As promised, I am asking to international travellers and people living and working in a foreign country to share their life stories with me to know why they decided to leave families and friends behind to explore new realities and meet new cultures!

Are you curious about how they managed to adapt and settle in their new countries? Then follow my expat interviews categorised by country! Are you an expat wanting to share your tips and experience with the rest of the world and be a source of inspiration? Then fill in the expat interview form: I would love to hearing from you!

Travelling—it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” Iba Battuta

Let’s meet Julien: a full immersion in Spanish and the local culture

Introduce yourself briefly. Tell us who you are!

Hi am Julien, I am 27 and I am currently living in the South East of Spain.
I was born and raised in France but I always hoped that one day I could travel, live abroad and work as a tourist guide. Fortunately, my personal and job experiences have made it possible.

I am happy here, but this will never stop me from planning to visit new places such as Canada, Myanmar etc, take on a bike trip (Eurovelo) or a walking trip like “the Way of St. James” and the list could go on forever.

Why did you move to your current country?

I moved to Spain for three reasons:
-Love : My girlfriend is Spanish
-Attraction :  I have always been attracted to the culture, landscapes, food and language of Spain.
-Job opportunities : I have studied Tourism and I wanted to work as a tour guide. I thought that Spain was the best place to do that because this country mainly lives on Tourism.

What do you do for a living? How was the job hunting?

I work in a small company as a polyvalent tour guide. My main task is doing bike and walking tours. However, I am also in charge of the customer service and I fix the bikes when needed. Touristic season is from March to December here, so I work a lot.

I found this job one month after arriving in Spain. Before that I started my job hunt leaving my CV in many Tourism related companies and I also applied through Infojobs and Indeed. Three different hotels offered me job interviews but I didn’t accept because of the working conditions (nightshifts with little pay, far-away location…).

How is the social life in your city, is it easy to make friends?

Spaniards have the reputation of being warm and lively and I can definitely confirm it. People talk to me on the street and get really interested when they notice I’m a foreigner.

Unfortunately because of my work conditions, I can hardly have a social life and make friends due to the little free time I have. Let’s say I go out with my girlfriend’s friends but at the moment I don’t have the opportunity to make my own friends.( yet =P!) I will definitely work on improving that as soon as I can.

Why should people move there? Why did you fall in love with this place?

First, I like this place because of the weather. I spend almost all my time outdoors. This area has so many wonderful cities to visit (Peñiscola, Valencia, Altea) and stunning landscapes to explore (“La Costa Blanca”, Combrettes Island…).

The South east of Spain is also unique thanks to its cultural diversity. It has his own language, the Valencian and many unique local festivities such as La Tomatina, las Fallas or Las Hogueras de San Juan that you shouldn’t miss! Ah…and the most important thing: the food tastes amazing and beers are nice and cheap.

What do you want to say to people looking to move there?

If you are looking for a sunny and beautiful place with good living conditions, the South East of Spain is perfect for you.
My advice before making plans and moving to a new place is that you should visit the area as a tourist first, meet the locals, collect useful information and local tips in order to save time and avoid problems once there. If you don’t know the language I advise you enrol to a Spanish course before or as soon as you arrive such as the “Escuela oficial de idioma” which is well provides great courses at good prices! Then you are ready to go!

How is the health system? Is it a safe place to live in?

I cannot share my experience because luckily I have never needed medical assistance since I started living in Spain; but I think that it is great that the health system is free and people are generally satisfied with it. To sign up on the website is pretty easy, but unfortunately the system is not adapted to foreign names, you get misspelled and then it’s hard to be found in the database!

How is the general cost of living, what is the average rent?

The cost of living is low as the pay. For 400€ you can rent an apartment for one person in the city centre but for the same amount you can also rent an apartment for four people at 30 minutes away from the city centre. The food budget for one person is about 100€ a month if you eat at home. The public transports cost around 40 € a month.

Tell us something you don’t like about where you live and the difficulties you came across when settling in.

I think the most annoying part of living in Spain is that formalities for the foreigners take a long time to be settled, and it’s so frustrating when you are misinformed.
Watch out for bank workers wanting to sell you insurance policies. Also take into account that getting an appointment to obtain your residence permit can take up to 6 months. As I said, bureaucracy in Spain can get very annoying!

Tell me an unmissable thing to do in your city over a weekend

I recommend to go to Valencia in the middle of March to enjoy “Las Fallas”, a traditional celebration held in commemoration of Saint Joseph. The term refers to the monuments burnt during the festivity! It’s a week full of events and processions during which you will admire thousands of magnificent effigies everywhere in the city, enjoying music and food. It can be noisy, so when you plan your trip remember to book an accommodation located at a certain distance from the hot spots celebrations.

I also suggest you to stop to visit the other attractions of the city such as the Rambla Park, the Science Town, Valencia Cathedral and the Oceanarium.
The advantage of Valence it that you can easily move around the city by subway!

You can also visit the nearby Alicante, a couple of hours away by train and visit the Santa Barbara castle at the top of the hill offering magnificent views and the Tabarca island easily reachable taking a short ferry ride.

Did you find Julien’s experience useful? Then check out the other upcoming expat interviews in other cities!