Where the sun meets mild temperatures all year round: Meet Priska and Michi Bauer, who broke away from everyday routine and pursued their dream of purchasing a guest house in Spain. Read more about their journey with Zürcher Kantonalbank (ZKB) in the interview.

You emigrated from Switzerland a year ago. Why Spain?

We didn’t consciously decide on Spain. Our only aim was to find a guest house somewhere in southern Europe. Therefore, we scoured the internet to see what was on offer. That was at the end of 2021. Travelling gradually became possible again. In fact, the Covid-19 pandemic was what triggered us to actively start looking.

We had been cherishing this dream of owning a small hotel in southern Europe for 18 years. Sometimes we thought more about our dream, sometimes less. But the rat race still had us firmly in its grip. In autumn 2021 though, Michi said that he wanted us to take our lives in a different direction. I couldn’t even imagine it at the time. I had a responsible job that I also really enjoyed. But I somehow couldn’t get the idea out of my head for the next few months. Then in December 2021 I got ill with Covid-19. I tend to read a lot when I’m ill. This time though it was different. I had no energy for anything, but the idea was still running round my head the whole time. My thoughts kept revolving around how we could change our lives and the dream of owning a little hotel.

How did this idea then materialise?

I first asked Michi what he thought of the plan to turn our dream into a reality, and he was on board straight away. So we started looking. First we started in Italy, and after that in Croatia, the south of France and Spain. We soon realised that the best properties were in southern Spain. We wanted to buy the property without taking out a mortgage. We found a lot of properties in Andalusia. Due to that we flew to Malaga for the first time at the beginning of February 2022 and booked a suite in the Olive & Ivy Guest House, which was advertised as being for sale. It was love at first sight. It looked exactly like it did in the photos, and the square in front of the hotel with the old Arab fountain was just magical. Of course we also looked at other properties in the area, but this was just to reassure ourselves that we’d made the right decision. It was also my birthday, so my husband gave me the biggest present I could ever imagine: A hotel!

Did you know what you were doing?

We still needed some time to think about whether we should really take such a big step or not. But after a couple of weeks, we were sure that we wanted to get our adventure started.

What has to be done after that?

After that moment, the real work has actually started. One part was buying the property in Spain, the other part was organising everything in Switzerland. Michi and I worked hard right from the start and made the most of our time. We also got help from an emigration consultant. That was very important for us, because we didn’t want to get caught out by any tax issues or other problems. Based on the advice we got, we decided to sell our home in Switzerland. We managed to time everything to perfection – and we finally left Switzerland by car on 21 August 2022.

What did you imagine would be easier when you emigrated?

Nothing! We got great support from our estate agent, our lawyer and his employee, who grew up in Switzerland and therefore speaks perfect German as well as Spanish. Of course, we needed to go and see the authorities a few times as well. Overall though, everything went very smoothly. The thing that took the longest was importing our vehicles. However, we were surprised by a tax bill that not even our lawyer in Spain had expected. Fortunately, it wasn’t a significant amount in the end.

Looking back, what would you do differently?

Actually: Nothing! We had our furniture and the rest of our household goods brought down to Malaga by a transport company. There were a few hurdles to negotiate, but all that meant was that we had to wait a bit longer. Fortunately, our rented flat had a bed and a couch. In the end, everything got here undamaged.

What support did you get from ZKB during the emigration process?

Our home in Switzerland was financed by ZKB and they were very helpful in enabling our buyer to take over our mortgage. We were also happy and relieved when we found out that we could keep our bank accounts. Moreover, we were fortunate that our personal advisor at ZKB transitioned to a different department internally, allowing him to continue supporting our journey. We really appreciate that a lot. Thank you!

You are now the proud owners of a guest house called Olive & Ivy in a popular holiday destination in Andalusia. What exactly brought you to Canillas de Aceituno?

We chose the Olive & Ivy Guest House rather than the location – of course the village is also very important – and we have found a real gem here. It is an authentic village, with a good mix of Spaniards and foreigners from all around the world. In the 1960s and 1970s, a lot of people from this region left Spain to work in Switzerland or Germany.  A lot of them have since come back, and I think that is one reason why the local population are so open and friendly. Geographically the village is in an idyllic location; we have the mountains (up to 2,062 metres high) and the sea is only 25 minutes away by car – we can even see it from the village. On clear days, we can even see the coast of Morocco. Put all that together and you get a mix you can’t find anywhere else!

Were there any unforeseen challenges that arose when you took over the guest house?

The takeover was very simple. The seller showed us everything we needed to know in the first week and gave us the best possible introduction. We were lucky enough to be able to take over the business as a going concern. It was just perfect for us.

How has your day-to-day life changed?

Michi: My life has changed completely! I used to be a night owl. Now you will find me in in the kitchen at 6:30 a.m., making breakfast for our guests. In the evening we prepare for the next morning, with shopping, planning and organising in between. Additionally, there’s always something unexpected that needs to be done.

Priska: I always used to work long hours doing a range of different things. Managing lots of things at the same time was part of my day-to-day life. I always had unfinished business. It’s completely different here. My work with the guests and in the hotel is all in the here and now.

We both get direct feedback from our guests. We enjoy giving our guests an unforgettable stay. We put our heart and soul into this and we love what we do! We have already met so many kind people, and we’ve been able to form so many different relationships. We don’t have the same time pressure or unfinished business in the traditional sense. We’re not working less, instead we’re working differently. You can’t put a price on how valuable this freedom is to us.

To work so closely together was at first a challenge and we had to find a way that works for both of us. We also had to learn how to take time out for ourselves. We’re still learning and it’s a work in progress.

What was your main reason for opening a guest house?

My husband is passionate about cooking, and he loved to spoil our friends and family back in Switzerland with his culinary skills. My passion is creating a feel-good environment that appeals to all the senses and allows people to have a good time. This is the ideal combination for our guest house. Here we can put this into practice every day – and our guests can enjoy it.

Our aim is to offer our guests the kind of stay that we would want ourselves. This sometimes takes a little more effort. Though we do immediately feel the gratitude from our guests, who are always happy to come back. That’s the biggest compliment of all!

What do you appreciate about your relationship with ZKB?

Two things are important to us: Reliability on one hand and the personal contact on the other. ZKB gives us both – which is highly appreciated!

What advice do you have for people who are planning to leave Switzerland?

If you look for reasons not to do it, you’ll always find one. However, the feeling when you take opportunities when they come along and helps you to make your dreams come true is incredible. There’s always a price tag to it, you do have to let go and say goodbye to a feeling of familiarity. But the added value you get in return is priceless.

There’s one thing that’s particularly important though. You have to be able to afford to move abroad. You can’t give yourself a budget that’s too small. There are always unexpected costs that get in the way and you can’t let these things leave you out of pocket.

Our motto is that it will all turn out well in the end!


Zürcher Kantonalbank (ZKB) – based in Zurich, there for you around the world

Meet Luka Cvetkovic, a relationship manager at ZKB, who has been working in the Private Banking International department since 2022, specializing in Swiss nationals living abroad. Luka Cvetkovic has been working at ZKB since 2015 – prior to his current position he worked in the Swiss market at Prime Tower and Pfäffikon ZH. (Image: Luka Cvetkovic)

 Mr Cvetkovic, ZKB is not the only bank for Swiss abroad. What precisely distinguishes ZKB?

What makes ZKB remarkable among others is its long-standing tradition, financial stability and wide range of financial services. My work colleagues from the Swiss abroad team particularly appreciate that every customer is unique and has their very own background story. In our daily work, we experience a wide range of emotions, which is why we treat each customer as an individual. It’s a people business.

In our team, we also have former Swiss abroad and thus, understand the complexity of relocations and a fresh restart. With ZKB you still have the quality of a Swiss brand.

What value does ZKB offer to Swiss nationals living abroad?

Through my daily work experiences, I consistently gain insight into the matters that concern our clients and potential customers. There are not many banks in Switzerland who offer a bank relationship to Swiss abroad. From my point of view, the added value is to be able to maintain a bank relationship and the commitment of the bank itself, as our vision is to become the number one for Swiss abroad.

Additionally, our customers conduct their banking business with Swiss quality standards – reliable, competent, accessible, and prompt. As an universal bank, our customers can rely on a wide range of products and services.

Are you emigrating? We support you with our expertise. Find out more here.