Britain v Spain: is ‘home’ really that sweet?

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IT seems that many expats who moved to Spain to “live the dream” are now longing for the country which they left behind. But surely Spain still has something going for it!, EWNs Heidi Wardman reports.

IT seems that many expats who moved to Spain to “live the dream” are now longing for the country which they left behind. But surely Spain still has something going for it!, EWNs Heidi Wardman reports.

MANY foreign residents, and Brits in particular, are becoming disillusioned with their new home, and seeing a side to good old Blighty that they had once taken for granted, according to recent British Press reports.

So is the grass really greener on the other side?

Euro Weekly News set out to discover how the expat community really feels about life in Spain today.

Retired expat, Bob Dunn, from Ciudad Quesada, said that “I love my life here in Spain and would not dream of returning to the UK out of choice. I have a great social life and have met so many different people from all walks of life. In the UK you rarely have the opportunity to meet people from different countries, with such diverse and interesting experiences. In fact, I wouldn’t have recognized my own neighbours if I bumped into them in the street, because everyone would stay behind closed doors, commuting between work and home, and that was about as interesting as life could get. Do I miss that? No! Not at all.”

Retired Teacher, Ken Long, from Mil Palmeras agreed that “I miss Britain a lot. But not the Britain that I left behind 5 years ago. I miss the Britain that I grew up in. The place has changed so much in recent years, and I started to regard it less as “home”, as I knew it.”

He added that “I am not complaining about progress in general, because obviously that is a good thing, but more about the politics, society, and the mentality of people living there. I got the feeling that people had a very short-sighted view of life, and were unable to “think outside the box!” His wife, Tina agreed that “Yes, it was so hard to feel “in-touch” with the outside world as everyone went about their own business with little regard for what people around them were doing. People here say that the lack of integration between Spaniards and foreign residents is a huge problem, but back home, Brits didn’t really integrate with each other, and there was no language barrier to blame for it! Sure Spain has its issues, but it is 100 per cent better than life in Britain had become before we left.”

Derek Appleton from Torrevieja, says there are many reasons why he prefers to live in Spain than the UK. “The people are more relaxed, happier, it’s cheaper to live (although I admit it’s getting more expensive by the day), I feel safer here, and generally live a life that is more stress free”.

Freelance Translator and Interpreter, Rafael Rodrigo-Morgan, also from Torrevieja, commented that “What I love about Spain is that it is so big, and so diverse, that almost anything you could think of doing can nearly always be found only a stones throw away: from horse riding, skiing, or deep sea diving right down to a simple evening stroll or a night of fine dining. And the country is bursting with culture too, such as the Alhambra Palace. The reason that I chose to live here as opposed to the UK is that it retains a 99.9 per cent laid back, easy going lifestyle, where a good night out or just a simple friendly gathering can certainly be found almost every night of the week, any time of year!”

Popular Vocalist, Kevin Tyler from La Zenia, enjoys the friendly nature of the people here and the fact that “you are never more than 100 meters from a Bar or Chinese Restaurant too!”

“On the down side though, I think that it has become outrageously expensive compared with the UK.”

Bar Maid, Deb Thompson from Villamartin, argued that “the cost of living is so much cheaper, and I now lead an entirely different way of life. The people are so much friendlier here and everyone has more time for each other”.

Zumba Instructor, Lisa Gordon added that “The biggest pull for my husband and I is the family environment. Our daughter, Sophia, can come everywhere with us and we don’t end up sitting in front of the TV every night. In short we now have a social life, and a great family life, we do so much more together than we could back in the UK.”

On the other hand, not everyone is quite as thrilled with the life which they have come to. Hairdresser, Annette Holmes, from Playa Flamenca, said that “I am really struggling to make a living here in Spain and really regret my decision to leave the UK. I have been here for 5 months and have yet to find a job anywhere, whether it be working within my trade or something else entirely. I thought that it would be so much easier to survive here, and had heard that it was much cheaper than in the UK, but I have taken a reality check and strongly disagree!”

Katie Granger from Torrevieja agreed that “I am a qualified Nursery Teacher, but cannot find any work in this field at all. I have been here for 7 months and applied for jobs at all of the nurseries in the area, and they are either fully staffed or rejected my application because I don’t speak Spanish- I can’t really blame them for that though because we are living in Spain! So, on that basis, I do not like Spain at all. It is not the life that I had dreamed of and I can definitely see myself returning to the UK by the end of the year if I cannot find work.” Property Manager, Sheila Bennett from Ciudad Quesada is also disillusioned by what Spain has to offer, complaining that “I thought that the UK was all red tape and paperwork until I arrived in Spain. I had intended to open a Bar with my family, but having seen the number of empty bars in the town, alongside of struggles that the Publicans face against the Police and difficulties in getting proper licences, particularly to provide live entertainment, we decided that to fulfil that dream would be suicide.”

She added that “I am now looking after a few properties on behalf of other owners on the urbanization where I live, just cleaning and key holding etc. It is not what I envisaged, but needs must!”

Essentially, there are positive and negative aspects to life in both countries, and it is always worth examining the reasons why you left the UK in the first place before becoming overtaken with disillusionment in Spain. After all, life may be tough here at times, but at least we get to struggle in the sun!

What do you think? [email protected]

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