11 August 2017

Charlotte Hanson - Expat in Málaga, Spain

Charlotte Hanson - Expat in Málaga, Spain

We’ve had the chance to talk to Charlotte Hanson, 42, a British expat who has moved to Spain with her family. Mrs. Hanson who has been living there for 14 years, now works as an estate agent. 

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK.


Q: What made you move out of the UK?

A: The trigger was my parents moved here first and I needed a change from relationship and job.


Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: Estepona, Málaga, Spain. My parents were already here.


Q: How long have you been living in Spain?

A: 14 years.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: I have had a family since living in Spain.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: No, but I have my parents here which makes it very different.


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: I work with locals, my children go to the local state nursery and I feel we are well integrated.


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in Spain? How did you manage to find a social circle there?  

A: Most of my expat friends I have met through work. I now count amongst my friends a number of locals who I have mainly met through nursery school and work.


Q: How does the cost of living in Spain compare to your home?

A: Cheaper. We earn a lot less money but have fewer debts!

  • Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: 1.25 euros.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: From 10 euros per head.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: The upper limit is endless in this area. You could easily find somewhere to spend 100 euros per head.

  • Q: How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: Wine is anything from 1 euro. Cigarettes are about 5 euros I think.


Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in Spain?

A: Choose an office local to where you live or work as you need to visit them more often than in the UK. Bank do charge for everything here so find out costs so you can make an informed choice.


Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: It can be onerous in Spain. Take all the documents requested, and more, and copies of everything!


Q: Would you say that healthcare in Spain is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: State funded healthcare is excellent. As this is such an expat friendly area, private options are also very high quality.


Q: Did you secure a health insurance in the UK or Spain?  What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?

A: Private healthcare for the children gives you peace of mind that you can take them to a pediatrician whenever you’re worried and be seen immediately. Also, there are options for paying as you go here which my elderly parents find useful as the cost of healthcare would be prohibitive for them. 


Q: What was the most memorable about the packing and moving process to Spain? Which was the mover you chose and how was your experience with them?

A: I can’t remember but I didn’t bring much! I used a company with a base local to where I was going to live.


Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: Nowadays it would be finding work that paid well. When I arrived that was much easier. The different ways of working, much less job security make it difficult when you are selling up totally in your home company.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Spain?

A: Negative aspects are the career opportunities and pay when working for someone else; positives include longer evenings so more time with the children, better quality of life, weather so you can better enjoy your free time and spend less money on indoor activities!


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: As a mother of very small children, my free time is spent in child-friendly locations and play centre of which there are many between Estepona and San Pedro. There is so much to do here in your free time and amazing places to visit that are not so far away from such as El Chorro gorge and the Sierra Nevada for skiing.


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: No, I may think about it when my children reach secondary school age.


Q: What tips will you give to expats living in the country?

A: Make the most of the wonderful lifestyle, start your own business and enjoy your children!


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about Spain?

A: http://familylifeinspain.com/; www.talkradioeurope.com; www.olivepress.net; www.surinenglish.com