My name is Ali Meehan, I'm a Costa del Sol expat and part of the Typical Non Spanish team. In 2002 I moved to Spain to live with my partner, now my husband. Spain was never on my wish list (I always thought I would live in France), but life had other plans! Since 2002 we used Spain as our home base whilst working in the Middle East and then Asia. We headed back home to Spain in 2010.
About the Costa del Sol for Expats
Living on the Costa del Sol, with 320 days of sunshine, it was initially the weather. However over the years, I have learnt more about the culture and Spanish way of life which I love. In this day and age, as foreigners, we all love the Spanish idea that you work to live, rather than live to work!
My personal belief is that Spain offers Europeans the best place worldwide to live; what better than living in an international community with culture at its heart. In Andalucia we enjoy Festivos, Ferias, Flamenco and great food with a little bit of Rioja thrown and yet easy transport links to our family and friends in the UK and the rest of the World.
Originally I lived in Fuengirola, but since 2004 we move out to the ‘barrio’ of Los Boliches. It is still on the train-line to Malaga and within walking distance from Fuengirola. I love being beside the sea. I come from Herne Bay in Kent so being beside the seaside is important to me, although now it’s lovely to live on the mediterranean rather than the north sea! We also enjoy the amazing backdrop of the Montes de Malaga too.
First impressions of Spain and Costa del Sol expats
My first impression of Spain it wasn’t as I imagined! I had a poor view of Spain of the Costas but was completely blown away at how “un-English” the place was! Unfortunately, the Costa del Sol particularly has a bad (and now I know it’s unfounded) reputation of being a place full of British tourists living an English life in the sun. For instance in Fuengirola where I live, out of a foreign population of 25,000, (of a total of 75,000 registered foreigners) there are only 5,000 British residents. And it’s very much a Spanish working town.
The region's big city: Malaga, Spain
My nearest city is Malaga and whilst it’s one of the smaller cities in Spain, it has everything! From museums to the Alcazaba, the original sherry museum to a new thriving port, 100s of places to eat and the wonderful Teatro Cervantes for some international culture. I have had and am still creating many happy memories within its streets and walls! Still, I do have little problems with the language! I go to conversation classes every week. I am still working at it... ask me next year!
My favourite things about Spain
What I would bring back to my UK hometown is the food! Our diet has changed dramatically since we have moved to Spain. Check our the Mediterranean diet! One of my favourite things is that we now eat fruits and vegetables in season (and they taste as they should too!) I’ve also developed several typical Spanish habits like sleeping in the afternoon is so civilized! And eating your main meal at lunchtime and then tapas in the evening (little and often) is much better for your health too.
Starting my own business in Spain
My favorite thing was creating costawomen.com! When I lived here in 2002 it was before the age of social media and hard to make connections and friends. When we moved back in 2010 I decided to create a website and community for Women living in Spain. 6 years later we have welcomed 5,200 Women to the website and the Women have created lasting friendships and connections. If you've got the business spirit, below, check out a guide for starting a company in Spain: