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After two long years in England, when Spain was an itch that had to be scratched, a golden opportunity came along, which couldn't be ignored. So here I am back in Spain ~ again, just me and my dog on the sunny Costa Blanca, ready for another adventure!

09 October 2014 @ 19:18


The beginning of that decision to move to  Spain usually goes something like this doesn't it?!

While the kids are growing up, you spend many happy package holidays in Spain, then the kids fly the nest, and you and your significant other go a little bit more upmarket, maybe it’s now Seville, when it used to be Salou! 

Over a few too many jugs of Sangria, one of you gets a bit misty eyed and plants the seed about ‘how it would be lovely to move to Spain permanently’. 

Mr or Mrs has a few reservations, but is cajoled and convinced that of COURSE the kids will come out and see you, and it’s only 2 hours from home, and if after a few years you really don’t like it, of course you can go back to the UK and buy a little cottage by the sea there instead.

Just to be doubly sure you are making the right decisions, on rainy afternoons you watch re runs of ‘A Place in the Sun’. It always looks so nice and sunny in Spain, and the properties on the telly look like bargains.

You do a bit of online research too, perhaps you join a few expat sites like Eye on Spain, and This is Spain to name but two,and you ask a few questions, but selectively ignore any advice that YOU see as negative.

You go to a few property shows, and there you might find super salesman Santos from Salou who is flogging THE most amazing 2 bed casa, at a knockdown price, as it’s a repossession. He's got some connections at the bank, and before you know it you’ve sealed the deal and pretty soon you are on your way to Expatshire.

Circumstances mean that you arrive in Spain with all your wordly goods packed in the back of your estate car, on a dull day in November. But HEY, tomorrow will be sunny, everyone knows  it’s hot ALL year round in Spain and it won’t be long before you see the kids for a good old family Christmas, just like you’ve always had in the UK.

Santos from Salou has reassured you that there are big supermarkets for all your everyday needs virtually on your doorstep, and what with Spain being so popular with expats, it’ll stock all your favourite stuff, and everywhere opens on Sundays nowadays doesn’t it.

It's Europe after all. Cosmopolitan and all that!

You didn’t bother to bring perishables as you didn’t have much room in the car, and thought the shops would be open.

But you've arrived on November 1st. All Saints day, when your chosen village is celebrating many a long since dead Saint, and nothing will stop them shutting up shops and bars and turning a vibrant village into a ghost town from Friday through Monday in holy reverence. 

It’s just the local bakery that will be open for a couple of hours in the morning, as here, man clearly can survive on bread alone. But it’s now 4pm in the afternoon.

Trust me, you have no chance.   

Your new casa is actually freezing cold, those tiled floors are great in the summer, but not so feet friendly in November, and you begin to think that actually it was warmer in the UK when you left 2 days ago. 

You haven't realised that in Spain, once late October arrives, it actually does get cold. A damp fog can come down, permeate through to your bones and not lift for weeks. 

It doesn’t bode well, and is not the best of starts.  But once you’ve got the domestic front sorted, everything will be fine.  Except you haven't thought about what exactly are you going to do with the rest of your expat life in Spain.

For the first few months, you get to know your area, and decide which is going to be your preferred supermarket. You’ll favour one for your everyday bits and bobs, and another one for your ‘big shop’, and more importantly, you select your favourite ‘local’.

You’ll probably visit it every lunchtime for a baguette con jamon, and you’ll also probably visit it every night too, because oh my days, his steaks are SO good.  

All this will probably be accompanied by several rounds of Grande Cerveza for Mr and more than is sensible G & T's for the Mrs, even though she has to go steady because the measures are so big.

You are sure you didn’t used to pay that much for a round of drinks when you were on one of your package holidays a few years back, but, what the heck, you deserve to spoil yourselves at the start of your new life in Spain.

Now of course this routine would be all well and good if it was ‘just’ for your two week annual holiday, but you’ve got into a routine and lost sight of the fact that this is now your life 

You are not on holiday anymore!

But, as Steve Hall observed in his ‘Rules for Expat Life’, at some point, you have to drag yourself out of the bar and go and look for some work to replenish your already dwindling finances.

Santos from Salou reassuringly said that as a fully qualified jobbing builder, there would be loads of work you could pick up. He probably didn’t mention the fact that just as in the UK, the Eastern Europeans have also discovered Spain too, and have cornered the market with good cheap labour. 

But HEY, something will turn up, you’ve got the rest of your life to start working again. You’ve only just got here.  


When you are seeking advice on the expat forums, I’m sure like me, some of you wince at the often brutally honest responses given to the most innocent of questions that go something like, ‘I’m thinking of moving to Spain, any advice please’. 

The replies are often very negative, and can dampen enthusiasm at a thousand paces, BUT the people responding are realists, and unlike Santos from Salou are simply telling it like it really is. They've been there, done that and sweated buckets in that particular T shirt.

In my view, one of the best bits of advice would simply be, remember, when you move to Spain, you are not on holiday, this is now YOUR life. You need a plan.

There is no holiday rep to act as a go between, there is nobody to complain to when things go wrong, you  wouldn’t go to the bar every lunchtime and every evening in the UK, what makes you think that you should do it now you've moved to Spain. 

There is no financial benefits prop down at the Town Hall, because you are a bit down on your luck, you have to prepare carefully for all eventualities. Most financial ones.

As all good salesmen will tell you, to fail to prepare is to prepare to fail.

But not if you are Santos from Salou!


Have you met other expats who really have failed to prepare themselves for their new life in Spain.


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