If you are planning on moving out here, or have just arrived, hopefully some of these points might help you on your way.
1. Savings, who needs savings?
Moving is expensive. Moving to another country is even more expensive. There are always extra costs that you never imagined that creep out of nowhere. Being in a foreign country, often with no access to other family and friends, you are totally dependent on what you have saved up to keep you going until you get to that first pay day.
And that first pay day can often be quite far away, especially if you come out looking for a job or to set up a business.
Budget for at least two years worth of outgoing before you come out.
We ran out of money after just 4 months, even though my original sums showed we’d be fine for the first year with no income. Either I’m rubbish at maths or we spent too much.
It happens, so budget for two years, be pessimistic in your calculations and that will buy you enough time to get settled and find work.
2. It’s like being on holiday!
Erm, no it’s not. When many expats arrive, particularly if they arrive in the summer, they feel like they are on holiday. Sunny days, lots of beer, late nights and lots of eating out.
Unless you’re retired the last thing you can afford to do is piss all your money up the wall. It happens…a lot. It’s both a waste of time and money and starting off as if on holiday reduces your motivation to find work or start your business.
We have seen so many people make this initial mistake that they never quite settle and end up leaving having wasted a considerable amount of money at “my new mate Roy’s bar”.
Roy’s only your mate because you alone are keeping his business afloat!
3. Shouting: “Do you speekee English??”
Please, if you want to live in Spain you need to start learning the language before moving here. It’s not that tough really, at least to a basic level.
Simply adding an “O” to the end of every word does not make it the Spanish equivalent.
I once heard an English woman asking for an appointment at the dentist and she called it “an appointamento”. My face went bright red as I stood behind her, especially as she said it at a volume level normally associated with talking to your mates in a nightclub.
Aside from anything else, it is basic manners and culture to at least learn the language of the country you are residing in. Like I say, even to just a really basic level.
You cano do ito
4. We just need a small apartment
For a holiday perhaps, but when you’ve been used to a reasonably sized house back home with a nice garden, living in an apartment can be quite tough for many expats.
Villas (a word used to make a house sound more exotic) are generally very expensive to rent so most people will go for the cheaper apartment option. This in itself can put a strain on a family as most apartments tend to be a little on the small side.
The best option is normally to go for something in between a villa and an apartment, i.e., a townhouse. These are generally, but not always, larger than apartments and offer more outside space. They are also not much more expensive than apartments to rent.
We have seen many families climb the walls in properties normally only used for holidays; the lack of space often meaning everyone is on top of everyone else at home.
I used to live and work out of a small apartment when we first moved out and it was really tough.
You have to keep your initial costs low but you also need to be comfortable in your new environment. Be realistic as to what you need and if you can’t afford that extra space…just wait until you can.
5. I’m so popular
Established expats often prey on “newbies” like vultures. Newbies arrive all naive and innocent and will often trust those that befriend them early on. The vultures love this new fresh meat bearing their life savings.
Along with many others, we made this mistake and after a while we cottoned on to the fact that what they were after was our money; little did they know that we didn’t really have that much anyway!
I know, it’s sad really but it is often the case. Times are tough in Spain at the moment so many expats will go to some extreme lengths to put food on the table, or beer in the belly more like.
I would say it isn’t the Spanish that prey on the newbies, it is generally other expats. Expats are always shafting other expats. Newbies arrive not speaking the language and rely on other expats for advice and contacts.
It’s just that their advice and contacts aren’t always the best.
I’m not saying don’t trust other expats, just tread with caution and look for the tell-tale signs…a big beak and large wings tend to give them away