This week on Q&A I spoke to fellow Wexfordian, Cllr George Lawlor, former Mayor of Wexford who owns a property at the Villamartin Plaza.
Why did you choose the Costa Blanca as your second home?
In 2002 we wanted to invest in property and were thinking about purchasing an investment property in Ireland, but the cost at the time was off the scale. In comparison, Spain had so much to offer and in particular the Costa Blanca. Value for money, quality and range of properties on offer and wonderful sunshine. These were in abundance on the Costa Blanca. Initially we bought with the intention of renting but that soon turned into our purchase becoming a home from home.
What do you enjoy most when you’re here?
The obvious thing is the weather. The ability to plan things and know that it won’t have an influence is a bonus. There’s a very relaxed way of life and that’s most definitely a welcome relief from the stressed existence that Ireland has become particularly now in our 3rd wave of the Pandemic.
What’s a normal day for you when you’re here?
Chilling really. Head to the beach or a stroll along the super walkways that have been developed along the coast. Laze by the pool, visit La Zenia Boulevard which keeps my wife and 3 daughters very busy, or just sit on the balcony reading a book. The odd day trip up or down the coast. Alicante to the North, Cartagena to the South always offer a decent day out and Torrevieja is just 20 minutes by car if you fancy a stroll along the seafront there.
If you were a Councillor here, what changes would you like to see made to the area?
It’s clear that vast sums of money are generated each year on the Costas. Income driven in many instances by foreign investment. Unfortunately the powers that be know that whilst the visitors who generate the bulk of that income reside here for a lot of the time, they have no say in the democratic process. As a result there’s little or no political incentive to reinvest a fair share back into areas where there’s no votes.
If I was a councillor here, I would push for greater return on taxes generated on the Costas to be spent in the Costas. It’s imperative that Spain looks after the Ex Pats who reside here through proper investment in the communities where they live. The areas with foreign money can be huge economic drivers to the benefit of everyone.
What advice would you give to local businesses & residents feeling hugely affected by the current restrictions?
All of us have to adopt a philosophical attitude, control the controllables, ensuring we do our own bit in terms of controlling the spread of the virus. It’s vital that we don’t stress. Our mental health is taking a real hammering with it. Trying to stay as positive as we can is imperative. Positivity is the key.
That goes for business people too. I spent 25 years running and worrying about my own business. I know the stresses and I know how much it can drag you to the floor if you let it. This awful time will pass and we’ll come back stronger and more appreciative of what really matters.
What do you miss most about not being able to be here at this present time?
I really miss sitting out of an evening for a relaxing drink in the Plaza or on the balcony. The live music nights organised by Plaza President Casey Shaddock and her able assistant Graham White are just super.
Top class bands free of charge! Lockdown at home has been really really difficult, particularly when the weather has been bad during the dark winter days. I imagine it may have been a little more tolerable with the sun on your back!
If you could pick one favourite moment of your time here, what would it be?
Spending New Year’s Eve 2020 eating outside in the Plaza and ringing in the New Year amongst friends with a fabulous firework display. Little did we know what was coming down the tracks.