Who are you?
My name is Julia Dieguez, I grew up in Madrid (Spain), have a Law degree by Universidad Complutense (Madrid) and a Management grad degree from Harvard University (USA).I founded lifeinthemove.com in 2017 after years of working in a relocation company in Madrid assisting professionals and their families to settle down with housing, schooling and administrative paperwork.
Lifeinthemove is a non-location based business that offers relocation services to those moving to Madrid, focusing on online assistance.
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I could say I’m a serial expat: the first time I moved as an adult was to Buenos Aires (Argentina) due to my husband’s job, we spent five years there and keep great memories and dear friends.
After that came relocations to different cities in Europe, South East Asia and the Middle East, with intervals living in Madrid. Currently I’m between the Middle East and Madrid. And with expectations to keep on the move…
What challenges did you face during the move?
Every move has been different: in some places, language was the biggest struggle, while in other places it was the chance to maintain my lifestyle (finding a nice place to work out, etc). And, of course, meeting people once my children didn’t move with us and we couldn’t use schools as a social network.
How did you find somewhere to live?
We always had my husband’s company’s support, sometimes more valuable than others… I realized that no matter how much experience you have as an expat – or in my case as a relocation professional, too – you’ll always be surprised by unexpected events when house hunting and settling down. Every country (or even every city) has its own “specialities”.
Are there many other expats in your area?
Yes! Everywhere I moved there were lots of expats. Always very social (most of them, at least), and some grumpy, too. From all nationalities.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
The locals have always been more difficult to reach unless it’s through a child’s classmate, a neighbour, etc.
What do you like about life where you are now?
What I like the best of Middle East is that you actually feel like you are in a different place, it keeps its character and many traditions.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
The uncertainty and temporary nature: you know you’ll be moving in a short/medium period of time and it affects how you interact with people.
And, of course, all the administrative practicalities are a nuisance everywhere in the, world magnified by not knowing or understanding them. It seems like only locals do.
What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?
The biggest cultural difference I find between the Middle East and Spain is the dressing etiquette and the way locals treat women: they show more respect towards women, at least in public.
What do you think of the food and drink in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?
You can find most international food and restaurants here. I do like Arabic food, especially Lebanese and Turkish, the spices they use and how they prepare meat and rice. Dates are delicious and they have a great variety of sweets. On the other hand, I miss pork and wine.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
I’d say to research a lot and everywhere: Google, Facebook groups, international communities… and seek for local support such a local relocation company, if there is one available in the area.
What are your plans for the future?
For the next year, I plan to keep traveling between the Middle East and Madrid. And for the following years, who could say? Probably keep on the move…
You can keep up to date with Julia's adventures at lifeinthemove.com.
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