David in Cordoba: "I hope we will continue to live in Spain"

  • David in Cordoba
Published last year
British expat, David moved to Spain with his partner Diane to retire and enjoy a warm relaxed climate in Cordoba. Following the referendum on Brexit, he shares with us his concerns and his daily expat life.


I am Ridlunio, retired in Cordoba with my partner Diane who works hard here. We lived together in England before making the move to Spain. Diane is a qualified Montessori teacher and I am TEFL certificated, although most of my career was spent in ...

Where are you from, David, and what are you doing nowadays?

I am from Buckinghamshire, England and currently retired from a lifetime in the UK Emergency Services as well as a number of years as a Paramedic in Saudi Arabia and teacher in Czech Republic.

Why did you decide to move to Spain?

My partner Diane and I wanted a warm relaxed climate for our physical and mental wellbeing, not too far from the UK as we both have family there. We are both committed Europeans so other countries were not really considered although she has relatives in Barbados which was considered.

As a British national, what were the procedures you had to follow to move there?

Spain is a bureaucratic country which surprised me being part of the EU. The residency process is more long-winded than I found in Czech or Saudi (which is most surprising). I arrived in the autumn of 2015 and I am still in the process of gaining residency card; health card; Certificado de Empadronamiento; Importing and transferring my vehicle to a Spanish identity; changing my driver's licence etc. I can see why lots of expats don't bother - it is a very frustrating process - especially in Cordoba as there appear to be few expats living here, so the experience of officials is not up-to-date with changing EU/Spanish legislation.

How long have you been in the country?

Since the autumn of 2015, my partner came a few weeks before me.

What has attracted you to Cordoba?

My partner is working in a Montessori nursery and language academy. We also like this part of Andalusia being Spanish Spain if you follow me. The Sierra Morena is beautiful and relatively empty of humans unlike the Costas.
It has to be said that the Andalusian treatment of animals hasn't attracted me.

What has surprised you the most at your arrival?

There are only two things that Spaniards do quickly - one is drive and the other is talk. Apart from these I like the pace of life, especially the siesta when we do our shopping in the empty shops. People said it would be hot in the summer months and it is HOT!

Was it difficult to find accommodation there? What are the types of accommodation which are available there?

Not at all, we found a temporary apartment for five months and now rent a four-bedroomed house with a roof terrace and private pool, to cope with UK family and friends coming over and the rents are cheaper than in UK. Most people seem to live in apartments.

What are the advantages of retiring in Cordoba?

I think the advantages are peculiar to us - we don't like crowds - we like the absence of expats (which may not suit everybody) and the hot weather and mountain air is beneficial to our health. The medical facilities are excellent here too.

How do you spend your leisure time?

I adore nature and the countryside, so I am often out walking, birdwatching and enjoying the peaceful countryside. I want to travel more in Andalusia but we have just adopted a rescued kitten and so travel is limited for now.

How do you find the local lifestyle?

The Spanish are very family orientated and meet in large social groups which can be rather noisy in cafes/restaurants etc. Where we live in a small community on the outskirts of Cordoba people keep themselves to themselves but are usually friendly.

Have you been able to adapt yourself to the country and to its society?

Yes although we are both experienced travellers and have lived in other cultures. One should do lots of homework about the area/country you want to live in.

Any difficulties with the language?

This is one of the most troubling aspects personally. People speak with the speed of a machine gun in a dialect that is different from other areas of Spain although I am learning the language slowly, it is not easy to converse so 'Bisculpe,yo hablo poco Espanol' doesn't slow them down much. Diane finds it easier because she teaches children but my life is fairly insular and not many Spaniards enjoy birdwatching yet.

What does your everyday life look like in Cordoba?

There is large unemployment, especially amongst young people, but the society is ordered and quite relaxed thanks to the family input. Businesses appear to come and go although the Café culture survives well. The public transport deserves a mention and is excellent - both local and national. I never use my car to go into town, the local bus is cheap, comfortable, reliable and the drivers fairly friendly whereas traffic and parking is a nightmare as it is in most Spanish towns and cities. So the car is destined for shopping trips, weekend visits and emergencies.
I have used the medical services and they were excellent even considering my lack of my language skill.

What do you like the most about the country?

I like the climate, the space, the people and the relaxed way of life. Please Senor Rahoy keep the siesta period - an afternoon nap works wonders.

Your favorite local dishes?

Here is a problem for us as we are both Vegetarians although we have to eat fish sometimes. In the cities being a Veggie is not so much of a problem but in rural areas it can restrict you to cheese and olives etc.

What do you miss the most about your home country?

Not a lot really - family of course. The rushed way of life and constant need to have more doesn't sit well with my 'Green' philosophy on life. England is a busy, crowded and troubled little country in my view.

Following the vote for the leave for Brexit, how did you react to the results?

I am a committed European and I think the vote will be a disaster for the UK especially for young people, the environment and our combined security in these troubled times. I think 52% of Brits were too keen to show two fingers to the politicians without considering the wider implications. I am concerned what this will mean for expats living here in the future.

What impacts do you think it may have on your expat life in Spain?

My pension is already worth less, my modest savings too, but I hope we will continue to live in Spain. Certainly I have no plans to leave and I imagine that the Spanish government want to keep their expat communities living and spending as before - we shall see?

Which advice would you give to people wishing to live in Spain?

Do lots of research and inward thinking about the needs of you and your family. There will be aspects you find difficult or different from what you are used to. Ensure you have 100% agreement from your family before moving and learn some Spanish before you come.

You also lived in Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Czech Republic: what was the best part of all these years abroad? How does living abroad has changed you?

I was working then and I loved living abroad. Saudi was rather difficult as Islamic culture and life is so different from anywhere in Europe. I found the attitude to women particularly disturbing.
Thailand is lovely with beautiful people and, if you avoid the sex tourism, it can be very rewarding in many ways.
I lived in Prague for seven years and they were magical - sure it has its problems but I loved the romance, musicality and teaching Czechs who made great students.
However, a lot depends on your own attitude and I believe...When in Rome...

What are your plans for the future?

Stay healthy & happy for as long as possible... remember "Always look on the bright side of life..."

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