Around 370,000 Brits call Spain home, making it the third most popular destination in the world to start a new life.

Why do so many of us leave our comfortable lives in the UK to start over in Spain?

What makes someone leave their family, friends and everything familiar to begin again? 

Below we'll look at the top six reasons:


The Weather

sunny photo of a beach in Spain

It's true: Spain is one of the sunniest countries in Europe. 

The Costa del Sol, for example, enjoys an incredible 320 sunny days a year!

But that doesn't mean you'll always be warm.

Most Spanish homes have little to no insulation against the cold, and many don't have any form of heating at all. 

If your apartment is facing the wrong way, you won't see the sun all winter. 

This means that you'll spend a good few months of the year using electric blankets and thick jackets. 

(Also, there's a weird phenomenon where you'll see tourists walking around in shorts and t-shirts in the middle of winter, while everyone who lives in Spain – including the expats! – are in thick winter jackets. I wish I could explain why this happens!)

It's important to note that not everywhere in Spain is as hot and sunny as the Costa del Sol: the north-facing Atlantic coast has a similar wet climate to the UK. 

But in general, Spain is gloriously sunny.

So sunny, in fact, that you might even miss the rain!

Or at least, you'll wonder what to chat about with neighbours now that the weather is so good (tip: see point 5 below..).


The Laid-Back Lifestyle

people enjoying the evenign sun in Granada

If you've holidayed in Spain, you'll have seen the Spanish enjoying long unhurried lunches which stretch into the evening. 

The Spanish day starts much later (you'll struggle to find anything open before 10), and you'll hear buenos días (good morning) until at least 2.30pm. 

If you wish someone goodnight (buenas noches) at 7.30pm, you'll probably get a weird look in return; if it's still light, it's still afternoon! 

You've probably heard about the downside of all of this: the inefficiency of Spanish bureaucracy and the 'mañana' culture.

While frustrating at first if you are trying to get things done, you'll soon grow to love the relaxed pace of Spanish life. 

The focus is on enjoying life as much as possible, preferably outdoors with your family at your side. 

Every town and city has their own feria (fair) once a year, and seemingly every month has at least one puente (long weekend including a public holiday) where you can take a trip or just spend time with family. In August, it feels like the whole country shuts down for one month and everyone is on the beach. 

Spain is a country where you don't need a lot of money to live a good life.

Why buy a top-of-the-range TV when you'll probably spend most of your time outside?

And forget spending all of your money on a flashy car – it will soon get scratched and dented on Spain's crazy roads. 

Enjoying the simpler things is such a relief, especially if you've spent years as part of the rat race trying to keep up with the neighbours. 


The Lower Cost of Living

move to Spain for the lower cost of living

This can be a myth or a truth depending where and how you live. 

Assuming that you'll live away from big cities and tourist areas, in Spain you'll get a lot more for your money.

You'll be able to enjoy a coffee for as little as €1.20, while a 3-course lunch (the famous menú del día) will cost as little as €10.

Supermarkets are also cheaper when you compare things like wine, beer and olive oil. 

But not everything is cheap: utilities (electricity, gas & water) and cars are more expensive. 

Rental prices in booming cities such as Málaga have been pushed up in recent years because of tourism. 

Once you become a resident, you'll probably find that you pay more tax than you did in your home country. 

And by this time, you'll probably also have figured out that eating out are so cheap because Spanish salaries are much lower than those in northern Europe. 

While this may not affect you if you are retired or run an online business, it's something to be sensitive to. 


It's Close To Your Home Country

move to spain to be close to your home country

Large airports like Málaga and Alicante have low-cost airline connections to even the smallest of cities in the UK and other European countries, making it cheap and easy to get back home to visit family. 

This can be a big advantage if you are retired and don't want to be too far from the grandchildren. 

It works the other way too: once you have a house with a pool or near to the beach, you'll never see the back of them!

The cheap and readily-available flights also make it easy to travel within and out of Spain.

Madrid is an hours flight away from Málaga and Alicante (or a few hours on a high-speed train) and there you'll find flight connections all over the world. 


The Food

move to Spain for the food - lot's of different pinchos in a display cabinet

The Mediterranean diet is known to be one of the healthiest in the world, with its abundance of fruit, vegetables and lots of olive oil. 

You'll be able to eat locally produced fruit straight from the fields and you'll soon get into the Spanish habit of pouring olive oil on everything. 

And the wine!

The wine in Spain is incredibly cheap. You can get a decent bottle for €5. 

While not usually considered as 'healthy', the way the Spanish drink alcohol (with tapas) means that they'll stop at one or two glasses.

You'll rarely see people drunk in the streets (if you do, chances are they are tourists). 

Food is the number one favourite topic for small talk in Spain. Each area has its own specialities and the people are incredibly proud of their local cuisine. 

My son recently had to do a school project on the food of Cadiz, a city 4 hours away. Can you imagine a child being given a school project on the cuisine of Liverpool or Birmingham?!

The only downside of all of this is because their own food is so good, the Spanish aren't the most adventurous when it comes to trying other kids of cuisines. If you are a fan of Asian food, you'll probably be disappointed unless you learn to cook it yourself.  


The People

Move to Spain for the people - two andalucian men in the street

The Spanish have a well-deserved reputation for being warm and open. 

You better get used to being kissed on both cheeks when you meet someone new. 

Also, god forbid you forget to greet anyone and everyone you meet with a loud 'buenas', whether it's a stranger in a lift or a room of fellow patients in a doctors surgery waiting room...

However, despite how this may look, the honest truth is, unless you are fluent in Spanish and make a big effort, it can be difficult to get close to Spanish people. 

This is mainly because of the language barrier: many Spanish are very shy about speaking in English. 

But it's also cultural: the Spanish are incredibly family-orientated, which means they usually have a huge circle of distant cousins and school friends to spend their time with, leaving little room for newcomers. 

(Of course, there are exceptions: language exchanges are a great place to meet Spanish people. And if you hang around long enough in their lives, you'll become 'family' rather than a newcomer. )

Don't underestimate the importance of meeting other expats: while you might not want to spend all of your time speaking your native language, sometimes it's nice to have a chat without any language misunderstandings and to find a shop where you can buy all of your favourite products from back home. 

If you already live in Spain, do you agree with the points above?

If not, leave a comment below and let us know!

About the Author Louise

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