Who are you?
My name is Arabella Featherstone and I’m a Personal Trainer and expert in fitness, nutrition, and weight loss management from England.
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I moved to Sotogrande in Spain almost 3 years ago now.
What challenges did you face during the move?
To be honest, not many. I grew up holidaying in Sotogrande and it was a second home to me so the move was pretty easy, just packed a bag and off I went.
Did you need to obtain a visa, residency permit or work permit? What was the process like?
I moved during the Brexit transition period so the process was the same as if we were still part of the EU. I just had to get my residency and become autonomo (self-employed) for my work.
I hired a lawyer to take care of my application which was a good decision because it made the process pretty painless. I sent over all the necessary documents, had an appointment at the police station and then went back to collect my residency card. I think it took around 3 months, as there was a back log with all the Brits doing the same thing before the Brexit deadline.
How does the cost of living compare with your previous country?
I lived in London before moving to Spain, so the cost of living is definitely cheaper over here.
Is it easy to open and use an account with a local bank?
I had no issues. I popped to my local bank with my N.I.E and passport and that was all I needed. I managed to open an account before being a resident.
How did you find somewhere to live?
I lived with my parents when I first moved over as they have a home here. After getting used to my new life and setting up my business I started to look for my own place. I knew I wanted to live in Sotogrande as it was home to me and where I had my business.
Are there many other expats in your area?
Yes lots! Sotogrande is a real hub of international residents from all over the world.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
Great! Everyone always seems to have a smile on their face and that’s one of the main reasons I wanted to move to Spain. Everyone says “Buenos días” when you walk past them and it’s very welcoming.
What do you like about life where you are?
I love the weather and being by the sea. I like the food and the amount of things going on around here such as golf, polo and sailing. It’s a slower-paced life and it makes you appreciate the small things that make a big difference.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?
I spent every holiday in Spain, including long summers, so I had always grown up with the culture. I think the biggest difference is people here a far more relaxed and informal than in England and that’s probably what I like the most.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Think about what’s important to you and take time finding the right place. Do your research and make sure you have all the information you need before choosing to move.
If it’s a completely new place you’re planning to go I’d suggest spending some time on holiday there or ideally a few months to see how it works for you, before committing fully and getting visas/ residency/work permits etc.
What are your plans for the future?
I have no clue. I live day by day and don’t really look that far ahead. My future is just to continue to grow my business and enjoy life every single day.