Were we wrong to move to Spain? Should we have gone to France instead?

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06 Sep 2012 17:13 by eggcup Star rating. 567 posts Send private message


Hi there,

I have been pondering this subject for some time now. We never really thought of other countries as options - although I speak German we didn't see the point going somewhere that would be similar to Britain in many ways and also didn't fancy Italy. Only France and Spain seemed options really.

In terms of comparing the two countries, therefore:

1. We felt that the houses were more interesting in France (but maybe more damp) and better value than in Spain.

2. We thought the French people may be more polite on the whole (although the Spanish more easy-going).

3. I have heard that the French bureaucracy is a pain, but can't believe it could be worse than the Spanish to deal with (I speak from bitter experience).

4. I believe that the Spanish language is more useful than the French language in the world today (and so I'm glad my kids are fluent in Spanish instead of French).

5. Obviously, it's hotter and sunnier in Spain which is generally a good thing and the French winters are longer.

6. Spanish food, drink, restaurants etc. are probably cheaper than in France (especially in Andalucia where we settled) and maybe the cost of living is lower in Spain than in France.

What are people's views on this? It would be particularly interesting to hear from people with first-hand experience of living in both countries.


My account of moving to Spain.  http://www.eyeonspain.com/blogs/olives.aspx"><img


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06 Sep 2012 17:39 by georgia Star rating in Algorfa (As seen on .... 1839 posts Send private message

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 I drove through France,if you speak Spanish to them they are fine,if you speak English, then they ignore you......

I would ratehr go back to the UK than settle in France and thats saying something..

Just my opinion.

www.orion-ire.com info@orion-ire.com still here after all these years!

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06 Sep 2012 18:07 by gerrryuk Star rating in Sedella Axarquia lat.... 179 posts Send private message

gerrryuk´s avatar

 IN MY OPINION..........

France generally is a beautiful country, but no better then the UK & Spain I think is slightly better. The French generally don't like the British as we generally don't like them (this is a historic thing going back hundreds of years). The French language is a lot more difficult to learn & write than Spanish. France is colder with a longer winter than Spain. French football ain't as good as Spain. France will take longer to financially stabilise than Spain. Finally France is a country of massive self ego's & they love no-one better than themselves. So taking into account the definate weather & comparing all these things Spain is miles ahead.

My very close friend retired to France many years ago, speaks fluent French (as his wife does) & loves it their.

(But on saying that, in my humble opinion Thailand is by far the best, but to far, being 6500 miles away with a 12 hour flight costing about £600 return).


Do to others as you would want them to do to you.        

see my blog: http://www.eyeonspain.com/blogs/geraldsblog.aspx

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06 Sep 2012 19:21 by maddiemack Star rating in Grantham, Lincolnshi.... 194 posts Send private message

We thought about buying a place in France before we looked around Spain.  France is certainly a beautiful country but we were living in Devon at the time and it was so similar to where we were already living....we wanted to be somewhere different.  We found the French city/town dwellers rather rude and unhelpful but the French living in villages in the country were very different ie; freindly, kind and helpful.  We also loved the French houses but the Spanish sunshine and the relaxed lifestyle we found in Spain completely changed our minds about France.  Since we sold our Spanish house, we have thought about renting for a while in France but we'd never buy there and, in fact, we have decided we'd rather rent a place in Spain.

Just to add to what is only an opinion after all....I worked for a Frenchman for three years a couple of years ago and when I asked him if he would ever go back to live in France (having spent the past 15 years in the UK) he said, 'I go back to visit my parents in Paris a couple of times a year but I don't want to live there.  I don't like the French.  I much prefer the British!' 


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06 Sep 2012 19:42 by eggcup Star rating. 567 posts Send private message

Well, what I also wonder is whether what I think is a peculiarity of Spain is, in fact more of a countryside issue and would be the same in France and the UK etc.  And the same with regard to city life.  I find life in our village in Andalucia difficult in ways that don't bother my husband and I put that down to him being a country boy and me being a city girl. 

For example, I have found the gossiping and backbiting amongst the expats difficult - although there aren't many foreigners in the village, we tend to bother with hardly any of them now.  Just because you're the same nationality, doesn't mean you're going to get on.  Another thing I've observed is that it is a place of extremes and, again, I don't know if this is something about the Spanish or something about country people - we know fantastic people who in many ways are much better friends than any friends we've had in the UK but we also know some terrible types who have even tried to run over our kids and I know would push me down a ravine if they thought they could get away with it.  That's because I stick up for myself if they try to rip me off...  So, people are either fabulous or semi-criminal.

So, I have no idea whether that is replicated across Spain, across Andalucia, is only apparent in rural areas, is the same in France and even the countryside in the UK.  I don't know but would like to know if anyone else has observed any of this, especially the issue of people being one of the two extremes.


My account of moving to Spain.  http://www.eyeonspain.com/blogs/olives.aspx"><img


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06 Sep 2012 20:00 by elaineG Star rating in Spain . 409 posts Send private message

Just a thought,  but after your speeding fine comments and now this, do you think it just might be you, or is that everyone else out of step ?

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06 Sep 2012 20:09 by I_love_javea Star rating in Gibraltar / Morocco .... 125 posts Send private message

 Don't rise to this sad troll


Shiny happy people - where?

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06 Sep 2012 20:33 by eggcup Star rating. 567 posts Send private message

Oh, no, it's the thought police again, with his name-calling.  Javea must be pleased to have such a fabulous champion and role model.    I'll have to train myself to think exactly the same way as him.  A previous Spanish regime springs to mind.  Then I could be shot for daring to say that some Spaniards and indeed an Englishman tried to run over my daughter and her Spanish friend when they were about 8 or 9 years old.  It didn't happen and black is white.  Of course my daughter's friend would be believed if she recounted it as she is Spanish.

Thanks to the others for the interesting comments.  I won't be intimidated by people who try to gag others' legitimate opinions and the expression of their life experience.  I enjoy exercising my freedom of expression, having been brought up in a long-standing democracy where such things are prized. 


My account of moving to Spain.  http://www.eyeonspain.com/blogs/olives.aspx"><img


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06 Sep 2012 21:11 by I_love_javea Star rating in Gibraltar / Morocco .... 125 posts Send private message

 One day you are trying to advocate breaking the law, the next you are saying that no-one is willing to exercise the law. How can anyone take you seriuosly?


Shiny happy people - where?

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06 Sep 2012 21:16 by normansands Star rating in Kent. 1281 posts Send private message

you are quite right to ignore the lunies they are a disgrace to us and themselves............. and indeed be wary of any entusiast in any sphere.......they distort matters.

as to your question I have some holiday experience of both and prefer France, outside the big metropolis they are very friendly and helpful..................in the rural areas they are fond of spitting on the floor at the sight of a Paris number plate.



N. Sands

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06 Sep 2012 21:38 by eggcup Star rating. 567 posts Send private message

Yes, Norman.  Thanks for your support on this.  Another strange one is that we, as Brits, are quite fond of saying that we don't like the French - I have been known to say this myself on occasion, but I always have to qualify it with the fact that we have some brilliant French friends - the complete salt of the earth.  They mostly live in Paris and maybe consider themselves Parisiens, but in fact all come from other places like Brittany and Bordeaux.  How long can one continue to decry a whole people, whilst having many friends from that same group?  Being Welsh I was brought up to say that I hated the English.  I was even known to support Cameroon against England in the World Cup in the '90s, without initially knowing where Cameroon was.  Many Welsh still display this attitude, much to the disappointment of any English people in their company, who suddenly realise and protest, 'but we'd support Wales!'  Having now grown up, I no longer hold those views as I have learned to think for myself and I have many English friends and are proud to come from the same country (Britain) as the Beatles.  So, it's all a learning experience and interesting stuff.


My account of moving to Spain.  http://www.eyeonspain.com/blogs/olives.aspx"><img


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06 Sep 2012 22:04 by bobaol Star rating. 2260 posts Send private message

bobaol´s avatar

 Maybe you should read this first:

On Wednesday, the French government announced it was to increase taxes on foreign-owned second homes. Tax on rental income would rise from 20 per cent to 35.5 per cent, and capital gains tax on property sales would rise from 19 per cent to 34.5 per cent. The extra in each case is being labelled a "social charge".

The rise in tax on rental income will be retrospective, from Jan 1 this year. The increase in capital gains tax may apply from this week, and certainly by the end of the month, meaning property owners will have little or no time to escape the increased tax by selling their homes.

The French finance ministry yesterday said the measure would “remove an unjustified tax advantage” as part of its “fair” tax hike programme.

Or this:

Holiday home owners already pay two other taxes to the French government: the taxe fonciere, which is paid by the house owner and the taxe d'habitation, which is paid by those who live in it.

Both from just last month.  


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06 Sep 2012 22:16 by elaineG Star rating in Spain . 409 posts Send private message



Perhaps they heard there was a possiblity that someone who posts on EOS and complains about the Spanish, French and others,   for doing their job and at that the same time not doing it,  might decide to go and live there, and they want to discourage them  !!!!!!

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06 Sep 2012 22:32 by DoubleJ Star rating in Las Alpujarras and L.... 143 posts Send private message

DoubleJ´s avatar
I have to say that almost everywhere I've lived or traveled has always shown the full spectrum of human nature (somewhat similar to this forum !).
Before spending time in the US, I was convinced that I would find the majority to be insincere, self-centred blow offs. The truth was that there were indeed many like this, but lots of quiet, reflective and completely sincere people as well.


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06 Sep 2012 23:10 by aly not in spain Star rating in Not far from Torre. 74 posts Send private message

Bobaol, qualify 'foreign' please.

Foreign as in 'Non French', or Foreign as in 'Non EU'. 




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06 Sep 2012 23:18 by bobaol Star rating. 2260 posts Send private message

bobaol´s avatar

It's a Telegraph cut and paste.  However, it appears to be "non-French" and not non-EU as a related article talks about how it will affect British owners.


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06 Sep 2012 23:19 by eggcup Star rating. 567 posts Send private message

God, Bobaol.  I think you've won the argument for Spain in one fell swoop.  I also read about those French taxes but had forgotten about them.  I wouldn't have forgotten about them so easily if I'd been living there.  It would be good if some French-based expats or those with second homes were reading this and could give us their perspective (I assume they're going mad), but not many are likely to be looking at this unless they're thinking of moving southwards. 

And JJ, that's an interesting point about the US, as we have often heard the stereotype about them being 'all over you' initially, in a false kind of way, with the idea that it goes no deeper.  I've never known many Americans so have no experience to draw upon.

I'm not sure if I dare ask what the stereotypes of the Spanish and French are, in the interests of my research as if anyone says anything slightly derogatory if only to say that they believe that certain characteristics are deemed (wrongly) to be stereotypical, they'll be pounced on by the thought police.


My account of moving to Spain.  http://www.eyeonspain.com/blogs/olives.aspx"><img


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06 Sep 2012 23:33 by aly not in spain Star rating in Not far from Torre. 74 posts Send private message

If it's non-French , haven't we been down this road before with Spain and the EU? i.e those from the EU have to be taxed the same as the Spanish? (And therefore those from the EU have to be taxed the same as the French?).

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07 Sep 2012 00:07 by lmjohn Star rating in S Wales & Piedra Ama.... 14 posts Send private message

lmjohn´s avatar

Hi Eggcup,

I am glad I read this thread through before diving in and making comments. We love France, having spent on average 4 weeks a year there for 20 years plus numerous weekends.Due to this we speak the language pretty well. We would have loved to buy there as when we were looking in 2005 some areas were reasonably priced. However a relative of ours got us interested in Spain and we were amazed at how cheap it was to eat out, and some towns and villages were really nice. we bought a house in Spain in 2006, mainly because getting a mortgage was far easuier than getting one in France. Perhaps this easy lending is the reason that Spain is in the financial difficulty it now finds itself.

Unfortunately there are more Brits where we live than Spanish, despite being in a small village, and not on an urbanisation. We feel that we would have had no problem fitting in with life in France, and hoped to do the same in Spain. We have not moved to Spain yet but spend as much time as we can as we are both still working.

For us we feel Spain is far cheaper, but France is more sophisticated.

There have been some strange comments about the attitude of the French towards immigrants. People have said that they do not like Brits. I have found that it is actually the English that are not liked, and we find this also in Spain. I am not saying this is right, it is just a fact, and I hear your comments in an earlier post! I will be honest If I had a lottery win I would buy in France, but we do enjoy our time at our home in Almeria.

Incidentally by daughter speaks French and Spanish, she still visits both countries, as do we.

Regards( Hwyl)






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07 Sep 2012 00:12 by Poppyseed Star rating. 893 posts Send private message

The French already pay this additonal 'social charge' tax on their second homes, non residents were exempt as they didn't benefit from the 'social charge' but they have now decided to end this perk and bring non residents into line with the residents.

My son has lived in North Amercia for 12 years and I have been fortunate enough to travel around the country quite a lot and to non tourist places and can honestly say the Americans I have met have overall been very friendly, warm and helpful with the exception perhaps being NY. They are very patriotic and community spirited.

France, well we bought a house in the beautiful Dordogne in May and from the notaire to the telephone/internet provider, to the local butcher and our French neighbours, they have been very nice, welcoming and helpful. We have yet to meet the Mayor but our lovely French neighbour will arrange it on our next visit and act as interpretor, apparantly the Mayor is keen to meet the new neighbours! We have friends who have lived there 8 years and love it as have the other resident ex-pats we have met who have also been lovely. We still have our Spanish house and although we love it we don't  like urbaization living and would never buy another property in Spain because although I know corruption and chaotic inefficiency exists in some shape or form everywhere the sheer scale of it in Spain is mind boggling. It's early days in France as we can't spend much time there yet but so far so good. Perhaps we're looking for a eutopia that doesn't exist but we'll get as close as we can. We have though found France very expensive.



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