Do you go with the flow or stand your ground and resist change?
I’ve never been a trend addict (except for a short “Townie” clothes phase back in the early 80’s), I’ve always done pretty much what I have wanted, worn what I feel comfortable in and bought things that make me smile or make my life easier in some way. But food, well that is a slightly different matter…
If you’d have told me, a few months ago, I’d be posting recipes for making scrummy Vegan Ferrero Rocher, vegan no cheese and dairy-free ice cream, I’d have laughed at you!
But, here I am. July 2019, amid what seems like a vegan revolution that has been growing for a few years and is gaining momentum at a great pace, about to tell you about these simple and scrummy Vegan Ferrero Rocher.
Before I share this simple and delicious treat with you, I must state that I am not vegan and have no intention of becoming vegan. However, I do believe it is a great compliment to our current Mediterranean style diet. Having been on a day course with www.vegetarianos.org, my eyes were opened to a whole new way of cooking. I have many new recipes that are improving our day to day eating habits. All easy to make and all super tasty.
NOTE: (Not all the recipes I have tested were tasty …. so they won’t be shared or repeated in our kitchen 😉 ) No matter how “healthy” something is, if it isn’t tasty, we don’t make it again. Simples!
How To Make Vegan Ferrero Rocher Style Energy Treats
70gtoasted hazelnuts or almonds
12- 15whole toasted hazelnutsfor centre
20gcrushed nuts (of your choice)for decoration
Blend the nuts until they form a fine powder, with no chunks.
Chop the dates and add to blender
Add cocoa powder
Blend all ingredients together until evenly mixed.
Using a dessertspoon to measure, make small balls of the mixture and insert a whole hazelnut into the centre. Set aside.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl, over a saucepan of boiling water.
Cover the balls in chocolate and put on a plate to cool and set.
Sprinkle with crushed nuts or add crushed nuts to the melted chocolate (whichever you prefer!)
Leave to cool in the fridge until the chocolate has hardened.
Bookmark this page to keep up to date with the latest Dog Beaches Spain 2019. The Google map below is automatically updated. Every year, the website www.redcanina.es publishes an updated map of dog-friendly beaches around Spain.
Last year was a great year for dog lovers since there were more than 10 dog beaches that were enabled in the Spanish territory. The Valencian Community and Andalusia were the communities that allowed more beaches for dogs. Municipalities such as Torrevieja, Alboraya and Torrox, already have pet friendly beaches for this summer 2019. Whether you are planning to enjoy a beach holiday for this summer, or if you want to escape a weekend with your pet to enjoy the beach, here I leave the updated list of beaches to go with dog this year 2019.
A few years ago, the Coastal Law was amended to include the prohibition of dogs on beaches in the summer season. Since then, many municipalities have been encouraged to enable beaches for the enjoyment of bathers and their dogs (some better than others, everything must be said …)
For more information about beaches for dogs in Spain this summer 2019 (photos, schedules, how to get there, services etc), click on the icons in each location:
Our dogs love the beach and we are always looking for places we can enjoy with them. Here’s to a great summer and lots of beach time (within moderation of course 😉 ) with our furry friends!
Where is your favourite beach to enjoy with your dogs?
Mijas Costa is a beautiful stretch of coastline on the Costa Del Sol. Popular with holidaymakers, this whitewashed destination is perfect for any trip with family or friends. It holds a perfect mixture of tradition and culture, without leaving behind the beautiful beaches and stunning sea. But what if you decide you love it so much you want to move there?
Here are five factors to consider before making that brave step into the sun and moving to Mijas Costa
Moving to Mijas Costa proves to be a walk in the park (or on the beach) when it comes to the lifestyle. Found nestled between Fuengirola and the east Marbella resort of Cabopino, the area is full of a diverse range of restaurants, bars and shops.
Mijas Costa is approximately 25 km from the Malaga Airport, which works out as an easy 20-30 minute drive. It’s perfect for friends and family to come and visit throughout the year without long transfers and tiring journeys. A taxi would cost around €40.
There is a popular coastal walk to Fuengirola and over to Benalmadena which follows onto Torrequebrada. It is possible for walkers to venture all the way to Malaga if this is of interest – making for a great time to explore and discover new places.
Living in Majis Costa couldn’t be more relaxing, however this does make it a very popular area and properties don’t stay on the market for long before being snatched up. A property boom hit the area in the mid noughties when thousands of British and Irish property investors and lifestyle buyers flocked to the area.It is recommended to 100% commit to moving to Mijas Costa before property searching to avoid missing out on the perfect villa.
The good news is that there is a property for every budget, as prices vary largely in Mijas. A two bed property would set a buyer back by around €150,000, however it would not be a surprise for a more spacious 3 to 4 bedroom villa to be on the market for over €500,000. If you spot a great property at an even greater price in the area, it is advised the grab the opportunity with both hands. The area is very popular and many are constantly considering living in Costa Mijas.
3. Getting around
Leaving town to move somewhere where the sun shines is always a good idea, if it is possible to move around. Transport in Mijas Costa varies. A regular bus can be caught from nearby Fuengirola every 30 minutes which runs to a selection of beaches and towns. An overground train can also be caught in Fuengirola which runs a scenic route along the coast before reaching Malaga Capital. It also does a handy stop at the airport.
There is currently no train link which runs directly to Mijas Costa. A hire car is a good idea to get out and explore more of Costa Del Sol, but not essential to enjoy a lazy week in the sun and lazing around the pool.
Marbella is just a 15-minute drive away and inland pueblos of Mijas, Coín and Alhaurín el Grande are close by. Malaga City is around a 30-40 minutes leisurely drive which is the perfect distance for a day trip. If the kids are holding you back from living in Mijas Costa, don’t worry. It is home to many attractions for little ones, including its own water park complete with water slides, wave pools, play islands and body skiing slides.
Mijas also has its own auditorium which hosts concerts throughout the summer months and a free flamenco show takes place twice a week in the village square. An outdoor swimming pool can be found in Osunillas as well as a football pitch and indoor gymnasium. Beaches in Mijas Costa offer jet skiing, water-skiing and paragliding to keep every day fun. The destination is home to some of the best golf courses and nearby Miraflores Golf and Lawn Tennis Club comes highly recommended, providing entertainment for every age.
For a night out, the Hipódromo Race Course proves popular with a family-friendly atmosphere, live horse racing and entertainment shows in-between races.
5. Food and drink
The popularity of the area may not work in everyone’s favour for finding somewhere to live, but the wide variety of food and drink on offer makes moving to Mijas Costa amazing. A line of typical beach bars can be found built on the sand, locally known as chiringuitos. Favourites offered here include the local tapas. Spanish bars can be found sitting alongside Italian restaurants or even the odd cafe offering a full English breakfast. The choice of food available will never leave a disappointed face or an empty belly behind.
So moving to Mijas Costa is a perfect move for anyone looking for a popular area in the heart of Costa Del Sol.
The properties are hard to get hold of but once bought, never regretted. Activities are available for the entire family, from children’s water parks, play parks, sports clubs to golf courses.
Those who like their food will never be disappointed, with a range of Spanish, Indian, Argentinian, Chinese and British food on offer to keep tummies happy and full.
The area is accessible by train and bus from nearby Fuengirola and taxis are reasonably priced and highly accessible.
The amount of British and Irish people in the area create a friendly atmosphere but do not take away from the natural beauty and cosmopolitan feel of this lovely destination.
If you are thinking about moving to Mijas Costa, remember to consider housing, travel and financing and everything will fall into place.
You’re not far away from owning your dream holiday home in an aesthetically pleasing and bustling area now. Book a flight, visit the area, we can arrange for you to visit properties. See if the children will feel comfortable there and most importantly, try to imagine yourself there. If you can see yourself moving to Mijas Costa and spending all of your time in the sun, then we say go for it.
According to data from the Horticultural Trades Association, over two-thirds of British adults enjoy visiting a garden centre every year. This just goes to show how much the British love gardening. However, if you’ve recently moved from the UK to warmer parts of the world like Spain, you will have to change the way you garden.
Here are simple ways to create a garden for a warmer climate:
Research about the soil
The main soil type in Spain is clay. In the UK, clay is one of the most difficult soils to work with, but in Spain, it actually works really well. Droughts and extreme heat are much less damaging on clay soil than any other type of soil, which makes it easier for plants to germinate and grow healthily. The rainfall in Spain is also less than what Britain gets in a year, so your garden won’t be wet, clogged, and unmanageable.
Understand climactic changes
Climate patterns change frequently in most Mediterranean regions, which means in some areas summers could have rainstorms, while in others there could be extended periods of drought. It’s important to learn about the weather patterns where you live so you can effectively choose which seeds to plant.
Pick the right plants
The Mediterranean Garden Society has a list of some of the best hot weather plants you can easily grow in your new garden. One great example is Aloysia gratissima (known in southern Spain as La Faborita), which grows six to nine inches tall. It thrives in well-drained soil, and come spring its white flowers bloom to give your garden a calming vanilla smell. You can also plant some Bush Morning Glory, which has a beautiful, snowy lavender flower that blooms in summer.
Succulents are also a great choice. They grow best in places with sweltering heat and require very little maintenance. They also come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colours. You can spread them throughout your garden and even use them as decorations indoors.
The hot weather also makes it ideal to grow a huge variety of vegetables—from cabbages to root veggetables like carrots, parsnips, potatoes, artichokes, and beetroots.
Build a reliable water system
If you don’t water your plants regularly they will dry up fast, so make sure the water system you choose is reliable and efficient.
Watch out for plant pests and diseases
Remember that the warmer climate makes your plants more prone to pests and diseases. The head of RHS Advisory Services Guy Barter explained to the BBC that you need to choose your plants carefully to work with your gardening environment. Decompose your compost properly so that it doesn’t attract flies. Make sure you have a place for it where you can aerate and water it easily. Gardening experts say the larvae of the rose chafer beetle are often found in compost, and although they are not generally harmful to every plant in your garden, they can damage the plants you are growing in pots.
Protect yourself and your guests from the sun
You can’t very well enjoy your hard work if you can’t sit in your garden with a cool glass of wine and marvel at your blooming flowers. Take the warm weather as an opportunity to get the cosiest pieces of outdoor furniture, and create an inviting garden where you can entertain guests and have BBQs. Pergolas and gazebos are ideal for entertaining and will also be a nice focal point. Some of the pergolas on Screwfix are open air, and come with additional gazebo kits. A covered gazebo is preferable as it will provide good cover from the sun during the day and add to the overall look of your garden. You can also add climbing plants to the structure to make your chill out spots look even more attractive.
It’s also maybe worth considering joining gardening and home interior design events to get more inspiration about the best garden designs that work for the warmer weather. We wrote about one of the most sought-after events in Estepona, which featured a lot of practical advice from local Mediterranean gardeners and interior designers. Be sure to check if any of these events are happening near you. As long as you have all the right tools, there’s no limit to what you can do in your summer garden, especially if the weather is nice and sunny.
Do you intend to move to Spain with your family this year, and maybe buy a property? If so, you’ll already be thinking about sitting on the beach, soaking up the sun, with a tall glass of sangria by your side. That said, before you can get working on your tan and enjoy la vida española, you’ll need to sort through some practical things and pay attention to our Currency Exchange Tips.
For example, how can you transfer your money from the UK to your Spanish bank account at a top exchange rate? Well, to ensure you maximise your euro total, and start your new family life in Spain on the best foot, please find below 10 easy tips. Keep these in mind, and exchanging currencies to move to Spain will be ¡muy facil!
Our 10 Currency Exchange Tips:
1. Plan your money transfer well in advance.
Are you thinking about moving to Spain with your family in the next few months? If so, start looking at transferring money to your Spanish bank account now.
This is because, the sooner you look at exchanging currencies, the bigger the window you give yourself for an outstanding exchange rate to become available!
2. Talk to a friendly, professional currency dealer.
Is this your first time transferring a significant sum of money to Spain? If so, speak to a friendly, professional currency dealer.
He or she will explain the process and answer your questions in straightforward language, without any jargon. This way, you can put your mind at ease.
3. Transfer your money with a foreign exchange broker, instead of your bank.
When we transfer money to Spain, it’s tempting to use our local bank. The thing is though, the banks know this, so they offer inferior exchange rates.
Instead, a foreign exchange broker can get you a significantly better currency rate, to make moving to Spain with your family a breeze.
4. Accept a good exchange rate as soon as it arises.
When you exchange currencies, our impulse is often to wait and see how high the exchange rate goes. The thing is though, the foreign exchange market is highly volatile.
Given this, instead of trying to “time the market”, exchange currencies when a good rate arises. This way, you’ll receive the euro total you need!
5. Keep an eye on the foreign exchange rate with Google.
To keep an eye on the foreign exchange rate, and find out when sterling climbs, you can simply use Google.
Just enter “GBPEUR” into the search engine, and Google will return the current exchange rate, as well as a historical exchange rate graph. This way, you can see if the exchange rate is favourable!
6. Don’t exchange currencies at the “low of the day”.
On a given day, the exchange rate fluctuates. Today, for example, the pound to euro interbank exchange rate has moved almost 0.5 cents!
As a result, to lift your euro total when you move to Spain, ensure you don’t exchange currencies at the “low of the day”. This is the point when the exchange rate is lowest!
7. Transfer your money with a currency broker that’s “FCA authorised.”
To make sure that your money is highly secure when you exchange currencies, use a foreign exchange specialist that’s “directly authorised by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA.)”
This means that the currency dealer will adhere to all UK regulations to transfer funds, and protect your money!
8. Avoid banks or currency brokers that charge fees or commission.
In 2018, you can transfer your money to Spain while paying 0% in fees or commission. This way, you save the highest possible amount, to lift your euro total in your Spanish bank account!
So, when you speak to a currency broker, ask them to confirm that they charge 0% fees and commission.
9. Get peace of mind with an International Transfer Receipt (ITR).
When you transfer money abroad, you’ll like to know that your money has arrived safely in your Spanish bank account as soon as possible.
To get this peace of mind, ask your foreign exchange broker for an International Transfer Receipt (ITR). With this, you’ll receive quick, clear confirmation that your money transfer has been successful.
10. Protect yourself against volatility, with a forward contract.
To guarantee that you get the euro total you need when you move to Spain with your family, you can set up what’s called a forward contract.
With this, you lock in today’s exchange rate, so you know well in advance what euro total you’ll receive in your Spanish bank account. This way, you’re protected against currency volatility!
With these 10 tips in mind, transferring money for your move to Spain will be a cinch. So you’ll enjoy less stress, and more ¡siesta under el sol!
About Fiestas and Siestas Miles Apart, By Alan Cuthbertson
Fiestas and Siestas Miles Apart is the humorous but true story of what happens when the Cuthbertson family decides to sell everything (including the family business), load the family car, and move from England to Spain.
As author Alan Cuthbertson and wife, Heather, begin their move, daughters Ashlie and Stacey have other ideas and take off on their own adventure to Thailand, Australia, and New Zealand. The girls swim with sharks and work in a gold mine, their enthusiasm and naivety shown in the e-mails and texts received by their parents, who themselves are finding Spanish life a very steep learning curve. Who knew fried sparrow was a delicacy? And Alan’s first hunting trip is not a completely successful expedition, but a very funny one.
We are giving away 3x copies of Fiestas and Siestas Miles Apart in Kindle format and 3 copies in audio format.
For a chance to win answer the following question.
For more information, please visit www.alancuthbertson.com
Excerpt from: Fiestas and Siestas Miles Apart
Antonio and Encarna are good friends from our village. Antonio is referred to as Lee Van Cleef, getting the nickname after I pointed out his similarity to the spaghetti western star
A couple of days later we sat with Van Cleef and his wife Encarna and the conversation got onto the subject of food once again. “Rabbit is my favourite,” confessed Van Cleef.
“I’ve never had rabbit,” admitted Heather.
“Mi casa, Domingo próximo.” Van Cleef’s invitation to Sunday dinner will have been the first time we have eaten with a proper Spanish family in their own home. It was something we looked forward to with mixed emotions.
Not knowing Spanish etiquette for such an occasion, we dressed casually and before leaving the house, selected a bottle of wine to take. “I’ve just remembered. Encarna doesn’t drink and Van Cleef only drinks whiskey,” said Heather, so I swapped the bottle of wine for one of whiskey.
During the short walk to their house, Heather and I mulled over the possible menu.
“He said it was going to be rabbit,” I pointed out.
“I’m just thinking back to the bar when they were all eating sparrows and snails,” Heather said nervously, her nose curling a little.
“We have to eat whatever they put in front of us,” I said, “it would be rude not to.”
We knocked on the door and were greeted by Van Cleef himself. I passed him the bottle of whiskey. He looked at me, then the bottle, then back at me. His expression said, “You have a drink problem my friend.” Inside the house it was quite dark, as most Spanish houses are. Alfonso, Van Cleef’s son, was engrossed in a cartoon on the TV and seemed to be finding it hysterical, a little unusual when you consider he is 19 years old.
We took our positions at the table and right on cue in walked Encarna carrying individual plates full of assorted vegetables and…animal. Heather and I glanced at each other recalling our vow to eat, or at least try, whatever was put in front of us.
Now I know this was to be Heather’s first taste of rabbit, but I just don’t ever remember seeing a rabbit with wings, so presumably some kind of last minute substitution had been made. We all picked up our knives and forks and began to dig in. Encarna saw me pushing the meat around, got up and disappeared in to the kitchen. When she returned she passed me a pair of scissors. “What the hell are these for?” I whispered to Heather. Across the table from me, Alfonso had rejected the knife and fork and was pulling the animal on his plate apart with his fingers, so I did likewise. The wing looked tempting, so I gave it a tug. It came away from the body. Unfortunately, where it had been joined hung the veins and tendons, still dripping with blood and bodily fluids.
“Antonio, no conejo?” Not rabbit? I asked.
“No,” he replied. He then stood up, hooked his thumbs under his armpits and waved his elbows up and down. From this I deduced he was either trying to tell me we were eating bird, or we had progressed on to charades and this was his Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins.
Heather, who had been sitting at the side of me throughout the meal, let out a faint squeal that fortunately only I heard. As I turned my head I saw her pulling something from her mouth. Was it a bone? A bit of gristle maybe? Or even a filling? No, it was a piece of buck shot the size of a small rock. “I guess he shot it himself,” I said.
After the main course, a bowl of fruit was brought from the kitchen, and Heather selected a pear and took her first bite. “No, No,” called Encarna thrusting a knife toward Heather.
“I think she wanted the pear,” I said a little worried. As it transpires, the knife was to peel the pear, as they never eat the skins of fruits concerned about what they may have been sprayed with.
As we said our goodbyes I returned the invitation and promised that next time they would have to come to our house for a meal. Van Cleef turned his nose up and curled his top lip. A rough translation of what he said would be. “I don’t think so; I don’t eat that English muck.”
I’d decided when was the best time to switch to bilingual education in Spain. Or so I thought …
I cannot believe that it is almost two years since I started writing this post. This is what happens when I want to write about something that is so important to me. That something is our children’s bilingual education in Spain.
March is decision time. In Spain, school enrollment starts in March for intake in September of that year (read more here).
Both our children have enjoyed Spanish state education in primary ( infantil) and junior (primaria). And I must say that we have been extremely happy with the education provided at CEIP San Sebastián in Mijas Pueblo. Francesca, in particular, has had a few inspiring teachers who have helped her grow and develop in a beautiful way ( Thank you Ruba, Marie Tere, Encarni and last but in no way least Carolina).
Our decision to switch to a private international school in secondary education (ESO) was made based, almost entirely, on language alone. Despite the fact that our children have always spoken English at home, they have only been educated in Spanish. Hence our decision to opt for a change to bilingual education in Spain.
In the year they turn twelve, in Spain, the children move from primary to secondary school. This often means a physical change of school and consequently a division of classes and school friends. An ideal time to make a change without to harsh an impact … or so we thought!
I am writing this post having just been to speak to the director at Joshua’s bilingual school. The meeting was to help me decide whether Francesca’s decision ( yep, you read that correctly!) was the best one.
Mis niños 🙂
Our strong-willed and determined little ten year old had decided, last summer, that starting her new school one year earlier than we had planned was the best idea. Not only did she have her reasoning clear in her head, but she also informed her best friend that that was what was going to happen.
You can imagine my surprise when her best friend’s mum asked me if it was true that Francesa would be changing schools before the end of the course. I am not saying I was disappointed. I was genuinely surprised and very impressed. My little shy girl is growing … in many beautiful ways.
Factors I considered when deciding if bilingual education in Spain was the best option for our children…
In this article, I am going to answer these questions and welcome you to the wonderful world of padel.
WARNING: This sport can seriously change your life,
help you get in shape and make you lots of new friends.
What is paddle tennis (padel)?
Padel is a racket sport that combines the elements of tennis, squash and badminton. It is only played in doubles and is practiced outdoors as much as indoors.
The game was invented by Enrique Corcuera of Mexico, who created the first padel club in Marbella in 1974. The sport became very popular in Spain, which has been the professional circuit host of the World Padel Tour where it has been played since 2005. Over the course of the past 10 years, padel has begun to spread rapidly to the rest of Europe and the United States.
Padel is played by over 10 million players and has become the fastest growing sport in the world. #padel
How do you play paddle tennis (padel)?
About the padel court… (La pista de padel)
Dimensions: 200m² (10x20m)
A net divides the court into two sides
Glass walls and netted steel fence surround the court
The back of the court and the beginning of the sides are made of window glass surmounted by a steel fence (height: 4m)
Access to the court is on each side of the net
There are no doors
About the padel rules … (Las reglas)
The game starts with a serve which must be hit diagonally to the opponent on the other side of the net. The ball must bounce within the opponents serving “square”.
The serve is underhanded, with 2 attempts allowed
If the ball hits the net and bounces in the box, it is a let (as in tennis).
During the game:
The ball must bounce on the ground before touching any external walls. If the ball hits an external wall before first bouncing on the floor it is out.
A ball can be returned once it has hit the floor and/or any glass walls. However, it cannot bounce twice.
Volleys are also permitted.
Scoring is the same as tennis, except matches are usually made up of the best of 3 sets (male and female). Six games are needed to win a set and the pair who wins two sets wins the match.
Players will play a 7 points tie-breaker if the score reaches 6/6
About the padel racquet: (La pala)
A padel racquet is solid with no strings and is perforated. It is smaller and more compact than a tennis racquet which makes it very easy to handle.
It weighs between 340g and 370g, slightly heavier than a tennis racquet.
The racquet cannot be more than 45,5cm long, 26cm wide and 38mm thick.
The padel racquet is usually covered by plastic or carbon depending on the quality level. The inside of the racquet is made of ethylene-vinyl acetate which looks like a foam.
Padel balls are similar to tennis balls but have less pressure in order to adapt to the small size of the court but also to the game with the fence.
Why do we love paddle tennis (padel)? This is our story …
In April 2016, I (Lisa) was looking for a sport to enjoy with Joshua, our eldest child.
Joshua has played football in Spain for many years A new school year had begun, a move to secondary education, resulting in a change of school for him and consequent team changes and the inevitable departure of many of his friends. Joshua decided that football was no longer for him.
I must admit that I wasn’t disappointed. We have spent many a wonderful weekend supporting our local CD Mijas team on the pitch. However, as the children grow up and testosterone levels rise, so do conflict and often aggression on the pitch. And let’s not even start about the parents! Not the fun it used to be.
So, it was time for a change.
Reasons why we love paddle tennis (padel):
More time spent in the open air
Great for fitness and flexibility
A quick sport to learn
Age, fitness, strength are not essential requirements to enjoy the game
More time spent together playing sport
Great for integration and making friends
Padel courts are all over Spain
By complete chance, we came across a local padel club and signed up for lessons.
And that my friends was that.
The start of our love affair with this sport…
Eighteen months later and our lives have changed for the better. We have many new friends, mainly Spanish but also other nationalities. We play at least 3 or 4 times a week. That is a total of at least ten hours a week. Not bad hey!
As a work from home mum, (this is my business website) I could never have believed that I would ever find an activity that took up 10 to 15 hours per week of my time that was not work nor child related. It is totally “me” time. I love it.
I also love the fact that my teenage son wants to share a court with me. There are no barriers in this sport …. unless you create them yourself.
Francesca is also taking padel classes but this year she is focusing on her rhythmic gymnastics, as she starts competitions this year. That doesn’t stop us packing four padel racquets whenever we travel though!
So, what are you waiting for?
Do you have any questions about this sport? Have you tried it? Feel free to ask us anything! We’d love to hear from you …
Barcelona is an incredible city with an amazing vibe, which explains why so many people want to live in the Catalan capital. In the latest of our Cost of Living in Spain series, we will be taking a look at Barcelona. This will compare Barcelona with other major European cities as well as look at how much it costs to buy or rent property, everyday living expenses and other financial outgoings to help you decide whether moving to Barcelona is right for you.
Barcelona has long been a top destination for artists but the city is also making a name for itself in the world of entrepreneurs. According to EU startups, Barcelona is the fifth top innovation hub in Europe, beating Madrid which is sixth.
Be warned though, Barcelona is a tourist destination all year which makes it expensive for buying or renting property as well as going out in the city centre. If you want to be in the thick of things and you have a big budget, this won’t be a problem. Otherwise, you may want to look at the suburbs such as Nou Barris, Horta-Guinardo or Sarria-Sant Gervasi, all north of Barcelona and in easy commuting distance of the city centre.
Even though Barcelona is more expensive than other major Spanish cities, it is still much cheaper than London. Figures from numbeo.com show consumer prices are 26.65% lower in Barcelona, rent prices are 61.52% lower and restaurant prices are 35% lower. The average monthly salary is lower too though. The average London wage after tax is €2,553 while it is just €1,407 in Barcelona.
Shopping in Barcelona
Everyday grocery shopping is certainly affordable as Barcelona has a good selection of supermarkets, including Lidl and Aldi, and markets. You can get a loaf of bread for about €0.80, 1kg of rice for €0.68, 12 eggs for €1.20, 1kg of chicken breasts from €4.50, a bottle of decent wine from €3.00 (you can buy cheaper but a half-decent Rioja is €3-plus) and a 0.5l bottle of beer from €0.70. You can also pick up fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fresh fish from the daily markets. It’s best to avoid La Boqueria on the Rambla, as it’s rammed with tourists but Santa Caterina or the Mercat de la Concepcio are good alternatives.
For fashion, you can find everything from designer clothes to market-stall bargains. For high-end fashion head to Passeig de Gracia for Cartier, Emporio Armani and Jimmy Choo among others while 40kms from Barcelona is La Roca Village, which is a Chic Outlet Shopping village with discounts of up to 60% on the recommended retail price. Even clothes you can buy in the UK can be cheaper in Spain. For example a pair of Zara jeans are £29.95 in the UK but €29.95 in Barcelona (about £4 cheaper).
Obviously it can be more expensive to eat in the tourist areas and around La Rambla but you can still get a three course lunch-time set menu (menu del dia) for about €10 even in the tourist hotspots. A decent mid-range three-course meal for two will set you back about €30-€50. Half a lager will be around €2.50 at a bar (at least) and a glass of wine about €2.50 too.
Buying or renting property in Barcelona
Compared to much of northern Europe, property rents seem low in Barcelona. However, the tourist hotspots will be expensive. The city also recorded the highest increases in rents in Spain with a rise of 66% in five years to 2017 while other tourist destinations such as Mallorca rose 40% and Madrid was up 20%.
It is possible to rent a small studio by Barceloneta beach for €500 a month but a decent three-bedroom apartment in central Barcelona, such as near La Rambla, will be closer to €1,500 a month.
The average price of a property is €189,973 but one-bedroom flats in central Barcelona are selling for €260,000 with the best properties in top locations changing hands for millions.
On top of the rental price or mortgage, your average monthly bills for electricity, water, garbage collection and internet will add another €155 a month at least to your outgoings. Based on a two to three-bed apartment, costs will be:
Electricity – €100
Water – €20
Internet – €35
Getting out and about in Barcelona
Public transport is the best way to get around in Barcelona as driving can be hectic and parking difficult to find.
You can get a range of tickets at low prices:
Single metro or bus ticket is €2.15
Single metro journey between the airport and the rest of the metro network for one zone is €4.50
Special ticket for the football bus is €3
A T-10 travel card for 10 bus and metro journeys in one zone is €9.95
A T-50/30 card allowing 50 trips over 30 days in one zone is €42.50
A T-Mes monthly travel card allowing unlimited journeys in one zone is €52.75
When you consider parking costs from €2-€3 an hour, then public transport is the cheaper option, particularly when you add the cost of petrol which is €1.279 for unleaded 95.
International schools in Barcelona
As you would expect from Spain’s second largest city, there is a good range of international schools in the city centre. Tuition fees can be from €10,000 per year for nursery children up to €20,500 a year for sixth form students plus additional fees for uniforms, travel, lunches and matriculation. Some of the best known international schools in Barcelona are:
The Benjamin Franklin International School following the American curriculum.
St George’s British School teaching a wide range of subjects from the British curriculum and, in addition, Spanish language, humanities and Catalan.
Kensington School following the English curriculum
Princess Margaret school, recognised by the International Baccalaureate Organisation to implement its programme,
The American School of Barcelona teaching the American system and the IP diploma programme
St Paul’s School offering the Spanish curriculum
St Peter’s School which has a broad curriculum following the Spanish system but taught in English
As we explained in a previous post, Spain is a fabulous place to bring up your children. Family comes first and children are children for longer. However, don’t fool yourself, it can take time to adjust to new ways of doing things, especially when they are so different to what we thought were the right way to do things. There are so many tell tale signs that your kids grew up in Spain. I’m sure you can add many more to this initial list that we are sharing.