Why Spain? A question we are constantly asked when we talk about our future plans with people. After returning from our latest house hunting trip I decided to share the answers to that question here.
Those answers take me back almost 13 years to when the Hubster and I first met, in Ibiza! He had just returned from a two year tour of Northern Ireland and I was working and living in London after spending three years travelling. We both knew then that neither of us wanted to settle in England.
It wasn’t until after we were married that we actually said it would be Spain. I can’t remember the details of how that decision came about, other than a shared love of the country.
Of course, back then we hadn’t explored our options as widely and concentrated solely on the mass produced, purpose built resorts that pop up all along the costas and golf courses of Spain.
A few mis-chosen package holidays and a bit of research later, we discovered a completely different side of Spain. More remote, less ex-pat more integrated and this was when we said “Yes, Valencia is where we want to be!” Where there are orange groves and mountains as far as the eye can see in one direction…
And a stunning coastline in the other…
It has taken many more trips, years of research, lots of mind changing and many conversations deep into the night to finally bring us to the area of Valencia that we want to settle- La Safor on the Costa Azahar.
Still, this is more “how” than “why”. The whys are many more than I could list here but I shall endeavour to give you some kind of insight.
The main reason, in the last few years, has become the Dandelions. Since we’ve been living in Germany and spending summers in Spain we have noticed how much nicer these places are to bring up children. That’s not to say that there aren’t nice places in England to bring up children, just none that we love enough to want to live there permanently. Children also seem to stay children longer in Spain, their innocence is still there into their teenage years. Something that, frankly, just isn’t widely happening in the UK anymore.
The sense of family is much more visible in Spain as is the sense of community. This year we (finally) managed to time our visit with the fiesta of the town we were staying in. After years of just missing it or leaving just before it began, we were delighted to find out we would get to see that time.
The fiesta of La Font D’en Carros began with a parade through the town. The whole town played a part, whether it was performing, making costumes, organising events, setting out chairs or cleaning the streets afterwards, everyone had a role and was happy to play it. The celebrations continued all week and each night ended with tables lining the streets for the entire town to eat together and dancing into the early hours.
Another reason is simply that we can get so much more for our money over there. We’re looking at old Spanish town houses. Which, from the outside look tiny and cramped. However, I fully believe the Spanish invented the Tardis! These houses stretch back for miles- well, not quite, but you get the idea. And who wouldn’t want to live in a street that looks like this?
The Spanish lifestyle in general is so much more relaxed and family centred than the English. Yes, they work hard, but they don’t live to work! At one time the thought of having the Dandelions up until 10pm or later was the stuff of nightmares for me. I wanted them in bed by 8pm, latest, so we could enjoy our time. Siesta in Spain makes this a no go! The fact that, during the hottest part of the day, everything stops, including school, means that there is a huge chunk of the day for rest. This is when most eat their main meal of the day, often three courses, before resting and going back to work or school until early evening.
Evenings are then spent at after school activities, doing homework, socialising etc before eating dinner as a family or with friends fairly late. The beauty of this is that children are accepted in any of the bars, restaurants and public places long into the evening and it is not frowned upon at all. Over the years I have grown to love this aspect of Spanish life and now embrace the siesta!
Spanish town houses don’t tend to have back gardens to hide away in (the way us English like to), so they make use of the street at the front of their house. Walk along any Spanish street on a summer evening and you will see front doors open, people bring their dining chairs out into the street to sit in groups and chat. Some even pull their TV’s to the front door or into the garage so they can sit at the front of their houses and socialise with their neighbours.
At the moment the Dandelions have a “Friday treat”, usually popcorn and a dvd. I can’t wait for that treat to be a trip to the beach on a sunny Friday evening followed by ice cream at our favourite place overlooking this…
Another reason is the fantastic fresh seafood, of course…
I could go on, but if I continue I may be here some time. I will finish by saying Spain, in a nutshell, gives us the environment we crave in which to bring up our family.