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La Marina is a small town of around 3,300 between Santa Pola and Guardamar del Segura on Spain´s Costa Blanca. Popular with tourists, La Marina is, as the name suggests, a seaside town only half an hour from Alicante.
Alicante is only 25 kilometres from La Marina, which means that Alicante´s airport and major train station are also close by. Alicante is a heavily trafficked airport and getting here from within Europe is very easy. Connecting private shuttles or public coach services will take you to La Marina in less than an hour.
La Marina, like many other Spanish seaside towns, tends to be favoured more by tourists than expats. This is relative though, as the whole Costa Blanca tends to be rich with expatriates from the UK especially. As La Marina is a smaller town, be prepared to learn Valencian (the local dialect) or Spanish quickly. The Spaniards ruled the world for a while there and feel much the same way that the English do about their native tongue: Everyone should know it.
The closest international schools are in Alicante, about half an hour drive away. Allow more like an hour in peak traffic though. Most of these schools offer the British Curriculum and the IB, with fees averaging around ten thousand Euros per annum. King´s College, also known as The British School of Alicante (http://www.bsalicante.com/) and El Limonar International schools are popular choices. (http://www.ellimonarinternational.com/).
There is a regular bus service between Alicante and Cartagena that stops in La Marina. Buses in and around the town are infrequent (this is a common theme: Spaniards love their cars) and pretty much stop altogether on weekends. They are useful if you have a few hours to kill between runs, though, and as all Spanish buses tend to be clean, cool and comfortable, for the price of a ticket (around 1 Euro) they are worth exploring.
There are a few cultural differences that a fresh expat will notice immediately. One of the first is the lack of our accepted social niceties like use of the words please, thankyou and sorry. These are simply not widely used in Spain. Language tends to be more direct, with ´sorry´ falling into two categories: Perdon, when you bump into someone, and Lo Siento when you have truly wronged someone. Get used to simply saying “Café Solo” when you are asking for a black coffee – drop the pleases and thankyous, they will make you look obsequious and a little strange.
If you were ever looking for a bargain home in Spain, now is the time: How about a six bedroom villa in La Marina with a pool, fireplace, two bathrooms, on 7200 square metres for 375,000 Euro? Although buying property in Spain can be fraught with problems, there really has never been a better time to get tangled in the necessary red tape. Renting is a similar story (and most smart expats choose to rent before they buy): Although there are some places that are outrageously priced, the normal amount you can expect to pay is in the region of 500 Euro a month for a three bedroom, one bathroom apartment.
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