A Sideways View Of Expat Life

Published on 06/10/2008 in Expat Life

Stress in SpainI recently gave a speech about 11 things they did not and will not teach would-be expats. I talked about how feel-good, commission-hungry estate agents created a generation of expats with no concept of reality and how this "dream" set them up for failure in the real Spain.

Rule 1:  Expat life is not fair - get used to it!

Rule 2 :  Expats and Spaniards alike will not care about your previous life. They will expect you to accomplish something in expatshire BEFORE you are respected. Able seamen become admirals, DIY enthusiasts become Master Builders. Shelf-stackers become supermarket magnates. Nobody cares - get used to it. They will expect you to pay your round.

Rule 3 :  You will NOT make 60,000 euros a year as you come straight off the plane. You won't be employed and you won't get a contract until you earn both.

Rule 4 :  If you think the UK is tough, wait till you try Spain.

Rule 5 :  Villa cleaning is not beneath your dignity. A previous generation of expats had a different word for villa cleaning; they called it opportunity.

Rule 6 :  If you mess up, it's not your neighbours' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7 :  Before you arrived, the traffic police weren't as tough as they are now. They got that way from dealing with expats with no paperwork, no insurance, no ITV and listening to you bang on about how you thought you were in the right. So before you abuse another officer to his face or on a forum, try getting your UK car registered here. Just because you have not done it for 7 years does not make it legal.

Rule 8 :  The UK may have done away with winners and losers, but Spain HAS NOT. In the UK, they have a welfare state that supports people when they fall. They'll give to you as MANY TIMES as you want to - housing benefit, disability allowances, single-parent allowances, job-seeker allowances, free dental care and a NHS service that has got itself on its knees with more administrators than surgeons. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in Spain.

Rule 9 :  Expat life is not divided into seasons. You don't get summers off from paying bills and very few landlords or mortgage lenders are interested in helping you "FIND YOURSELF IN SPAIN".
Do that on your own time. Do that with your own money.

Rule 10 :  Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the bar and go to look for work. The prices on "A Place in the Sun" are pre the introdcution of the euro ....and it rains!

Rule 11 :  Be nice to Spaniards. Chances are you'll end up needing one to help you. LEARN SPANISH...................................................you will not integrate and prosper with just English.

Written by: Steve Hall

About the author:I have lived in Torevieja, Alicante for 7 years and my key area of expertise is placing products or services into the expat markets of Spain. Successful projects to date include insurance, telephony, alarms, language courses and exhibition services.

I have tried to help many of the thousands of British and Northern Europeans who emigrate to Spain to settle in - we have organised Newcomers Clubs meetings, forums, free Spanish lessons and expat exhibitions. I have written extensively about life as "a new immigrant" in the expat press and I am regularly interviewed on English-language radio.

The backbone of this is an English language portal ThisIsSpain which I have deveoped over many years and which I am trying to expand into a respected source of information about expat life in Spain.

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Patricia said:
19 May 2011 @ 21:45

Just thought I'd bump this up again.


davidashbyash said:
15 April 2009 @ 01:33

at last an honest look at real life here, when i first came to spain the pound was 1.60 but i worked on the theory of parity, if you want to live in spain you must speak spanish we soon moan about people not speaking english in england it cuts both ways ps im 62 so even old farts can learn.
in spain if you dont pay in and your under 65 you will get nothing from the state, mr brown please note.
but work hard try to intigrate and you will love spain make many new friends and be happy if you want all the things from the uk why did you come to spain

EbroVoice said:
07 October 2008 @ 09:35

Oh Mr. Mildrew... but you do talk sense!

When folk back home are complaining about how hard their life is, and then add, "but you have it so easy in Spain!"

Do I? You have got to be joking!

Try looking after an 82 year old mother with vascular dementia and a chronically ill "him indoors" and earn a crust and contemplate how I am going to pick all my olives on my own.

I work 24/7 and have had to diversify and diversify. Constantly looking for any avenue of revenue.

In Catalonia you have to learn Spanish and Catalan.

Though life is hard out here, the countryside and the medieval towns and villages, the wonderful sandy beaches, the natural parks of the Ebro Delta and the Els Port mountain ranges greeting the Sierra Cardo dipping her toes into the cool Mediterranean - and the people are so warm and friendly; then we realized we are truly blessed to be living here.

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