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Amy, Gibraltar

I am Amy, and I write Brit on the Rock. Currently my husband and I reside in Gibraltar, at the southern most tip of Spain. We moved abroad in 2009, but first stop for us was Malta. Where we stayed for about 18 months. Then in early March of 2011 we moved to Gibraltar.

My husband works in the gaming industry and it was a new job offer that led to us leaving the UK. When we left we were just boyfriend and girlfriend. We got engaged in Malta, and married here in Gibraltar, so we’ve very happy memories of both places.

Our initial move we did bit by bit, in Malta we had a fully furnished apartment so each time we flew out we moved an extra case of clothes or bits and pieces over. The move from Malta to Gibraltar was pretty stressful. There are no direct flights. The closest flight was a Ryan Air one to Seville and Ryan Air refused to let us buy more luggage allowance.So we had pack up as much as we could into nine suitcases and we flew Malta to Gatwick London – Gatwick London to Gibraltar all with EasyJet who were absolute stars!

We used the postage system to send over books, ornaments and other bits and pieces and even though it was a week long wait, everything arrived in one piece, we looked at carriers, but we didn’t have enough weight to ship, so we were stuck between a rock and a hard place!

Before we moved over, we flew to Seville and drove down to Gibraltar for three days. We had been recommended an estate agent, sadly they didn’t really help us, instead they showed us two newly let places, one that wasn’t available until four weeks after our move (suggesting we stay in a hotel or get a short term let for a month, then move again!) so we just popped into an estate agent on Main Street, NP Estates. At the time a lovely lady called Sheila worked there. She showed us some fantastic places and when she managed to get some keys for this one place from a fellow agent at another company (Find-a-Property) we were sold. We took a lease that day, and have been here since!

There are a lot of ex-pats here in Gibraltar. Not just English either, which I think is down to the gaming industry. We have friends from all over the world. Oddly only a couple are English! Our relationship with the lovely local people is why we are still here though, and will be for the foreseeable future. I have never met people more proud of their country, identity and heritage. They have in fact made me more aware of Britain’s history and even more oddly, slightly patriotic, I can’t say I ever was before, I was thrilled to leave England behind if I am honest! Gibraltarian people are warm, welcoming, funny, happy, positive people. They have a great attitude to life, and have embraced many different cultures into their daily existence. It is a place I feel totally at home in, and I genuinely feel like I have come home every time we cross over the border when we have been away somewhere.

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The only negatives about living here, is that my family doesn’t! And likewise my old friends. But they visit. We have had countless guests this year and I love showing them the Rock and all of its quirks!

Shopping in Gibraltar is a funny old game. Not only do we have Morrisons, we have duty free, vat free goods as well. Gibraltar’s main shopping area is Main Street, where you will find beauty and perfumery stores selling Dior, Estee Lauder, Clinique and Lancome etc for vastly cheaper prices than other countries. Alcohol is another big seller, a litre of Famous Grouse Whisky is £7.20, in the UK that won’t even buy you half a litre! Cigarettes are about £20 for 200. What always makes me chuckle is watching my friends stare wide eyed in amazement at how cheap it is compared to the UK. (And then they ask why we don’t drink and smoke, especially when it is so cheap to do so!) So shopping here means you can upgrade to a ‘luxury’ brand without breaking the bank. My girlfriends love the beauty stores! They always top up their make-up bags when they come over. We also have a lot of electrical store and there you usually find a good deal, haggling isn’t uncommon, and I have to say I have found my personal favourite stores where the owners know us as regular shoppers and are always eager to help!

Food in Gibraltar is amazing. Fresh fish, fantastic meats, fresh fruits. We have it all. Eating out can educate your palate that is for sure. Every summer there is a food festival called Calentita, which showcases all of the different types of food here, from all of the communities that make up Gibraltar, the best stall by far is the Moroccan one. The smell of the spices is intoxicating and the queue is often 5 people deep and runs along the street for a hundred metres! This year we took in the Greek stall (absolutely incredible) and the Nepalese one (also amazing). When we have been over to our Gibraltarian friends for dinner, I find that a lot of the dishes are similar to Spanish food, but with more kick, I often wonder if that is the influence of Morocco coming to the forefront! It is fabulous. I love trying new dishes so living somewhere so varied suits me down to the ground!

For anyone who is thinking of moving to Gibraltar I would say to visit first. I love it, my husband loves it and for us it is home. But saying that it is a small place and it can be quite a contrast to anyone used to a big city life! For us at our age (30’s and very much homebodies) it suits us down to the ground, anyone with children it would be wonderful for, our neighbours children walk themselves to school as Gibraltar is incredibly safe. I would do research about schools etc and I would secure a job and home before I took the leap!

Amy shares more information about life in an around Gibraltar through her blog britontherock.com

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