The Spanish Expat Life of Linda in Ventorros de San Jose, near Loja, Granada

It probably started with a holiday, then you returned for another and then you came back yet again.

Maybe you fell in love with the area, a certain town, the climate, the food…whatever it was it made you want to stay.

But what is it really like living in Spain? 

We’ve all seen the TV programmes offering to find you a property, helping you to find your own little piece of paradise.

There are lots of professional people whose job it is to provide convincing articles of what to expect when you decide to relocate here.

On the other hand there is a distinct lack of peoples personal experiences. Whether these are positive or negative, they can provide invaluable information for somebody who is considering a permanent move to Spain.

So what’s needed is a different approach. By getting out there and speaking to real people with real opinions, we gain first hand knowledge of just what it is like to live here.

Earlier this week I spoke to a friend of mine, Linda. I wanted to know what makes a person up sticks and decide to leave the UK for a new way of life.

She was born in London, although moved around the UK quite a bit in her younger years, finally settling in the West Midlands in her 30’s.

It was a family holiday in Benidorm that triggered Linda’s attraction with Spain, and she loved it so much even then that she came back as an au pair for a Spanish family in Santa Pola, Alicante.

As the years went by, Linda’s life changed and she is very proud of being a mature student and receiving a BA Hons. She is a natural born carer, and her background is in counselling.

Today she lives with her husband Warren in the village of Ventorros de San Josee, near Loja, Granada. 

When asked what was the attraction to the area Linda replied:

“We were offered the property at a ridiculous price, and as the time was right for us to buy, it would have been a no brainer to have turned it down” 

Which led me to my next question, how easy was the purchasing process?

“For us, very, because the agent completed the whole process on our behalf, but I would advise anybody who wishes to buy; do your research, find out if there are any new laws and ensure you have the correct legal representation.

Linda relates that in and around the area of Loja you will find a very large section of ex pats. Surprisingly, they are extremely clique and gossip like you would never believe, which in reality leaves her with no sense of community amongst them. 

Her Spanish neighbours however, seem to be more accepting, stopping to say hello and having the odd chat.   Even though she has lived here for over two years, Linda still sees herself as the foreigner; something I expect will change as time goes on.

Even so she would definitely recommend this area, which is surrounded by olive groves and asparagus farms, for someone wishing to relocate. 
The village itself is pleasant and welcoming yet you should be prepared for the extreme weather changes, high 40’s in the summer to below zero during the winter.

Daily routines are just that, routine. So I asked Linda to describe briefly a “normal” day.

“I manage to water the plants, sweep and clean up quite early, before it gets too hot. If it were winter, I would be cleaning out the log burner!  Maybe I would do some grocery shopping and stop for a coffee in the local bar. Prepare the lunch, after which it’s wash up and have a potter about until it’s time for dinner.”

At the moment she isn’t working, so it’s basically the same every day.  I wanted to find out too, just how easy it was to find if you re actively looking.

She found it quite difficult to find work locally, the Spanish have lots of seasonal work; olive harvesting or general farm work, but it is hard to come by and even more difficult if you don’t speak Spanish. They generally tend to employ their own.  As for working for other ex pats, they don’t trust the newcomers. You’ll find it helps though if you have a trade that is in demand, even then there is still a lot of uncertainty with them.

I wondered what Linda thought of Brexit and whether or not she worried how it would affect her.

“Health care is my main concern, but I have prepared for that, sadly it seems too have affected locally a halt in property purchases, it seems to that there is much less immigration”.

To finish I asked for the best piece of advice she could offer somebody hoping to relocate to Spain:

“I would advise anyone to chose the location wisely, be aware of the culture and laws of the country.  Integrate with the local people; definitely learn the language, which makes life so much easier.  Something we never did, renting before you buy, as you chosen area might not be so nice in those cold winter months. Most importantly, ensure you have an independent income, as you cannot rely on work here at all.