Expat Interview With Lisa Sadleir - British Expat In Spain
|Published:||15 Oct at 9 AM|
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Here's the interview with Lisa...
Where are you originally from?
I was born in Liverpool and grew up in a small village called Lowton, in northern England, until I headed off to University. I went to university in London and France to study a BA Hons in European Business. On graduating, I decided to take time out and work as a travel guide and headed off to the island of Gran Canaria. 10 years later, having worked all over Spain and the Spanish islands, in ski resorts in Andorra & the french Alps, a brief stint in Corsica, USA and the Dominican Republic, myself and my then “hubby to be” (also from England), settled in Fuerteventura.
7 years later, having got married, bought and sold our very first home, set up and sold a successful snorkeling business and had two gorgeous children we decided that we had to move back “home” … to mainland Spain, to Malaga, Andalucia.
In which country and city are you living now?
Our home is now the beautiful village of Mijas in the Malaga province, southern Spain.
How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
We have lived in Spain and the islands for over 20 years now. We have been in Mijas for 5 years. We will not say that we will “never” leave Spain but at this moment time, we cannot imagine living anywhere else.
Why did you move back to mainland Spain?
We moved to Mijas having been living in Fuerteventura in the Canary island for 7 years. After the birth of our second child in Fuerteventura, we decided that mainland Spain offered both ourselves and our children a much better future than the islands.
How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country & was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
We are now fully integrated in the village amongst the Spanish community. It has however taken a couple of years, despite being completely fluent in the language. I assist with school activities whenever possible so and so am also accepted by the parents. Again, I think this is due to the locals seeing so many foreigners come and go.
We have both Spanish and expat friends, of many different nationalities. There are numerous networking groups and clubs in the Malaga province. Meeting people is not a problem. Finding time to attend all the events is more of a challenge!
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
One of the reasons for moving back to the Costa del Sol was the fact that there is something happening every week, almost every month of the year. Andalucia is a wonderful part of Spain, whether you prefer beaches, mountains, big cities or natural countryside, you will find plenty to keep you busy.
What do you enjoy most about living here?
100% Lifestyle! We feel that It is so much easier to have a great quality of life in Spain. Material possessions are not important, or at least they don’t have to be. The Spanish people are so welcoming and family life is very important to them. Provided you make the effort, it can be easy to become part of your local community and of course the outdoor lifestyle is unbeatable!
We love the Spanish culture and their attitude to life. They have their priorities right. They work to live not live to work. Family and children are priority. The biggest obstacle we see every day is the lack of ability to speak the language. And unfortunately, the lack of willingness to learn it!
How does the cost of living compare to home?
Living in Spain is not as cheap is used to be. However, thanks to the weather, we find that there are so many more things to do that does not cost money. We regularly pack a picnic and head off to the beach or inland
What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
Spanish paperwork and it’s administration systems are famous for their complexity but burying your head in the sand and complaining when you get found out is not the best course of action.
If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Unfortunately, too many people buy a property in Spain without really doing their homework and doing enough research, usually for fear of losing “an unmissable bargain”. I always encourage people to rent for at least 12 to 18 months to really experience living, rather than holidaying in Spain. Buying a home is not the same as buying a holiday home. Although a lot milder than the UK, winters in some parts of Spain are a lot more severe than some people expect or are lead to believe.
Moving to Spain with older children, particularly aged 10 to 16, ie whilst education is compulsory, can be a lot more traumatic experience than anticipated. Planning the time of your relocation is fundamental to its success.
What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
We are very lucky to not have had problems with moving to various parts of Spain. I think that is mainly thanks to our understanding of not only the Spanish language but also the Spanish people. We have some great Spanish friends and have always had local people willing to help us.
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
I think that all tips are for all ages and apply to the Southern part of Spain at least:
1. Be prepared to slow down. Get ready for a more relaxed pace of life. If it doesn’t get done today, it will get done tomorrow, or maybe the day after! Stressing about it will not get it done any faster.
2. Forget the “but in England, they do it this way....” attitude.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice, but beware of the bar stool grapevine. Our business website www.ccbspain.com is full of important information relevant to living in Spain and if the information is not there, we will happily find it for you.
4. Timing is fundamental … Moving at the wrong time in your life, your child’s life, or at the wrong time of year can jeopardize a successful relocation.
5. Research. Research. Research.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
Our family blog is www.familylifeinspain.com. We started blogging in October 2010. The idea is that our site grows with our children. Our lives are focused around them and, thanks to them, we are learning more about the country we have chosen to make our home.
We have met some amazing people through our website and do not need any excuse to accept invitations to visit new places and meet new people.
We have our own business supported by our websites: www.ccbspain.com which provides essential information to people moving to and living in Spain and we are currently working on www.howtoinspain.com which is kind of self explanatory ;)
We are learning something new about this wonderful country all the time, particularly through our children. That is why we started our blog www.familylifeinspain.com . As the children get older, we look deeper into day to day living and challenges, traditions, culture and history of the country we have chosen to make our home.
That country is Spain.
How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
I can be contacted via any of the websites mentioned above. I regularly have Skype chats with people thinking about moving to the Costa del Sol, Malaga province. I do not promise to tell you what you want to hear but I will tell you the truth.
Lisa manages her excellent expat website/blog called Family Life In Spain http://www.familylifeinspain.com which is very worthy of a visit. Lisa can be found on Twitter @FamilyInSpain. Family Life In Spain has an ExpatsBlog.com listing here which has already received a huge response showing by the number of glowing comments! If you liked this interview, please leave a comment to Lisa below!
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Comments » There are 3 comments
I do not promise to tell you what you want to hear but I will tell you the truth...... the trouble is that so many (would-be) expats cannot handle the truth. Spain has been my home for 10+ years and I have met many who have either not been told the truth or who have chosen to create their own set of laws and regulations re taxes, cars, need to speak Spanish etc Foe these people life has been tougher than it otherwise needs to have been. Absolutely terrific article, congratulations to you and your family.
Lovely article, family life is so much better in Spain, we wouldn't want to be raising our kids anywhere else!
Well written comprehensive article about life in Spain. Well done Lisa xxx