There comes a point in many a London family’s life when they pose the inevitable question: “Should we move out of the capital?” Many have laid down roots and choose to stay put, but others take the plunge, spreading the #nomumleftbehind mantra up and down the country. In this new blog series, we’ll be profiling a wide range of different areas in case you’re at a similar crossroads in your lives. From Cornwall villages to rural Wales, from the Kent coast to the Surrey suburbs, there are endless options to consider if you’re on the lookout for pastures new.
Where have you moved to?
Porreres – a small town in the middle of Mallorca, in the Balearic Islands, Spain. It’s a 30-minute drive East of Palma and about 20 minutes from the coast.
Where did you move from?
I lived in Brockley, South East London. Before that I was in North London.
Why did you leave London?
I’ve spent 17 years in London and loved almost every minute. However, I’ve had a desire for a long time to spend time living abroad, getting to know a different country and culture, and to learn another language to a greater degree of proficiency than being able to order a meal and ask where the bathroom is. After threatening to move for a couple of years, a number of things came together that made the move to Mallorca possible. Finally the question was, “what am I actually waiting for?” There wasn’t going to be a better time personally or professionally.
How did you choose your new location?
We came here on holiday a few of times and fell in love with the island. On one visit we talked to estate agents about what we’d need to do to rent a house long-term. The agent was extremely helpful, and gave us lots of food for thought on how different the island is at different times of year. We narrowed down our location to the Centre/South East of the island where there is not so much English spoken and booked our next trip to an inland village so we could explore the more ‘local’ Mallorca. We chose our exact location because we spotted a house online that I really wanted to see! When we came to view it, it ticked all our boxes and the town was so much more than we’d expected.
How long before moving did you start looking?
We talked about moving for about three years before actually doing it. Between deciding we were going to do it and moving was about four and a half months and we found a house two months before we moved (we could have moved in almost immediately but we needed time to get organised!).
At what point did you think about schools and childcare?
I researched education in general in Spain when we first talked about moving and having looked at the different types of school we were clear that we would look for a local school for at least the first few years to enable our son to learn the language. When we came to see the house we eventually rented, one of the deciding factors was that we’d be able to walk to school and there were two primary schools to choose from. It was clear that there was also good provision for extracurricular activities including music, sport and drama.
What did you do about work?
There was a big restructure at work which gave me redundancy. I now work from home building my own new business, The Working Parent Coach, to help parents find the work-life balance that suits them. I also do a little consultancy for my previous employer. I am absolutely loving having the flexibility to spend time with my little boy and really be around to help him settle into school, as well as being able to do work I really enjoy.
What’s the best thing about where you live now?
Being outside most of the time. I love all the moments I have been able to be outside (and yes, the wifi still works most of the way down the garden so I can work outside, too!). Being outside in the evening is also incredible as the number of stars is astonishing. I love that my son has spent all summer running around outside, learning to swim, and only taking shelter inside when it has been too hot. Also, being able to drive to stunning beaches in 20-30 minutes still has me in awe.
What’s the most surprising thing about where you live now?
The people and how easy it has been to make friends. I am still stunned that I have a social life already – I thought it would take a long time to have any kind of support network here, but I stumbled straight into an amazing group of people.
What do you miss about living in London?
I miss having variety of food on my doorstep. I have discovered it is possible to get most things here – Thai, sushi, good pizza, curry – but you have to travel. Also, getting certain cooking ingredients is a serious mission (usually involving visitors from the UK).
Have there been any downsides to the move?
I’m very aware I’m a long way from my family. However, I’ve been thrilled at how many visitors have come already and how that gives such amazing opportunities to catch up. Not speaking the local language – Mallorquin (a dialect of Catalan) – is a challenge and it can be frustrating not being able to follow what’s going on or understand the cultural nuances, but my Spanish has got a lot better.
What are your top three tips for moving with children?
- Talk to your children as frequently as possible about what is happening and how it’s going to work: tell them what’s going to happen to your old home, reassure them about any pets, confirm their toys are coming, talk about changes to friendships, paint the exciting picture of the future that you see. It’s a massive change for them (and you!) and will take time to really sink in.
- Find out about children’s activities and talk to local parents in the new location as soon as you can. Making friends in the new place helps everyone settle in faster. Walking in to our local gym in week two changed my life being here – I had my son enrolled in karate lessons that week and a coffee date for me booked for the following day. Put yourself out there, however uncomfortable you find it.
- If there is any delay between you and your things arriving when moving overseas, make sure you have space allocated in your ‘transport with you’ luggage for a number of favourite toys to help your children settle in and feel like home.
What one piece of advice would you give to anyone considering a similar change?
Be clear on your reasons for moving and what you need to do to make the move work. And then do it. Getting all the pieces in place to make it possible may take time, but this time is an opportunity to think through exactly what you are looking for from your new location so you find exactly the right spot for you. Change can seem really frightening, but it can also be incredibly liberating.
Where can people find out more about life in your new location?
This site has good information about Mallorca: http://www.mallorca-now.com/live-in-mallorca.html
The UK Government sites have lots of useful info https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-spain and you should also check out the info on HMRC to make sure you don’t trip up on your taxes!
Expatica https://www.expatica.com/es/ has lots of information about how things work in Spain – education, buying a car etc.
The Ayuntamiento (town hall) website specifically for Porreres http://www.porreres.cat has loads of information about what’s on in the town. From the 8-16 August there is a huge festival in town for Sant Roc which culminates in a night of demons running the streets and a big firework display! It has to be seen to be believed!
None at all.
Porreres: the basics
- House prices in Porreres (http://www.rightmove.co.uk/overseas-property-for-sale/Porreres.html?responsive=true) – not very representative of town property
- Nearest (big) A&E: Manacor – about 15-20 minutes drive.