Expat Interview: Moving from Wales to Sunny Spain
We caught up with Deborah to find out about her experience of moving from Wales to the Basque Country in Spain. Read on to hear a first hand experience of moving abroad!
Hi Deborah! Can you tell us a little more about yourself?
My name is Deborah. I was living in Wales for the last 12 years, but this year I moved to Spain!
What were your main motivation for moving to Spain?
Brexit was a big one. I feel European and I don’t want to lose my European identity, so I was very depressed after the referendum. I was going through cancer treatment at the time as well, and it really knocked me a lot when the referendum happened. So the more I thought about it, the more I realised I had to go.
I am fortunate in that I speak Spanish and I work for an online company who offer language support to people learning languages, such as online courses, and they said it was no problem; I could move and keep working for them.
How was your move affected by Brexit, and also by COVID-19?
I was very anxious because I was supposed to move in May, but of course everything stopped, all the flights got cancelled. If Boris [Johnson] had agreed to extend the transition period because of COVID, I would have stayed longer in Wales and taken more time to get everything sorted. But, because he didn’t, I had to do everything in a big rush.
When did you start planning for your move and how long did you have to get everything sorted?
I decided to move towards the end of last year. However, I had a lot of different work commitments and things. I also had to make an emergency trip to Australia in January because my Dad was ill. So I had these various commitments which meant I couldn’t come any sooner. Then of course COVID restrictions hit, so that was it, I just had to keep waiting and waiting. I spotted the first flight from Bristol to Bilbao and booked myself onto it!
It sounds like Deborah beat all the odds!
I was extremely fortunate in that I spotted a flat I was interested in online, and the owner of the flat agreed to rent it to me and sign the agreement, even though I was still in the UK. He was absolutely wonderful.
We know that moving requires ridiculous amounts of research. From your perspective, what were the things you considered to be most important to research before moving?
I didn’t do a lot of research into it. I just thought I have to go, so I will have to sort it out when I get there. I organised to rent my house out in Wales and I thought I’m not going to mess around trying to sell it. I will rent it out for a good few years until I know exactly what I’m doing. I also looked at the tax situation and the company I work for said that a colleague of mine had recently move to Australia and passed on what they had done for him. He had applied to the tax department to pay no tax in the UK, so I got some information from there. It was a lot more complicated when I got here than I thought, I have to say.
And what about on the moving side of things, was that complicated too?
I had to decide what I really wanted to bring and what not. As I knew the flat I was coming to was furnished, I thought I don’t need to bring much in the way of furniture, I just have to bring what’s important to me.
How did you end up choosing your moving company?
I asked for quotes from two or three removal companies individually and I also asked for quotes from Sirelo. I was anticipating getting five quotes, but I only got one, I thought maybe because my location was quite remote.
The quote I did get was very prompt. The guy from Traslo Service rang me, which I really appreciated. Another couple sent quotes, but they only sent them in an email, they didn’t contact me at all, and they were more expensive. However, the guy I found through Sirelo called me, discussed everything on the phone with me and asked lots and lots of questions. We discussed every detail, which made me feel really confident that they knew what they were doing. The other companies just gave me vague quotes, so I had less confidence in them.
The company I used were very upfront about everything, to the point where on the phone he actually looked on Google Maps street view to have a look at what the street looks like and how wide it was going to be to get the right size truck or van, because I moved within the old medieval quarter so it’s quite narrow. I was very impressed with all the research.
And what about on moving day? Did things go according to plan?
They did. I had everything packed and labelled. I actually made a mistake with the labelling. I had packed some things in boxes and then changed my mind about the size of the boxes and so unpacked and repacked them. I hadn’t noticed that I had missed a number! The guys that were there went by my numbering and neither of us spotted it. Everything went smoothly on the day, but at this end, I saw there was a box missing. The paperwork showed that it had been missing right from the beginning, but I had all of the contents of the box. So I think everything had been put in other boxes, and this “missing” box didn’t actually exist!
Is there any advice you wish you had known before you moved?
I found it difficult to imagine how much space I had in the removal van, and how much I could pack. There were things I probably would have brought with me if I had realised quite how much space I had. There were things I sold off cheaply and gave to people and then had to re-buy when I got here, when actually I could have brought those things. I have no real concept of 3D space. A friend came into my garage and said you’ve pretty much got the space of this garage, and that’s what I needed; I needed a physical demonstration of what that space was.
Last but not least, what is the highlight of being in Spain so far, for you?
For me, because I am a language nerd, it is being in an area where there is another language spoken as well as Spanish. I’m in the Basque country and I’m fascinated by learning another language.
Thank you so much Deborah for taking the time to chat with us. We wish you every success in your new home!