Considering a move to Spain

(32 Posts)
izzywotnot Sat 13-Apr-13 17:20:44

Has anyone any experience of moving abroad, particularly to Spain. My husband and I have been thinking about it for quite a while now but not sure if we've got the confidence to follow it through!

As far as income (because I know jobs are almost next to none out there) we have a business which we could run from there (largely online/on the phone) so not too much of an issue but obviously kids, schooling, health, lifestyle, friend network and all the other stuff we take for granted is under the spotlight while we consider whether it's the right thing for us.

I know there's never going to be a 'perfect' time unless of course we win the lottery (money has a way of opening up so many more options!) so looking really for anyone else that has either just gone for it and has a story to tell (good or bad!) or anyone else that has thought about it and if/why you didn't go ahead.

Not sure if I'm just being too cautious and just need a push and let the cards fall as they may, or if I'm just trying to live the dream without taking into account how it really is!

Any advice anyone could offer would be really helpful! Thank you to everyone who replies!

OP’s posts: |
fussychica Sat 13-Apr-13 17:34:12

I came back 18 months ago and wouldn't go with children now unless going to an international school as education and healthcare are under increasing pressure due to the economic situation. On the plus side you can pick up property very cheaply. I just took a massive hit on mine but at least I sold.
Take a look at this recent thread for more opinions. Happy to try and answer any specific questions you might have.

notapoloshirtperson Sat 13-Apr-13 17:41:50

It's great in Spain, apart from the work situation!
If you are self employed though, you must pay 250 euros a month to cover social security. If you don't you will not be entitled to healthcare.
The tax man is also taking an interest in any assets you may have, as a foreign resident, over 50,000 euros. So there are some scary tax implications. They are trying to get as much as possible to get the country out of economic crisis.
Schools are also being hit hard, there are cuts being made everywhere. Here you are expected to pay for the children's text books. At least 120 euros a year, but then, they don't need uniforms. Summer holidays are 12 weeks, so as long as you don't need childcare...?
Friends wise, depends what you want? Expat lifestyle fairly easy to tap into, though they have a tendancy to sod back off to the UK so don't get too attatched! Spanish friends I have found tricky, but I live in a small fairly rural community where everyone has known each other since school.
To be honest most Brits I know here are hanging on by the skin of their teeth, but they are wholly reliant on working here.
It's a nice climate, obviously depending where abouts you choose to live.
Food etc not really any cheaper compared to the uk. Elec/gas much more expensive, now. Also phone/internet pricier. Council tax for me is less than it cost a month in Uk, though!
If you don't do it you'll never know! Just don't burn all your bridges in the UK!
Research, research is the key! HTH!

Lavenderhoney Sun 14-Apr-13 17:53:49

Friends of mine moved to Spain some years ago. The dh works from home and traves extensively and always has. He works in banking ( not Spanish banks) he doesn't speak Spanish.

The dw spent a year learning Spanish at college. She is a sahm but now is a personal trainer and speaks Spanish like a native.

Dc- eldest went to an English school as he was 15 and could not speak Spanish. He is at uni in UK now. The other 2, 8 and 5 went to the local Spanish school. Lots of English speakers, dc now speak fluent Spanish. The head is an ex Brit.

Have you been to Spain? And do you love where you might live? Where do you want to live there? I would go on expat sites and ask about what is important ie schools.

Do you speak Spanish? Look at tax as well, plus healthcare and plan for your old age. You might want to be back in the UK.

gordonpym Tue 16-Apr-13 06:05:25

If I have to be 100% honest, it may not be the right time to come to Spain. We are in Barcelona, lovely city, kids in an international school, so with plenty of contacts with other expats. And very little if none with locals. We choose an international school, because of the language. There are no spanish schools in Barcelona, only catalan ones. Ridiculous.
We are thinking about moving, mainly because the economy is destroyed and everything gets harder and harder.
Each year, about 1/4 of my DSs' classmates just leave, packing after a failure in their restaurant/shop/business and going back from wherever they are.
Public health is getting worse so a private insurance is needed.
And as notapoloshirtperson said, research research and research.
Yes you have plenty of sunshine, but is it worth the stress that comes with it?

reluctantmover Tue 16-Apr-13 07:03:12

I'm not sure why it's so ridiculous to have education in the mother tongue of the majority in Catalunya. Could you imagine living in the UK and having education in Dutch or German when the majority population speak English at home?

ArabellaBeaumaris Tue 16-Apr-13 07:10:38

Isn't a better analogy Wales, where there are both welsh medium & English medium schools?


SucksToBeMe Tue 16-Apr-13 07:19:04

My uncle moved to Murcia 20 yrs ago with his wife and their son. The doctor recommended he do so for his arthritis. They are very very happy. They live in the mountains in a finca that he done up himself and they are very self sufficient. They make their own olive oil etc. They only tend to socialize with the locals due to their location. They all have a swap of their homemade products, eg they would swap their olive oil for some cheese or bread etc.

Their son is now grown up with his own family and his wife runs a riding school near Murcia. The son does pop back to wales every so often to work.

The children switch happily back and forth between languages and school curriculums.

They have a great lifestyle, nothing flash but are settled and happy. I'm very jealous!

gordonpym Tue 16-Apr-13 07:32:23

In Barcelona you can be educated in french, italian, japanese, english, german, hebrew, ... but not in spanish. This is what I find ridiculous, that there is not one school in spanish. Just one.
Catalonia isn't a country so far, but a region. Such as Quebec where you can chose if you prefer a school in english or french, even if the majority of the population speaks french, there are english schools.
So this reminds me of another point of living in Spain, the language war going on right now in Barcelona.

reluctantmover Tue 16-Apr-13 09:35:22

The fact that Catalunya is a region and not a country should not be particularly relevant, Catalan is spoken across 3 countries, why should not they have their education in one of them in Catalan? There are close on 10 million speakers of Catalan, it's not a very minority language.

You can't compare the situation in Québec or New Brunswick or Ontario where there are mother tongue English and French speakers, the history behind the 2 school systems is historic but not really like in Spain.Eligibility to English schools in Quebec is restricted too, not everyone is allowed to go to them, permanent immigrants can only normally attend French in Québec province.

BegoniaBampot Tue 16-Apr-13 11:19:18

husband would like to do this as he has had enough of the UK and hates the weather. He likes the idea of Barcelona but If we move to Spain I want us all to learn to speak Spanish rather then Catalan. If I were foreign and moved to the UK, I'd want my kids to become fluent in the most useful and most widely used language, not say move to Scotland and have the kids learn gaelic rather than english.

reluctantmover Tue 16-Apr-13 16:59:19

Begonia, you will have to study this map and check schooling in all areas, as there are 4 other official languages in Spain apart from Castilian Spanish, there is also Euskeran, Galician, Occitan (Aranese) and Catalan and Barcelona is really the central point of the Catalan language.

gordonpym Tue 16-Apr-13 17:37:16

Apart from the language which may be a problem only in Catalonia and Galicia where you can't study in Spanish, you need to consider that public schools in Spain, whatever the language, have a very high failure percentage and by that I mean both lower performance and more than 30% dropouts. Just google: school failure in Spain or "fracaso escolar España" if you understand some Spanish. Things have gotten worse with cuts in public education.

This is not true in the private or "concertadas" schools. These are private schools which fee is partly paid by the state. You still need to pay a fee but much lower than in the private schools.

reluctantmover Tue 16-Apr-13 18:44:35

The language situation in Scotland is nowhere comparable to Catalunya. Catalan is the home language of the majority in the entire region, it is spoken in 3 countries, it is the only official language of one of them, it's spoken by just under 10 million and understood by a few million more. In Scotland, the number of native Scots Gaelic, according to census figures, is just under 60,000 out of a population of 5.3 million, that's just over 1% of the population, only in the Outer Hebrides is Scots Gaelic the majority language and if moved there, I'd want my children to go to school in Scots Gaelic.

BegoniaBampot Tue 16-Apr-13 20:31:17

if i wanted the the children and the whole family to concentrate and learn another language, i would choose one which is one of the widest spoken languages like spanish rather than catalan which would be no good out of that region. if I didn't speak english and moved to the UK, I'd probably prefer my kids became fluent in english rather than gaelic. that was my point.

gordonpym Tue 16-Apr-13 20:34:50

As I was saying, the language war.

BegoniaBampot Tue 16-Apr-13 20:44:24

guess so, my last post sounded quite harsh. wasn't my intention.

Umlauf Tue 16-Apr-13 20:55:01

I moved to Spain in September and we originally intended to stay for 2 years but we are extending to 4 and then hopefully longer! Job wise, both DH and I are lucky enough to be in demand, I'm an english teacher and he is a research scientist, doing the kind of work they have invested in a lot recently, however you can't just turn up and expect to find a job easily otherwise, especially without the language.

We live in Northern Spain though and it is doing remarkably better than the rest of Spain. The unemployment level is much much better for example. They talk about 'the Spains' here because all the regions are so different. Where I live, there has been a lot of local investment in education and healthcare so its brilliant. I'm very au fait with the healthcare ATM as I'm pregnant with PFB! The schools do educate both in Basque and Spanish though, and here you can't find an exclusively Spanish school. Having said that most of the schools also teach in english as well. Private schools are MUCH cheaper here aswell.

I wouldn't buy tbh, the rental market is much better than in the uk and you are completely protected. I'd suggest keeping your uk house and renting it out for a bit as well, as not all expats love the lifestyle.

Even though my northern city is the most expensive in Spain (I'm told), not having council tax, TV license etc makes living feel so much cheaper.

As it is I'm so so happy here and so glad I came. I am sure looking back that I was suffering depression living in the uk (not connected to uk but rather old job and town) and I'm a new person here. Do it!! Also feel free to pm me any questions.

GoodtoBetter Wed 17-Apr-13 22:01:12

I'm in Andalucía and it's very different to the North in terms of culture, weather, wealth. It's a big big country and your lifestyle could be very different depending on where you live and your income. if you hit hard times here, you are well and truly fucked. You can forget tax credits, housing benefit, unemployment benefit (stops after a set period) etc etc.

BegoniaBampot Wed 17-Apr-13 23:02:53

financially we are quite comfortable, not to say we couldn't fall on hard times but husbands job is based outside Spain. Been looking at the south and the International schools there.

nobeer Thu 18-Apr-13 12:21:10

If you're looking at international schools, maybe the children wouldn't learn so much Spanish? You don't say how old the children are, you need to bear that in mind if you're looking at moving abroad. I live in Andalucía and I love it here, however if my DP (he's from here) loses his job we may have to leave Spain as there are virtually no jobs here in his field. Not what we want to do, but what we'll have to do.

Another thing I want you to think about is that moving country is hard work. All the things you take for granted are suddenly a struggle, for example, getting social security numbers (similar to a NI number), getting residence papers, a bank account, a landline or internet etc. The bureaucracy here seems so much worse because you're not used to the system. Also, you'll need some Spanish to deal with this, or a patient friend who's willing to help you.

elQuintoConyo Thu 18-Apr-13 13:24:25

Re: language, it depends where you want to go. If you want to go to Seville, learn Spanish, if you want to go to Catalunya, learn Catalan. I don't understand why anyone would bang on about the 'ridiculousness' of having Catalan schools when you live in... Catalunya! Well, bugger me. Move to Madrid.

I live in Catalunya oin a city that is more Catalan than Barcelona. Jobs are few and far between and if you can't see yourself being an English teacher at some point then don't emigrate! The economy is awful and is only going to get worse - something the Spanish don't realise - I see lots of people prancing around with their Buggerboos, El Corte Ingles bags and Porsche Cayennes like it's boom time, they've got their heads in the sand.

My advice us:
Be sure you've got water-tight jobs
Be sure to choose a part of the country that will suit you (language)
Avoid ex-pats and immerse yourself in the local culture
Learn the language where you live
Don't expect to be welcomed straight away due to the British stereotype of the Costa del Sol
Don't expect to 'fit in' with Catalans (if you choose here) for a l-o-n-g time, if ever. An American friend moved here in 1968, married a local, raised kids here and lived in the same flat all her life - but in resident meetings is still referred to as The American. Gets on her tits!

It's not all sun, sea and sangria, obviously. My family all think I'm living a charmed life but I have bills and drudge just like everyone, albeit with better weather.

On the plus side, there are about 21 public holidays smile

BegoniaBampot Thu 18-Apr-13 19:16:24

we have lived out of the UK before so not entirely new to what it entails. Husband has just had enough of the UK and I want to honestly consider the options of a move rather than just dismiss it. It probably wouldn't be forever so in reality we would like to immerse in the local and culture and people but realise an international school would be easier for the children to adapt to and make friends as they are 11 and 7 yrs. if we can learn some spanish then great and I already have a basic foundation.

Just trying to get a feel for what life is like for others in the same position.

reluctantmover Thu 18-Apr-13 19:29:45

Would an international school really be easier? What if 1/3 of that school moves away each year, your children left behind whilst every year they lose so many friends. There are private Spanish / Catalan etc medium schools with school fees I assume much lower than that of the international ones. I really don't see the point of moving to another country where another language is spoken, because you want to immerse yourselves into local culture, whilst at the same time looking at English medium schools, if you really can't get your head around the majority language not being English in Spain, then at least concentrate ONLY on international schools which have a good proportion of Spaniards and also at least 50% teaching time in the local language, otherwise you'll end up in an expat anglophone bubble. Personally, I'd look for other counties which are not struggling so much.

BegoniaBampot Thu 18-Apr-13 20:37:14

I think it would be easier. my children have already went to an international school elsewhere (english speaking country)and i found it very accepting of new children and celebrated the differences of all the students. good way for them and the parents to become involved and make friends who were in similar situation of knowing what it is like to be new and having no family around etc. I really liked how multicultural it was in a way many local schools often arent. Now they are older I think it would be difficult to be thrown into a local school and left to pick up a new language. we probably wouldn't be moving for life, more for a different experience.

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