Thinking of Moving to Spain?
Repeat after me “I am not on Holiday!”
So, you’ve been to the same resort on one of Spain´s beautiful Costas for years. Possibly even stayed in the same hotel each time. You know the area well, and love it. Love the people, the climate, the way of life. And now that retirement is approaching, you feel that the time has come to up sticks and retire to live the dream. At this point …… REPEAT AFTER ME, THIS IS NOT A HOLIDAY!!!
Apologies if I am stating the obvious; I´m not trying to be facetious. I have lived in Valencia for 7 wonderful years, and I love Spain. I love the lifestyle, the people, the food – and not least, the climate. If you really want to move here, then I wish you all the best and I am sure – with a lot of forward planning – you will be equally happy. But please, don´t fall into the trap that catches so many people; living here is totally different from holidaying here.
Think about it logically; you spend a lot of the year planning your holiday. You ensure that you have sufficient funds, that all your needs have been carefully covered. You know where you want to go, what you want to do when you arrive. Why should moving permanently need any less thought? You may be surprised how often this planning stage is simply forgotten in the urge to live the dream, particularly when it´s snowing outside, there´s nothing worth watching on tv and Monday means the start of yet another hectic week.
At this stage, take a step back, pick up a calculator and notepad, and start planning. Think before you leap, and the dream is there for the taking. Forget holidays and think living, for the rest of your life. And also, don´t forget the obvious things. From my own experiences, and those of friends, the basics you need to think about are:
You have to eat. Pay taxes and council taxes (and if you don´t know what these are likely to be in the area where you want to live, find out – NOW), pay your heating – and cooling – bills. Basically, everything that you now spend in England will be duplicated in Spain, If you are going to live on a pension, then you will automatically have less money at your disposal. Plan what you need to spend, carefully.
Do you really want to live in one of the hotspots where you normally holiday? Sure you wouldn´t prefer something a little quieter, where the nightlife doesn´t rock and roll around you until the small hours? Don´t forget, living in a town costs more than the surrounding areas.
Don´t speak a word of Spanish? Never felt the need? Learn at least a few words, asap. Outside the main areas, not that many people speak English, and at the very least it helps to know what the labels on the packages in the shops mean.
This covers a multitude of sins, but think about it carefully, especially if you´ve only holidayed in hotels. What type of accommodation do you want? An apartment may be fine for a holiday, but could you live there? Can you afford a villa with a pool, together with all the maintenance costs? If you live outside the centre, you will need a car – are you confident to drive on the wrong side of the road? What about shopping (and no, honestly, you cannot afford to eat out twice a day for the rest of your life) – are you happy to try local shops?
Sure, our weather in Spain is wonderful – for most of the year. Unless you live in the mountains, you are unlikely to get snow or ice, but winter (especially once you´ve lived here for a while) is chilly, and you will need some form of heating. Sorry, it is NOT possible to sunbathe all year!
My own particular bugbear. Spanish bureaucracy is much, much worse than England. Everything needs a form, and if you don´t know the right question to ask, you will find yourself visiting the same office, time after time, clutching yet more paperwork, only to be greeted with a sad shake of the head and a request for something else that wasn´t mentioned last time. Grit your teeth, smile and take an interpreter is my advice.
Hand on heart, something I´ve never suffered from – this is my home, here in Spain! But many, many people do miss what they have left behind – the grandkids, the shops, the ability to speak and understand the language easily, even – believe it or not! – the weather. All these things tug at the heart strings, so think about it carefully.
Ideally, before you make your decision, I would advise hiring a villa or apartment in the area you want to live in, for at least a month. Get the feel of living here, rather than holidaying. Haunt the estate agents, and ask them all the questions you would if you were moving to a different area in England. If you can find somebody who has already been through the hoops, and survived, buy them a drink (mine´s a gin and tonic, Larios not Gordon´s) and get them talking. Failing that, access a good website – like this one – and read every word.
And at the end of the day, if you decide to go for it, bienvenido a España!
Thanks to the author of this article – Yvonne Bartholomew
About the Author
Main author and owner of SpainMadeSimple.com which was started in 2004 when I first moved to Spain.
Spain Made Simple features expert advice on all aspects of moving to and living in Spain as well as useful tourist information and travel tips.
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