Where to go? Europe Bound

Hello!  I hope I can find some suggestions here as I am not sure where else to look.  My family are planning to relocate to Europe.  We are Canadian, but I have UK citizenship.  We are looking for a country in Europe that has the following...

- warm....no more Canadian winters please!
- must have good internet high speed access (need for work)
- language not a major concern as we are willing to learn
- good services as we have a small child and need to think of education and such and saftey and so on.

I was thinking of Italy, but I have read about all the red tape and it sounds very difficult to do anything there at all as a resident.  Any suggestions??  I am very interested in what you have to say as living over here the cost of going to each country for a time to check it out is too expensive.

Thanks very much!

Welcome on board Sweetbasil!

It won't be an any choice ... as several countries are corresponding to your criterias :)

Maybe you'll like these two topics:
Best country in Europe to call home
Cost of living in European countries

All the best,


Hello Sweetbasil !

That's true several countries are corresponding to your criterias !

It depends on what you want when you say warm country... because lots of country are much warmer than Canada in Europe ;-) (I lived during one year near Toronto), but if you would like to have sun most of the year, I would say Italy, Spain or south of France.
I do not know Spain at all so I can not give you some adivce about it.
In Italy, you should prefer the north part (from Rome to the north). There are good internet high speed access and good services.
In France, you also have good services, and good high speed access... I would prefer the south if you want more sun...

do you have any other idea than Italy ?? it would be easier ;-)

all the best,


Hello ,  Thank-you for the welcome.  This web-site seems very good and if anyone has question on Canada...I hope I can help!

So I have been researching and thinking and I have come up with a more defining search list.

Countries considered
Italy, Spain, Portugal, Southern France, Greece...basically Mediterreanan areas as it must be warm. 

Must have list
Very good high speed internet available
Good health care and schools (as we have a small child)

Would like to have list
Generally a healthy enviroment - organic produce, low pollution
Social, friendly people
Good food and coffee
Anywhere from a city to small town would be fine (a small village would be to small for our needs)
Prefer a drier climate rather than a damp one

I have been looking at Italy only as I had heard that it is a very friendly society, warm climate and also is very organic/food forward.  But as I do not know the EU situation it is posible that all of EU is now no GMO and is pro organic?  I have heard horror stories about the red tape in Italy though and it has made think that I should look at other countries.  My aunt lives in Spain and loves it, but I am concerned that it has been taken over by England as everyone seems to have moved there!    I have heard Portugal is lovely, but I am unsure of the technology there (internet must be good).  I have visited France and liked it but found the people a bit distant (sorry Julien!).  Possibly that was due to the fact that I was a tourist.  I don't know anything about Greece at all.

So there you go...probably more info than you exepected!  I hope maybe this will make one country or area pop out!  Thanks again for all your help!

I am living in Spain, in Catalonia, and we have been here for about four months now, and I can tell you, where I am, there are almost no ex-pats at all, and no brits, so it all depends on where you go.  We are in a small town outside of Barcelona.  The sun shines over 300 days a year, the medical care is free, although my husband is Spanish, I am not sure of the situation if you are both from the EU, but they have provisions for refugees and illegals to get health care so....

My kids are in the local school, if you move to Spain you want to look at the language, if you are in Catalonia or the Basque region the language of the schooling will be in that language primarily, though if you stay long enough they are all fluent in Spanish too.   The kids have had an excellent experience so far, granted it has not been even a month yet, we have them in a private Catholic school, although we are not Catholic ourselves, the cost is extremely affordable, a couple of dinners out a month, and the school is cleaner and less crowded.  There have been a few problems, mostly cmmunication with the teachers, and the kids have been, at my daughter's estimation, way nicer than they would have been in Canada.

The people we have met have been remarkably friendly and helpful.  That is not to say that there haven't been any bumps on the way, but really a better experience than I could have hoped for. 

The cost of living is very reasonable, although the purchase price on a house is wildly overinflated, so much so that the UN is making comments on the potential problem...I would rent, definately until you were sure what you want to do. 

We have highspeed internet, that was a pain to get installed because the national service provider is not so good at languages other than Castillian, but we have had no problem with the service.

So there's my plug, consider Spain, the expats mostly hang together in designated areas on the coast, and most of the place is not like that at all.

Thank-you very much for all the info on Spain.  I think we will take a closer look at it.  Would you mind sharing any big differences you notice from your where you moved from?  How is the food....groceries...?  We like organic groceries if possible..I am not sure if all of the EU now has a good control on pesticides and such as we live in Canada.  What are rental costs like?  hmm... what else can I think of!  :)

Ahh...what is the red tape like to get started up there?   Italy sounds like a nighmare to get set up...has it been difficult....?

Thanks so much!

You may be focusing on the Med countries, but there are definitely drawbacks if, as you emphasise, internet efficiency and pesticide-free produce are high priorities.  Have you ever considered the southwest corner of Germany around Freiburg?  I'm a Canadian living in Hamburg.  I love it here in the cool north, but if I had my druthers for Germany, Freiburg would be it.  Why?  Warm climate, not much rain, beautiful countryside it's just a hop over the border to Switzerland and France for even more great countryside, reliable infrastructure.  The Germans are also big on organic - you can get anything you want, in supermarkets not much different from those you're used to at home.  Prices to match, of course.

Hello,  thank-you for the insight into Germany.  I do like Germany, but I am searching for absolute warmth!  I have been bogged down by the internet issue though and I think maybe south of France now maybe our only choice.  Our livelyhood depends on good internet....so I am a bit stuck.  I cannot have internet that is not high speed and stable.  I am still looking though that maybe we can get this in the larger cities in Spain or Italy.  People sems to have been saying though that they are not that reliable.

Italy seems like such a red-tape nightmare to get set up there....I am now really looking at Spain and France.  Thanks so much for your comments....who knows maybe we will end up in Germany!:lol:

Spain...well, honestly, I have high-speed internet that has, so far, worked flawlessly.  There I just jinxed myself.  We found the red tape to be minimal, despite our weird situation, my husband is Spanish, but had not lived here since he was 4, and I have a UK passport.  The kids are Canadian.  We had fewer problems with the Catalan levels of Government than the Castillian federal.  That may be the old ethnic card because my husband is Catalan...I have no idea.  You want to check the climate carefully.  Where we are in the winters it hovers around freezing with the occasional foray into th teens.  The sun has real heat in it, so if you can get out of the breeze...if you go further south, it is warmer in winter, but brutal in the summer.  Up in the mountains it can start to get pretty Canadian.  To be partisan, I think you would do well to be around Barcelona.  The Catalans are straight-forward and efficient..as well as friendly and helpful.  Of course there are beurocratic nightmares, but it is the same in Canada....if you thought about the hassle of getting on the voters list, your health card, and your drivers license as well as renting an apartment all within the same month you would be cursing the Canadian system pretty badly too. 

Rent.  Depends on where you are.  Barcelona is probably the most expensive city in Spain.  If you can live with being outside the city, go for a smaller town up or down the coast, preferably not right on the beach.  Well that depends on whether you want to meet local people or not.  Check out the public transit schedules closely.  Some towns have awesome service and then next one over has almost none. 

We have a three bedroom apartment with a balcony and a terrace and a view of the sea and the mountains for 650 Euros a month plus utilities.  Gas is about 40, water 30 every two months, electricity is about 50 every 3 months, the phone and ADSL hookup is about 50 a month.  We budget about 800 euros a month for housing.  We are VERY conservative with the gas and water and lights.  We haven't turned the heat on yet, and sometimes it's pretty cold in here.  There are apartments out there for that, although there are a lot that are more.  We got lucky...not exceptional, but good.  Barcelona costs?  Check some of the websites...look at ages in Catalan, there are on-line dictionaries that can give you enough language to figure out the ads.  A bed room is a habitacion..etc.

The big disadvantage with being in Catalonia..well, I don't know if it is a disadvantage now that I think about it, but a big consideration is that the dominant language is Catalan NOT Castillian.  Catalan is half way between french and Spanish, and if your french is any good at all, you can hook a lot of the Catalan onto it which helps.  It won't do you much good in the rest of the world though.  You could speak and learn castillian, and everyone would understand, but I think that if you learn Catalan instead, you have a better chance of integrating with the locals.  If you end up in barcelona though, I would just learn the Castillian.  There are so many people who only speak castillian, you don't here much Catalan spoken, and often people don't even understand it if you use it.  I keep having to use English to be understood.  There has to be some irony there. 

Sorry, I am rambling...hope it helped.  Glad to answer more questions if you have them

Thanks you so much for all that info!  I am definately leaning more and more to Barcelona now!  What is your opinion on Barcelona?  Livable...friendly...expensive?  I have been to Spain before, but not Barcelona.  I think we might try to visit this May to see if it is for us.  I will have more questions, but they will have to wait until I have more time  to write.  Thanks again for your help...it makes a big difference to speak to someone who is there.:)

Barcelona....well, I think it is THE destination in Europe right now...food is excellent, the store hours however drive me out of my MIND.  Though it is less of a problem in Barcelona than the smaller town we're in.  I often forget that everything is closed between 1 and 5, and even if I remember, on the busy errand days, getting it all done before they close can be pretty hellish.

There, that's my rant...I have travelled pretty extensively and seen a fair number of cities, and Barcelona has to be one of the best.  Good public transit, reasonably clean, excellent museums and TONS to do and see.  People are friendly, the after hours bars OPEN at 6am...Most clubs don't open till 1 or 2.  That said, we have kids and haven't tried any of this, but.  I like it enormously, but you should definately come and see it before you move.  What makes a great plce to live for me, might be horrid for you.

Well..we are definately leaning now to Barcelona.  Was it fairly easy for you to get your "papers"?  As I am concerned about all the red tape to get set up there.  I am a UK citizen so I am legal, but sometimes things are not so easy!  Also how do you find the people in Barcelona..and Spain in general?  As we are a bit on shy side and are hoping for a friendly. outgoing, community.  Also how is pollution, grocery quality and such?  I would like to look at maybe a town or area very near to Barcelona, that is still big, but maybe a bit smaller than a city...any ideas?

I think we will be aiming for a visit to check out the area this May.  We should meet for coffee!

Thanks again for all your help Oreneta!

The paperwork was easy for me as a UK citizen, I went to the national police office, I don't know which one as there are three levels of police that I haven't sorted out, and came back ten days later and had the number, that said, the step by step process was first to get a bank account, which was easy, they have ones for foreigners, all you need is a passport, then once you have a place to stay, you have to go to the local ajuntamin, or city hall and get a piece of paper saying that you live here, take this and your passport to the police station, and photos and the usual crap and ten days later I had the number.  It really hasn't been much more complicated than it would be in Canada, like there, everything is done in a different government office, and there is much stamping of papers....but it has been OK.

We have found the Catalans here to be very friendly and helpful.  We have an advantage because my husband is Catalan, though he moved to Canada when he was four, so we have a certain novelty value...The pollution seems much like anywhere else, not bad, not good, better than any Eastern European city...

The produce is AWESOME, especially if you go to the markets...absolutely beautiful fresh and spectacular, one of the great things about living here.  We haven't done much homework about organics so I don't know there, the only thing I miss is whole wheat or multi-grain bread, let alone a good dark rye.  You can probably get them someplace, but you'll pay.

We are in a very small town, which sounds less like what you want, you may want to try Manresa if you want a bigger place, it is a city of it's own rights, but is ver very close to Barcelona and has excellent public transit back and forth.  It is also a bit of a heartland of Catalan nationalism, so you would do well to learn some Catalan.  Kids are a good way to get into the community...going to the schools and all.

Barcelona, well, it's a big beautiful city, like big cities everywhere, you see different people all the time, but it is a fantastic place, and I suspect you would get to know your neighbours like anywhere else.

Coffee would be great

Hi all,
Canadian here...and looking to relocate from Vancouver to Spain (Barcelona or Madrid). I work in the banking area.
Any advice on how to obtain a working visa in that country anyone?
Also any info with respect to the local banking industry would be very helpful.
Thanks in advance

Blueknight..contact the local Spanish Embassy, and be prepared for VERY long waits.  Think possibly YEARS.  Sorry, but that's what happened to us.  They do issue working visas, theoretically in two or three months, but once it gets to Madrid....well.  They have something here called a gestor, theirjob is to expedite paperwork.  You may want to hire one.  Now if you have EU citizenship it is easy peasy.  I know almost nothing about the banking industry...there are so many Brits here though that I suspect a serious web search of British buisness papers will garner a mass of information.

I will grant that we were trying to reinstate my husband's Spanish citizenship so you may not encounter the same problems that we did.

Good luck

Sweet Basil and BlueKnight:  There is a book we found very useful, published by the Sunday Times in London, but I bought it in Canada..."Working and Living Spain"  It is clearly part of a series...it is a Cadogan guide by harvey Holtom.  Isbn#1-86011-129-7
It is distiributed in N America by The Globe Pequot Press.


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