Some of us define success in purely financial terms, but thriving expats in Spain have had to think about that definition more creatively and flexibly in recent years.
When I lived and worked in London, so much seemed to depend on income and professional status – it didn’t just dictate where you lived and the work you did, but how you spent your time and even who your friends were. People simply didn’t meet people, who couldnt afford to live in their postcode or send their kids to the right school. Last year in Spain I found myself at a party chatting to a Royal Navy commander and a cleaner, we were all trying to work the same rubbish bottle opener and laughing, and it struck me that I might never have met either of them in Surrey as we would never even have been at the same barbeque. I realised how much things had changed when my visiting brother in law asked my husband, ‘yes, this life in the sun is all very well, but how do you feel about having sacraficed your professional status?’ It’s so rude to laugh at a guest…
However different our backgrounds and histories, all of us expats in Spain have something powerful in common, because we are living exactly where we chose to be. That forges the most incredible connection immediately. Everyone’s got a story – how long have you been here, why here exactly, why did you choose to live how and where you do? Those stories are what we swap at the kid’s birthday parties and coffee mornings – every one is fascinating, and teaches us something new.
And we help each other out – success in Spain means getting things done… does anyone know anyone who who renewed their passport recently, or taxed their car, or sorted out their medical card? If someone asks we pay it forward, share our learning and experiences, because the next time we’re stuck we can reach out to our expat friends in our local community and further afield online and get the help we need. Success in Spain means coming out with the right bit of paper, after waiting in a queue since 6am, and finally having every bit of documentation on you that you needed to achieve what you went it for 3 weeks ago!
It can mean we develop very intense friendships and interdependencies much more rapidly, than when we are in a totally familiar and known environment, with our dependable networks of neighbours and extended family. In a crisis the expat community rallies round – helping with kids when someone gets sick, pooling the airport runs, and encouraging and supporting each other’s enterprises…
Success in Spain means so many different things to different people.
I’d love to know what it means to YOU http://costaconnected.com/success-spain/