Swap the 9 to 5 for a more relaxed lifestyle
Once you make the decision, you wont look back! This is our view every morning here in Spain.
After a life of driving along the A23 / A27 / A259, we have swapped the Sussex countryside for the Spanish climate.
There's the beach of course, but it's more about the way of life. It's different!
Yes, there is Mañana and that takes a bit of getting used to, generally everything is set at a much slower pace. It's all about dining outside in the sunshine; wandering along the seafront; popping to a bar for a beer; its just... different!
“The Costa Blanca has around 320 days of sunshine in the average year”
The cost of living
Generally food and drink is a lot cheaper than the UK, to the point sometimes it's not worth turning the oven on for.
Menu del dia (Menu of the day), you will find is offered in the majority of Spanish run restaurants and the chances are you will get a 3 course meal, with 1/2 bottle of wine for about €10 This will be a lunchtime serving from about 1pm through to 3 or 4pm. Menu del Noche (Evening menu) will typically be a few euro more and probably won't include the wine.
That's not to say you cant have a la carte in a Spanish restaurant, which you can in the evening. It certainly wont be expensive.
Of course, you could also go into a British bar and have a full English breakfast for a few euros
"Beer" a typical 1/2* will cost @€1.10 "Cerveza por favor" It might be CruzCampo or Mahou, buy it by the 1/2 as a "grande" will get too hot in the sunshine!
No doubt your favourite wine at Sainsbury's is about £7 for a bottle - here in Spain, that will be a good quality, expensive wine, not the normal every day variety. My favourite wine from Mercadona supermarket is €1.65
There is no draught real ale here as in Harveys or Fullers, some supermarkets will sell imported bottled beer. Although, we are starting to see Craft Beer being brewed locally. The closest to us is Another Plant Brewing just over the border in the Murcia region.
Council Tax: In the UK we were paying something like £1500 for a 3 bed semi. Here in Spain the equivalent is administered by SUMA and will cost around €350 a year (based on the value of the property)
Beaches and the great outdoors.
It's all likely to be on your doorstep, the beach or local Golf Course could be walking distance to your new home. If your property is part of an urbanisation, you may well have a community pool.
There are loads of championship golf courses around this area - I am sure if you wanted to; there is a different course for every day of the week.
Trips back to Blighty:
With Alicante airport just up the road, it only takes @3/4 hr from Villamartin to the airport and then around 2hr flight back to Gatwick.
Corvera airport is about the same distance in the opposite direction, closer to Murcia City.
What will you do today? The morning rise, could be later - it certainly wont be 05:30 for the morning commute! - Let's say its 7am; cup of tea; breakfast; browse the national papers**; and before you know it, 9am has come round. Pop to the supermarket; maybe the beach-bar for lunch; (optional round of golf); siesta then it's time to pop down to Villamartin Plaza for that evenings entertainment....
Tomorrow: - Repeat - vary it perhaps with a different bar!
**I rely on el Pais the Spanish newspaper in english. During the Covid 19 pandemic this has been my go-to source of news. There are loads of different local newspapers, but the quality of the news is very suspect at times.
Whats your style?
Probably very different to what you were used to in the UK.
The type of bars here might be very different to the Royal Oak back in the UK. But it's surprising how quickly you adapt.
Karaoke? Of course you wouldn't in the UK - but give it a go here - of course you can sing!
Tribute acts - galore! We saw a terrific Queen tribute act here a few years ago... there are others locally as well - Dire Straits; U2; Police; Amy Winehouse.
Or how about your favourite group - but with a different line up.... Showaddywaddy and the Bay City Rollers have been on stage here in the last couple of years.There might only be one original artist; but they still put on a good show.
Villamartin Plaza and other commercial centres frequently have live bands during the summer, these will be a mix of tribute acts or the local entertainers.
Speaking the language:
Do you need to? Yes.
In reality do you? No.
It's lazy; you are living in Spain and of course you should know enough to get by in Spanish. But around a lot of the Costa Blanca, so many people speak English.
Please try and gain a few words though, it really does make a difference and is certainly appreciated.
If you go into the hills above Orihuela or Crevillente, you will absolutely need to speak Spanish, with its correct pronunciation. The Spanish residents will not be able to understand you.
Language lessons are easy to come by on the Costa Blanca and will cost as little as €10 for an hour session.
Is still an important way of life in Spain. As much as some areas will try and tell you its being phased out, the reality is that even on the coast its still a way of life. Expect all shops and businesses to close at 1pm or 2pm and open again at 4pm or 5pm.
However in the towns, this means that dinner is later; typically the Spanish will eat around 9pm or 10pm when it his cooler.
That is why night clubs don't open until about 1am until 6am or so.... All a far cry from when clubs in the UK used to open at 10pm and close at 2am!
Lovely Spanish restaurants abound - sometimes though you need to be in the know! An unprepossessing bar on a side street, might turn out to be the best restaurant in town.
There is currently a lovely side street restaurant in Los Montesinos that has been there for years, serving some great Spanish food.
Similarly in the centre of Torrevieja there used to be a restaurant at the back of a ham shop, surrounded by apartment blocks, which served some of the best grilled Sardines around.
Bars are expected to keep certain hygiene standards, which by and large are the same as the UK.
You will find everything from a local burger joint (incl 24hr McDonalds) through to high end fish restaurants.
Spanish (plus Tapas); English; Fish; Italian; Argentinian; Chinese; McDonalds; Burger King; KFC and everything in between - its all here. But please try the fare in the Spanish restaurants, personally I love my Sunday roast, but I will also be found trying the fish on offer in the local Spanish restaurants.
Generally will open from about 8am / 10am through to very late, depending on the bar.
You will find Sports bars; Irish Bars; Tote Bars (these need to be licensed which is why there are not many).
You will of course know that the spirit measures are free-flow. Don't worry about tryng to talk to the bar-man whilst pouring, he is still counting! Unless of course he is a friend in which he probably isn't counting and will end up giving you a huge measure. You'll need another tonic for that Gin and a second glass!
The shops will not be open on a Sunday out of season, but this will depend on the area.
Typically a shopping centre will include a food court, which will have bars and restaurants and will probably be open later than the shops. A casino might be in the same development and will be open even later.
La Zenia Boulevard shops are open until 10pm; restaurants open until 12 midnight and the casino until 2am. This is the biggest shopping centre on this bit of the Costa Blanca.
Generally the big shopping malls don't keep siesta times, but further inland this will vary.
There are several Cinemas locally that show English films.
Torreveija: one screen all day will be in English
Los Alcazares: every Tuesday and Saturday shows English language films with subtitles in Spanish.
There are a number of English am-dram groups around with regular shows.
Is important in Spain and is a great way of seeing the local culture.
Every town will have a fiesta for about a fortnight. There will be shows; parades; Beer & food events; concerts; music and VERY loud fireworks.
These are great events and a must-see every year. The San Miguel one his held during September. This will include a huge parade; a Tapas run (Beer and food for €1 each). Its great fun and to be recommended.
It's a more relaxed, cheaper lifestyle. Welcome to the Costa Blanca.
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Neal Ball May 2021
All prices (May 2021) and timings are approximate.