A Brief Guide to Being an Expat on the Costa del Sol

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expat lifeAccording to official figures more than 760,000 British have left the UK to make their home in Spain since the 1990s, a large percentage heading to the popular Costas. Whilst it’s true that in recent years the economic crisis has seen some returning home, most have dug their heels in and waited it out and we’re now ready to reap the rewards of the improving financial climate. Here are our 5 reasons to live on the Costa del Sol to get you inspired if you’re thinking of making the move.

But we’ve been thinking about what makes one expat love their life on the Costa del Sol when others can’t make it work? Of course there are many factors and every person is different, but here are a few key areas where you can improve your chance of success for living on the Costa del Sol –

  1. Set realistic expectations – Life will never be perfect no matter where you live, and just because you choose to relocate to Spain and live under sunny skies you won’t be able to escape problems, so please don’t expect some sort of dream existence. If you take the “same s***t sunnier skies” philosophy you’ll do well! Salaries are significantly lower than the UK and jobs with a contract can be hard to find, but they are out there if you look hard.
  2. Make a plan and do your research – Don’t just rock up on the Costa del Sol with a dream of life in the sun! Make a plan which includes researching job opportunities, areas to live, people that can help and set a decent relocation budget so that if you don’t get work straight away you can stay the course. If you have family in tow think it through for them so come in the summer holidays for example and settle the kids in before the new school term. A little forward planning goes a long way. If you want your child to go to a Spanish school, applications for places must be made in March, so don’t let that catch you out. It’s a good idea to enrol your child into the summer school running in their new school in July and August to give them a head start with the language and get to know the school too.
  3. Learn the language – If you can learn Spanish everything will be easier to manage, so it’s worth the effort. Check out our language blogs for help on this front.
  4. Accept that Spanish bureaucracy is a pain – Once you have accepted that things are slow and frustrating and you leave enough time to do everything you can work within the system and you will significantly lower your blood pressure
  5. Appreciate the great sides of Spanish life – Take the time to enjoy that sundowner after work, go outside for lunch, or stroll down the seaside promenade on a Sunday and remember how grey, cold and boring it was in the UK and feel proud of yourself for making the move. It’s easy to take all these things for granted after a while.
  6. Rent before you buy – Renting long term on the Costa del Sol before taking the plunge and buying is a great way to get the feel of the place, discover the realities of being here and understand what you and your family need before putting down permanent roots. Many people do a couple of years renting long term, moving to a few different areas along the coast before making their decision and this period is really beneficial
  7. Create a support network – Try to convince family to come out with you, or to come and stay regularly, network online and offline to get a good group of friends. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, we all know what it’s like relocating to the Costa del Sol and people are normally happy to give you a hand.

There’s some great advice about being an expat in Spain on the HSBC expat site including a handy relocation checklist. Please ask us if you’re thinking of moving to the Costa del Sol, we’d be happy to help.

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