Many people are seeking information about moving to Spain and what life in Spain is really like. While there is plenty of financial and legal advice out there. I think people like to hear about real life experiences. To get an honest point of view from those who have already moved to Spain is really helpful. So, to help us share some different views and advice we have started a new interview series.
I will be interviewing people, who now live in Spain but are originally from another country. For each interviewee, Spain is their current home. Hopefully they will share useful insight into what life in Spain is like for foreigners, guiris, expats, immigrants (whatever term you use). With the aim of passing on great knowledge and information to anyone interested in moving to Spain.
Life in Spain interview No.1
The first interview is with Kim who lives in Madrid. She hails from a small town in the Rocky Mountains in Canada. Although she loved the fresh mountain air and stunning scenery that surrounded her, she got the travelling bug at an early age. After finishing her studies, she headed off to Africa for her first solo trip and eventually wound up in Spain to live.
Her spirit of adventure didn’t end there. During her almost 20 years in Spain she has been to nearly every nook and cranny of the country. Often giving travel advice to her Spanish friends about where they should head for a romantic weekend or a family vacation. Or recommending an off-the-beaten-track village or different region in the country to explore. She eventually started sharing her love of Spain through Travel Around Spain blog adding her travel tips and photos for people who were coming to visit Spain.
Interview with Kim
Where do you live in Spain and when did you move there?
I live in Madrid. I’ve been here since I got married back in 2000, yikes, time really does fly. That will be 20 years next year!
How did you choose that area and what helped you to decide to live there?
My husband is from Huelva in Andalucía, an area where it is difficult to get work. He was never able to get work in the field in which he studied in and had only ever had unrelated jobs. Just before we got married, he went to Madrid to look for work. About a month before our wedding (I was back in Canada) I got a phone call saying that we wouldn’t be living in the lovely little coastal town, but in the bustling capital city as he found work in his field.
What do you love most about life in Spain?
I love that everything is so diverse and different. Each little village keeps its own traditions and arts, so when you are visiting you get to see a piece of the past in action as you watch how the villagers do their lace work, pottery, leather-working or specialty baked goods. You can visit a town in the morning that has Roman history and a few kilometres away visit a village in the afternoon that was thriving during Medieval times. Then still have time to go to another town that has an Arabic influence in the evening.
What challenges did you face when you moved to Spain?
I was still in the process of learning Spanish when I arrived, so language was a barrier. There were challenges living in a large city as I am a country girl. I don’t like living in cities anywhere, but I especially found it difficult during our first few years in Madrid. We were in a tiny apartment with no yard, no grass and it seemed like it was always noisy everywhere.
Is there anything you miss from where you lived previously?
In the beginning I missed even just small things that reminded me of home: the smell of fresh cut grass and the sound of lawn mowers. I missed some of the things that I could commonly buy in stores that at that time weren’t available. Breakfast cereal for example and of course maple syrup. Now, I am fairly settled and although I still have some nostalgia, I am happy here and don’t pine for things like I used to.
If you could change one thing about life in Spain, what would it be?
I would spread people out so that not everyone is living on top of each other in apartments. Even in the villages people live in row’s of houses in close proximity. There is a lot of open empty space available in Spain that isn’t used and yet people are all crammed together in the cities.
Would you recommend others to move to Spain?
It totally depends what type of lifestyle you are looking for. If you are looking for a simpler life, perhaps along the coast, then Spain is a wonderful place to live. I don’t recommend coming to Madrid as it is expensive, crowded and in my opinion not the best place to raise children. However, if you are a city person it might work for you. Moving to another country is never an easy thing but it can be very rewarding.
What advice do you have for people considering moving to Spain?
- Be sure to do your homework and know why you want to move here.
- Know what kind of visas and paperwork you will need.
- Come and visit Spain on an extended holiday to get a feel of which region you would like to live before you make the move.
- If you are planning on living here, you will need to know Spanish as English is not spoken enough for you to make friends.
- Make sure you get to know the Spaniards; they have a warm and welcoming culture and you will make true and lasting friendships if you reach out to them.
- Don’t move here and just stick in a bubble with other English speaking expats, you will really miss out on the best part of Spain, the people.
Thank you to Kim, for allowing us pry into her life in Spain 🙂
You might enjoy reading the Seeking the Spanish Sun articles related to moving to Spain…
Or some of our popular Spain travel guides…