In another of our great series of expat interviews we talk to Steve Forber, aged 49, who started his business in the Playa Flamenca area of Spain.
Steve, where is Playa Flamenca?
Playa Flamenca is not a town but rather a huge urbanisation. It is on the Southern Costa Blanca area of Spain, about 20 minutes south of Torrevieja.
So how did you end up in Playa Flamenca?
Well we are from the Warrington area of England and we were out here in Spain looking at the possibility of buying a second home. As usual my business brain wouldn’t switch off and I had the idea of starting the business that I run in the UK here also.
Ok, so now I’m confused, you live here in Spain now or not?
We have our UK shop which we have had for over 8 years and the shop here in Playa Flamenca and I split my time between the two which is great. In the last two years I must have flown about 30 times at least.
Is that how you are going to carry on?
It looks that way, we have close family in the UK which means we are unlikely to move to Spain full-time but this way I get to spend a lot of time in Spain which I love. Quite a few people commute in this way, cheap flights and short flying times makes it possible. Playa Flamenca is actually only about 20 minutes away from Murcia airport.
We should mention what your business is.
It is called Wheelie Free Mobility. We offer a full range of mobility scooters, wheelchairs and a wide range of mobility products for both hire or purchase.
What about people who are perhaps looking to move to Spain and start a business?
I think there is a lot of scope for starting a business here in Spain. It isn’t really all that hard to get set up and started. You just need a good idea. I see lots of bars here and each day they come out with the boards offering special offers, each one trying to undercut the other. There is so much competition that many of them struggle, especially during the quiet winter months.
I think it best to think of something that isn’t being offered here in Spain that is a good business in England. Don’t just think anything up – it must be a good, solid business in the United Kingdom that is already proven.
Also another word of caution. Be careful. When you arrive, everyone is so friendly but we had some work done and had a bad experience with using some British workers. Next time I would use the Spanish as they know the system of course.
Tell us a little bit about what Playa Flamenca is like.
I live about 3 minutes away from the beach which is lovely. The area is very mixed, mainly British, quite a few Germans and Irish – there are lots of Irish bars everywhere!
What about Spanish?
Very few living here, they mainly tend to come from Madrid and own a holiday home here.
I don’t imagine you necessarily have to know any Spanish?
That’s true, you can get by entirely without it and it is hard to practice Spanish because everywhere you go English is being spoken to you. Having said that when you have to deal with certain things you feel completely lost and stuck, I’m talking things like problems with your phone, Internet, electricity etc.
What do you like about Spain?
The weather and climate of course but I have to say, and this is very important, the people here in Spain are much friendlier. You see a different person to that back in England. People in England are ground down by the 9-5 and the day to day stresses.
Here most people are retired, about 70% I would say and they have their pensions and homes bought and paid for so of course they are happy! People walk around with smiles on their faces.
The other related point is how much people help each other out. My German neighbour will set things up when I’m coming back out whereas in England people hardly know their neighbours a few doors away.
What don’t you like about living in spain?
(silence) Very little I can think of really. Umm. Cockroaches. Yes, cockroaches, I don’t like them!
One thing I would say is that you have to be a bit cautious at night here. I don’t feel as safe as I do in my little village back in England. There is petty crime, handbag snatches for example.
Overall, you sound very positive.
I am, our business here in Spain is successful and I love the lifestyle – what more can I say.
The Spanish ex-pat interview above was recorded on the 18th of April 2008. We hope the information about moving to Spain and starting a business in Spain has been of use to you and a special thanks and good luck to Steve.
Wheelie Free Mobility
8 VIA Park II
+34 966 773 719
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