Thank you for taking the time to visit My Move to Spain.
I am a regular Englishman who with my wife decided to make move to live in Spain in 2003.
We moved when our children were just 4 years and 6 months old. We live in Jerez de la Frontera, Cadiz in Andalucia, which for those who don’t know is in Southern Spain.
I came here knowing just a handful of spanish words and phrases but my one massive advantage was that my wife is spanish.
Here is an interview I did for Expat Interviews about 4 years ago now but it might help for you to get to know me more.
For British expat Paul, living and working in Andalucia, Spain, is a pleasurable and rewarding experience. He loves it there so much that he and his wife have established a business to help make the experience of moving to Spain easier for other people. Paul shares several aspects of expat life in Andalucia, including the cost of living and housing, and his thoughts on the Spanish way of life.
-Where were you born? Balham, London, England
-In which country and city are you living now? Jerez de la Frontera, Andalucia, Spain
-Are you living alone or with your family? With my wife Esther & children Raul & Katrina
-How long have you been living in Spain? 5 years
-What is your age? 45
-When did you come up with the idea of living in Spain? My wife is from Valladolid, Northern Spain, and having visited many times we began to talk about living in Spain one day. We considered that if we did not make the move when the children were young we would probably never make the move. My wife was quite comfortable living in London, she had been living in England for 9 years but we both thought that the children and ourselves could have a better quality of life in Spain. We haven’t been disappointed! We actually found Jerez and the Costa de la Luz by taking a holiday there and we both knew it was the place for us.
-Was it hard to get a visa or a working permit? Not required, as I am a European citizen, I just applied for residency.
-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived? No, we took forms 301 but got our social security cards very quickly.
-How do you make your living in Spain? Do you have any type of income generated? We came here with the idea that my wife would probably find work much quicker and easier than myself. I was prepared to do pretty much anything to start off with, so as to integrate and help me learn the language. After many trips taking our CV’s to agencies, hotels, car hire services, etc., but to no avail.
I ended up getting a job through my Spanish teacher at the time, who knew the owner of a metal design company who was looking for a welder and fabricator. I had experience in this field as I ran my own ironwork business back in the UK. I got a 6-month contract. I then went on to work for a removals company, driving and interpreting, as a lot of the work was in the American naval base in Rota. In between this my wife got a very good job with an import/export company.
Now we are running Spanish Sol-utions, our successful Relocation Company, helping people who also want to move to this beautiful part of the world!
-Do you speak Spanish and do you think it’s important to speak the local language? Yes, but I am still a long way from perfecting it. On a personal note I get very frustrated if I cannot make myself understood or understand what someone is talking to me about. It is a case of respect and integration, I came to Spain to enjoy the culture and enjoy everything Spanish, and without speaking the language I don’t think you can do that. For me it is a must and I would recommend for anyone serious about coming to live in Spain who wants to get the most out of the experience, start to take lessons before you come!
-Do you miss home and family sometimes? Of course I miss my family and friends, but although we don’t see as much of each other as I would like, the time we do spend together is quality time and we make the most of each other and our time together. I really do not miss much about England but I do see Spain following the same route for the good and the bad. I would say it is about 10 years behind, if not less.
-Do you have other plans for the future? I have always liked to travel but since I got married and had children and moved to Spain our holidays are spent between my in-laws in Valladolid and my family in England.
My business allows me to travel locally and I feel privileged to live and work in this beautiful part of Spain. An unspoilt coastline and diverse countryside with so much to see and do is fantastic. Developing our relocation business and helping people make the move to Spain a happy experience and spending time with my family are my immediate plans. I want to take the kids to Disney, Orlando next year though!
-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?
We rented for the first 5 months at a cost of 500€/month for a 4-bed house (we overpaid) but you only learn that afterwards. We then bought the same 4-bed house we live in now in Jerez. I do not have any thoughts about selling but it is probably worth 3 times what we paid for it. I get the feeling that is pretty much similar to the housing market in most of Spain.
-What is the cost of living in Spain? It has gone up a lot in the years since we have been here and the wages have not. I went to England in March and was shocked at the prices of transport and eating out. In that respect here in Jerez and the surrounding area is much cheaper.
-What do you think about the Spaniards? I live in a Barrio and the people are on the most part very friendly but I do find that as most of the people have all their family living very close their need for friendship is not high on their agenda. The other thing I would say about Andaluces that I have met in general, they will welcome you into their lives but only to a point and there it stops. The other thing that I have just about got used to is the bluntness of the people, they don’t hesitate to ask you things like how much you earn, how much you paid for your house/car, or what your mortgage costs are, etc.
-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Spain? The Spanish mentality to enjoy life, fiesta, siesta, etc. The weather and the outdoor life. Tapas, wine, the food, ferias. The passion, the pride of Andalucia. Slower pace of life.
Negatives: Bureaucracy, corruption, customer attention. Dog crap, litter, and ignorance. Spanish driving.
-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in Spain? Learn Spanish and forget all about how everything worked in your particular country because it works differently in Spain.
-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about Spain? For anyone interested in moving, relocating, retiring or investing in Spain, I would seriously advise them to look at www.olesolutions.net
We can help in every step of the way to moving and living in this beautiful part of Andalucia.