In retrospect, would you move again to Spain?

Hi all,

If you had to look back on your expat experience in Spain, would you heartily say "let’s do it again"?

From the preparation stage to your actual everyday life in your new country, what did you enjoy the most?

Would you do certain things differently? Could you tell us why?

How would you describe the benefits of your expatriation in Spain so far?

Thank you in advance for sharing your experience. We look forward to hearing from you!


I definitely wouldn't move back to Spain. It's a beautiful country nature wise but there are some other aspects of the daily life that can become a real struggle.
My stay of almost 3 years in Valencia was bittersweet. In fact, if I could go back in time, I wouldn't move there. Perfect places for vacation but that's it.

Yes I would move to Spain again.. It is a nice place to  raise a family.. I don't have to be on top of my children I know they are safe.. The food is good and it is healthier.. Easy to travel around all of Spain from Madrid and actually all of Europe. Very  affordable for a family of four.
I'm not big on living in an apartment. Everybody lives in apartments. I would like a house but financing is not easy here..  Very few houses for rent..
The only thing I would do differently is to do this sooner so my oldest children were here instead of still in the states.. I miss them a lot.

"Would you move to Spain again" is an easy question to answer, as I did exactly that.  We moved to Menorca about 20 years ago and lived there for 5 years before moving to France for 10 years.  A further 10 years back in the UK and we always had a hankering to move back to sunny Menorca one day.  We have now been back here for two years.

The first time we lived here we had very little in the bank and had to earn a living.  I am a water-colourist and wondered if I was able to support my wife and 11 year old stepson by selling my paintings.  However, it was soon patently obvious that whilst my painting sold quite quickly, the income they generated
was insufficient. So, our first lesson was, 'be adaptable'.   Stenciled interiors were very fashionable at that time and we had some experience back in the UK, so we began offering this service and did quite well.  Meantime I agreed to say 'yes' to anything requiring a paint brush, from portraits, wall murals and sign-writing to simply refurbishing wooden shutters. 

Our living was pretty hand-to-mouth and there were times when we had to make a choice between putting petrol in our ancient Citroen so we could tour the bars where my pictures were on display, or buying food. Eventually, through contact with other locals artists, we were offered an opportunity to take over a large bar/restaurant with living accommodation above.  We agreed to take it on and the next couple of years were the hardest we have ever worked.  We seldom slept but we ate regular meals, made a modest living and met many interesting people.

A family of our regulars had moved to an area in France close to the Basque Country where properties were still ridiculously cheap.  We were tempted to leave the island and move to France where we lived for the next 10 years before eventually moving back to the UK to take up an offer of work.  When I finally retired, we agreed to move back to Menorca.  This time we had pensions and knew exactly what we were getting in to, consequently life here is much easier than it was 20 years ago.

So, my advice to people expecting to find work in Spain and haven't already got a job waiting, is 'be flexible'.  Follow the path of least resistance and take your chances whenever you can.  The economy is still in a poor condition with massive unemployment, so if you are to be successful, you  will have to have a unique talent or be a very skilled tradesman (or have plenty of capital).  There will be no hand-outs so you have to work if you want to eat.  I was in my late 40's the first time and pretty clueless, but we learned fast and lived to tell the tale.  Our main advantage was being creative and never saying 'no' to any offer of work, no matter how demeaning.

I look back on those days with great affection but wouldn't want to do it again.  I am now 75 and able to enjoy our new life on this beautiful island - second time around.

It depends, we moved for work and to give us a more stable future and in that regard it has been good but it is likely not to be a permanent move anyway. Given the same opportunities to do so then we would move here again as you simply will not get to save your pennies as much as you would in northern Europe.

That said as a place to retire or even move for a change of scenery like most expats do here then I think we would give it a miss.

fabigarcia2013 :

I definitely wouldn't move back to Spain. It's a beautiful country nature wise but there are some other aspects of the daily life that can become a real struggle.
My stay of almost 3 years in Valencia was bittersweet. In fact, if I could go back in time, I wouldn't move there. Perfect places for vacation but that's it.

I'm curious... what is it that was tough there?

this sounds a bit worrying, I am hoping to move to spain sometime this year, once my house sells...I like the idea of Valencia...maybe Murcia? a few people have said, Alicante is better?..i did like the look of Almeria, but ive been told its too quiet, & even worse in winter & also that there is a big problem with crime in Almeria?
I'm just not sure where the ideal place is...for a single woman of 52, who wants to live near some expats, because I do want a social life..this has been my dream for 20 its disappointing to hear some people say..they wouldn't do it again,

Valencia is not a good place for expats, very rarely you find one. In my opinion Mallorca, Marbella, Malaga and Barcelona are much better options.

I'm with @lovesun. What is so tough. This has been my dream for so many years and I'm coming next year to look for locations.

When I moved to Valencia from Vancouver, I just wanted sun, sun, sun.  Yes, I got plenty of sunny days but also BUREAUCRACY, bad customer service, inefficiency, etc.
Honesty is not a common word, corruption at a lower level in all kinds of hierarchies.

Definitely a different mentality and priorities.

I recommend this video. It really shows a big part of the life in Spain

lovesun :

this sounds a bit worrying, I am hoping to move to spain sometime this year, once my house sells...I like the idea of Valencia...maybe Murcia? a few people have said, Alicante is better?..i did like the look of Almeria, but ive been told its too quiet, & even worse in winter & also that there is a big problem with crime in Almeria?
I'm just not sure where the ideal place is...for a single woman of 52, who wants to live near some expats, because I do want a social life..this has been my dream for 20 its disappointing to hear some people say..they wouldn't do it again,

I would not let one or even 10 people's opinions change my mind completely.  My husband and I have been planning our move for the last 10 years: researching various areas/locations/cities, etc in depth.. reading opinions from various sources (ex-pat and locals) to see what the different perspectives are.

Nothing we have read has made us want to change our minds.  We keep the opinions  we read in perspective: remembering that everyone is different, perspectives, wants, needs, and desires vary greatly from one writer to another . . . so one person's "horrid" experience can easily be another person's "great adventure."

In terms of "too quiet/too loud,' I would suggest one ask:  As compared to what?  When one hears of crime, I would suggest one ask . . . where on this planet is there little to no crime outside the most remote or smallest towns or villages . . .?

I think a good healthy dose of understanding of the locals, a significant bit of understanding of the language, customs, and mores will help with the transition.  Then, one must determine for one's self . . . what is one looking for?  "Paradise?"  All in the eye of the beholder, I would suggest.

Make sure you know where you want to land, know whether it fits *your* needs and interests, and realize that you're taking a chance that requires a lot of commitment, hard work, open-mindedness, and understanding of others to create your own success.

I wish you the best!

*in reply to DhBahiya 25 April 2016 13:39:14 Report #4 *

Thank you for taking the time to post this.
Very informative and helpful

Well said!

I completely agree with you. This forum allows you to share your experiences and opinions.  It all depends on your expectations, priorities and personal circumstances .
We  tend to idealize  but the fact is that when you move to a new country you win certain things and you lose some other things. There is no paradise.

fabigarcia2013 :

I recommend this video. It really shows a big part of the life in Spain

'What a great video.  Perfect example of how "pesado" bureaucracy in Spain is -- and truly, one must be prepared to deal with it to the nth degree represented in the video.

More important is a sense of humor, and a thorough understanding and acceptance of the customs of the country are imperative.

Spain is a great, quirky, fascinating, extremely beautiful country and I can't wait to get back.  My husband and I have scheduled at least  a year to ensure all our paperwork is in order.

In reality, every  country in the world has its issues, problems, concerns . . . from crime to anything else.  We just decide what level of everything we want to deal with . . . just as we do when we decide where in our home countries we want to live, from the region to the city and specific neighborhood.

Spain is no different. . . . just better! :heart:

Hilarious! I understand the bureaucracy is ridiculous! Love the video!

At this exact moment in time I'm looking out of my lounge window and outside the trees are being blown sideways, the rain is hammering against the window and I have just had to put the central heating on.... it's June!!!!  According to the BBC the weather today in Alicante (where we are looking at moving too) is a sunny 26oc

It's also  half term so the children are upstairs playing in their bedrooms..... bored and restless, as they can't go out .Evan if the weather was more favourable there would be no where to go without expenditure, travel and constant parental supervision as our garden is tiny. The highlight of their day was to walk to co op and back with me...... ]I'm hoping that the area we 'eventually' decide to move to in Spain will have more areas where they can play and make friends

My husband went to work this morning before we woke and we won't see him 'till late evening... he will then have to start working again until stupid o'clock on the computer in order to pay our hefty mortgage..... If we move to Spain then we will be able to buy a decent property outright and my husband will be able to cut his work hours down by 50%. (He is a computer analyst so can work from anywhere as long as it has internet)

It seems like a no brainer to me... BUT, I may hate the constant heat? I may not like having my children playing outside without constant supervision, and I may grow to hate having my husband under my feet more of the time?

We have been living in the Basque country, San Sebastian for almost a year now and plan to stay for another four years at least. Our family agreed that moving here was the best thing we could have done, amazing beahces, beautiful nature, warm, friendly and easy going people, bureaucracy noweher near as bad as in Czech (the country of my origin) and great environment to raise up kids. We go to the beach or for hikes on daily basis and basically do not need a car here at all. The Spanish people love their kids, but also seem to give them a lot of freedom, I am noticing so many differences in parenting style of Spanish people and get inspired. Our daughter got engaged in some traditional Basque activities (e.g., basque dancing) which makes her (and consequently us) feel as part of the local community. She also learned both Basque and Spanish quite fast, now she is a little polyglot :) The weather in the north of Spain is not as stable as down south but since we do not like much heat, we are fine with some rain and wind now and then. The north of Spain is also a bit more expensive (especially the rent) but with two average salaries so far so good. To sum up, Spain truly feels like paradise, at least to our family!

Hey Mc, great youtube video, so funny but true. Subsequent ones good too.  :cheers:

I recommend this video.

I have owned in Malaga province since 1983 and lived here since 1987. 

If I thought there was a better place I would have moved !

John , possible dupe message but. wife and i visited spain may 2016 started Barcelona drove down to La Manga. Valencia was what we liked. we were planning to get to Malaga and Portugal Never made it . A family friend who does a lot of travel also suggests we check into Malaga . Will do this year possibly april /May. Since you have been there so long is there a town/district/zone that offers the best combination of location, amenities, ease of transportation healthcare, weather friendly people. Did i leave anything out?? if this place exists please let me know your opinion so we can do research on the internet prior to our travels Thank you Bruce & Francine

For me Fuengirola is as good as anywhere.   In the past 30 years I have lived in Benalmadena Costa, Benalmadena Pueblo, Arroyo de la Miel and Mijas

It is the end of the rail line from Malaga, with 3 trains an hour to airport and Malaga Central.  It is on the main road route along the southern coast, 15 minutes from the airport.  It is flat, unlike many areas along the coast.   

Has a reasonably large permanent population, good range of shops, a shopping mall and general suppliers where one can source almost everything.  Good range of restaurants, bars etc.

The weather is good, not too hot in summer nor cold in winter, very low rain fall.
Healthcare facilities are good.   30 mins by car / an hour by bus, to Costa Del Sol Hospital.

Very low crime rate.

Not over-run by visitors in the summer.

John, LOVE the "not over-run" by visitors part. My wife and i have firmly agreed on that part. we will surely check Fuengirola , kind regards Bruce & France  thank you

I have lived in Barcelona, Castell Defels, Valencia, and Alicante, in the span of 21 years. During this time I also lived in Rio Rancho and Albuquerque, NM, where I worked at Sandia National Laboratories. My wife is  a Spanish national and I am currently retired and have lived in Alicante continuously for the past 5 years. I am very happy with my choice of Alicante, for a number of reasons. Most important is that it is a very safe environment and has, in my opinion, excellent public schools. This was a principle motivation for our move her 6 years ago from Rio Rancho, NM, and I have no doubt that our decision was a good one. Apart from low crime,  there are the big pluses of excellent transport, inexpensive rent, excellent entertainment, much of which is free, excellent food and inexpensive restaurants. For expats that are learning English, there is an excellent language school, and multiple places to meet in English/Spanish speaking groups. As far as bureaucracy, I have not found the Spanish bureaucracy to be particularly onerous. I don't remember what it cost me to renew my resident card last time, but I am sure it was less than 100 euros, and I received the new card in a month or so. In contract, to renew my wife's green card in the USA would cost $450 plus it had to be done from the US and requires an interview in the US. Needless to say, we are letting it lapse. Alicante has a lot tourism in the summer, but seeing tourists in the city doesn't bother me, it is a good source of income. As in other parts of Spain, work us scarce, but a translator, English teacher, or chef could probably make a living here. There are areas of the city (la zona norte) which are less secure. Most of the expats that I know are married to Spanish nationals, but I recently met a couple of retirees from the US, who are learning Spanish. Well that's my 2 cents.

What a wonderful jumble of absolute honesty presented here.It's great to have the " I hate" versus the "I Love" . Reading between the lines I think we can accommodate bureaucracy versus high crime, murder and the general disregard for life as is prevalent in South Africa.

I guess the only real question left to answer is;  how much does one need to be able to life a decent yet simple life in Spain. Where is the less expensive locations in terms of rental cost etc. We're two retired adults comfortable with the simple life but do love travelling in our 1988 Camper currently housed in Bulgaria.

Tx all for the wonderful feast of information !!

Dear expats and others,

Thank you for giving of yourselves and your experiences.  What you have said has been of great help to me, often in ways which I did not expect.

I am writing this in hopes that it will be useful to some of you, perhaps even in the indirect ways that your words have been useful to me. I’m serious.  Collectively your words have helped me a lot.

I do not live in Spain; currently I am “retired” in Albuquerque, New Mexico — rather unhappily.   I grew up out here and returned reluctantly, only because my mother was over 90 and needed some help.  I will not detail my experiences, but aside from 25 years in the middle of Manhattan, I have lived in other places around the world.

We have plenty of sunshine and almost no pollution, few catastrophic climate events other than forest fires occasioned by droughts. Of course, everyone here says that the local standard is to pay in sunshine;  there is truth to that.  Wages are very low.

But, what strikes me like a gong is how similar my laments would be to many of yours in Spain.

First, it is lonely out here.  Jumping ahead, my conclusion is that older people just have huge obstacles everywhere to making connections.  One letter on here talked about the family, family, family orientation.  Same here.  I also note that even my friends relentlessly repeat “oh, I’m so busy,” while I inwardly roll my eyes.

I would say that 95% of life here is either “family-friendly,” or oriented to young matchmaking — great bar-scene rock bands, I’m told.  But, even more important, it appears that anyone with a bright spark, gets out of here.  For the rest of us, it is in a doctor's waiting room.

There is simply not a significant cultural life here.  We are the end of the line for traveling roadshows or classical music performances and those are here for one night, two at the most.  Bernadette Peters was recently here for one night with tickets $75 to $200.  The Albuquerque Museum (of Art and History) will have a major exhibition in September of 2018.  These are “packaged” touring shows for smaller museums, usually very good indeed, but expensive to provide.  This is the third such exhibition in twelve years. 

So, it is work and family.  If those are not the total center of your being, you will be hard put to find other connections.

The bureaucracy in Spain?  Here I would say it is a matter of the level of competence.  Often it is not the rules and regulations in place, but that employees simply do not know what they are doing.  A totally destroyed car left over from an accident has been on my street for 10 months.  I call repeatedly.  I visit.  I send pictures.  I ask others to call.   Nothing happens.  I pursue it; nothing happens. 

This, I assume, is partly the result of a long history of inadequate education.  Among the 50 US states, New Mexico ranks 48th in educational level.  In the past 50 years, it has never ranked above 44th, often far below countries around the world. That is a staggering history of inadequacy.

I’ll just tuck in here a comment on customer care.  There is almost none left in the US.  Everything, but everywhere, responds with a recording telling you to go online and do it yourself; quit annoying us, dammit.  If you get a human voice, it will probably be from one of the poorest sections of the country reading a script they themselves do not understand.  Hope that your call will be shunted to India (so much better educated than all but 10% of the US!) or the Philippines (not quite as good.)  We used to have our calls sent to Ireland, but the Irish apparently started to demand decent wages.

We do not deal everyday with functioning in a second language.  But, what fascinates me even as an outsider is that I no longer believe that is as great an obstacle to friendship as people assume.  My experience is simply that, first, it is hard to make friends.  The language issue does not prevent it, though it certainly limits the depth and complexity.   If you have some proficiency — and mine is limited — you can work your way along to a deepening connection, though it is not easy.  I certainly know that struggling in a language not your own can sap energy.

What I have noted in all the letters is the relative absence of complaints about medical care.  Count your blessings.  Medical care here can range from good to horrendous.  What it is not, is dependable, understandable, straightforward, regular, smooth, steady. Imagine all terms of your medical care being renegotiated every year!  And that is for the lucky few already eligible for government (old age medical) benefits.  The joke here is that we used to say that we had third world medical care until the third world so completely passed us by.  Bureaucracy…ya want bureaucracy?  Try American insurance companies!  Talk about capitalism run amok! 

Finally, and this may only be my personal issue, I never imagined that my retirement would be so completely taken up with learning things I do not want to learn. 

Mostly by that I mean technology.  I am tired of learning jargon and having to buy one connector after another and put together things that are out-dated before I get them home.

I love learning what I am interested in knowing, but, frankly, I would happily trade my 999 channels for a good ol’ TV that worked and did not require that I face a steep learning curve every time I turn it on.  Similarly with my smartphone, which is smarter than I am and will brook no lagging behind.

Again, you all have my thanks for your shared perspectives.  I value them.  Those have made me feel less lonely with my decisions and choices. 


I have been living in Spain for the past 14 years, my folks also come. On the topic of * would you move again to Spain?*, to be honest I can only  say  NO (based on the province and  city that I been living), I cannot  say NO based in other provinces. There are a lot of issues with different criteria from Provincial Government to Provincial Government, except those issues  that are Central Government decisions) , but going back to the main topic (I would not go back, if I leave Spain), I am trying to leave, but with my age, etc...its quite difficult. If anyone would like me to elaborate more in detail my reason, let me know.
My only advise to others  is think twice before settling in Extremadura.


I would love to hear your reasons why. Me and my family had our hearts set on buying the Dream finca in extremadura (Zafra area) After a turn of events we are now going to rent on the edge of a small town called Cehegin 1 hour outside Murcia for 12months.
We still plan on returning to extremadura to buy after we have explored some more places whilst we await the outcome of brexit before buying.

What would you suggest as dos and donts in our exploration and the greater plan of buying in extremadura.

Your opinions, knowledge and experience will be greatly appreciated.

Kind regards.

Tom Pleavin

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