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An Interview with …. lynnxa

An Interview with …. lynnxa

"When our house in the UK was selling we came over to Javea for a holiday, as we had many times in the past. We had always thought about maybe retiring here, then one day hubby just turned to me & asked if I’d prefer living here ….. I jumped at the chance!" The fifth in our series of interviews, Lynnxa explains how she moved to Spain and how her children are coping with school.

Tell us a little about yourself and family.

Both of us are 46, married for 16 years, 2 daughters aged 10 & 6, and a 13 year old cat who thinks she’s a kitten!

What were your reasons for moving to Spain?

Hubby has a business in Florida, and we had tried living there because it was hard for all of us with him flying back & forth across the Atlantic from the UK, but I couldn’t settle. When our house in the UK was selling we were in the UK & came over to Javea for a holiday, as we had many times in the past. We had always thought about maybe retiring here, then one day hubby just turned to me & asked if I’d prefer living here than Florida. I jumped at the chance! So it’s back to him flying back & forth, which is still hard, but not quite so bad because a lot of my friends here have husbands who are away for a lot of the time, & we act as a support system for each other.

As an EU citizen what paperwork, if any, did you have to complete in order to settle in Spain?

We didn’t have to complete any just to live here. To obtain credit or buy anything big, such as a car or house you need a NIE number. To get your kids into spanish school, and register with a state (as opposed to private) doctor, you have to register on the ‘padron’ (roughly the same as the voter’s register in the UK). It is also a good idea to apply for Residencia, though I have to admit that we haven’t done this as yet.

In which part of Spain do you live?

We live in Javea/Xabia on the Costa Blanca, about half way between Valencia & Alicante

What are your favourite things about Spain?

The weather, even though the winters are soooooo cooold. The people, the more relaxed way of life, the freedom I can give my children, the food, so many things!

What do you miss from the UK?

Nothing

If you or your spouse work how easy was it to find employment?

Hubby did try to get a business going here, but the language barrier & red tape made it hard. I don’t work, though I have been offered jobs even though I’m not looking! The biggest problem for me would be the incredibly long school summer holidays and lack of family support system for child care ( not that I had one in the UK!)

How does the work environment differ from the UK?

As I said we don’t work here, but friends who do complain about the hours, because with the siesta in the middle of the day, they find that they or their husbands work in the evenings so they can end up seeing even less of each other than they did in the UK!

If you have children how easy was it to enroll them in a new school?

Very easy. You just register on the padron at the local Ayuntamiento (council offices). To do this you need proof of address, so your ownership deeds or rental agreement, photocopies of passport. They do ask for NIE numbers but as these can take months to come through sometimes, they will let you register without them. You then just take proof of Empadronamiento  (which just means that you are on the padron, and they will give you this when you register if you ask for it) and in our case we just crossed the street to the Casa de Cultura and registered them for school. We did this on a Friday & they started on the Monday!

How different is the education system from the UK?

Not so very different, depending on where in the UK you lived. They decide which grade the child is in by year of birth, and year/grade 1 doesn’t start until the year in which they will be 6. There is free education in ‘Infantil’ from the age of 3. I’m not sure if it is the same all over Spain, but here they stay in the same school for years 1 – 6, then move up to the ‘Institute’ or upper school. The education seems to be much more formal, although they call their teachers by their Christian names. At our school the discipline policy is very clearly set out. Overall I feel the standard of education is higher than in the private International school with an English curriculum we sent the girls to when we first came here, with the added bonus of the girls becoming totally bi-lingual.
The biggest difference is probably the school hours. The hours are 9am – 4.30pm with a 2.5 hour comedor or lunch break between 12.30 – 3. The children either stay in school for that time & eat school meals (no packed lunches) or go home. School meals are much more expensive than in the UK, but they get a 3 course meal of real food!

{mosbanner right}Have your children settled?

Totally.

Has your quality of life improved, if so how?

Yes, in that we are healthier, and more relaxed.

How does the cost of living compare?

Providing you shop the way the Spanish do, food is much cheaper. Eating out is really cheap. Where we live property is extremely expensive. ‘Luxury’ & electrical items are more expensive than in the UK, although we have noticed prices beginning fall in the past year or so. Good quality clothes are expensive.

How does Spain factor into your long term plans?

At the moment I would be happy to stay here for ever, but we have to see how we cope with hubby being away so much. He would still love to retire here, which he wants to do in the next 5 -10 years (or less if poss!) We will be looking at buying property in Florida, and looking for a real ‘community’ to live in, just in case we do decide to go back there to live, although that will definitely not be for at least 2 more years. We have to take the girls’ education into account, and in two more school years the elder one would be moving up to the Institute, so if we were to move, that would be a good time.

In retrospect what would you change about your move?

Can’t think of anything.

Are there any final thoughts you would like to share?

I know lots of people who have come to live here & had to go back because they simply cannot make a good living here. It seems those who make it either speak the language fluently, work in a manual trade, or be willing to clean houses, have a lot of money to begin with (& I mean 100’s of k’s), or like my husband keep a business going outside Spain. This is not a land of milk & honey. Working hours are long & pay is rubbish. Any problems you had in the UK will still be with you here.

But I don’t want to live anywhere else.

britishexpats member "britishexpats.com and Lynnxa" 
©britishexpats.com and Lynnxa 
(Visit our discussion forum and chat with other expats who have made the move to Spain.)