Society & Culture
(Re)location – the art of moving abroad
By Martin Bright
Jun 7, 2007, 06:04

Moving to Spain – the Costa Tropical, in Andalucia to be precise - is probably one of the most significant and life-changing experience that most of us ex-pats have ever gone through.

I do have a theory though – and by experience it seems to work even still. Living in Spain is very, very different to the holiday in Spain – and as such my theory is this… give yourself just 2 years for the re-location effect to take hold. After that your decision will be made, for you will have either settled in to the rhythm of Spain and Andalucian “tradition”, or be so frustrated by it all that returning to the safety of your home country is the only option left. Whether single, a couple starting out, or a family moving to a less stressful environment the love hate response is almost always the same.

Two years here goes so quickly, you cannot imagine… but beware there are good and bad things too. Here is my simple list…

The Good things

Weather – as someone who used to suffer from the “winter blues” of the long, grey, wet and dark months in the Midlands then for me sunshine, lack of rain, long evening barbecues and fiesta-style garden parties with friends, Christmas lunch on the terrace overlooking the deep blue Med, need I say more!

Quality of Life – while the working day is longer – the benefits of the siesta can not be ignored or for that matter under-rated – the time you have to enjoy life is vastly improved. Then there is the diet – my friends regularly supply me with fresh Olive oil produced from their own olive grove, the salads, the fish (oh my God… the choice!). To shop for this in the UK would cost a small fortune. Here there is no Sunday roast, but a magnificent spread of local seafood…

Environment - with little if any industry in this part of the world, the quality of the air you breathe on the Costa Tropical is that much cleaner and fresher and at times you can even taste the sea on your tongue. I know of many people who suffer less from asthma, or arthritis during their time stay… it’s probably why so many tend to stay longer before moving lock, stock and barrel

Pace of Life – or to be more precise the “mañana” effect. The slowness of life on the Costa Tropical can not be underestimated… tranquilo is fine when you are on holiday taking time out from the stresses of every day living. But to work in this tranquil attitude can be at best frustrating, and at worst extremely time consuming. But hey there’s always tomorrow…

Crime – as a victim of crime 12 months prior to moving to Spain the comparison to the UK could not be more striking. Here, late at night you can walk home safe in the knowledge that no-one will be round the next corner ready to jump you; cases of theft and petty crime are infrequent, and despite all the villas with alarm systems you rarely hear their screaming. In Almuñecar the police spend most of their year towing illegally parked cars or fining moped cyclists for lack of helmet or silencer or both! But during July and August, the height of the holiday season, there is an increase in opportunistic petty theft – usually the tourist who misplaces a purse, leaves a window open, or forgets to ensure that they locked the hire car. The season of the traveler who leaves airport check-in with their head at home – why? Just be a little more prudent, please… and leave the Costa Tropical with everything you came with.

Leisure – of course here you can swim (outside) for at least 6 months of the year; longer if you enjoy the benefit of a heated pool. If paragliding, windsurfing, sailing or scuba are your thing then you will find more than enough to keep you busy. All adding to that golden effect - quality of life!

Medical care – from my personal experience in Spain it is generally as good as in the UK, if not in some cases better. However be prepared for the lack of after-care provision as it is not a priority. This is simply because the Spanish family way of life, its tradition and for that matter culture tends towards the care and welfare of its own extended family members; a tradition that many north-western Europeans have simply forgotten or lost. Another advantage is the relatively inexpensive cost of private treatments and analysis; allowing social security beneficiaries to fast-track long waiting lists.

Language – or what many ex-pats refer to as the lingo! It is not the case that those who shout loudest (in their mother tongue) get heard first and understood. If you really want to integrate into the Spanish way of life you must take steps to learn even a basic level of language. What’s more here in the Costa Tropical there are many schools offering a variety of learning techniques – so be brave and really take the plunge!

Integration – is not just about learning the lingo… it is as much about using it too. Here on the Costa Tropical, the locals will positively encourage you to speak rather than simply laugh at your efforts or reply in English! Take advantage too of the local cultural history, apart from the arts and cultural events in the main cities like Malaga and Granada, we here on the coast enjoy many local fiestas for fruit pickers to Saints, a programme of International Jazz in the summer, an annual Art auction with works supplied by local painters and sculptors, the castle and roman antiquities exhibition; in fact there is much more to the Costa Tropical than sun, sea and avocado plantations.

Getting around - the Costa Tropical is easier, safer and more enjoyable than the journeys experienced in the UK. No road rage and very few traffic jams apart that is for the 6 week summer fest of July-August holidays (when it seems that half of Europe has stormed our humble town…) are perhaps the 2 most striking features. In the last 2 years we have seen improved local bus services, new car parking, newly constructed promenade, major improvements to country road and track surfaces, and just recently the La Herradaura section of the motorway opened (Taramay is anticipated to be ready in 2008) reducing significantly the journey times to Malaga and Granada. Let me remind you, 12 years ago it took a little over 2 hours to travel from Malaga airport to Almuñecar – today that same journey takes just 50 minutes!

The Bad things

????? – I am trying really hard here … daffodils in Spring, come to mind. Any other suggestions or comments would be most gratefully received…

Martin Bright may be contacted at Tropicana Properties

© Copyright 2007 by & Martin Bright