England to Andalucía - Expat Interview With Marianne

Published: 22 Nov at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Spain
Marianne is a former lawyer, EFL teacher, neophyte blogger, petrol-head, amateur photographer, traveller, English woman and shameless arctophile. For the past seven years she has lived in Andalucía, in a beautiful area, known as La Axarquía. Through her website, east of Málaga (see listing here), you can learn about the many delightful villages and towns, the fiestas and festivals, and discover what it is really like to live on the southern coast of Spain on a day-to-day basis.

East of Malaga

Here's the interview with Marianne...

Where are you originally from?
Lytham St Annes, a Lancashire town on the north-west coast of England.

In which country and city are you living now?
Together with my husband, I moved to Andalucía in southern Spain and live in the countryside near to the villages of Torrox and Cómpeta.

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
Like many expats, there was a bit of flying to-and-fro in the early days, spending more and more time in Spain before finally making a permanent move in January 2005. I am planning to stay for the foreseeable future and have no plans to move back to the UK.

Why did you move and what do you do?
Moving to Spain was something my husband and I had discussed for many years, so it was just a matter of finding the right place for us to settle. I was a criminal law solicitor back in England, but decided not to retrain under the Spanish legal system once we had made the move. These days, I am fortunate enough to be largely able to do what I want, which increasingly includes writing, taking photographs, travelling and blogging.

East of MalagaDid you bring family with you?
In a word, no. Our sons live in the UK with their wives and families which allows us the chance to keep ourselves “familiar” with the UK, whilst giving them the opportunity to visit us for holidays in Spain. Even though we don´t see them as often as we might if we lived closer, the time we do spend together is quality time.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
I guess we must have found some things a little strange at first, but people were very kind in helping us to settle quickly. We tried to embrace any differences.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
We lived in the beautiful white village of Frigiliana for the first year, where our Spanish and English neighbours took us under their respective wings. There were other expats living nearby, so with us all being in a similar position it meant it was easy to make friends. We often woke up in the morning to find a plastic bag full of lemons, figs or avocados hanging from the handle of our front door. People are so kind here in sharing whatever produce they have access to from their land. We´ve made plenty of friends, and know lots of people - expats of many different nationalities as well as locals - to socialise with.

East of MalagaWhat are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
There´s plenty to keep you busy around here – it all depends what you are looking for. We have beautiful beaches, ski-ing in the Sierra Nevada mountains, lakes, the classic Andalucían cities of Granada, Seville and Córdoba within a couple of hours drive, and easy access to the city of Málaga to fly internationally if we want. There are lots of fiestas and festivals, and many local towns and pretty villages to visit. My advice is to join in with whatever is going on. We do!

What do you enjoy most about living here?
One of the main reasons we moved here was for the better weather and the outdoor lifestyle that comes along with it. The pace of life is much slower and the sunshine makes me feel good!

How does the cost of living compare to home?
Home for us is very much in Spain nowadays. When we first came to live here, most prices were quite a bit lower than in the UK, but gradually the difference has become less marked. I love cooking, so shopping at the local street markets makes for fresh, cheaper ingredients. The price of petrol and Council Tax is lower here, but mobile telephone/internet deals seem more expensive.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
The bureaucracy can be a pain in the neck and, bear in mind there is also 25% unemployment here, so finding a job might prove difficult.

East of MalagaIf you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Rent before you buy for twelve months, to include every season. It´s very different living here full-time, as opposed to visiting only during peak holiday periods. Oh, and try to learn some Spanish as the locals are more than willing to help you out as long as they can see that you are making an effort. Oops, that´s two, isn´t it?

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Being so far away from England when a close relative was terminally ill. Even though it´s less than a three hour flight away, being able to get regular/last minute flights during peak tourist months can prove to be difficult and very expensive.

What do you miss most?
  • Family, of course, but with Skype and the internet it´s easy to keep in touch from anywhere in the world.
  • English tea bags, though with regular visits to the UK, Gibraltar (for Morrisons supermarket) and visitors from England we manage to keep our supplies topped up!
  • Our favourite full-sized Sunday newspaper – it´s printed in Spain as a standard tabloid size.
  • Boots the Chemist - hey, I´m a woman!

East of MalagaWhat are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Think about what you really want out of your move to Spain, and do your research.
  2. Learn some Spanish.
  3. Rent before you buy for at least a year to experience all the seasons.
  4. Consider your finances and how you are going to support yourself.
  5. Always be keen to accept invitations to join in.

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
My blog, East of Málaga, is a project I only started putting together a few months ago about everyday life here, including our travels within Spain, Spanish culture, and anything else I think might interest people. It’s a great outlet for my writing and photography and serves as a way to connect with family and friends, both in the UK and around the world. I’m delighted the blog has been so well-received, with almost 1000 followers to date.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Follow me on Facebook www.facebook.com/eastof.malaga or Twitter @eastofmalaga – (Kevin Rudd, the former Australian Prime Minister does!) or come along to my blog (see below), leave a comment and I will get back to you.

Marianne blogs at http://www.eastofmalaga.net/ which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. East of Malaga has an ExpatsBlog.com listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Marianne, please also drop her a quick comment below.
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Comments » There is 1 comment

Matthew Hirtes wrote 5 years ago:

Great interview, Marianne. Looks you've really embraced the Andalucian locals. And they you. Now that's what I call going native.

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