hits counter
 Elle Draper

We’re not lucky to live in Spain

Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

We British and Irish are frequently told that we are lucky to live in Spain, but we’re not! Here we look at exactly why luck had nothing to do with it.

We're not lucky to live in Spain

Of course this article could apply to anywhere in the world. We’ve heard friends who live in the countryside in the UK, or have a glorious apartment in london be told that they are “lucky” to have what they have. But for now, we’ll concentrate on this country that we now call home.

We chose to live here

There are very few of us that won the lottery or the prize of a new property in Spain and therefore had the funds or real estate to be able to make the move. That would be lucky of course! Most of us either saved like crazy, benefitted financially when a loved one passed away, or were able to afford it with our British pensions (it’s cheaper to live here than the UK at the moment).

Choices… not luck.

We worked hard to get here and stay here

You don’t up sticks and move house or country because you are lucky. You don’t pick a four-leafed clover then wake up one day and say, “I’m going to jump on a plane this afternoon and live in Spain.” Well… not normally anyway. You have to work hard to pay for it, and put plans in place to ensure that you are financially solvent when you arrive… and indeed able to continue that financial stability in the future. You have to ensure that your new home country has everything you need for a happy life, ensure that you have healthcare provided for, and that everything is in place to live freely and with as little stress as possible.

Hard work… not luck.

We’re not lucky with the weather

Let us introduce you to thing called science.  The reason that’s Spain’s weather is as it is… is because this country is located where it is. Meteorology is a branch of science that deals with the atmosphere, its phenomena and specifically how that affects the weather. A bloke in a castle in Madrid doesn’t wake up in the morning and toss a coin to decide whether it will be sunny or not. The weather just does what it does.

Science… not luck.

We’re not lucky to enjoy good health

Many of us enjoy better health now that we live away from the pollution and stress of our former lives. For example, my asthma is all but gone now that I live in fresh air and my joints are a lot less painful these days compared to how they were back in Portsmouth. But that’s not because I rolled a pair of sixes with dice. It’s because we made choices in terms of location and lifestyle. I’m not alone – we know of people that are wheelchair bound or worse back in colder climes but can enjoy a more active life in the sunshine.

Location… not luck.

We’re not lucky to have amazing food

Farmers and fishermen in Spain work hard, alongside their knowledge of the weather, to produce some of the best ingredients on the planet (in my humble opinion). That’s not luck though. The hardworking folk in the fields don’t pull out lottery balls at the start of the year to determine which crops to grow. They have spent hundreds (sometimes thousands) of years learning how best to make use of the soil, the weather and everything else in Spain to ensure that we have enough lettuces and tomatoes. The fishermen out on their boats don’t use an 8-ball to determine whether they’ll catch a good haul – they use their ingrained knowledge to do what they can and keep the fresh fish landing on our tables. The meat farmer doesn’t go out and flip a coin to see whether to rear pigs or cows – he just does what he is experienced in.

Oh and while I’m at it – if I want to eat something other than tapas… or anything not typically Spanish while I live here – it’s because I choose to. It’s called having a varied diet and should be encouraged not vilified. I don’t see Brits living solely on roast dinners, pies and jellied eels back in Ol’ Blighty. We enjoy food from all over the world because we choose to. Tapas are a regular feature of course (you can buy the Spain Buddy Recipe book here), but we also enjoy Indian, Italian, Chinese and Mexican food.

Experience and variety… not luck.

We’re not lucky to work for ourselves

Okay, so not everyone who lives in Spain runs their own business. But many of us do. We didn’t win a ready-made company by picking a playing card out of a deck – we used our knowledge, experience and true grit to build and expand something that pays the bills. It takes constant hard work and can be a real rollercoaster of a ride. Sure, the rewards are there… but so are the down times too.

Knowhow… not luck.

We’re not lucky to have a villa with a pool

You could easily swap out “villa with a pool” for other property types such as “finca with mountain views,” “penthouse apartment,” or even an “urban crash lair in the capital.”

Most of us didn’t win the places that we chose to live – we chose them. We chose them based on our incomes and our needs. The deeds weren’t posted to us as part of a prize draw. Of course, for those that live in these breathtaking properties, there is a price to pay… the purchase, the upkeep and much more.

Choice… not luck.

We’re not lucky to be stress-free

We’ve been told that we are stress-free because we live in Spain. Erm… hardly! Okay, so we (personally) no longer have a stressful commute or the stress of working in a high-pressure or dead-end job. But we do still have stress! Business owners have the pressure of ensuring that their company remains solvent and their staff (if they have them) will get paid that month. Pensioners are already suffering with the exchange rate and then there’s the “will we still have healthcare paid by the UK” issue that is in the forefront of many people’s minds. Youngsters still get stressed about their exams and future employment prospects. We simply balance that all out and do what we can. We just happen to have a different postcode.

Perspective… not luck.

We’re not lucky to speak Spanish

We have added this section on after the feedback we receive from quite a few readers. Apparently, on a popular relocation programme recently, a lady said “We weren’t lucky enough to learn Spanish”. Now let me make it clear here – I am far from fluent or even fluid. I didn’t have the Fairy Godmother appear and suddenly I could speak the lingo.  I’ve spent the last decade “getting by” as it were. My grammar was horrific, and although I could shop, eat, drink, achieve basic tasks and get general paperwork completed… I struggled with day to day conversation. I finally took the plunge and now have an excellent Spanish Teacher. She is helping with my two priorities: The first is to be able to join in the chat properly with the ladies in the town without hesitation, and the other is to be able to pass the Spanish Citizenship exam. My God, what a difference it has made to life here already though. I still have a very very long way to go – but it is paying off.

Hours and hours and hours and hours and hours of study…. not luck.

Do you want to live in Spain?

Then just do it! If you work your proverbials off, and set your mind to it – you can have what so many others among us have. But remember – it’s not all a bed of roses… compromises will have to be made such as being further away from loved ones, or perhaps earning a lower wage than you may be used to. Is it worth it? Damn right it is – in my opinion.

Make it happen… it’s not luck!

47 Responses to We’re not lucky to live in Spain

  1. Stevie Mitchell February 22, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    Nice one Elle,

    So many people seem to have the idea that we swan around sipping sangria and living on the beach. The reality is that we still have to earn a crust but without the traffic jams, that’s a little better!

    Reply
    • Elle Draper
      Elle Draper February 22, 2017 at 1:38 pm

      Exactly right! We work hard for these little pleasures. Saying that – apart from being on the prom in a blistery Almería at the weekend, I don’t remember the last time I actually went to a beach… let alone lay on one!
      E x

      Reply
  2. John Brindley February 22, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    Quite right, Elle. We didn’t get here by luck either, it was as a result of 8 years of investigation, planning and working as hard as possible, followed by making what turned out to be the right choice.

    Reply
    • Elle Draper
      Elle Draper February 22, 2017 at 2:31 pm

      Playa Blanca is all the more lovely for having you in it! xxx

      Reply
      • John Brindley February 22, 2017 at 4:07 pm

        :) xx

        Reply
  3. Mike Stokes February 22, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Love that, Elle. So very true x

    Reply
    • Elle Draper
      Elle Draper February 22, 2017 at 2:33 pm

      Cheers Mike. Judging by all the notifications I’m getting on Facebook etc… it’s certainly resonating with many – although one person suggested I move if I don’t feel lucky to live here (another one who looks at a headline and doesn’t read the article *sigh*).
      E xx

      Reply
  4. Phillip Langley-May February 22, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    We have worked hard during our life and we wanted a quieter less stressful life. We also wanted our pensions to go a little further than in the UK. So after 40+ years of work including service to our country we are entitled in our opinion, and thankfully Spain is a welcoming adoptive country.

    Reply
    • Elle Draper
      Elle Draper February 22, 2017 at 2:41 pm

      Absolutely! Glad you’re settled and enjoying it here xx

      Reply
  5. Sally Scamell February 22, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Great article Elle – will be posting out where I can :-)

    Reply
    • Elle Draper
      Elle Draper February 22, 2017 at 3:01 pm

      Thank you Sally xx

      Reply
  6. Barry Morrison February 22, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    Over the years I’ve got to know a lot of Brits, and some Europeans in Playa Blanca and although they get the better weather they’re still working so it seems to me you all made the right choice

    Reply
    • Elle Draper
      Elle Draper February 23, 2017 at 10:15 am

      The better weather certainly makes it easier Barry. When we still lived in Playa Blanca, we sometimes got so engrossed in our work that we forgot what a gorgeous town awaited us outside the front door. Some great people there too for sure!
      Elle xx

      Reply
  7. Pop Spencer February 22, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    My wife and I have loved Spain for 30 years, but there’s always been a reason not to move out – kids at school, got a job, need to find a job. But last summer, for various reasons, we decided to do it. We sold our house, said goodbye to friends and family, moved into a friend’s cave home 2 days ago near Baza, had a great time at the local market this morning, came back for padron peppers and bread and cheese for lunch, with a glass of wine, and tomorrow we start looking for our own place. I don’t think it’ll be too long before we say ‘Why didn’t we do this ages ago?’.

    Reply
    • Elle Draper
      Elle Draper February 23, 2017 at 10:17 am

      Hi Pop.
      Sounds like you did it at the right time for you. Enjoy your new home – Baza is gorgeous. Not too far from us, although we don’t venture there as often as we’d like.
      Happy househunting!
      Elle xx

      Reply
  8. Geoff Willett February 22, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    Well I’m lucky not to know you, what a boring fish wife, and you do this for a living? I had the luck to be able to live in Spain for 10 years but suffered badly when someone turned the lights off in October 2007. I couldn’t recover and was unlucky enough to return to the UK where I was lucky enough to get employment, something that would have been impossible in Span. I am now unlucky to have to live here and miss Spain daily. Of course you are lucky so enjoy it.

    Reply
    • Elle Draper
      Elle Draper February 23, 2017 at 10:14 am

      Hi Geoff. What a shame you had to begin your reply with an insult. Perhaps if you were a little nicer to people, then things could have worked out differently. Yes – I do this for a living – although Spain Buddy is just one product we have. Building websites and online marketing is possible when your market is global – you just have to work harder.

      The credit crunch hit us too – I don’t know a single business person who wasn’t affected. But we evolved our products and have ridden the storm. That wasn’t luck – it was sheer determination and bloody-mindedness. So we’ve had to go without a few nice things – that’s okay… you just do what you have to do to survive. You “chose” to return to the UK… we “chose” to take a step back and do whatever it took to ensure that we could stay. Choice… not luck.

      Employment and entrepreneurship is not impossible in Spain – just much harder than we are used to.

      No luck involved at all. We “enjoy it” because we’ve worked damn hard for it.

      A shame it didn’t work out for you.

      Reply
      • Tony Myles February 24, 2017 at 5:40 pm

        Articles such as your will always stimulate envy. I think you dealt with it well.

        Sadly Brits living in Spain generate a lot of jealousy in those who have to remain in the UK which is why people like the failed politician Ian Duncan Smith will always find a willing audience if he seeks to punish those who have been strong enough to make a new life in a more civilised country. With the benefit of a healthy climate and no one trying to prove that they are better, faster, wealthier or more agressive than you.

        Reply
        • Elle Draper
          Elle Draper February 24, 2017 at 5:53 pm

          Thanks Tony. Kind words are always appreciated.
          I agree that sopmetimes it is borne out of jealousy… but I always think that often it’s merely a touch of naivety. Because someone spent their week in Costa del Wherever drinking, sunbathing and relaxing… they simply believe that’s what we do too. Of course many do that as well… but they work hard for the privilege. It’s a little like a swan – others don’t always see the frantic paddling going on behind the scenes of their favourite holiday hotspots.
          Elle xx

          Reply
      • Allison Jarman February 24, 2017 at 6:03 pm

        Fab to read this story and sorry you were insulted! We returned to UK in July 2007 for holidays and my 2 boys who had lived in Spain since toddlers wanted to stay. Not a day goes past when I don’t wish myself back in Spain. But you know what? We packed up our stuff in a Transit and drove down to Andalucia with 2 babies and will return again in 4-5 years time to retire. If you want something bad enough you’ll make it happen. Yes, it’s hard work – life is like that for most of us. My marriage broke down as my ex did want to sit around and drink St Miguel instead of earning a living. The Spanish are amazing and the lifestyle is the best. Viva Espana

        Reply
        • Elle Draper
          Elle Draper February 25, 2017 at 12:48 pm

          Great to hear your story too Allison – sounds like your eyes have been opened. Viva España indeed. Enjoy when you come “home”! E xx

          Reply
  9. Maria February 22, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    Don’t you feel lonely in a different country?

    Reply
    • Elle Draper
      Elle Draper February 23, 2017 at 10:02 am

      No, not at all. The Spanish people around us have been extremely welcoming and help us to learn their language – and then of course the internet enables you to meet many likeminded people too. But you do have to make the effort. If you stay holed up in your house and don’t mix, then you’d be as lonely as anywhere else.
      E xx

      Reply
  10. Jen Ramshaw February 22, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    A great article Elle. I have been known to say “Im lucky to live here in Spain” After reading your article I realise there is no luck involved. xx

    Reply
    • Elle Draper
      Elle Draper February 23, 2017 at 10:19 am

      Hi Jen! Long time no see (my fault I know).
      I know how hard you work to enjoy your time here – your active lifestye puts many of us to shame. Well.. almost.
      Hope to see you both again soon
      Elle xx

      Reply
  11. Judith Benson February 22, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    Brilliant article and all so very true Elle.

    Reply
    • Elle Draper
      Elle Draper February 23, 2017 at 10:19 am

      Thanks Judith.
      Hope you are well.
      Elle xx

      Reply
  12. Val Hayward February 22, 2017 at 8:56 pm

    Excellent article, I get so fed up with negative comments on expats in Spain insofar as I now do not talk to people back in the UK about my wonderful hardworking life here anymore. Nice to see Portsmouth mentioned my home city too.

    Reply
    • Elle Draper
      Elle Draper February 23, 2017 at 10:20 am

      Hey hey hey! Another Pompey lass eh? I was in Southsea for many years before leaving… although I spent time in Cosham and North End too. Grew up in Gosport.
      Enjoy your life here!
      Elle xx

      Reply
  13. Cathi February 23, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    Thank you!!! It drives me bonkers “You’re so lucky” No luck involved. It took 10years military planning and research, a total change of career (that involved huge expense, stress, pressure & returning to full time study) & a total overhaul in our priorities. We have teetered on the brink on more than one occasion since we’ve been here (and no doubt will again). And I’m extremely proud of all we’ve achieved here (and will go on to achieve). A holiday it aint, but I wouldn’t swap it for anything. Lucky me! ;)

    Reply
    • Elle Draper
      Elle Draper February 23, 2017 at 3:28 pm

      I think we’ve all teetered at some point. When the credit crisis first hit… we had some stern conversations here at home. But we’ve managed to weather it. Soldier on eh Cathi! xx

      Reply
      • Cathi February 24, 2017 at 8:06 pm

        Absolutely!! And it’s all worth it…. not least for all the fabulous people we’ve met…. Oh, like you guys ! x

        Reply
  14. Joanna Styles February 23, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    Great article, Elle and what a great idea too. Love how it’s put together and your irrefutable arguments. How lucky I am to have read it ;)

    Reply
    • Elle Draper
      Elle Draper February 23, 2017 at 3:29 pm

      Thanks for your kind words Joanna!
      You’re not lucky though… you chose to click the link ;)
      E xx

      Reply
  15. Joy Lennick February 23, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    A good article, Elle.

    I happen to believe in ‘chance,’ rather than good fortune and ‘fate,’ but even so, We all have to help life along a little, don’t we?!

    Nothing venture, nothing gain is just a cliche, but a true one. My husband and I are very glad we ‘chanced’ to visit Majorca way back and fell in love with the Continental way of life. When we retired 16 years ago, we made up our minds – on discovering our little slice of Spain was one of the healthiest in the world (Costa Blanca region) – that’s where we’d head. Mostly…good weather, reasonable food prices, al fresco dining, sea air, a friendly atmosphere, excellent health service, what’s not to like?! (I could write reams…) Best wishes to you.

    Reply
    • Elle Draper
      Elle Draper February 24, 2017 at 10:20 am

      Ah, you’re not too far from us then Joy – just a couple of hours along the notorway.
      It’s been nice that many of the comments on this article are from people who’ve spent many years here… who love and appreciate Spain and who have weathered the storm, so to speak. Here’s to your next 16!
      E xx

      Reply
  16. Mark February 23, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    Loved this article, it’s so true. And I’m so pleased I came across you Elle. We have lived here for 15 years now. We like you have our own business. We are seen as a successful couple who are ‘living the dream’. All the hours spend behind closed doors preparing for the next day’s trade, paperwork, meetings with Gestorias etc, etc. It really winds me up when people say I’m living the dream. You try doing your family’s load of ironing on an afternoon in August? Tell me what’s idillic about. Yes we have a good lifestyle, like you said, that’s our choice and we were lucky to be successful. Rant over, but I will be following you from now on.

    Reply
    • Elle Draper
      Elle Draper February 24, 2017 at 10:17 am

      Nice to “meet” you too Mark!
      Yes – some people think that we spend our days doing what they do when they come over on holiday. Most of us don’t. Most work hard just as they would back in the UK. But our ndays off tend to have better weather and the cost of living is lower with most things.
      I hate ironing though… and I try to buy things that don’t need it.
      Elle xx

      Reply
  17. John Hudson February 24, 2017 at 7:18 am

    Excellent post. We moved to Cyprus 10 years ago at 72 years of age and never regretted a minute. We could not live a better life.

    Reply
    • Elle Draper
      Elle Draper February 24, 2017 at 10:14 am

      My mother lived in Cyprus as a child… but I’ve never been. 72 eh? Good on you!
      Enjoy xxx

      Reply
  18. Emlyn February 24, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    What an excellent article! You’re quite right….there is no luck involved. It’s a personal choice of life style and much of it isn’t easy to begin with adapting to a new culture etc.
    We made a conscious decision to be well away from the ex pat enclaves when we moved to Murcia twelve years ago. We live up a mountain and our nearest town is all Spanish. Like you we have studied Spanish constantly every day and can now get by quite comfortably. The Spanish appreciate any efforts made to speak their language and enjoy their culture. It’s only polite after all, and we have made some great friends.
    It’s when we return to the UK to visit family etc that we realise how lucky we are not to live there!

    Reply
    • Elle Draper
      Elle Draper February 25, 2017 at 12:46 pm

      You’ve done the same as us then Emlyn. We too started in a tourist area (Playa Blanca, Lanzarote) and although we thoroughly enjoyed our years there – we knew we wanted something much more Spanish. Loving life up in the mountains now. Enjoy yours!
      E xx

      Reply
  19. Cathy Cody February 25, 2017 at 10:00 am

    I lived in Spain I loved it for 11 years I didn’t own any where or have a pot of gold after my divorce I took a chance on a better life ,I worked hard and rented I was a woman on my own but sad to say still very nieve , I made some lovley friends that still live there that I visit ,. I also met some not so nice people that I thought were friends that robbed me .. it didn’t happen once it happened again and again different times and situations not just a few euros I’m talking thousands I believed what I was told and trusted to many .. I got broken into by a so called friend but couldn’t prove it .. it was a long time ago 5 yrs .I had to return to Uk as all the money I had earned had gone it haunted me for years I lost my trust in people and had nightmares wondering how did it all happen.. I had to start again I’m retired now but I can’t say I was unlucky I was stupid . I do believe in luck though ! I just havnt had any yet I do go back for holidays because I love Spain and miss it so much ,, so yes it is about choices just be careful whom you trust .. I must say though I would need some luck to be able to live there now maybe a lottery win would help in my case .. I would do it all again money isn’t everything good friends mean more to me and I’ve found out who my real friends are god bless them all Viva Espana enjoy what you have .. you lucky people. Lol had to say it. Xx

    Reply
    • Elle Draper
      Elle Draper February 25, 2017 at 11:40 am

      Oh my, Cathy! You’ve really been through the ringer eh! I certainly wouldn’t call you stupid though – we’ve all made some decisions or trusted people too much… that has led to heartbreak or nightmares.
      What is great, is that you are not bitter or resentful about it. Keep buying those lottery tickets – maybe one day.
      Elle xx

      Reply
  20. Sandra Piddock February 26, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    Love this even more than usual. People tell us we’re lucky to live here, and I say no we’re not, we’re privileged that we chose such a great life. Luck has absolutely nothing to do with it. We researched for several years before making the move – we didn’t just stick a pin in a map and hope for the best. xx

    Reply
    • Elle Draper
      Elle Draper February 26, 2017 at 4:39 pm

      Absolutely agree! xx

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *