By guest blogger Julie Priaulx.
Thinking about moving to Spain and not sure whether you are doing the right thing, or wondering if it is the right time to go?
Hmm! 2020 has been one of the most extraordinary years in most of our lives so far, I think it’s safe to say.
COVID has affected us all in different ways, unexpectedly stopped us in our tracks, took away some of our choices and made us think differently about the world, our future and how we live our lives. If you were thinking about making the move to Spain pre-covid, has that now changed? Are you having more doubts or is it an easier decision to make?
My situation was that, pre- covid, my husband and I had almost decided to move to Spain (almost meaning, he was 100% for it and I still wasn’t 100% sure). He was offered a job in Alicante that he couldn’t turn down so moved ahead of me and rented a house there while I stayed behind to wrap things up at home. We had a house to sell and our two daughters to “sort out”, one of whom was still living at home. I was still working, so the plan was that when the husband was settled, I would give up work to join him. The time frame on this was undecided, I mean how long does it take to sell a house? When is it a good time to leave your kids? and would I even like living in Spain? I also had a job that I loved, where I was relied upon and I couldn’t really pinpoint when a good time to leave would be, I mean what would they do without me? All these people needed me, or so I thought.
The first thing that happened, in December 2019 the house sold, the buyer wanted a quick sale, so we were out and in a rented place just before Christmas.
Sometimes the timing of a major life-changing moment, like a move to Alicante, is taken out of your hands.
The second thing, the job situation, was very quickly taken out of my hands too. One day in March of this year everyone was sent home from work, furlough period followed, and we all waited as the country went into lockdown. I worked for a language school for foreign students, so it soon became apparent, as the virus escalated that the school would not be reopening anytime soon, if ever.
Businesses are changing in the UK which may never return to what they were before the CoronaVirus.
My third, and main cause for anxiety – how would my children cope without me? When I say children, they are adults really of 22 and 23 years old, but you know what I mean, still my babies. Leaving these two behind really was my main worry. Was I being a bad mother? Could I possibly envisage them being able to fend for themselves without me if I wasn’t physically present 24/7?
Am I going to like living in Spain anyway?
How would I know whether I would like it or not? I had visited the Alicante region several times in the past year and loved it but that’s not the same as actually moving there to live is it? It was not enough that my husband was telling me “you’ll love it, you’ll love it”. In fact, that made it worse for me. A bit like when someone says to you “Oooh I must introduce you to so and so, you will really like her”. My natural reaction to that is “No please don’t, I bet I won’t, what if I don’t, then what?” Oh! the pressure?
Well one thing the lockdown gave us all was time to think. No more nine to five routine, just plenty of thinking time. Time to evaluate what life is really all about. With my 50th birthday fast approaching (a big deal, as those of a similar age will know) I began to think, why not just give it a proper go? If it doesn’t work out, we’ll just come home. Simple! At least we’ll have had an adventure, we deserve that don’t we? I hadn’t seen my husband for five months by this stage so suddenly it all became clear. I knew what I had to do. I booked a ticket on the Eurotunnel, packed up my car and drove to Spain. Still with no clear plan other than let’s see what happens. How exciting!
That was five months ago.
Has the move to Spain worked out?
I can honestly say that I haven’t looked back (or been back) since. I am embracing my new life in the sun with open arms and determined to give it my best shot. I love it here and surprisingly; it already feels like home. If you are feeling like you may want to do the same thing, then here are some things I would recommend you do when you first arrive.
Sort out your legal stuff, before you come to Spain.
If you need advice and help with sorting out N.I.E, residency, driving licences, bank accounts, solicitors etc etc I would highly recommend getting in touch with a company based in Spain, like Spanish Solutions. They will help you with all of the above and take the pressure off you. They are friendly, helpful and of course, speak English. It really is a minefield doing it on your own, even more so now with Brexit approaching, and the ever-changing list of requirements needed for your residencia.
Consider Renting – explore first
Hopefully you’ve been to Spain and you know what area you love- The golfers paradise of Murcia, the rough coast of the north of Spain or the beauty of the Alicante region. For those who don’t know what to expect, maybe slowing down is a good idea. If you are not quite certain about where you want to be in Spain, you definitely need to do some in depth exploration before you decide on a place to settle. Come on an extended holiday. You can be more flexible if you rent for a while, even if you are considering buying in the longer term. We have rented a place in the Jalon Valley, which, if you don’t know it, is absolutely beautiful, a complete mixture of local Spanish residents, and Expats from all over. It is only about twenty minutes or so from Calpe, Denia and Javia and just over an hour from both Alicante and Valencia airports. We are currently having a wonderful time exploring all of these places and more in between.
Spanish Solutions introduced us to an estate agent who offered us a great deal to rent for two weeks, independently so that we could go and explore at our own pace.
Join local facebook groups
I have been amazed at the wealth of knowledge that can be gained from joining your local community face-book group. I now live in the Jalon valley so my local group, “Jalon Valley connect” is my go-to place where I can glean all sorts of useful information. You can honestly ask the most random questions like:
‘does anyone know where I can find a half- sized cement lorry’, or
“I’ve lost my white cat, has anyone seen it?”
and the answers will come flooding in, as if by magic. It does sometimes make you wonder what these people do all day. They are just there, waiting, poised and ready and to help you day or night. There is always someone who knows everything about what is going on in our town and other surrounding towns too, events that are coming up, markets, schools, shops opening or closing, when the red days are (local holidays) etc etc. and they are more than happy to share their knowledge and experiences with you. There are hundreds of these groups all over Spain, so I highly recommend joining one.
I am lucky enough to have a best friend, who just happens to be my husband and also, my little gang of old time friends back home. One of them asked me the other day “So, have you made any friends there yet?” I made the “AAAggg” noise in response, as I’m not the “get yourself out there and join some groups” type of person. However, as we all know, it is important and nice to have friends around you so you might have to make a little bit more effort than you usually would at home. Start by getting out and about in your local town and be open to conversations and/or leave your comfort zone and “get yourself out there and join some groups.” There is always a lot going on locally, (helped by the weather) whether it’s hiking, tennis, cycling, yoga, Spanish lessons, and it is easier here as there are a lot of people in the same or similar situation as you and they all seem to be friendly.
More blogs to follow – more about Spanish life, towns near me, supermarkets, shopping, best places for coffee etc etc.
And in case you were wondering …
As for my girls, well it turns out, I completely underestimated them, they can cope without me, who knew? They have both been brilliant. They totally appreciate that we needed to do this and are happy about it and are getting on with their own lives quite successfully. They have also become closer as they are realising that they can depend upon each other too. I am an enormously proud mother indeed! We speak most days on the godsend that is facetime, and they have both visited this summer, despite the travel restrictions and love it here. Things have worked out better than I had even dared to hope for.
My advice to you …just do it!
Julie Priaulx is a blogger and soon to become an agent for Spanish Solutions. More news about how she fell in love with the company and especially Equity release options to follow in future blog posts.