Rant warning!

I like to think of myself as a positive person. I don’t consider myself as a Pessimist.  Am I an Optimist? Hmm, in most situations my head rules my heart so I suppose a Realist is a better classification.

When assisting people in making decisions about moving to Spain, including renting and buying property, (which is my real “job” by the way), I play the devil’s advocate. I help people make the best decision for them. I use my head when I believe their heart has taken over.

I don’t sell false dreams. I highlight reality. I am known for telling is as it is. Neither an optimist nor a Pessimist. Yes. I suppose I’m an optimistic Realist.


On our website, www.familylifeinspain.com our Facebook Page, Twitter and Pinterest, we tend to share the fun and positive aspects about living in Spain. However, we do also like to share a few rants. Our ethos is that every problem has a solution and if we do not have the solution immediately to hand, we endeavour to find it and share it with you.

Every now and then something happens and all “normailty” flies out of the window. Everything seems to get pushed aside and this one issue has to be dealt with. Like now. Immediately.

Do you remember the post: Spain Isn’t cheap … Or is it?

I admitted that “ was getting my back up. I let the UK press penetrate my usual barriers and I was reacting to a situation that  existed only in my creative, defensive and often over protective imagination.

I was simply fed up of UK tabloids, holiday websites, other internet portals and basically anyone else wanting to jump on this bandwagon to sell their products and services,  using headlines and advertising slogans such as “Counting on the Costas: Survey reveals Spain is cheapest holiday spot in Europe” and “Spain is the cheapest holiday destination”.

Fed up of articles in tabloids both in print and online about Spain being poor, having no money and targeting expats as a way to line the country’s empty pockets. I’m not referring to factual, national publications discussing the ongoing debt issues. I’m talking about the so called “expat expert” companies, targeting their own country men, distorting the facts, scaremongering as a way of generating business.”

Not forgetting our involvement in the #SpainIs campaign

“In light of all the negative press Spain is receiving, particularly from UK sources, a group of Writers And Bloggers About Spain (WABAS), have launched a campaign to show that life is not really as bad as some may like  to have us believe. We have been astounded by the number of times press and television companies have contacted us over the past months, in search of negative stories.”

This time we’re going one step further. Wait until you read what follows …

I’ve been tempted to publish emails of “reporters” that have contacted us and many of our colleagues, looking for negative stories about Spain, but I still won’t do that. They are merely doing what they are paid to do. We all need to earn a living. I’m a Realist remember 😉

However, I will share a excerpts from couple of emails that have literally just been exchanged (ie. the day prior to posting this).

The names have been removed as I do not intent to direct this post solely at the sender of this email, nor the production company. This post is directed at all journalists and documentary makers. Please think before contacting expats in Spain.

That is all. Think. Please!

expat life in spain

Excerpts from the initial email:

“Hi Lisa …

…We are currently developing a documentary series for ****** about Brits who are emigrating to Spain and wondered if someone from your team would have time to help with our research.

We are looking to speak to people who are planning to move to Spain this year and thought given your experience you may be able to help, or point us in the right direction of soon to be expats.

The documentary series idea is in its final development stages with ****, and the last thing they require from us is a ‘taster tape’ which shows the types of people moving abroad.

We are keen to appeal to the **** audience and would like your help in finding couples and families who have packed up their life in ‘blighty’ in search for a better future in the sun. We want the series to feel accessible to the masses, so we aren’t focusing on businessmen/women being headhunted for global companies, we are more interested in professions like plumbing, building, nursing or hairdressing – filming with people who believe that they can have a better life in Spain. This will be an aspirational series which will highlight how regular people can live their dream.”

My reply:

“Hi X

Thanks for contacting us, however I am afraid we will not be able to assist you with research for this production. Although you say “This will be an aspirational series which will highlight how regular people can live their dream”, looking at your search criteria, I do not foresee a positive final production.

If you have looked at our websites you would see that we do not encourage the kind of people you are looking for to move to Spain, “professions like plumbing, building, nursing or hairdressing”, unless that are financially secure.

If you research any “successful” moves to Spain, you will discover that they are “businessmen/women being headhunted for global companies” or location independent workers who source their income from outside of Spain.

People are no longer moving to “live their dream” in Spain by finding work over here. It is a now a lifestyle decision. They are prioritising better standards of living and primarily, quality family time. If they listen to us, they are also treading carefully and not burning bridges by “packing up their life in ‘blighty’ in search for a better future in the sun”.

The phrase “people who believe that they can have a better life in Spain” also sets alarm bells. Surely you understand that these people have little chance of success in the current climate.

The cost of setting up a business is much higher than in the UK. The only people we are currently helping set up business here are location independent workers. This is because we do not sell dreams to our clients.

I am quite confident you will find others willing to work with you and I will be interested to learn of the outcome.

I apologise if this seems abrupt but I am tired of the number of production companies who ask us for assistance and who appear unaware of the real situation. There are many expats very happy with their lives in Spain. Unfortunately, these do not appear to be who production teams wish to talk to.

If you are interested, I’d be more than happy to send you a copy of my book that is due to be published this month. It will give you a better idea of how people can successfully move to Spain, without losing everything they have worked for (ie. not for those on the usual UK programmes and in the tabloids).


Their reply:

“Hi Lisa, 

Thank you very much for taking the time to reply to email, I appreciate you that you must be very busy so thank you in advance.

I understand your concerns about the documentary and can only apologise for the number of production companies who contact you for assistance who appear unaware of the situation in Spain, I bet it gets exceptionally frustrating.

I thought it may help to give a bit more background about the project – I seem to have spent the last year researching this series, and have been over to Spain and lived amongst expats who helped form this idea (which was lovely, I was lucky to catch the good weather it seemed!) The initial idea originated from our other documentary, Benidorm ER, which is now in its forth series on *****. During the filming of this documentary we came across a lot of expats who have left the UK and were living a better life in Spain, they were eager to tell us their story.

In April I then spent time with expats living on Camping Benidorm (amongst other places), there was a mixture of ages, and a great variety of people, from the ‘swallows’ coming and going, to new arrivals eager to start a fresh, and families who had been there for a few years, even through the rocky times. They all talked positively about the life they had, their quality of life and the hope for the future – there was a mixture of professions too, from bar owners to electricians, hairdressers to mechanics, dancers to chefs. There was a strong sense of community and obviously little overheads with them living in mobile homes (which were very impressive!). They were aware that the employment wasn’t going to be easy, but they were determined and proved so by all working.

We felt that these expats hadn’t been represented in the media and they were keen to tell their story about their life in Spain, they had improved standards of living, better quality family time and more disposable income.

At this time we are looking to speak to people who haven’t moved out to Spain yet, but if the series was to go ahead we would be looking to feature a variety of expats who have made a success of their lives in Spain, we would want them to advise and be an inspirational case study.

Please let me know when your book is published, I’m sure it will be of help with our series.”

My reply …. there isn’t one!

How could I reply, when a researcher, asking for my assistance, wants to portray the best of life in Spain based on insights gained from expats living in a camping in Benidorm??? Is that really a true portrayal of expat life in Spain?

I am sure that the residents of Camping Benidorm live a great life. Campsites create great communities. However, is that really the best this beautiful country has to offer? Is that real as good as it gets for expats in Spain? 

I will stand by my belief that, in the current climate, moving to Spain expecting to carry out professions such as: a want to be bar owner, electrician, hairdresser, mechanic and many other trades which require a decent client base to keep you afloat, is a massive risk. I am not saying it is impossible. I am saying it is not cheap and you’ll need more than lady luck being 100% on your side to make it work in Spain at the moment. I’m a Realist, remember.

Don’t move to Spain and think you can “get away with it” by burying your head in the sand and ignoring legalities and bureaucracy. If you are moving over here, get it right from the start, Do your research. Do it right. If you are not  ready, wait. It will save you a lot of money and heartache.

Seriously, if you are thinking about moving to Spain, keep an eye out for my book due to be published this month: Moving to Spain with Children by Lisa Sadleir. It is written by a Realist. A Realist who loves Family Life in Spain. It is written by somebody who wants you to make the right decision. We are not here to sell you a dream. We want you to enjoy the reality of what is Family Life In Spain.

On a last note, have a look at these “Rules of Expat Life” from Mr Steve Hall …

Rules 7 and 8 are particularly apt to this post:

Rule 7: Before you arrived, the traffic police weren’t as tough as they are now. They got that way from dealing with expats with no paperwork, no insurance, no ITV and listening to you bang on about how you thought you were in the right. So before you abuse another officer to his face or on a forum, try getting your UK car registered here. Just because you have not done it for 7 years does not make it legal.

Rule 8: The UK may have done away with winners and losers, but Spain HAS NOT. In the UK, they have a welfare state that supports people when they fall. They’ll give to you as MANY TIMES as you want to – housing benefit, disability allowances, single-parent allowances, job-seeker allowances, free dental care and a NHS service that has got itself on its knees with more administrators than surgeons. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in Spain.

And remember, if it was that easy to move to Spain, everybody would be doing it. Some things are worth fighting for. You don’t need to do it alone, but you do need to do it right. Right from the start.

expat life in Spain

Rant over … I’d love to know your thoughts on this matter. If you agree or disagree with what I say please feel free to add your comments and share with others you think may have something to say. We are open to ideas … we are Realists 😉

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Lisa Sadleir

Founder at Family in Spain SL
We love Family Life In Spain. Join us as we share experiences and essential updates, advice & assistance related to living in and moving to Spain. ¡ Olé !



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