Expat Voices: Michael St. John-Hall on living in Baeza

Expat Voices: Michael St. John-Hall on living in Baeza

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Michael St. John-Hall, a British expat who has lived in Spain for over five years, gives insight on being the only expat in a small Spanish town.

Name: Michael
Nationality: British
City of residence: Baeza
Date of birth: April 1943
Civil status: Single
Occupation: Retired
Reason for moving to Spain: The weather, cheap cost of living, and I was sick and tired of the UK
Lived in Spain since: 2005
What was your first impression of Spain? 
Very favourable
What do you think of Spanish food? 
Great – but restricted in choice.
What do you think of the shopping in Spain? 
It would be okay if shops didn't close for three hours in the middle of the day.
What do you appreciate most about living in Spain? 
Freedom from being attacked. During my last year in the UK I was burgled twice, mugged twice and car-jacked once.
What do you find most frustrating about living in Spain? 
Town Hall corruption, systematic ‘fleecing’ of foreigners by local government, and some shops. Indifferent electricity supply. Filthy habits such as littering and the inability, according to their parents, of any Spanish child to do any harm or be a nuisance.
What puzzles you about Spanish culture, and what do you miss since you’ve moved here? 
Apart from bullfighting nothing puzzles me. The only things that I miss are some food items, but that is easily overcome, except for decent bread!
How does the quality of life in Spain compare to the quality of life in other countries that you’ve lived in? 
The quality of life is good, but slower. I really resent not having the choice of consumer goods that one gets in Germany, the UK and the USA.
If you could change anything about Spain, what would it be? 
- The three-hour siesta when shops are closed.
- Pavements blocked by parked cars.
- I would make a national law regarding noise levels and have a police force that actually wants to police! 
- I'd like a rail transport system that works for the people and not for RENFE. 
- And I'd like a national law regarding cruelty to animals.
What advice would you give to a newcomer? 
- Learn the language as best you can. 
- Keep all information about yourself, to yourself. 
- Leave some money in a British bank. 
- Don’t expect to be welcomed by everyone. There are still a lot of Spanish people who dislike ‘outsiders’ coming in, and not just the British.
Would you like to add anything that we haven’t addressed in the questionnaire?
There are just a few times a year when I wished that I had never set foot in Spain; usually when I have trouble with the bureaucracy that is the local town hall. Ninety-nine percent of the time I am so glad that I live here, I even enjoy the rainy season! 
Some people reading this may be surprised at some of my comments so I will qualify this by saying that I am the only UK expat in town, and this has to have a bearing on my thoughts.

Some people reading this may be surprised at some of my comments so I will qualify this by saying that I am the only UK expat in town, and this has to have a bearing on my thoughts.

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1 Comment To This Article

  • bruno posted:

    on 4th November 2010, 08:07:35 - Reply

    [Edited by moderator] I think I will be interested to know more in the emmocional level experience, for instence I'm gay, and I think the spanish afre quite cool about it, what about raising a familly? work in Spain? I love spain and as fgar I know living in The Netherlands, administration over her is also complicated..basically all over EU.. perhaps when things are good I should try to find a chalenge as for years I fonction with chalenges not always with happyness, so when thingd are to good I better find the things I see more.. kind Regards, and thanks for ther sun.. Bruno