The Spanish Expat Life of Mark and Sharron in Castillo de Locubin, Jaén

This week I took a drive inland to see some friends of mine in a pleasant, air conditioned, two-hour drive inland, to the province of Jaén.

Be warned those of you who choose to come to live here...the temperature during summer is stifling.

Much hotter and drier than those luscious coastal regions.

It may say 40º on the weather report, but be assured that on the streets it will be over 50º.

No, I am not exaggerating, you cannot put your bare feet on the floor outside, you'll will feel it straight away, burning up into your soul. 

Sharron and Mark, live just outside of the small town of Castillo de Locubin.

The town has a population of around 5000, and is busy and bustling; surrounded by miles and miles of olive groves and with great road connections to the nearby Alcala la Real, the capital Jaén and Granada.

Sitting on their lovely terrace, drinking their lovely sangria and asking Sharron a few questions. 

A lovely afternoon.

Sharron has owned a house here for over 12 years, but it is only in the last four that she and Mark have lived here permanently. 

They haven’t ever rented a property, instead jumped in with both feet, straight onto the property ladder.

Their two first properties were both renovated by Mark with his fantastic building skills. Once sold they bought their current property, or should I say project?

Now living in an enormous cortijo, which is slowly be restored to its former glory.  A long ongoing job but I don’t think they’ll ever want to move again.

I asked them what was it that attracted them to this part of Spain, to which they replied; a relaxed, healthier lifestyle.

They absolutely love the culture, climate and stunning scenery. Along with the local Spanish people, who embrace you as if you were one of the family.

Going back to why they had never rented a property, they explained that it wasn’t something that they found particularly necessary.

Even so, they do recommend that you do your homework; have a good look around and take your time before buying.

It is very important to verify your lawyer is fully qualified, experienced and legal. Yes, they checked him out thoroughly. After all, you need to be able to trust him with private information and your money.

Sharron relates how the buying process was made easier due to the fact they had wonderful realtors. 

After making enquiries about properties, either over the telephone or online, they settled on a very helpful company who made them feel most comfortable and weren’t pushy or desperate sounding; and could answer all their questions confidently and knowledgably.

So they have the location, the house and the lifestyle…how do they manage financially?  Mark can work locally, but it is very hard to come by and I work away sometimes which means us being apart, but he can renovate the house and I can earn money to pay for it! 

You have to be realistic, if you have no money, you will not be able to pay your way.

After being here so long they have seen others come and go. People with the big dream of building a new life for themselves, but they all forget, it costs money. You need a money to live on, that much is obvious.

Sharron says it is generally because they haven’t thought it through properly.

They arrive, invest all their money in a lovely new house, have a few weeks settling in, and then; the money starts to run out.  If you cannot find another source of income, or you have a pension to live on, it gets hard.

What about the difficulties you come across by not speaking “the lingo”?  How much as it helped you two learning by learning Spanish?  They both tell me how essential it is to get a grasp on at least the basics. It helps you to integrate with the locals, and in your everyday life. 

You will find that here not all the doctor s surgeries or hospitals have a translator available.  And of course it is an integral part of your new life in a new country.

We do find most of the Spanish community around here very accepting of us, they are curious (nosey?) about the work we are doing on the cortijo, and drop by to share fruit, vegetables and even plants with us. We have some nice neighbours too, but not close enough that they are a nuisance.

Would you do it all again?  A resounding YES! From them both. In actual fact they wish they had had the opportunity to live here sooner.

Sharron would have loved her children to have grown up here. It seems that the Spanish orient their lives towards family and children and that seems a wonderful balanced way to go about it.

There is still a lot of respect shown to the elder members of the family, something which at times doesn’t occur in the UK. Here it seems people still appreciate how to enjoy life, take it easy, and smell the flowers! 

The weather too plays a big part, the climate here is so different, and you’ll see people out, whole families together, just drinking a coffee, or a beer and enjoying their time together.

So, would you two ever think of relocating back to the UK? Not if we don’t have to, it definitely isn’t in our plans.

Ok and to finish, one piece of advice for anyone thinking of coming here to live?

If you can dream it - you can do it. With pure determination. Have a sensible plan and be prepared to make sacrifices. Life is too short, so don’t just talk about it, do it!