Today’s interview is with Brett, an Australian expat who is living in Spain. Brett is the the author of “The Remade Parent (Why We are Losing Our Children & How We Can Get Them Back.”). He is a parent (and was a secondary school teacher for 15 years.) Brett is a regular commentator on Spain’s social and cultural life for Australia’s ABC Radio and is a columnist and reviewer for Catalonia Today magazine.
He is also a freelance writer and now teaches adults English. Some of his work has appeared in The Guardian online, The Australian Journalism Review, Barcelona Metropolitan, Reportage magazine, OpEd News and the Costa Brava Resident.
Brett lives with his partner/wife Paula and young son Hugo in Catalonia’s Barcelona region.
His homepage is: http://www.bretthetherington.net/ Brett’s expat blog is called Standing in a Spanish Doorway
Here’s the interview with Brett…
Where are you originally from?
In which country and city are you living now?
How long have you lived in Spain and how long are you planning to stay?
8 years and planning to stay another 5 years at least.
Why did you move to Spain and what do you do?
Many reasons, but largely because Europe (especially Spain) has the kind of history, culture and lifestyle that is one of the best in the world. I taught English and History at two international schools here part-time for a few years and also finished my first book, The Remade Parent. Now I’m working on a travel book about Spain while being a columnist and reviewer for Catalonia Today magazine…on top of teaching local adults English in company mainly.
Did you bring family with you?
Yes, my wife and son have always lived with me. I couldn’t have it any other way.
How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Difficult at times. Sometimes it feels like (even after 8 years here) that the transition is still continuing but I’d lived in Japan for 3 years (and England for 2 years) before coming to Spain so it was not so hard.
Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
No, it wasn’t easy and still isn’t. I don’t socialise much with expats either though.
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
The food and wine is exceptional and the weather is good for most of the year so it is great for outdoor types. Apart from Barcelona, the regions are wonderful if you have the time to visit them. I think Toledo is incredible, as is Granada too, but there are real gems like Asturias or Galicia which are often neglected by visitors.
What do you enjoy most about living in Spain?
The sun, the seafood, the people I work with (usually!) and the family-friendly nature of public life. I love the tranquility of the little town we live in but Barcelona never fails to stimulate the senses and feed my curiosity.
How does the cost of living in Spain compare to home?
Home is here in Spain but compared to Australia food and drink is much cheaper though other costs are often higher.
Unless you have independent wealth or are very lucky (or well-conected) you’ll need some savings to live on at times.
What negatives, if any, are there to living in Spain?
Of course there are negatives such as cultural clashes and some people prejudging you but the positives (still) outweigh the negatives for me.
If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Spain, what would it be?
Experience as much of the local culture as you can…as long as it interests you.
What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Finances and dealing with the many layers of bureaucracy when you want to do even quite basic things related to housing, business or employment.
When you finally return home, how do you think you’ll cope with repatriation?
As I say, home is here, but I’m sure that there would be plenty of reverse culture shock in going back to Australia one day, even just visting there for short periods I’ve noticed that.
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
- Travel widely and see more than just the little area you live in.
- Learn to be functional in a relevant local language.
- Be prepared to earn less than you probably do already.
- Make sure that if you have kids that they have regular social and/or educational opportunities with local children (not just with other expats.)
- Try to not rely only on expats for your social life.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
It’s a blog on social/public issues and cultural life in Catalonia, Spain and wider Europe.
I started it in 2009 and it now brings visitors from all around the world, which is great.
Published by ” Expats blog “