Moving Back to the UK from Spain: Why Expats Leave

Kate’s Story of Why She Decided to Move Back to England From Spain

It was in September 2004 that the family moved to Moraira on the Costa Blanca in Spain, Amanda my eldest daughter was four years old and just about to begin primary school while my youngest daughter Amelia was fourteen months old. We had bought a villa three years earlier and it seemed the ideal time to try a new lifestyle.

In September we enrolled our daughter in school and had to deal with all the bureaucratic paperwork which can be a nightmare and after two weeks she began her her education in a Spanish primary school.

I had always had my doubts about putting her there as I always thought that one day we would have to return to the U.K. to make sure that her education was of the very best to be able to compete in the job market.

Moraira-images-11Obviously we did lots of research into the best place to live in Spain, we settled on the Costa Blanca and it is true that life on the Costa Blanca is idyllic in so many ways.

There is the beautiful scenery, the beaches, restaurants and cafes and of course the weather.

What I didn’t like about living in Spain

People are also friendly so one can make friends easily but there were also the down sides, missing family and friends back home, the weather, too hot in the summer, if one is having to work, and there is no air conditioning or ceiling fans and the house just was never warm enough in the winter either, with the tiled floors unless you are pumping out the heat at the highest possible levels, for most people an impossible expense.

Gas bottles can cost as much as €300 every three to four weeks in the winter. Ants in the summer were an issue as was the mould caused by the extreme humidity in summer as well as in winter.

The criminal elements on the Costa Blanca are also a factor. I didn’t know anyone who hadn’t been burgled and owing to our own carelessness we too became victims. A friend told me she has been burgled three times and another was gassed while she was sleeping.

The Spanish state school system

I’m sure you are wondering what is school like in Spain?

I was never that happy with the Spanish education system as from 2005 they started to teach Valenciano which isn’t recognised anywhere outside of the region and Castillano became a second language.

The school had a library with no books and PE three times a week consisted of roller blading and running. Science and history were not taught and English for foreigners was taught as a third language and from what I could see was riddled with errors which I was correcting.

On the bright side children were in school from 9 in the morning until half past four and were taught a great deal of discipline as homework was given from the earliest of grades and there was a lot of it, resulting in very good school reports. There is only one University for the children to study at which is Valencia, over a hundred kilometres away, and in Valenciano of course.

Why I decided to give up my life in Spain and move back

As it is very difficult to find good jobs in Spain, unless you are self employed, or happy to work for €800 a month, from which you cannot pay many bills, as well as the rent.

Well I could not for see a future for my children or for me. We had set up our own catering business which paid the bills with very little left at the end of the month, but with the economic down turn made life extremely difficult.

My marriage came under even a greater strain than before as my husband had a mid-life crisis which included extra martial affairs, so it was with great regret that I said goodbye to my life in Spain and packed up our belongings and my children to return to England.

After six years away our lives have changed drastically but we are far happier knowing that the girls can have a good education and we are not down to our last pennies or even worse in debt.

Since being back in England we have been back to Spain once to visit our friends and I can see that the girls so far have managed to keep their language skills.

We are looking forward to the half term break in October as we will be spending a week in our villa. Spain will always be a part of our lives and we hope to go back to visit regularly.

Read the sequel: Kate’s experiences of living back in the UK

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  1. The article should be titled “A silly Brit’s account of living in Spain”.

  2. I’m in a quandary, we moved to Spain 2 years ago. We both work, earning ok money. Lifestyle is great but I miss theUk and my kids. They’re 20 and 21. I feel I need to give it at least 5 years to give it a go, my Husband loves it but I find friends here are very much acquaintances and feel a bit lonely at times. Through this Pandemic it has made me worse not being able to jump in a plane and go back.
    Blue skies and sunshine is not the be all and end all and I do miss the U.K. seasons.
    Time will tell x

  3. After 6 years, I´m contemplating moving back to the UK. I´ve had a great time in Spain and have done all sorts of things to earn money – teaching English, running a small tour business, cleaning houses etc. You certainly have to be open minded to make ends meet. I´m currently teaching English for one of the major providers in Spain and am earning a good salary legally, so no money complaints. The majority of my friends are Spanish that I´ve met through motorbikes and music and over the years my Spanish has improved. I´ve found that they have been people that I can call true friends and who have helped me on more than one occasion when I´ve had problems. I hear many people complaining about the UK and how awful it is etc etc, but perhaps that also depends on where you live. Living away from your own country makes you see it with fresh eyes and yes, you can focus on the bad things like hooligans, the way the country is run etc etc. For me however, a slow-burn longing has developed for the following: the English countryside in all its seasonal glory, log fires in country pubs, flower shows and village fetes, country fairs, the wealth of cultural activities on offer (I´m specifically talking about London), the openness to new cuisines from all around the world, the National Trust and all its wonderful stately homes, English gardens and the various flower shows like Chelsea, Christmas carol services in country churches, Radio 4, the many societies and associations you can join, the common roots and reference points that you have as a nation. Perhaps some of you will think I´m looking at things through rose-tinted glasses, but all the things I´ve mentioned are out there and at your fingertips and things I´ve been used to doing and seeing. There are lots of things I love about Spain – the open roads, the space, the food and the weather for sure. But if I move back to the UK, I can buy Spanish food, meet with Spanish people and easily fly to visit my Spanish friends, but I will be doing it from the reference point of my own culture. Hmmmmmmm! In a quandry!

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