Expats in Spain – The Dream

Graham and his wife Joyce moved from the UK to Spain, little realizing at the time all the hurdles they would have to contend with. Hopefully their experiences will help others to avoid some of the pitfalls in taking such a major step, and provide some useful information about the do’s and don’ts in joining the millions of Expats in Spain.

graham - expat in spainjoyce - expat in spai

The Dream

Hola, and welcome to our site. Hopefully this will provide some helpful information to those of you who might be thinking about becoming expats in Spain at some point in time.

When my wife said that she wanted to go and live in Spain I was more than a little apprehensive. What is it that is so inviting about a country which is almost twice the size of the U.K, has a smaller population, where they drive on the “wrong” side of the road, and where most Brits cannot speak their language? One big plus was the fact that as both the UK and Spain are in the EU it meant far fewer formalities in moving from one to the other. And upon checking web sites about moving to Spain it all seemed so easy – the sun – the lower cost of living – the beaches – laid back pace of life – and we went ahead with it. We took the plunge and lived there for over six years, joining many other British expats in Spain.

spanish dancersOf course like countless other Brits we had been on holiday to Spain and its islands a number of times, and always appreciated the culture of Spain. This time though we felt like escaping the vagaries of the British weather permanently. Instead of moving to a place where Brits typically go when on holiday in Spain – such as along the well-known coasts – we decided to go somewhere quieter, not too close to the Costas. Spain is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and the last thing we wanted was to live where the lager-lout culture of Britain was present. So, we sold our bungalow, said our goodbyes to our family and friends, and joined the million or so of other expats in Spain.

For those of you who may be considering emigrating you can do all the reading in the world about your new country, visit all the official websites going, but there is nothing like living the experience for yourself. We thought we had prepared as well as we possibly could by researching such subjects as the Spanish health system, driving in Spain, buying property etc. And, to a certain extent you can prepare yourself, but some things you`ll only learn once you get over there.

Nearly Didn’t Make It

The first six months were pretty rough, due to broken promises from builders, vague assurances of assistance that did not come about, not being able to speak the language, and the shock to the system as regards the massive change in procedures and lifestyle. Our dream was fast becoming a nightmare. By this time of course we were totally committed. If not we might have been ‘nearly expats’ abroad.

After a while though we got used to the different ways of doing things, our dream came true, and we settled down as happy British expats in Spain.

It has to be borne in mind that Spain is still facing an economic crisis. The government has taken strict measures to reverse the financial downturn, including a halving of the deficit, government investment increases, and measures to help the poor. But, there is still a long way to go before Spain gets back to the boom times of a few years ago. Meanwhile, there is a lot of public unrest about some of the measures introduced which have affected pensions, jobs and wages.

According to figures from Eurostat there are currently 390,880 officially registered Brits living in Spain. This is almost 3 times as many Brits who settle in France.

In some areas Dutch expats in Spain can be found in larger groups too. The majority of expats in Spain tend to live around the Costas from Andalucia in the south up through the east of the country. But, since the British started to come out to Spain to live back in the 1980′s, a larger proportion have been buying property away from the coasts. Some have integrated well with the locals in smaller towns and villages

Where we lived started off as Rojales, then, as a new development, it was regarded as being in Benimar. About 20 minutes drive from the sea it was in the ideal location for us.

But, not everyone wants to live close to the sea. Many expats prefer life in the larger cities with all the visitor attractions that go with them. Madrid and Barcelona are very popular destinations in fact.