6 June 2018. That is the day that Lars and I moved to Spain, to Torrox. Today, we share what the good and the bad sides are of life as an expat in Spain.
There is obviously the climate. Let’s be honest: I think it’s one of the main reasons why people move to Spain. Granted, in spring the weather can be quite unstable and temperatures are around 38 degrees Celsius in summer, but I don’t really mind that. There is simply so much more sunshine here, especially in winter. Then the sun sets around 5.30pm. That means no more winter blues or, even worse, seasonal depressions.
The cheaper way of life is another advantage. Three examples and we start with the rent. We now live to the north of Granada in an apartment with two bedrooms, a huge terrace, and access to a communal swimming pool. All this for 360 euros. Yes, you read that right. And for grocery shopping, we spend 30 to 50% less than in Belgium. Getting a haircut is at least 3 times cheaper.
Now that we are talking about money, what about free healthcare? Yes, that’s right, when you go to a doctor or have to spend some time in a hospital, you pay nothing. Zero. Nada. Sure, there is a certain administrative procedure you need to follow, but what an advantage. And buying medication will only cost you a couple of euros.
Food, glorious food! Read our piece about the art of tapas and you will understand why we have fallen in love with this aspect of Spanish gastronomy. It’s so cheap and you can taste a bit of everything. And from what I have learned from local friends, different regions and even different cities have their own tapas culture. To be explored after the lockdown.
As a photographer, I have fallen in love with the huge variety of landscapes. I don’t know how familiar you are with Belgian and Danish geography, but let’s face it: both our home countries are rather flat. Here it’s not only a joy to practice photography, but it’s also a joy to sit on our terrace and see – and admire – mountains!
And last but not least, the attitude of the people. We tend to believe that they like to postpone things, but that is a myth. They have deadlines to respect at work just as much as we do. But in general, the local people have a more relaxed attitude.
Yes, this is not a paradise. Here are some disadvantages.
Most things are notably a lot cheaper, except for water and electricity. On a monthly basis, we pay about 30 euros for water and between 50 and 100 euros for electricity. There is only one thing to do: be aware of what you consume!
Our biggest nightmare is without any doubt the Spanish banks… First of all, they are more expensive. You have to pay a couple of euros for example when you get money from an ATM. Moreover, they all encourage electronic payments, whereas in reality in more than enough shops, bars, and restaurants, you can only pay cash, especially in smaller towns and villages.
The biggest complaint we have however is service and especially customer support. Sabadell is okay, but they rank amongst the most expensive banks and you can only find them in places where a lot of expats live. Santander, on the other hand, is cheaper, but when it comes to service, there is only one word to describe it: horrible! In October last year, Lars accidentally blocked his bank card, and both the local bank and the helpdesk refused to help us, which led to a lot of trouble. Our advice: digital banks like N26. You still have a Spanish bank account and way better service.
Last but not least: employment. Spain has a high unemployment rate. Make sure you have a thorough knowledge of Spanish or you won’t find any job. It gets even tougher when you are older than 40. There are solutions though. Lots of expats open their own business such as a B&B or a bar. You can teach a language or work online.
I would be impolite if I didn’t say thank you to a fellow blogger who promoted my website earlier this week. Be kind and visit his blog.
By the way, I took the photos featured in this post in Torrox Costa.
And before I hit “Publish”, on Friday, we pay another visit to Germany.