Elle, along with Alan, is the owner of Spain Buddy and the busy web design business - Gandy-Draper. Born a "Norverner", she then spent most of her life "Dann Saff" before moving to Spain in 2006. Elle's loves are Alan, the internet, their three bouncing dogs, good food, and dry white wine - although not necessarily in that order. More about Elle - HERE | Got a news story to share? Click HERE | Want to write for Spain Buddy? Click HERE | Interested in our low cost advertising? Click HERE


  1. Stevie Mitchell
    February 22, 2017 @ 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!

  2. Elle Draper
    February 22, 2017 @ 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

  3. John Brindley
    February 22, 2017 @ 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.

  4. Mike Stokes
    February 22, 2017 @ 2:29 pm

    Love that, Elle. So very true x

  5. Elle Draper
    February 22, 2017 @ 2:31 pm

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

  6. Elle Draper
    February 22, 2017 @ 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

  7. Phillip Langley-May
    February 22, 2017 @ 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.

  8. Sally Scamell
    February 22, 2017 @ 2:40 pm

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

  9. Elle Draper
    February 22, 2017 @ 2:41 pm

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

  10. Elle Draper
    February 22, 2017 @ 3:01 pm

    Thank you Sally xx

  11. Barry Morrison
    February 22, 2017 @ 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

  12. Pop Spencer
    February 22, 2017 @ 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?’.

  13. Geoff Willett
    February 22, 2017 @ 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.

  14. Maria
    February 22, 2017 @ 3:43 pm

    Don’t you feel lonely in a different country?

  15. Jen Ramshaw
    February 22, 2017 @ 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

  16. Judith Benson
    February 22, 2017 @ 4:00 pm

    Brilliant article and all so very true Elle.

  17. John Brindley
    February 22, 2017 @ 4:07 pm

    :) xx

  18. Val Hayward
    February 22, 2017 @ 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.

  19. Elle Draper
    February 23, 2017 @ 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

  20. Elle Draper
    February 23, 2017 @ 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.

  21. Elle Draper
    February 23, 2017 @ 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

  22. Elle Draper
    February 23, 2017 @ 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

  23. Elle Draper
    February 23, 2017 @ 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

  24. Elle Draper
    February 23, 2017 @ 10:19 am

    Thanks Judith.
    Hope you are well.
    Elle xx

  25. Elle Draper
    February 23, 2017 @ 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

  26. Graham Hunt
    February 23, 2017 @ 10:46 am

  27. Cathi
    February 23, 2017 @ 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! ;)

  28. Joanna Styles
    February 23, 2017 @ 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 ;)

  29. Elle Draper
    February 23, 2017 @ 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

  30. Elle Draper
    February 23, 2017 @ 3:29 pm

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

  31. Joy Lennick
    February 23, 2017 @ 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.

  32. Mark
    February 23, 2017 @ 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.

  33. John Hudson
    February 24, 2017 @ 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.

  34. Elle Draper
    February 24, 2017 @ 10:14 am

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

  35. Elle Draper
    February 24, 2017 @ 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

  36. Elle Draper
    February 24, 2017 @ 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

  37. Tony Myles
    February 24, 2017 @ 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.

  38. Elle Draper
    February 24, 2017 @ 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

  39. Allison Jarman
    February 24, 2017 @ 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

  40. Emlyn
    February 24, 2017 @ 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!

  41. Cathi
    February 24, 2017 @ 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

  42. Cathy Cody
    February 25, 2017 @ 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

  43. Elle Draper
    February 25, 2017 @ 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

  44. Elle Draper
    February 25, 2017 @ 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

  45. Elle Draper
    February 25, 2017 @ 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

  46. Sandra Piddock
    February 26, 2017 @ 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

  47. Elle Draper
    February 26, 2017 @ 4:39 pm

    Absolutely agree! xx

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