Thanks for reading about this project.

Over the past few years of economic instability, many of us here in Spain have faced financial and business challenges, and indeed seen plenty of our friends have to pack in their dreams of life in the sun and return to the UK.  Unemployment, exchange rate fluctuations and housing/financing difficulties abound, and we know it has affected many people living here, some of whom may indeed feel trapped in unsaleable properties or regretting their decision to commit to a life in Spain.

However if you were to read the UK media you might be forgiven for thinking that these tragic tales represented the sum total of expat life in Spain, and that we are all either bitterly resentful and stuck, wringing our hands at how it’s all gone wrong, or frantically packing up and leaving.  Nowhere are the success or survival stories represented, the voices of people who are getting by or indeed thriving in Spain.  People who may indeed have had to trim their café-con-leche budgets to suit today’s economic cloth, but who still reckon they’d rather be in Spain with all its problems, than return to the place they left.  Whether people are employed, self employed or living on investments and retirement, the effect of the recession has not been uniform – but far more interestingly, neither has people’s response to it.

I have seen endless requests from UK press and TV for yet more of these stories – how the dream turned sour, how it all went wrong, how naïve and stupid we all were, and so on…  I am sure they know their audience, and if they think all they want is more doom and gloom and to feel superior to those they feel are worse off than they are, then perhaps they know best.  Certainly my attempts to pitch them encouraging, realistic and uplifting stories of how people have made the best of it and found positive ways of getting by, they have not found of interest… ( “Yes, but do you know anyone who’s been repossessed recently instead…?”)

I want to make it absolutely clear that I have no intention of judging or dismissing the very difficult decisions and often real tragedies behind every one of these sad stories, of people forced to give up their dreams and walk away.  But I sincerely believe this is not the only picture of what is going on in the expat community in Spain today, and the other side of the story deserves to be told.

One of the things I have always admired and enjoyed about the expat culture here is the way people just get on and do stuff for themselves.  Of course this can lead to all sorts of problems when people decide on the plane coming over that they always fancied themselves as a bit of a plumber or whatever, but the truth is a lot of the people making good right here and now are those who embrace new projects and challenges and get on with it, themselves instead of waiting for others to do it instead. Which I why, thanks to encouragement from many people around me, I have decided to try and tell some of the stories of surviving and thriving expats in Spain – and examine what common factors there may be that makes people either adapt or stick it out or even make their lives a huge success – by whatever terms they define that success.

Do understand, I am not defining ‘success’ in Spain in any specific or materialistic way – it is for you to define, and doesn’t mean I am only interested in people making money or empire building.  Success in lifestyle, relationships, spiritually, or in health or creativity… there are many ways to be rich in this world, and I believe we should share and celebrate that.

I am not sure what form this project will ultimately take, when it will be complete, or whether I will be able to persuade anyone to publish it.  But if you would like to contribute any comments, anecdotes or content in any way I would welcome your involvement.  I cannot offer any form of payment, except a credit/link to your business /website if you have one (and wish to comment without anonymity), and of course a free review copy of any ultimate e-publication.

Please send an enquiry via the form below, and we will take it from there.

!– Begin MailChimp Signup Form –>

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

Email Format

Share →
  • Ali Meehan

    Oh hear hear! Too often the sad stories get given airplay whereas the successes (as the article says in whatever way you choose to define success) get swept aside. I love the idea of this project and think its an excellent opportunity to get some positive news out there not only to celebrate the successes, but also to encourage people who are flagging and wondering what next.
    You can count me in!

    • admin

      Thanks so much Ali, I really appreciate the support and encouragement. Have had a great response already, there are a lot of us out here still having a great time and just getting on with that! I know we don’t normally feel the need to shout about it like this but all the doom and gloom out there in medialand needs some counteracting I feel…

  • Areke Duijs

    Very good to emphasize as well the positive histories! In time of not so steady economic situations there are also opportunities if we are creative and willing to work hard. And of course that counts also for Spain and expats who are living here :-)

  • Tumbit

    Simply put, Sir Trevor McDonald would be out of a job if the British public didn’t like to hear about any success stories over here in Spain. I think it must give them all a warm feeling inside when they hear of an Expat failing in business over here. Just a shame they never seem to show both sides of the coin.

    • admin

      That’s the other side I want to write about! Because we in Spain KNOW it exists, because we are lucky enough to be living it

  • joanna blackford

    I look forward to sharing my story with you and hope it encourages other ex pats to not give up but to alter the way they do things in work as well as cutting back socially saving that lunch money or beer money for the necessity s of survival.Remember the beach is free and so is the sun,I would rather struggle in the sun than be stuck in grey old England in doors because I can’t afford to go black

    • admin

      Well said Jo, and thanks so much for being part of this!

  • David Potts

    It has been some time since I saw someone standing up for those who have made the move and stuck by their convictions and have worked hard to make it work. Well done.

    A move to another country is not a simple task, it is a bit like marriage, you have to work at it. From what I see, most of those who are running back to the UK are those who bought property since mid 2005 ish, just before the drop in house prices, they bought when the pound was at 1.45 and lots of 120% mortgages, now the pound is recovering slightly from those days when it dropped to 1.05.

    There are many who say they can not sell their property because they paid €145000 in 2005 when the rate was 1.45, if they sold now at €116000 they would not be out of pocket much due to the exchange rate changes. They have had 7 years use, maybe rented it out to friends and family, so what has it cost?

    How many of those who want to go back have interagted truely into the Spanish way of life. I see many who have been in Spain for a few years who still go and buy the blue tin of baked beans, the red top newspaper and then say it is expensive to live in Spain. It is more expensive to live in the UK than it was and we have all to tighten our belts and go to Aldi instead of Tesco, catch the bus and not use the car and think twice about going to the pub or turning the heating on when there is ice on the windows.

    I do feel sorry for those who are really in trouble, those who have tried everything, but, will it be any better when they return to the UK and try and get onto the property ladder they left a few years ago. They will now need a 25% deposit and a mortgage rates over 4.5% if you can get one. You now have no financial history in the UK, so you may end up renting at high rental rates.

    So, the move back to the UK will not be easy either.

  • Marina

    Excellent project!! Thanks Ali for bringing it to our attention through Costa Women! I completely agree – “Misery loves company” – people seem to feel better about their lives by focusing on the negative sides of others´- let´s face it, that´s why UK´s depressing soap operas have been going so successfully for … well, forever I think! People do love watching a car crash happen, plus it sells more papers/viewings etc!

    I really like David´s analogy with a marriage too – too many people feel that marriage is the destination, rather than a journey – they sit back and wait to be happily married. I think many expats feel the same about Spain and its coast in particular, feeling “oh, I found my place in the sun” – probably taking the phrase too literally! :-)

    As a coach, I love being part of people´s success stories because the truth is that only those that are decided and determined to succeed (whichever their definition of it is) commit to the coaching process. The rest just look for excuses (and what better one than “It´s crisis, everyone is out work” etc) and, of course, they are the very ones who say they know it all and don´t need coaching or any other expert to facilitate anything for them.

    I would love to be a part of this project in whatever way you feel it could be of help.

    And last but not least – I wouldn´t be walking my own talk if I didn´t promote my business!

    I´m a trilingual (Russian, Spanish & English) NLP Coach and have just moved to Marbella from Madrid.

    My group workshops on subjects such as Charisma, Self-Confidence and Love Coaching will start end of next month.

    I´m also very keen to put my grain towards a more positive future for whoever needs it, so would be happy to offer free workshops for any organisation that helps the most needy to get back on their feet. (I´ve worked with projects that help the unemployed get the skills and confidence in their job searches etc)

    Please visit my website ( and join my Facebook page (


    • admin

      Thanks so much for your input Marina, definitely agree that anything worth having is worth a bit of hard work – even the good things. Funny how the harder you work the luckier you get ;-)
      I’d love to include your story in this study and if you fill in the form below an enquiry form and instructions will be winging its way to you directly – can’t wait to read your response

  • Sheela

    What a breath of fresh air! Someone wants to talk about the positives, yay! What a great idea to bring together the stories of those of us still here.

    I have been here for 26 years now, and half of that time running a very successful business until it wasn’t and I closed it down.

    This isn’t a sob story, though it could be for sure if I chose to look at it that way. My circumstances certainly appear to fall into the depressing category. However, lucky for me I trained to become a coach and through that and many other trainings along the way, have come to understand just how much we actually misunderstand about our lives. So instead of being on anti-depressants, turning to alcohol or any of the other numbing techniques the majority of people in my circumstances have done, I am able to live peacefully and happily (most of the time :-)

    I am very happy to share my story and would love to share this understanding with as many people as I possibly can. Imagine having a whole lot less stress and a whole lot more happiness.

    If anyone wants to know more, please contact me at Or visit my website at or friend me on FB Sheela Masand.

    I am HAPPY to speak to you.

    Great project, look forward to hearing other’s positive experiences of life in Spain.


    • admin

      Thanks for your positive comments Sheela, love to include your thoughts in this project so please do sign up and grab the application form if you haven’t already and I can’t wait to read your comments

  • admin

    Hey Successful Spain people, we now have a Facebook page – Please come and join us there too, some amazing people signing up and joining in the conversation, you’ll be inspired, I am!