Hello from utterly confused family considering moving my family to Spain or France. Craving insight from those who've done it! 

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11 Jun 2016 20:27 by weneedtomove Star rating. 3 posts Send private message

Help! Utterly confused. Considering moving my family to Spain or France. Craving insight from those who've done it! 

We're an English family of 4 with 2 kids (12 and 7) and 2 dogs. We've been craving life in a warmer climate for years. We're very unsettled here in Doncaster! We love travel, new cultures, people, places and food.

We plan to move in 12-18 months time and learn the language of our chosen country between now and then. In France we've visited Provence and Dordogne - loved both. In Spain we've visited Marbella, Estepona, San Pedro, Mijas - quite a bit of that area. We love that too! 

We plan to put the kids into an International School - at least for the first couple of years and see how that goes. Our eldest is in private school now and the other is in state school for the time being. We think they will settle relatively easily as they are fairly confident kids. 

We plan to rent for 12 months while we explore and learn about our new home. Then, if we settle, we will buy. 

We are unsure which country offers the best solution. We hear people say the French are generally less welcoming to expats / more frosty but I have not experienced this personally during our holidays there. Does anyone have any experience of integrating into a French community? 


We hear the Spanish are warmer and more sociable. Spain has the better winters but summers seem stifling - not sure how our kids / dogs would cope with the heat. 

France seems to offer much more property for your money but has colder winters. Climate is a big thing for us. I am not sure if the longer, warmer summers in France would make the winters seem less of a hardship. How bad are the winters in the middle/south of France? 

We want to be close to sea and / or mountains ideally.

The dilemma is how the hell to choose out of all the possible towns and cities without visiting them all which is not practical! Hence we're reaching out for some opinions that might help and guide us. 

Access to good schooling is obviously important and we need a home with a garden and room for the dogs to exercise as well as a pool. We realise this means we need to live a little outside the towns/cities. But we don't want to be a long trek from schools and entertainment. Rent budget is probably up to 1,800 Euros per month. Purchase budget would be up to 600k ish, maybe a bit more if necessary.

Help!!!!! Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 

A puzzled.....but enthusiastic, would be expat family.

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11 Jun 2016 22:18 by llamacalmer Star rating in Surrey & La Torre. 318 posts Send private message

llamacalmer´s avatar

Do you intend to work when you move, and can you speak either French or Spanish?



 Owner of  8 stray Spanish mutts


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12 Jun 2016 08:01 by weneedtomove Star rating. 3 posts Send private message

Hi, thanks for replying, we have our own business (software development) in the UK, we plan to continue running this business. We will work from home initially but then perhaps rent a small office. 

I speak French conversationally and my partner speaks basic Spanish. My older son is learning both French and Spanish at school currently. 

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12 Jun 2016 08:54 by acer Star rating. 1415 posts Send private message

Last Easter we had a visit from some very old friends who live in a village near Lyon in southern central France.  They've both lived and worked there for over 30 years.  We live in Murcia and apparently they expected better weather and it was.  We ate out a lot and they commented on the better priced menu del dia and clearly had a great time.  A few weeks ago we had a call from them asking if they can visit again later in the year, they may be looking to move to Spain.

On the other hand they've clearly loved their time in France - the pensions they both receive are truly fabulous compared to either UK or Spain.  Being fluent in French they are part of the community which is a lot stronger than in Spain where generally there are considerably more immigrants, unless you are in the sticks where there will be less facilities.

So it's probably not clear cut for a younger family and of course within the two countries there are massive variations on all fronts.

Don't argue with an idiot, he will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

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12 Jun 2016 11:58 by Mickyfinn Star rating in Spain and France. 1837 posts Send private message

This is such a vast subject, I could write a book about it and still not cover everything.

I live in both countries at certain times of the year and have done for over 30 years. Winters in Spain are wonderful generally, dry and warm comparative to the rest of Europe. The west of Spain is much wetter than the east but the east coast is a few degrees cooler. It’s much cheaper to live in Spain than France but the quality of life is not the same. You get what you pay for wherever you go.

The French are more reserved than the Spanish but I find them both delightful people to live among. You must learn the language of the country in which you live. It's essential.

With the budget you published you will have no problems finding a comfortable property in either country.

Healthcare in both countries is much better than the NHS but France is really superior. However a mutuelle insurance is necessary and gets very expensive as you age.

In France it depends what region you choose. France is a vast varied country and has regional variations both in housing costs and life quality. Summers tend to be hot and humid especially in the south but you can escape the mass tourists that descend on Spain for 3 months every year and make the country uninhabitable.

Spain is also impossibly hot for those tourist months and if you have pets impossibly difficult. I know many adapt but it makes life very uncomfortable.

My best suggestion is move to Catalonia. There you can enjoy the best of both countries.

Good luck.


Time is the school in which we learn Time is the fire in which we burn. Delmore Schwartz.

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12 Jun 2016 12:33 by windtalker Star rating. 1730 posts Send private message

Can't help you with what country to settle in the only advise I can give is learn to speak the language fluently  before you go good luck.

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12 Jun 2016 16:07 by js6632 Star rating. 2 posts Send private message

If it helps,i have a nice house/villa in Altea,CB ,which I am looking to sell,but would consider a long let if you decide to go that way......it is 10mins in the car to Schools/shops/beach/restaurants........situated in a semi rural area with 3000 sqmt gardens,and opposited a wooded valley,ideal for dogs.......we have an outside,inground pool,also badminton crt to keep you fit whilst you are hunting for your ideal home......Anyway,just thought i`d give you a starting point as Altea has everything you could possible want,just Google it and you will see what i mean......Weatherwise it is very hot in the summer,August being the hottest,but people stay indoors out of the heat ,and of course there is Airconditioning......Relatives of mine live in Oliva just allong the coast from Altea,and they have a dog,and he finds his own cool spot,and has not had a problem with the heat, they get aclimatised to it.....and they cool down in the evenings by having a swim in the sea when they are out walkies.......Winter is perfect,we do have an open fire for occasional chilly evenings in Jan/Feb........and you could buy a cheap Gite in France if you wanted to get away for the summer school holidays if you found it too hot.....Good luck,hope you find your dream!


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12 Jun 2016 17:31 by tteedd Star rating in Hertfordshire & Punt.... 975 posts Send private message


Sorry, but I would say do not do it. Your children are the wrong age.

Early primary or pre-school children adapt well. Often better than their parents. They get messed up when/if their parents decide to go home.

Older children (unless they already have an international background) do not. I'm sorry to say it again but I have seen too many children who fail because of the change.

My advice is wait until the youngest is ready for university or in settled work.

If you want to still follow your dream, rent or (buy after renting and can support two properties - UK/abroad) for periods each year until you are absolutely clear that this is where you want to live permanently.

There are lots of British (and other nationalities) in Spain who live a happy, full life in the sun and enjoy visits to and from their children and grandchildren. I have no experience of France but suspect it must be similar.

Put the children first. Make sure they have a settled education.

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12 Jun 2016 17:39 by Tadd1966 Star rating in Los Montesinos. 1755 posts Send private message

I agree with treed

Your 7 yr old will be ok but it will take time

Your 12 yr old may struggle and I would say that in 12 to 18 months time it would be even harder 

Good international schools are not cheap in France or spain 

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge”

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12 Jun 2016 17:41 by hughjardon Star rating in Jaywick Sands. 419 posts Send private message

hughjardon´s avatar


I would recommend Camposol it is a fantastic place full of many nationalities you have everything nearby, the weather is fantastic the kids will love Camposol lots of areas to play the dogs run free and wild here and you wont have to feed them as everyone gives them scraps we had an alsation and he loved living there. 

You could home school as the internet is good too you can get a mansion for 60 thousand pool,gardens ,aircon

Dont let the Pig farm and the crime put you off thats just people scaremongering 

France is a rubbish country and the French hate the British where the Spanish just laugh at us.

Pm me if you need more info

Love Hugh xx

Done the Spain thing Happier in the UK

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12 Jun 2016 18:31 by windtalker Star rating. 1730 posts Send private message

As hughjardon said if you do choose Spain have a look at Camposol it is a large urbanization that people live on on year round what ever you do don't buy on any of the so called resorts they tend to have holiday makers for 3 months of the year and then turn into ghost towns they also have high maintenance charges unlike a urbanization like Camposol the yearly Council charge is €450 per year for a large 3 bed 3 bath villa with pool .

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12 Jun 2016 19:53 by floella Star rating in SE Spain. 779 posts Send private message

Plus an added advantage, especially for your children, re living on Camposol is that everyone speaks English ..even the young local Spanish shopkeeper speaks it with a northern accent !!

With extra tuition your 12 year old shouldn't have any problems learning French or Spanish especially as , from what you write, both you and your husband appear to have an ear for languages.

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12 Jun 2016 20:06 by acer Star rating. 1415 posts Send private message

It's high time this website name was update "Eye on Camposol"

Or perhaps to keep Floella happy - 'e up Camposol!

Don't argue with an idiot, he will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

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12 Jun 2016 20:12 by Hephaestus Star rating in The Peak District Na.... 1235 posts Send private message

As you wish to rent and have a very good budget of €1,800 pcm, I don't see the point in looking at anything other than the crem dela crem of rental properties. The Northern Costa Blanca and the Costa del Sol might just suit your requirements, but you need to see for yourself, however renting prior to buying is a good move.

Good hunting. yes


I'm Spartacus, well why not?

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13 Jun 2016 09:36 by GuyT Star rating. 496 posts Send private message

If the OP is flexible about whether to move to Spain or France then there is no reason to think they want to restrict themselves to the Spanish costas, as they won't find any English-speaking communities in France that I can think of. If chosing France, I would go for the Langue d'oc, between Perpignan and Montpelier. Lots of lovely cities and very Mediterranean...olives, vines, etc. Lots of space. The area around Bordeaux is also wonderful. We have owned a place in Cassis (next to Marseille) since 1950 (left to us by parents) and the Cote a'Azur has become steadily more crowded and is now horrible. So I would say stay away from Provence, beautiful though it is.

The north coast of Spain, all the way from Vigo to San Sebastian, is stunningly beautiful with interesting cities on the coast (Vigo, a Coruna, Gijon, Oviedo, Santander, Bilbao, San Sebastian) and plenty more an hour's drive inland  (Santiago, Leon, Burgos, Logrono, Pamplona, etc). The coast has a mild climate - and I've found it not as wet as people sometimes say. San Sebastian is very touristy but is one of the few places in Spain where property prices rise inexorably every year, But it's beautiful, one of the best city beaches (la Concha) in Europe, and a thirty minute drive to the French border at Hendaye.

Send the kids to boarding school in UK. 


This message was last edited by GuyT on 13/06/2016.

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13 Jun 2016 13:29 by Hephaestus Star rating in The Peak District Na.... 1235 posts Send private message


With respect the OP isn't the archetypal expat in Spain, with a rental budget of €1,800 pcm, a purchase budget of €600,000 plus, along with what appears to be very successful up and running business, they are far from skint members. If I were in their shoes I would be minded to seek the assistance of a professional independent property agent.


This message was last edited by Hephaestus on 13/06/2016.


I'm Spartacus, well why not?

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13 Jun 2016 15:10 by GuyT Star rating. 496 posts Send private message

Heph - what an odd comment - what makes you think I thought they were skint, as you put it? I wouldn't have recommended San Sebastian if I had - as $600k will only buy a modest 2 bed/2 bath flat. You won't get much change out of €600k in Bordeaux, either.  But how can you recommend they start talking to an estate agent before they've even decided what country they're going to live in?

"Hello, I'm interested in what you've got to rent in Barcelona. Oh, and Bordeaux while you're at it  Anything in Lyon?.... Marseille?"

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13 Jun 2016 15:54 by camposol Star rating in Camposol. 1408 posts Send private message

If I had the OP's budget, I would buy a really lovely house near Camposol, but not on it 

hughjardon- don't be too quick to dismiss rumours of a new pig farm with nearly 12,000 pigs

when we moved to Camposol, the pig farm that was already there hugely expanded, and so did the pong, although being country bred, it didn't bother me; on a very hot day it was great at clearing the sinuses!

Floella- the young shopkeeper you are thinking of( on A sector?) isn't Spanish!

The OP has put this post on so many expat forums now, he must be getting thoroughly confused!


This message was last edited by camposol on 13/06/2016.

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13 Jun 2016 16:07 by Hephaestus Star rating in The Peak District Na.... 1235 posts Send private message

GuyT, I never said that you thought that they were skint, please don't make things up, you'll only get the forum nasties excited. Your last comment was totally uncalled for, what you well know I meant was that when the OP had made a decision as to where, there are independent specialists who are expert on finding properties, and I don't recall the OP posting a liking for San Sebastian or Bordeaux, I belive that Paris and Madrid have some very expensive properties, however they also were never mentioned by the OP.


I'm Spartacus, well why not?

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13 Jun 2016 16:24 by weneedtomove Star rating. 3 posts Send private message

Hi all, wow! So many replies and enjoying reading every one of them. Will respond to all in due course.

But please, can someone tell me,,,what is an OP?????

I am new to forums. I presume this is forum lingo. Or am I just being dense?

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