Top 7 Most Annoying Clichés About Spain

Published on 18/05/2011 in Expat Life

Every week putting together the newsletter I have to read through quite a few articles that have been sent in to us. So many are simply unpublishable for a variety of reasons but some simply just use all the typical clichés which just drive me mad.

As soon as I read any of these I automatically lose interest and hit the delete button.

So today I thought I’d share with you the most annoying clichés which keep springing up and which have contributed to some of my extensive hair loss over the past few years.

Here goes.

1. “Spain offers year-round sunshine”

This is my favourite! Why do people think it’s sunny in Spain every day? Have they ever lived here? Spain is also a massive country; you cannot compare the weather in Marbella in the South to that of Santander in the North. What makes people think that foreigners only ever want to move to the coast?

Sun and cloud

Stop the press: In many parts of inland and Northern Spain it snows! And last year we had so many weeks of rain that some houses in the area ended up with a new postcode.

2. “It’s warm all year round”

Errr, no it’s not. Modern houses and apartments in Spain are NOT built to withstand any sort of cold weather whatsoever; and it certainly does get very cold here in the winter, especially on those many non-sunny days.

Cold hard floors, poor insulation and general lack of any central heating mean that your “place in the sun” becomes a “fridge in the rain” the rest of the time.

3. “It’s cheap to live in Spain”

It’s definitely no longer the cheap place it used to be. In some of the less touristy areas prices will be lower than those along the coasts and the main cities, but they have still risen. Just ask the average Spaniard for their opinion. Along the coasts, eating out is now something you budget for, whereas before you’d sit on a rickety plastic chair and pay very little, today you still sit on that chair but pay a lot more for the privilege.

And it’s all relative. Wages in Spain are very low and the cost of living has risen dramatically. It’s expensive for everyone. €1.35 for a liter of petrol today.

4. “The Spanish people are all so warm and friendly”

That’s because you have no idea what they are saying to you or about you! In any country or culture there are always “nice” and not-so-nice people and not everyone will be pleased to see you. That’s life.

I spend a lot of time in our village and know a huge amount of people here, Spanish and foreigners. I can’t say that any one nationality is any friendlier or more welcoming than the other.

I know some really nice Spaniards, but I also know some really horrible ones….like the ones in the town hall! Most expats simply don’t have a sufficient command of the Spanish language to ever strike up a proper friendship with a Spaniard. Saying “hola” and “adios” does not constitute a friendship and it doesn’t mean that those people are going to invite you to their daughter’s Holy Communion ceremony.

5 “It’s much safer in Spain than in UK”

I have heard this one so many times that it makes me want to cry and that poor lady in Tenerife who was beheaded last week, yes beheaded, in a supermarket, would probably disagree too.

A shooting outside a supermarket at 11am not far from where we live, banks held at gunpoint and countless burglaries, etc, make you realise that Spain is really no safer than your average civilised country.

It is a well known fact that many ex-cons from the UK and elsewhere often escape to the Spanish coasts, which is why Crimestoppers UK are active in Spain.

I was reading the other day about some expats who were gassed whilst they slept and the burglars made off with all their important belongings. How did they get in? Through the backdoor of course, they left it open every night so that the cat could come and go!

I rest my case.

6. “It’s the best place to make a new start in life”

Maybe, if you’re an ex-con and don’t get featured on Crimestoppers, but for everyone else, if you are running away from something or trying to “fix” something, Spain isn’t always the answer.

Moving to Spain brings with it a whole host of new problems and challenges and it’s because of this that we see so many people ultimately pack their bags and change their original comment of “UK is shite, I would never go back there” to “Spain’s in a crisis, we’ll come back some other time”.

It’s tough out here and it’s not always the answer people are looking for.

7. “My son speaks perfect Spanish after just 6 months in Spain”

“Really, that’s wonderful. Do you speak to him in Spanish at home?”

“No, I can’t speak Spanish.”

“So how on Earth do you know if his Spanish is any good or not??”

If my kids turned up tomorrow speaking German, to me they would sound like they were totally fluent, when in actual fact they were just getting by with some basic sentences.

Many expat kids struggle with the language with their parents thinking that all is great and little Tommy is just like any Spaniard in his class.

Time to book some Spanish lessons.

By the way, I do actually love living in Spain, but please, if you are going to submit an article for us to publish, at least be honest and realistic! It’s just better for everyone that way.

Do you have any clichés that make you squirm? Add it in the comments below.

Written by: Justin Aldridge (EOS)

About the author:

Justin has been running Eye on Spain for over 5 years and recently with his partner Susan launched their popular moving to Spain video guide, Spain Uncut.

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Pedro said:
16 August 2012 @ 00:07

I feel sorry for all the Spaniards, Portuguese, Greeks, Italians, Maltese and Cypriots that have to put up with you native english speaking annoying drunk people.

I wish you were treated in my country the same way you are treated in Spain and I wish all foreigners would leave the mediterranean and go back to your cold and so "way better" shit holes.

These cliches have been created by YOUR stupid tourist operators and mickey mouse real estate marketing.

I'm sick of your lack of manners of stupid irish and english drunks with your overweight sluts and the geriartric army that you deployed in our shores.

como tu quieres said:
27 June 2011 @ 01:52

Every country her people and the system have good and not so good experiences to offer to the extranjeros. Seeing is believing. I have lived and worked in many countries and also visited some very remote places on holidays. It is one thing to holiday in any country and another to adopt as a permanent home. I always take aboard all the good things of life that any country and its system &citizens offer, take that and leave the rest,hoping the nation will wake up to it and change it one day. Spain is no different, as I have lived here for ten years and yes some of the 3 do still treat the extranjeros with utter contempt. I first visited España in June 1969. Yes Franco was still alive and kicking, all the holiday resorts were still full with boozing drunk Brits both young and old and the hot blooded Spaniards were also making the most who never accepted the responsibilities for the night after. As a Moreno and of Indian origin they respected me for my no drinking silly and no nonsense attitude and offered me all pure vegetarian meals Despite of lack of the concept of it, I decided then that one day I will choose to live here. Funny how one looks at life. To day España has progressed in many ways but some things have not. The protests are living proof and that people(citizens) power is the that eliminates good and bad habits of a nation. Learn to integrate, don't over express your baggage,like Ryan Air 10KG is 10KG and do not bring more or you will be a victim. Accept each others weaknesses and shortcomings but don't be afraid to point it out as knowledge is powerful and when transferred at the right time it only becomes more viable. The Spaniards will learn to compromise. A nation where where some 54% of the population illiterate and still waking up to a nation without Francistas there will still be victims who do not do there homework before arriving with Ryan Air or via The White van weekly shuttle service. Take care of what ever little possessions you have, Free Spanish lessons are offered by many local town halls, Don't pretend you are on a permanent holiday if you choose to live here, Keep ringing Telefonica again & again if they have sneaked that extra mobile call or the famous 901/902..Calls and seek refund that is if you have NOT made these calls. Choose to go to your local or in my case the distant Spanish bar alone as in my case and enjoy a drink and tapas (a vegetarian one As I have given them several recopies to make their income and my life easier and sustainable. Yes they help me hold discussions with them, I correct their mistakes and they have taught me some simple but very useful ways to communicate as this is enhancing my Classes that I attend at the "Escuela Oficial de Idiomas." Justin is 100% right to observe the negative and positive aspects of "LIVING IN ESPAÑA. Living in any adopted country is deeper than merely scratching the surface. Do not be complaisant, You have been brave enough to change the country then be brave enough to change your lifestyle and attitude to it and what is around you. But also preserve your culture and your language as nietos have to be able to communicate with the abuelos too. Hopefully Ten years later all ex-pats can apply for full citizenship and feel at home. es I was only 18 when I left Kenya and went to UK to study, That was quiet an experience and There the Londoners Commented "oh...she speaks queenie's English I could not understand them" so I went to the local cinema and watched "My Fair Lady" That was equally surprising too. I could write a "hard back about the wonderful experiences of my life in all the countries I lived in and worked in and how I still managed to stay "pure vegetarian." Happy in España too.

keyser soze said:
19 June 2011 @ 18:24

Sorry Doctor Dave,blogg 20/5/11,no cigar pal,the UK is not even in the running for the most highly taxed (or expensive) country in the Europe,(or the world).Officially,Denmark is,and lets not take cheap shots by "dibbling" about indirect taxation (vat,corporation ,fuel duty etc)We still don't come close.Denmark is probably followed by Sweden,Norway,Germany,France etc etc.

I really have little interest in where people chose to live,but do admire accuracy.Shape up Doc,you're a big boy now.

Ken said:
31 May 2011 @ 13:55


I would not live in the UK if you paid me.

You don't have to - Go and sign on and we will send it to you like we do to the rest of europe Poles Romanians etc etc.

Patricia said:
29 May 2011 @ 20:59

Exactly right about the homework, Suzanna.

To which I would add the saying:

"Wherever you go, there you are".


suzanna said:
29 May 2011 @ 20:53

Please everyone do your homework before any change of lifestyle. Everywhere in the world has good points and bad points. I would not live in the UK even if you paid me loads of money. Your life, your home, your friends are what you make it. I like the SUMO approach. Shut up and move one.

Tony said:
26 May 2011 @ 13:03

Hi justin,
A good post for people like me, as I'm thinking of living in Spain myself. I'm not nieve to the fact that Spain is some "utopia". But thanks for the truth and honest description.

Sally said:
25 May 2011 @ 20:27

But for violent crime, Spain is way down the list.

I suspect the robberies are concentrated in big cities or areas where there are large numbers of holiday homes empty for much of the time. Or maybe in other countries people don't bother reporting them!?

There have only been two reported robberies in the last five years in the small country town where I live.

I certainly feel much safer here, though I wouldn't be daft enough to go out and leave the door unlocked.

Simon said:
24 May 2011 @ 22:55

Have a look at the figures for robberies. According to Nationmaster, Spain is the robbery capital of the world by an absolute mile (on a per capita basis).

Justin said:
24 May 2011 @ 21:05

Sally, I really don't believe those figures and the clause at the end sort of backs this up "Crime statistics are often better indicators of prevalence of law enforcement and willingness to report crime, than actual prevalence. "

Sally said:
24 May 2011 @ 13:48

You can't comment on whether one country is "safer" than another based on anecdotal evidence or things that have happened to people you know. The statistics show that you are nearly four times more likely to be the victim of a crime in the UK than in Spain.

Frank said:
23 May 2011 @ 19:08

I have really enjoyed the responses raised by this post. Everyones experience is bound to colour their views but most are very good and thought provoking. I own a proerty in Spain and hope to move there within a couple of years to enjoy the Sun, but not expecting El Dorado so I am looking forward without 'Rose coloured specs'. Also Spend a lot of time learning the lingo. Fluent is a word I would never use to describe my ability. You need to live there amongst the natives for quite a while to be ' fluent'. Pero aprendo poco a poco.
Hasta Luego Frank

Patricia said:
22 May 2011 @ 23:42

Hear, hear, Alan!!!


Paul B said:
22 May 2011 @ 16:55

The Spanish need desperately to get rid of the euro. The euro is the cause of all the country's problems. Go back to the peseta and all will be well again, surprisingly faster than you may think.

Pommers said:
22 May 2011 @ 12:11

Very thought provoking post, and loved and hated in equal proportion by the looks of the comments.

I'm firmly in the "get real" camp. And if this article makes people currently thinking about moving to Spain take a step back and think again it has served it's purpose.

Alan Talbot said:
22 May 2011 @ 09:25

In reply to Mike.
You almost leave me lost for words.
The most horrible people on the planet?
Never start a business in Spain, the laziest, unreliable, most corrupt, vulgar, anti business country on the planet?
Have you been in a different Spain to me?
I have lived in Spain for twenty years and yes I have been ripped off, mostly by solicitors and an English estate agent, I have been robbed at gun point( am I allowed to say by Gypsies?) but I have also run a successful business.
Of the 100 workers we employed only two where ex-pats, one to whom I gave a rent free house, trashed it because he claimed he was worth higher wages than his Spanish counterparts and the other attempted to beat me up because he claimed that I owed him money. (Our Spanish workers did not clock watch and if they had a mix of mortar left at finishing time would carry on working until they had used it up and then wash of their tools).
Yes there are problems with Spanish bureaucrats, Endesa & Telephonic but we now live in possibly the most beautiful part of inland Spain where we have fantastic neighbors (yes Spanish) for whom nothing is too much trouble and only last week spent an entire evening showing us around their beautiful capital city) .
Unlike most ex-pats we could afford to buy an house in the UK and I suggested to my wife who speaks less Spanish than me that we should do so in case I should die first, she would have the option to return to the UK, to which she replied, she would rather die here amongst friends than in the UK with relations
I hope you notice that I omit to mention where we live because we do not want any winging ex-pats as neighbors.

Mike said:
21 May 2011 @ 19:26

Escaped from spain last year,so happy to be finished with the dump,the most horrible people on the planet,never ever start a business in spain,the laziest,unreliable,most corrupt,vulgar,anti business country on the planet, leave spain to the spanish,THEY DESERVE IT!!

Rosa Reed said:
21 May 2011 @ 17:05

Probably because I'm not familiar with the parts of Spain where the English have made their main and second homes, I haven't met many "ex-pats" in Spain. I live in England, supposedly so terrible, with my lovely English husband. We live in a rural village where there has never been any crime and there is wonderful community feeling, many community activities and the doors are always left open. All my Spanish relatives envy my lifestyle, a house we actually OWN (so rare in Spain apparently unless you're an ex-pat) and that we have plenty of work. In the last year two of my family have joined us here as it's so much better for them and we expect more to come if things don't change in Spain soon. There is now a whole generation without hope.
So it's funny......while the English go off to Spain to live, the Spanish are leaving - if they are able to, to look for a better life for themselves and they really don't care very much if the sun shines every day in their new country, so long as they can get work and build a happy and healthy life.

Robbie said:
21 May 2011 @ 10:37

I've owned property in Spain for years and 4 years ago after much research decided to move to Spain and start a business.
Ha, I hadn't factored in dealing with the likes of Telefonica and Endessa ,banking system, red tape and the stonewalling by corrupt or simply useless government officials.
Then you have the Correos who consistently lose your post, and there's Telefonica along with Endessa and these must be the three most useless companies on the planet. Don't rely on them for your post, communications or power supplies.
The whole of the Spanish system seems to be engineered to knock the entreprenurial stuffing out of you before you even get started.
After a whole year, £50K out of pocket I was still no further along getting the business off the ground than when I started.
I gave up and came back home. A pity really because Spain could be such a great country. You look around at all the good things about it and it's tantalizingly close to being the perfect place to live and work and yet the Spanish collectively conspire to prevent this.
My hair has since grown back but it will be a long time before I consider starting any kind of business in Spain again.

Patricia said:
20 May 2011 @ 21:38

Just to say that this article is NOT about making Spain look bad. It simply points out the good and the bad, which exist in ALL countries, not just Spain. It is far better to have a realistic view of a country, and I feel the thrust of the article is to try to get people to see that you need to take the same precautions in Spain as they would at home or in any other country.

You certainly would not leave your doors open at night in the U.K. or indeed anywhere else, and you would take adequate care of your belongings when out and about. People can be burgled or mugged anywhere, and Spain is no exception.

Of course it is not 40ºC all the year round, and just as well! It is misleading to ply the myth that there is sunshine 24/7 all year round. It snows, heavily, in many parts of Spain, and some Winters much closer to the southern coast that one would think!

There is nothing wrong IM in telling people the truth.


Tony said:
20 May 2011 @ 20:06


I have read a few of the comments posted here about this post. All I have to say is that I have lived here many, many years and have never been burgled, robbed or anything like that. Then why so different experiences? Maybe not taking precautions? Maybe showing off too much?...
Do you think life is easy for foreigners when they come to UK?
I think that, considering the number of people your posts reach, you should be a little bit more careful with your messages because this is the least we need.

Melvyn Males said:
20 May 2011 @ 17:53

Oh boy, very good article, the next draft of people moving to Spain will have a lot of indication of what life is really like, and just perhaps this artical will help.

Christopher Gamble said:
20 May 2011 @ 17:30

Blimey...that's a surprise one....who rattled your cage LOL!

Cynthia said:
20 May 2011 @ 10:14

I agree - there is no 'perfect' place to live. I have lived in 8 different countries and after 9 years here in Spain we are just going through the decision process to leave - which is REALLY hard. I love it here - but living in any foreign country is hard. Definitely harder than living in your own country. So I agree with Justin - think hard about your reasons for wanting to live here (or anywhere else except 'home') because most of those reasons won't change your life. We live in a small village just outside Madrid (provence) and it is fantastic. I had both my children here in Spain and we have some great facilities here and a great house and some great reasons to live here. BUT that being said - it is hard and I have experienced all the same negatives as the other people living here. ;-) one thing no-one has mentioned which really gets me is the shrugging!!! They do something wrong and you have no recource - they just shrug!!! like "not my problem lady" ... unbelievable ... and don't get me started on the driving!!! Anyway - there are positives and negatives for living anywhere. And Justin I think you are right to point out a few negatives for a reality check now and again. For me the worst thing - you can't trust anyone. The best thing - the climate really is fantastic - yes it is cold in winter but usually sunny with it.
Hmmmm - it is going to be hard to leave!

dr david ashby said:
20 May 2011 @ 01:50

hi justin
if you think spains not so good try england
1, petrol £1.45
2, gas and light £2300 pa
3, average food bill pw if your not jamie oliver no luxeries £180
4, friendly english people not in my area we have europes biggest mosque here most people dont speak english
5,yes spain is like any other country if you go inland it is a bit cheaper but compared to uk 2011 its paradise.
6, almost forgot uk is highest taxed country in the world if you think spains bad try uk

Patricia said:
19 May 2011 @ 21:37

Lesley :

I so agree with your very sensible post.

"Why do you arrive with no health insurance and having done no research about anything in advance of moving here??? Why do you buy a property online without even viewing it first?? It beggars belief.".

That is why I have a big problem with that overworked word "dream". A dream is just that, a kind of mirage. You need to be hard-headed and sensible if locating to another country, any other country. Don't burn your bridges; keep some kind of home for the time being back in your own country until you see how you get on; and as Claudine points out, make very sure you have enough funds to keep you going, and enough for contingencies.

Best to all

Claudine Delacour said:
19 May 2011 @ 20:53

Year round sunshine interspersed with torrential floods and freezing cold house. We used to watch telly with a quilt over us huddled up on the sofa.
Friendly Spanish yep I go along with that one, unless they're under 25 years old then hang onto your handbag.
Safer? Only if you fancy never going out having 12 locks and living behind rejas.
Cheap? Well yes if again you never go out and fancy living on bean stew and your teetotal
New start? Yes if you are prepared to work all the hours under the sun to compete or are financially solid and don't find alcohol & cocaine as substitutes to problems
Perfect Spanish? Well ok I hear what you're saying but my daughter won an inter Malaga story writing competition for her school after being in a Spanish school less than 3 months. She also won it the following year. The only child to ever do so, regardless of Nationality.

I moved back to the UK three years ago after 9 years on the Costa del Sol and me & my daughters still want to go 'home'. The education system was failing them as they got older due to racism. The teachers were racist against the English & therefore so were a lot of pupils. Such a shame. But I can understand it in some ways. Some of the English there we were ashamed to be associated with but were tainted by our Nationality.

David H said:
19 May 2011 @ 20:44

I live on the Costa del Sol and have come to the conclusion that it helps if you think of Spain as 'third world'; 'not a serious country'; and not likely to adopt northern European ways any time soon. If you remind yourself of this, and remind your partner if you have one, every day, you will in time be transformed into an altogether happier and more contented person.

Lesley said:
19 May 2011 @ 20:25

OK there are frustrations moving and living here in Spain but an awful lot of brits leave their brains behind at the airport. Please tell me why you would move here with school age children before taking responsibilty for them being fluent in Spanish BEFORE they arrive? I bet at least some of those people have complained bitterly about other nationalities not being able to speak English in the UK and time being wasted in schools helping children whose first language is not English. Why do you arrive with no health insurance and having done no research about anything in advance of moving here??? Why do you buy a property online without even viewing it first?? It beggars belief. Yes of course there are frustrations about moving and living here and yes I was ripped off by a (british) builder...luckily by not too much and yes there are people waiting to rip you off again but if you try to learn as much Spanish as possible...try to make friends with local shopkeepers...ask their advice re the language and make it look as though you are at least trying USUALLY they will help you. Does no-one in the UK watch consumer programmes full of dreadful problems caused by UK companies. Be assertive, ask questions, employ a translator and above all do not go into shops and health centres etc and speak English..take your translator...take a out some relevant sentences before you go and USUALLY they will find a friend or relative who can speak English and they will ring them to see if they can help with your struggle to communicate. There will always be people with a bad attitude wherever you go. Stop expecting life here to be the same as in the UK, stop sitting around drinking all day and embrace the fact that you can go and buy something in a local shop and if you dont have the cash on you they will let you go back later to pay and let you take your purchase home....ok its usually because they want cash and not a card payment so that they dont have to put it thro the books. If you want a variation on a meal on the menu you will usually get what you many times have i asked for a variation on a uk restaurant menu to be told oh no you have to have whats there. STOP whinging

Maddiecat said:
19 May 2011 @ 18:23

Very good Justin. We love our place but it is on top of a mountain and cannot be built around. It is on the coast and it is cold in the winter. We are still working in the uk and hope to semi retire there for 6-8 weeks at a time in a coupl e of years time.
Our complex was built by a reputable promoter from Valencia. But we were fobbed off. On our snagging list 6 months before completion was the bath which had big chips and gouges where the tilers had dropped the tiles in it (or they had got a second hand one from somewhere). We were assured that a new one had been installed and to all intents and purposes with no electric on the day we did the final signing and it looked ok. Until we took possession and started using the bath and guess what the paint they had painted the inside of the bath with to disguise all the imperfections started to float off around us. I tried for three years to get them to agree to change it without success. Each year we just paint over the biggest gouge with enamel paint. This has been going on for 5 years now and we were waiting till our retirement before replacing it or take it out and put in a walk in shower instead. However due to the UK housing market it is going to be another couple of years before we retire so we may have to do something sooner as we don't think it will last another couple of years. So beware of Vivienda Jardin in Valencia who are like all promoters just after your money as quick as they can get it.

pat said:
19 May 2011 @ 18:19

agree with most of your 7 cliches .
When in Rome , live like the romans do ...
A lot of ex pats want to recreate the UK ,
down here , as if Spain was like India some while back .Well, if not for the money brought
in by expats , most Spaniards would willingly
get rid of most expats , so when the money runs out for whatever reason , dont expect
too much sympathy and pack your bags .
I read a post about Spaniards ex pats living
in the UK , at least they do try to speak english and are low profile .
How about them hordes of UK tourists, giving
UK a real bad image , prancing around in town
centers , with no shirts on and stupid hats and
swimming trunks ...
Try to read the national or local spanish press, watch the local TV and listen to local
radios , forget you are oh so british , and you
will get on fine with local authorities , builders, drivers , and neighbours .
Proud to be living in Spain , like the Spaniards
Now , there are plenty of countries with cheap
living , suggest you try some , they ll love you
with your Daily Mail and stupid binge drinking.
Hasta luego , hombres

Ron Garza said:
19 May 2011 @ 17:51

No, I totally agree, it is best to tell it like it is. To do otherwise is socially irresponsible. I'm still going to spend a year in Spain (if I ever get my visado), but now I have a better feel for what reality is there. Thanks, Justin.

p.s., I wish someone had warned me about Ecuador. They all made it sound like heaven. I'm lucky I didn't get stabbed or kidnapped.

Patricia said:
19 May 2011 @ 17:37

Agreed Justin too on your Point 3.

Wages are low and the Spanish themselves have to struggle with the cost of living. Recessionary times hit everyone.

And I just wanted to add there is no such thing as "bueno, bonito y barato". Not in any context. It's a contradiction in terms.


CarolineJ said:
19 May 2011 @ 17:33

I agree wholeheartedly with these comments.
Personally, I would go back to the UK at the drop of a hat, and not look back. But, my partner loves it here, probably more than me because he does not have to deal with anything "Spanish" eg. Banking, Telefonica, Iberdrola - need I say more?
I know things are not all rosey in the UK, but at least you have a fighting chance to sort things out, as opposed to being ignored, fobbed off, or just left to your own devices to struggle on.
Am I a whingeing Brit - YES, I am!!!
I want to go HOME - but choose to stay with my partner, hey ho - that's life.

Jacqueline said:
19 May 2011 @ 17:28

I laughed when I read your article, Justin. I have a holiday home in Aguilas that I bought 7 years ago and I'm planning on moving there from Los Angeles when I retire in about 3 years. The most disappointing thing to me about Spain has been the builders. As soon as I bought the home I had several things redone, windows, floors, in and out, doors, etc. My builder never finished anything and most of the things that weren't factory made were badly constructed and needed redoing. Even the beautiful pre-made wooden door I chose, once they put it up, they cut the bottom too short! So I had open space for any varmints who wanted to make themselves at home. The worse part of all is that the workers put plaster water down the toilets! My pipes, which were old, have gotten unusable and now I finally have to replace the entire plumbing system for 3500 euros. I didn't just get this builder off the street, he was recommended by my realtor. Cousin of his cousin, blah blah. Second architect recommended by my lawyer, shitty work, no steel in anything, took him 6 months to build one wall next to my pool, (he never did it, his wife and their young helper finally did). I also try to rent it out for holiday bookings, that didn't happen because of all the junk, cement mixers, wood, etc, he left in the driveway for all that time. When his helpers finally finished, he demanded his money right away. By the way, he was British. My third builder built a great retaining wall, did some tile work outside, all good. My roof was leaking three years ago, he charged me 4,000 euros to redo the roof and I trusted him because he'd done good work before. The roof is still not done today. I know because I'm a woman people feel they can take advantage of me and that's everywhere, but I'm tired of people not doing their jobs and getting away with it. Hopefully my new builder will do a good job on the plumbing, he was also highly recommended and is British. We shall see! I do love Spain and have been in my area, Aguilas, in every month of the year. The weather is colder than I thought, I checked before I bought and the Costa Calida is supposed to have the warmest climate in Spain. However, it is freezing in winter, which seems to be from mid-October to May! I'm still trying to find an economical way to heat the place, it doesn't have a fireplace and my electric bill for a month in December is about 399 euros. But I love Spain, I've been taking classes to learn the language, I agree good people and bad, and I love the laid back lifestyle. So looking forward to living there permanently with my partner. Hoping to make real friends one day, but I'm patient!

midasgold said:
19 May 2011 @ 17:13

Manners are lacking here with the Spanish.
Hold the door open for someone dont expect any thanks. When driving and let someone out of the side road dont expect any thanks.
Walking along a path expect to have to go onto
the road as the guy in front will occupy the whole area to talk to his mate. Etc,Etc....

Roge said:
19 May 2011 @ 16:16

Hey , pues muchas gracias. Articles us such are a great help for us the spanish people amigo mío. No need to say I am being sarcastic. Perhaps some "unhappy" people should really consider to go back to their countries...

Julie said:
19 May 2011 @ 15:13

I have recently returned to the Uk after spending 7 years in Spain. I enjoyed most of my time there, but I do not regret leaving. I agree with everything Justin has said.
I do not believe it is safer in Spain than the Uk. A very high percentage of people I knew in Spain had been a victim of some sort of crime. I had my bag stolen after being there 12 days, and I am very safety conscious. I personally found most people very friendly and helpful, but I have found the same here in the UK.
As far as the weather is concerned, I have lost count of the amount of Brits that have said to me, 'you are mad for moving back here! All that beautiful weather all year round!' Ha! if only that were true. Its funny how people assume its not cold over there in winter. As Justin rightly pointed out, the houses are not built for warmth.
Education is very difficult for ex pats. Our daughter was 11 when we went there. she did struggle with the language, and therefore the rest of her education suffered as a result. We did believe she was fluent in Spanish, but only in conversational, everyday circumstances. Lessons were a whole different thing.
As a whole, I think this article was well written and gives an honest opinion of life in Spain. People that are maybe thinking of making the move there from the UK are entitled to know what its really like, so they can go with their eyes wide open. It would be unfair to paint the wrong picture and pretend everything is rosy. At least, if everything goes horribly wrong, they can't say they were not warned.

Justin said:
19 May 2011 @ 14:45

Thanks for the comments Phil.

The funny thing is that I wrote an article a few months back about the things I most love about living in Spain and then got slaughtered by the anti-Spain readers!

Four of the points I mentioned above ALL appeared in just one article sent to me to publish. I just thought it was too much and it's not helpful to anyone when they are considering living here.

Having had so many friends (expat and Spanish) suffer so badly because of the downturn here, it is important that those looking to move to Spain now realise that it's not all sun and sangria. These are tough times.

Bill said:
19 May 2011 @ 14:43

Yes comments along the lines of "you'll become fluent within 2 years" are the ones that really wind me up. Especially as they can only come from people who have never themselves tried to become fluent in another language.

Patricia said:
19 May 2011 @ 14:37

P.S. Justin. I just love your Point 7. LOL.

And then, there used to be that slogan, remember. "Spain is Different". Of course it is!
Vive la difference!!


Phil said:
19 May 2011 @ 14:35

Some good points made, but maybe not completely fair.

After having lived in Spain for over seven years I still think that despite the bad points it is a far nicer place to live than a lot of the UK.

Yes it does get cold at times but nothing that a warm jumper doesn't fix. I estimate that our heating doesn't go on more than half a dozen times a year!

And the summers... isn't it lovely to play golf in shorts and polo shirts for ten months each year :-)

I have to agree that prices have gone up a lot in the past few years, though some of the complaints that I hear are from people that still earn in Sterling where the poor exchange rate really hits hard.

And I feel that it is still far safer in Spain than the UK as long as you don't fall into the trap of believing that nothing will ever happen to you.

Some of our friends have been robbed, but many of them walk around with their bags wide open, purses and wallets on show, leave their cars and homes unlocked, windows open, etc. Isn't that just inviting the less honest amongst the community to dive in and help themselves.

Many visitors, and ex-pats, seem to leave their brains on the plane and forget all the obvious precautions that they take for granted in the UK.

One thing that I won't argue with is the nightmare that is Spanish bureaucracy. They really know how to turn the average person into a gibbering wreck with their attitude towards public service.

This is a prime reason why we are considering leaving Spain for good, the sheer hassle of trying to build and run a business legally without being screwed into the ground!

But we will still heartily recommend Spain as a top holiday destination, a great place to own a second home, a wonderful place to enjoy a relaxed lifestyle, the number one golf venue in Europe, just maybe not the easiest place in the World to live in....

Patricia said:
19 May 2011 @ 14:34

This is what Justin said:

"I really like living in Spain and have some great Spanish friends, but it doesn't mean it's perfect. I don't think that place exists!

The article is realistic. I have lived in Spain all my adult life, quite a long time, my husband is Spanish, and neither he nor I are blind to the shortcomings of the country, perceived or otherwise. There is NO perfect country.


heather meston said:
19 May 2011 @ 14:25

your comments are very accurate as far as I am concerned.
I came to Spain as a tourist in the '80's, bought a holiday home on the coast and could not wait to retire here even though I had been the victim of burglary, car theft, robbery and a friend who was staying with me got mugged while queing at the public phone box near our house. I came here to live permanantly in 2006 and to oversee the completion of our new house being built after being badly let down by our Spanish builder and loosing a lot of money by being too trustworthy of the builder, solicitor and architect. The house finally got completed by an English builder at a highly inflated price. The solicitor tried to sue our first builder but he had so many embargo's against him by banks, he advised us not to bother. We never paid the solicitor any money because he never billed us. The architect did not do his job properly and he never billed us either.
We live in our lovely house in a Spanish village where the villagers greet us friendly enough but it has never gone further than that.
After all these years of having a 'love affair' with Spain it seems that the layers are eventually peeling away and I am seeing the light. The high speed railway is going through our area and friends have suffered badly and one has died from the stress that it has caused to their lives and loss of their homes. Other friends have unwittenly bought their dream homes only to find them illegal under Spanish law, even though they are lovely homes and have enhanced the area and brought a lot of revenue into the area, mortgages repayments taxes etc.
Other friends have been given mortgages by banks even though they were over 90years old and had no way of paying the money back, others
were in their 60's and had low pensions and yet given huge loans and are now without their homes.
I am in the spanish health system and when I asked my GP for a mammogram and smear test she told me to go back to my own country.
I would not go back to live in the UK and still enjoy many aspects of living here but I would never encourage anyone to buy a property in Spain. Rent and find out over a period of time if its for you without being tied and do not put your eggs all in one basket, live in the UK and spend time in Spain if you can afford that, otherwise do not bother, too problematic!

Gary I said:
19 May 2011 @ 14:25

OK, I'll take us back to other cliches that annoy ...

1. Puerto Banus - playground of the rich and famous!!


2. The National Health System is streets ahead!

Yes, I agree with this, wholeheartedly, but that it is because there is a much more efficient Private Health Sector and we all pay a lot more National insurance to the state system

3. A twist on Justin's Sunshine one...

320 days of sunshine!

am desperately trying to think of more...

Summer said:
19 May 2011 @ 14:24

It's one thing to be honest, it's another to sensationalise issues to provoke responses.

As to whether or not it's safe to live in Spain. I would say it's as safe to live here as in any other country affected by current economic conditions (and that of course includes the UK). Desperate people sometimes employ means they woudn't normally use.
It makes sense to lock your doors and take care of your handbag/wallet/important personal belongings wherever you live and in reality has always been the case.

And as for the comments about 'ex-cons not featured on crimestoppers', that's just pandering to UK media prejudice. And as John has already said, your so-called ex-con is much more likely to keep their head down than do anything to bring themselves to the attention of the local policia.

Year-round sunshine.... Although the weather has not been great through the winter months the last couple of years, we still get sun at some point most days in Granada, even when the temperature is low. You can go for weeks without seeing the sun at all in the UK. No way would I want to go back to those permanent grey skies.

As to the 'cliche' about Spanish people being friendly, anyone who bases their need to move to any country on whether the people are friendly or not is sadly lacking in common sense. Like you say, there are nice and not-so-nice people all over the World. You can even find friendly people at the town hall sometimes. :)

This article gives me the feeling that you are not happy with your life in Spain, Justin, despite saying otherwise. And as a result you have put some of your frustrations in print, but in a way to get more comments on EOS, as well as pander to what you think is the mood of the average forum member here.
I don't think it worked.

Patricia said:
19 May 2011 @ 14:17

Absolutely great article, Justin! Keep them coming.
There are good and less good aspects in any country. Spain is no different, the U.K. is no different and my own country, Ireland, is no different.
If people come to Spain, or to any country, with unrealistic expectations, and with their head in the clouds, well, they are in for some disappointments.

As I mentioned in a post on the forum, in the first quarter of this year NINE MILLION tourists came to Spain. The country has much to offer, and all that is required is to exercise a little common sense.

Best to all

Valerie said:
19 May 2011 @ 14:11

Couldn't agree more. Thanks.

Frank said:
19 May 2011 @ 14:02

Good honest post Justin. I have just been banned from a Spanish forum site for a particular village in Spain simply because I raised what I fealt was a serious issue re Dog fouling and Barking dogs during the night. They did not feal that these comments reflected well on the area even though they were honest. Seems some people just want to live in their own little 'reality' and don't want anything to break that spell.
Best wishes Frank

Jules Charles said:
19 May 2011 @ 13:57

I totally agree with your comments, I have lived here 17 years, and hoping to head home at the end of next year. Rude town hall officials, impossible burocracy, incredibly bad customer service, and 9 months of winter followed by three months of hell. Not to mention the astronomical charges for electricity, plus the non-existent job market. Spain should just close all the borders and not let tourists in at all, they are doing so much to deter people.

Karen said:
19 May 2011 @ 13:57

Justin, I agree with your comments on there are good and bad spaniards. Unfortunately my experience over the past 6 years of trying to sort out many problems with our purchased home is that most spaniards when it comes to business try to exploit foreigners. Even though I speak fluent spanish when dealing with supposedly reputable businesses once they realise by my name I am a foreigner the prices go up and the problems dont get sorted. Even relentless visits to the town hall and numerous meetings with utility providers gets us nowhere. Perhaps in hindsight a name change would be a good idea!

Justin said:
19 May 2011 @ 13:54

Thanks for your comments Paul. We actually live in France.

Just joking! We actually live on the Costa del Sol and have done for nearly seven years.

The point of the article isn't to say Spain is crap, it's about being realistic. We live here very happily but as with anywhere, there are always pros and cons. For us Spain has more pros which is why we live here.

But we don't pretend it's perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Just see what's going on with all these protests in Madrid at the moment and you'll see there is much discontent in Spain.

I wish I'd read more honest opinions on life in Spain before we moved over and perhaps we would have been more prepared for the disaster which was our initial move.

I really like living in Spain and have some great Spanish friends, but it doesn't mean it's perfect. I don't think that place exists!

Paul said:
19 May 2011 @ 13:41

You can say the same for any country in the world. No wait in many it is far worse than you describe above, far worse.

What is the temp in Barcelona in summer? Is it hotter than most northern European countries? Granada's Sierra Nevada is HOT in summer and snow in the winter, that just how it is. What should we say? "Spain has some warm to hottish sometimes in some parts weather for more than 50 days less than 300 but somewhere in between."

I agree with Sarah, it looks like you may have got a job on the anti-spain board.

Quick question Justin, where do you live? Oh and another question, why do you live here?

Justin said:
19 May 2011 @ 13:39

Good point Bruce :)

Trevor said:
19 May 2011 @ 13:39

As someone trying to sell property inland I wish you had not published this article. It sums up nicely the problems of moving to Spain and gives a small dose of reality about life here. I have always tried to be honest with potential buyers regarding life here but with sales so tight now I need the sun to shine all year!

Bruce said:
19 May 2011 @ 13:38

You have listed seven stereotypes, not cliches.

Justin said:
19 May 2011 @ 13:38

Thanks for the comments John. I think the main problem is that people feel safer in Spain and they are more relaxed when it comes to personal and home security.

We know people who have been burgled, robbed, etc. A friend of mine was held at knife point in his house one night a few months back. He's over 6ft 3 tall and built like a you know what. They made off with a lot of money and expensive items.

My partner Susan had her bag stolen from her lap whilst eating a McDonalds! She didn't notice until it was too late.

Things do happen and people do need to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their belongings.


Anne said:
19 May 2011 @ 13:36

God bless your cotton socks Justin for being so honest with your observations. It's a breath of fresh air. I really hope that with all the problems that we experience (Brits and Spanish alike) that we can come together at some point and overcome them however, work together and be respectful of our differences, but be TRUTHFUL along the way as we try and find solutions. Ever the optimist but I'm not holding my breath!!!!

John said:
19 May 2011 @ 13:31

“It’s much safer in Spain than in UK”

As a former CID officer in UK and having been a voluntary translator with the police in Spain for over 15 years, I can say for sure it is MUCH safer in Spain that it was in the UK even 23 years ago when I retired, and it is much less safe in UK now that it was then.

As being gassed in one's house. How can anyone know that happened unless they were extremely ill after or they find gas bottles etc. I have known many cases where people have claimed to be gassed but so far not one one which stand up to scrutiny. It may happen but very rarely.

As for ex-cos living here. In the main such people keep their heads down so do not pose a threat to anyone.

Ron said:
19 May 2011 @ 12:56


I have to say that this is the most accurate and true posting that I have seen on any site for years in fact. I totally agree with all that you have said and I do not understand the people that beg to differ. It must be pride I guess!

We lived in Spain for 5 years until moving back to the U.K. in January.
And before I am lambasted for leaving Spain for the wrong reasons i.e. the usual "Run Out Of Money", "Regret Going In The First Place", "Could Not Learn The Language" etc. I would point out that we run 3 very successful Businesses, I learnt Spanish fluently and with the exception of a great English Couple ALL of our friends were Spanish and happily integrated us into their Social Lives.
For us Spain is now an unhappy place to live with the majority of the Spanish sad and short of money.
Why also do Bar Owners put their prices up to make up for the shortfall in tourists? Surely they should encourage people into the Bars by REDUCING prices.

I could go on and on, however, it would be seen as sour grapes by many not willing to admit the truth!

Thanks again Justin for the article, never were truer words spoken!


Jon said:
19 May 2011 @ 12:55

Hi, The sites always got something of interest and I imagine that your article is intended to provoke feedback, comments or replies or maybe it's just time for a chill pill.

Sarah said:
19 May 2011 @ 12:50

Blimey Justin, have you just got appointed Head of the French Tourist Board?!

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