fund to cover you for the first 12 months whilst you find your feet and become established, if renting a property don’t go for flash and expensive to start off with until you know how much you’ll be earning, after all your unlikely to be spending a great deal of time at home.

      Finally when you find the bar of your dreams, check out the competition, see what they’re doing and more importantly what prices they are charging. If there prices are low then BEWARE, you could find yourself in the midst of a price war and the only place people end up is OUT OF BUSINESS, if the neigbours are too cheap, then don’t buy.

      Good luck and happy hunting.

    • #63145

      Thanks to all of you for your help, we have been down to Benalmadena a couple of times and my partner quite likes Montmar ( i think its a bit quiet) but i will take on board your comments. If i thought i could make a living from my trades in Spain, i would be there now, just gotta get out of the uk before i suffocate.
      many thanks Chilly 8)

    • #63146

      Hi Chilly,

      I DO hope you take on board what the above have said. Both my paternal & maternal grandparents had pubs. My brother has had his own lovely pub in the Sussex countryside …he came out of it with diddly squat, except a very worn out look! He has gone onto run bars for big companies and his health has suffered a lot because of the excessive hours he has to put in, mainly because staff let him down. He has to be jack of all trades, literally head cook & bottle washer as well as his managerial duties. There is no social life and the temptation to join the wrong side of the bar too often is very high! That can lead to a problem in itself.
      We were in Nerja in June. We go to the Burriana beach. The bars/restaurants along the pavement are mostly run by Brits. We wondered how they made a living as they are nearly always empty no matter what time of day you walk past! In Spain, I think British bar owners depend on a good summer trade as there is next to none when the tourists go home.

      With the skills you have, I’m sure you would do far better to use those. Everyone needs air con in Spain and definitely plumbers…as we do here in the UK!

    • #63147

      @chilly wrote:

      can any one offer us advice, we are aware of the obvious things like using a reputable estate agent and english solicitors

      Don’t use English solicitors! Would you use Spanish solicitors if you were buying in the UK?! You can get recommendations for lawyers from this site when the time comes.
      Further to my above post (which I hope hasn’t unnecessarily put you off) while you are still living in the UK and if you are determined to buy a bar here, go to the British Institute of Innkeeping and attend some of their courses and get trained and qualified. Also get the basic food handling certificate which your local college will offer. It’ll stand you in good stead in the future as a lot of it is general business training and you would find it easier to get employment in someone else’s bar.
      If it were me I’d stick to aircon!

    • #63148

      Brought up in one and then ran one for 30 + years. LOVED IT. Husband began is career as a *plumber* he HATED it but boy his former occupation made him an excellant cellar man.

      Running these sort of establishments anywhere are a WAY OF LIFE. Total commitment. Not easy to adapt to if one has not previously been conditioned.

      Try offering your services to a local hostelry first.

    • #63150

      How on earth would “chilly” support himself/family on the wages of an employee in a bar in Spain?? 😯 All the plumbers that I know earn a lot of money in the UK as most are self employed these days!

    • #63155

      To save confusion I should have put “he offered his services at a local hostelry…where he now lives” Not Spain .

      Having to cope with officialdom and control and mediate with some regulars …or even “call time on them” is part of the job. Holiday makers consume much more alcohol so it will be even worse. Many customers think they can do it. It is so easy!! We personally never met one.
      Better to know what one is in for than go in blind.

      However it is a clean job.Plumbing is physically more demanding and dirty.

    • #63156

      @Melosine wrote:

      However it is a clean job.

      Not always! More than once did I emerge from the cellar dripping with John Smiths due to an exploding barrel connector 😉

    • #63158

      Your so right. LOL .Happened to my other half too.

    • #63163

      Agree 100% with others here, having a bar is a way of life, in fact it becomes your ONLY LIFE . I did it for a few years and thorougly enjoyed it but the hours take there toll eventually.

      I believe a Spanish food handlers licence is legally required by both owners and employee’s, we sat ours in Arroyo de Miel at the health centre and it was a basic multiple choice test, which 2 weeks later we went to get the results of and collect our Spanish Licence, it was very straight forward but I have since heard the test is much more thorough now.

      Also agree how tight it is to make a living, the bar we had was very steady and we made good money between May and November but the in the winter months we only broke even. Luckily for us we had no children or EXPENSES other than the bar itself, you live out of the bar, so we banked a reasonable amount, partly due to the fact we never had time to spend anything .

    • #63164

      Thanks for all your comments, i feel i should give you a bit more history to stop you all fretting so much.
      I worked in a few pubs in Cardiff for about 4 years (some quite rough) i have a city and guilds in bar and cellar skills so i’m not going into this thing blind (not totally anyway)
      i used to open on a friday at noon and still be there for close at 2am saturday same again on sat.
      the hours don’t bother me, what bothers me is working for nothing!!!
      this is why we intend to have a good look around before we commit
      another point is that there will be four (possibly 5) coming to spain so hopefully staff won’t be an issue
      thanks for the following points which i will take on board:

      stay away from benalmadena and fuengirola port (i noticed a lot for sale there)
      use a spanish lawer
      and many others
      one final question (the biggy) where would you recomend???????

    • #63165

      Can’t recommend anywhere or say whether you are going to make your fortune…hope so…. but seems you know what you are doing and wish you every success.

    • #63167

      What you have to bear in mind is where are your customers going to come from?
      Most large hotels in the popular areas now offer the “all inclusive” cheap package, whereby their guests can drink themselves legless without putting their hands in their pocket .
      We have friends in Torremolinos who own a large bar opposite such a hotel, and even after spending a fortune on entertainment, artistes, plasma tv’s, pool tables etc. They still can’t prise the Brits away from the free hotel bars. Before the hotel offered this option they used to be full every night, now they can’t even cover the rent.

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