In the fourth part of our Growing up in Andalucía series, we talk to Hayley, who moved to Spain as an older teen. She tells us what it was like to leave everything behind in the UK and start again in a new country.
I was 18 years old when we moved to Spain. I left my job back in Manchester and all my friends behind. None of us spoke Spanish – all I knew was Hola and Adios! For the first eight years of my life in Spain, I lived in the village of Castillo de Locubin, in the province of Jaen. My parents and I went there for a week’s holiday to look at property and immediately fell in love with the area, and knew it was where we wanted to live. My grandad also moved over with us and enjoyed four years of living there until he passed away. The village and its people are just so friendly and open, and they welcomed us with open arms.
I didn’t find it that hard to adapt – in fact, it turned out that the lifestyle suited me better than the busy life I left behind in the UK. After a few months of relocating to Spain, I asked my parents if I could go back to Manchester for a holiday. But by the second day I was crying on the phone to my parents! I wanted to go back to Spain, which told me that it was now home. And here I am 14 years later!
I now live in Alcala la Real, which is a bigger town. I’ve been here for six years. I moved here with my husband and now work for Inland Andalucía. I have a handful of close friends, most of whom have been made via my husband Pedro. As I only have my parents here, Pedro’s family have welcome me with open arms and include me in everything. I love how close Spanish families are, and we had a lovely day when we got married in May last year.
My advice to anybody thinking of making the move with their children or teens is to go for it! Here, you get a great balance of work and home life. Jaen is perfect for work and education opportunities. It is easy to integrate because everyone is so friendly. But you also have access to the bigger cities of Granada, Cordoba, and Malaga, whilst getting to live that typical Spanish lifestyle that ex pats look for.