Living In Mallorca

Relocating to Mallorca

December in Alcudia

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The good thing about winter in Mallorca is that you can take your dog for a walk on the beach.

On a sunny, mild, day there is nothing quite like a stroll by the sea and for Freddy it was his first experience of beach life.

Being a bit wary of letting him off the lead I played safe and attached an extendible lead.

The expression on his face when he realised he could run further was so funny and to start with he ran round and round me like a horse in a ring. He could canter and jump. It was fun!

Seaweed was another new experience and he sniffed and jumped in it. My experience was treading on some seaweed to find my foot disappear in a hole and my shoe fill with water!

Oh well it was fun!

Meeting new dogs was interesting too although Freddy hasn’t got very good dog etiquette and wanted them all to play with him when all they wanted to do was say hello.

It was a fun time and I would love to let him off the lead to run and play but his attention span is far too short at the moment and distractions far too many.

Maybe one day.


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November Weather

This year November has definitely been different. When we arrived last year the sun was shining and temperatures were around 20C.

This year, so far, we have had storms, torrential rain and gale force winds. The storms were loud but not problematic. The rain has flooded the roads for days on end and the waste ground has returned to marshland. Walking Freddy has been interesting to say the least! The natural area where dogs are allowed to do their business has been taken over by seagulls where they now swim on the mini lakes caused by the excess water. I guess it beats bobbing around on the sea!

I have always looked at the mountains behind us and wondered whether the winds would cascade over the top and gather speed as they rolled down toward our houses. Well they do, but even worse are the winds that blow horizontally from north to south. With the sea on one side of them and the mountains on the other they create a wind tunnel. Poor Freddy was blown off his feet this morning. I tried telling him it was too windy but he didn’t understand – he certainly changed his mind and we headed, rather quickly, for the warmth and shelter of our home.

When we purchased our house we were given the choice of a mid terrace or an end terrace and although we were used to living in a semi (which the end terrace would have matched) we chose the mid terrace. When we looked at the properties in February the mid just seemed to have a different more homely feel about it. I am glad we did. Our new neighbours and friends moved into the end terrace and now they are discovering what we intuitively realised. It gets cold when you don’t have a neighbour either side of you!

Cozily tucked between two other houses we only have a front and rear aspect that is open to the elements. The houses beside us act like a duvet in bed, they keep us warm and protected. Our neighbours have the wind and rain buffeting them on three sides and they are having problems keeping the house warm. Of course central heating does not exist and the electric heaters and radiators are all you have to keep you warm. Luckily the winter does not last long but it will be interesting to see how much the cost of keeping warm in the winter and cool in the summer will total over the course of a whole year.

I have watched the arguments recently for and against the winter payments made from the UK to ex pat pensioners and notice that it almost seems to be a jealous outrage. Why should you get the payment? Well it does get cold here and in the summer you have to keep cool. But you chose to go and live there so you shouldn’t get it? Well I and others have worked and paid into the system all our lives (I continue to do so for I still pay it while working from home). So although I am powerless to do anything about it as the wind blows strongly outside and the rain floods our roads I know that the final cost will be as much – or even more – than living in the UK.


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The Reality of Living Abroad

So now that the dust has settled just what is the reality of living abroad.  I can, of course, only speak for myself and my own experiences and emotions but I was surprised at the turmoil that you go through.

On the 26th November 2012 we could be found travelling toward Folkestone with our newly acquired left hand drive car packed with the necessities that were essential for our first few months of living and working from a rented apartment in Playa de Muro, Alcudia.  As we drove along we were elated.  The dream that we had been talking about for all those years was coming true.

No more getting up at 5.30 in the morning and commuting to London.  My work from now on would be from my own ‘office’ in my Mallorcan home.

The drive down through France was uneventful save for waking up and feeling rough (a cold virus that had been hiding in the background was about to emerge) and we arrived at Playa de Muro on the 28th November bright and early in the morning.

I suppose the ‘high’ lasted for a few weeks when it was more like being on holiday than living here and then the reality of trying to get everything organised hit home.

Emotions would fluctuate between frustration at not knowing where to go for anything and not being able to speak with enough fluency to make yourself sound like anything more than a child to downright depression when I would wake in the mornings and think ‘take me home’.

The enormity of all the departments you needed to contact and the forms that needed to be filled in while still trying to hold down a job seemed an obstacle that was just too high to get over.

But get over I did.  With the help of the company that I found (as mentioned on my relocation costs page) the pressure was lifted somewhat as I could leave all the documentation and form filling to them.

As the months went by I got used to not being able to pop down to such a such shop and I started to find my Spanish equivalent.  Whether it was a little boutique that I loved in the Port or certain sites online that deliver I managed to continue here almost the same as in the UK.

But one big problem was the isolation I felt and I never expected that.  I often joked that we would only be a couple of hours away and it is true.  However add to that the expense of flights, taxis or car park fees, getting someone to look after any animals and the lack of annual holiday entitlement it is not as easy at it sounded.

For a start I have a grandson that doesn’t know me as he was only a baby when we left and we have all the other grandchildren that we now never see.  My mother is not getting any younger and cannot manage the flight and our children do not have the money for the flights with all their children or are just plain scared of flying.

As far as we are concerned I am governed by my holiday allowance and our finances are basic pension plus one wage.  So we have to be careful too.  Add to that our little rescue dog Freddy who has severe separation anxiety and would need to visit with us which involves ferries, trains, travelling by road etc it means that we cannot visit at the drop of a hat.

But as I take Freddy for his walks I look at the scenery – the lakes, the mountains, the beaches, blue skies and the bars that allow you to bring your dog I think what my options would be.  Grey skies, narrow roads and loads of traffic and I am split.

For a peaceful, safer and warmer place to live then I pick Mallorca.  For family I would pick the UK.

Then I wonder about our health.  I have been having problems with my eye in recent months and I do know that eventually a cataract will need to be removed.  I hope my Spanish has improved enough to converse with doctors and hospitals by that time and of course the eventual outcome that one of us will be left on our own.  I do hope that we will not be entirely alone and that we will have made some friends.

As far as my work is concerned I am still a team member but I am also not.  I am not there to know the day to day goings on and the new accounts that come in.  I am not privy to plans and the future.  I am an employee but an absent one.  As new people are employed they do not know me.  Those that I trained are now advancing into managerial positions and have leapfrogged over me.  I am almost retired but not quite!  It is a strange situation to be in.

So to summarise I would say that there are moments of depression, isolation, not knowing where you are going or what you are doing.  Times of feeling relaxed and times of missing people.  Then there are times of contentment with your surroundings and the laid back easy way of life.

All in all there is no Nirvana or Xanadu, there is just life.  Life is an experience and that is what I am doing at the moment.  Experiencing it!


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Almost a year

I really cannot believe it is November.  In just 3 weeks time we will have been living here for a whole year.  It has gone by so fast and so much has happened.  So many emotions have needed to be dealt with – all totally unexpected – that I feel I should do a recap for others to ponder on if they are thinking of making the big move.

For those that don’t know the details – about 14 months ago I was given the opportunity to work from home in whatever country I lived in.  My other half had reached retirement age and everything was pointing us in the direction of fulfilling a 25 year old dream.  A dream of living on Mallorca.  The island where we first went on our honeymoon, where we holidayed each year and where we had made friends.  An island full of sun, sea, mountains and fabulous memories.

Having worked in London the lure of peace, tranquility, blue skies and warm weather beckoned to me.  The grey skies, rain, cold and overcrowded City had served its purpose but now seemed alien to me.  Our lives in the UK were full of work as were that of our family.  Everyone was busy with barely time to breath let alone spend time together.

Like Greek mythology and the Sirens, Mallorca was calling us….

Our house that we had lived in since 1982 now seemed too small and with the deaths of my 2 cats in as many years I felt there was nothing left there for us.  We put it on the market and sold it within 2 days!

Everyone seemed happy for us, all encouraged us to follow our dream.  My son was the only one that voiced a word of caution – “what if it didn’t work out, how would we return, and why didn’t we just rent our house first”.  Blinded by the dream and the fact that we could not afford the move without the sale we proceeded.

So here we are.  I have recorded the ups and downs of buying a house, getting residencia and the myriad of bureacratic bits and pieces that you have to do to be a legal resident.  These of course are ongoing but the worst is over.

We are here, we have our home, we are citizens of the European Union, legally resident in Spain.

It is November, the sun is shining, it is 22 c but in some ways it is still surreal.

In my next post I continue with the emotional side of the adventure….


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Season is grinding to a halt

It’s a strange time of the year as the season slows down ready to close for the winter months.

For anyone used to living in seaside towns then the end of the season will be a familiar time for them. But for me it is a new experience.

When we arrived here in November last year we relished in the peace and quiet. To walk along practically deserted roads after working in London it was bliss. Then came the cyclists training for the Tour De France. Chaos on the roads as you tried to avoid the groups of cyclists clad in Lycra!

As the cyclists diminished then came the tourists – slowly at first – as they marched scantily clad in the first signs of sunshine. It was lovely to see Mallorca awakening as if from sleep and life began to emerge from the closed shops and bars.

Fast forward into the midst of summer when you dodged the hoards of people and children as they soaked up the sun and enjoyed their break away from work and school. The beaches were now packed and the heat so intense that I kept indoors with the air con on at peak times. Air con was essential to sleep at night and thoughts of the electricity bill was brushed aside while I coped with my first July and August in my new home.

Finding somewhere to park was now difficult as the rental cars flooded the towns and at times we wished for the quieter winter period to return.

But now, as it approaches, there is something slightly sad about the end of the season. Slowly bars and hotels are closing or getting ready to close. Tourists are still here but in lower numbers. As the temperatures still remain in the mid 20’s I notice the deciduous trees losing their leaves and it seems strange.

The groups of cleaners that would be around cleaning the apartments while I took my morning walk with Freddy are disappearing and some of the swimming pools are being closed.

It reminds me of how life is a cycle – life and death – the same as the seasons and I know that it will all come around again but even so I feel a slight sadness as I watch life slowly winding down ready for the sleep before once again we have the rebirth of Spring.


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Mallorca through fresh eyes

Today we are feeling sad as family have now left and flown back to the UK.  However they have left us with photos that they have taken of their visit and it is nice to see Mallorca through fresh eyes.

 

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I am so pleased that their first visit to Mallorca was a happy one and that they found it to be more fascinating and beautiful than they thought it would be.


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Endearing Yet Frustrating

Something that I found endearing about Mallorca is equally frustrating at times.

This time it is the Internet, websites and opticians!

Since moving here the time has come around when I need to have an eye test. I know my right eye has changed because my glasses that I use for computer work are no longer correcting my eyesight and in fact I am better off not wearing them.

So the search went on for an optician close by. Upon the advice of a friend I intend to go and visit an optician tomorrow in Alcudia. But being one who likes to be prepared I thought I would read up about them a bit or see what they were like by looking at their website before I go.

Wrong! As usual hardly any businesses on the island have websites and opticians certainly don’t! (Apart from a new Specsavers that has opened in Santa Ponsa and that is too far away)

Now I am used to researching companies, shops, doctors, dentists, opticians – in fact just about anything – when living in the UK. But here they don’t seem to feel the need for promoting their businesses online. In fact estate agents are the only ones that feel the necessity of good websites to reach the masses.

So endearing/frustrating? Well I guess along with the technological advancement in the UK comes the cyber crimes, impatience, arrogance, violence and stresses that I left the UK to get away from but it is still frustrating at times that something that I took for granted is not considered even vaguely necessary here on the island.

For a relatively techno savvy person it is like going back in time 🙂