Ask a room full of people thinking of living in Spain who want to move to Spain what theyre expecting, and the result is likely to be almost uniform agreement: sun, a relaxed lifestyle, decent cost of living.
But does the reality of selling up in the UK and moving to Espania really match up to these high expectations? After all, its a huge decision, and one that must be taken after considerable navel-gazing (not naval gazing, unless you like ships).
Lets look at the most common beliefs and uncover what might be closer to the truth, giving you a tongue-in-cheek assessment.
We can all agree the long, hot summers in Spain are glorious. Bet you cant wait to throw back the curtains every morning, to be greeted by blue, warming skies, the sun shining down from first light until sunset.
And then youll be spending leisurely evenings down at the local bar, joining all the locals downing jugs of sangria.
But lets also be clear, in some parts of Spain, that summer sun can be too hot. Over 40 degrees hot. And after a week or so of that, you may not be so keen. And in the winter, it often rains. Okay, it might not be snow and ice like much of the UK, but its not warming sunshine 12 months a year.
Oh, and sangria? Sorry to say but most Spaniards dont drink it. Its like every foreigner expects us to all drink Earl Grey tea. It doesnt happen.
Verdict: The climate in Spain, although it varies from north to south, is, of course, spectacular compared with the UK. So, it might get a little too hot at times but, you know, air conditioning. And who cares that the locals hardly touch sangria? More for us!
We bet this is one of those images stuck in your mind right now: youre laying back on a sun lounger by the pool, swimming for five minutes, sun-bathing for 20, repeat.
Well, in the summer you most certainly could. But you wont find too many heated pools in Spain because you dont need them in the summer. In the other seasons, however, the pool can get decidedly chilly, and you wont want to swim all day. Furthermore, wont you have a job to go to?
Verdict: Seven or eight months of swimming in the pool is much better than the seven or eight days you could do it back in England. And so, what if you have to work? Coming home and plunging straight into the pool sounds rather appealing.
The Spanish love eating out, and not just in delightful tapas restaurants. All sorts of tastes are catered for, often very late at night because, as well see, the locals like to eat much later than us. And they like to wash it down regularly with a glass or two of something splendid. All of which must put a bit of a strain on the household budget. Imagine doing that back in the UK so often?
The truth is its sometimes cheaper to eat out than it is to go out shopping and cook yourself! Unless youre going to the fanciest eatery in town, you wont be spending much on your night out.
Verdict: Whats not to like? Good food and drinks at a very reasonable price. Eating out is not a treat in Spain; its a (nice) way of life.
We all remember the cartoon-like image of a Spaniard, sitting down in the blazing sun, propped up against a white wall, head bowed and covered in a huge sombrero hat. Fast asleep. But the siesta no longer exists, because the pressures of modern life have overtaken the desire to take a daily extended nap.
The truth is the siesta IS alive and kicking. But not so much because everyone needs to sleep (although some do!). Most shops and businesses might close between 14:00 and 17:00. This has a knock-on effect for the rest of the working day. Hence many locals wont eat until well after 21:00 or later!
Verdict: It will take some getting used to. People arent always about when you expect them to be. But lets face it, falling in line doesnt sound like much of a hardship, does it?
This is a widely-held assumption, and in most cases its true. Like for like, the price of a Spanish apartment or villa is much less than back in the UK. But it depends where you intend to go. You wont find many bargains in Marbella, for example.
However, while you might be tempted by cheaper property, you must weigh it up against other factors. Utilities can be more expensive, and that cost only rises when you install your air conditioning systems.
Verdict: Yes, its cheaper. Simple as that.
Its quite a romantic idea to think youll pick up the language nice and quick. Part of the fun of moving abroad. The truth is, your feeble attempts to speak the language will be met with the locals talking perfectly good English to you. And in many cases, youll be socialising with Brits anyway.
Some will move to parts of the country where Brits are scarce, perhaps on the northern coast, so its more important to try and speak the local language as soon as you can pick it up.
Verdict: Most people moving abroad to Spain will pick up the language as they go along at a reasonable pace. For others, you might need to do so more quickly. But its hardly a chore, is it? Its all part of the charm of settling into a new culture.
As weve seen, not everything will be exactly as you’d imagine, but that’s part of the fun of the adventure! We’d recommend doing plenty of research before taking the plunge and living abroad. It’s also a good idea to surf the online expat communities to get a flavour of how the Brits already living in Spain are getting on.
Is your heart already set on living in Spain? Download our guide for more tips on how to do it.
Do you intend to open a bank account in Spain? This might be because you’re planning to emigrate to the Iberian peninsula with your family, to start a new life in Marbella or the Costa Blanca. Alternatively, this could be because you want to buy a Spanish holiday home, to enjoy year-round escapes to sun, […]
By Jessica Roberts
Excellent service, clear and unambiguous advice and I was given an expert insight into currency fluctuations and the potential for gains as well as losses. Ultimately, they saved me money which is always a bonus when your uncertain about who to trust with your money. My advice? Don’t use your bank, it will save you thousands by using Foreign Currency Direct.
Having tried Transferwise and HiFx, Foreign Currency Direct is cheaper whilst still providing a very personal and professional service. I now wouldn’t use anybody else.
They are patient, constructive and always seem to look for the best possible way to assist their clients. Importantly, they do what they say they will do in the time frame they commit to. Emails and phone calls have a quick response – communication has always been excellent. Foreign Currency Direct plc will continue to be my first choice.
Good honest advice, simply the best.
Brilliant, fuss free service as always. They always deliver exactly what they say and in super fast timescales. Reliable, helpful and approachable.
FCD keep you informed and are there when you need to talk to them. Add to that the excellent rate and speed of transfer and you have the perfect company for your money.
Excellent experience every time. I always feel as though it is a personal service with the staff getting to know me as a person rather than just a customer. Special thanks to Dayle Littlejohn.