Expats in Spain – Living a Rural Life

Spanish countryside

You’re sitting in the olive grove, just listening to the birds singing as the sun beats down on you. You splash your toes in the cool water of the swimming pool and take another sip of your ice-cold glass of wine as your friendly neighbour goes past waving a cheery ‘hola’.

Okay, so a lot of people might dream about living such a blessed life in the Spanish campo (countryside) – especially with prices in inland Spain being considerably cheaper than on the costas – but what’s it really like to live there?

Give peace a chance

For a start, you should forget about peace and quiet. The Spanish love noise and rackets. The maxim seems to be: the louder, the better.

The noise starts before dawn with crowing cockerels and barking dogs. Soon after you’ll likely hear people firing up generators, using chainsaws and strimmers, riding motorbikes (naturally with the silencers removed) and maybe even blasting away with guns. Fiestas will generally feature very loud firecrackers and extremely amplified flamenco music.

All of this noise will occur against a non-stop background of cicadas, but the good news is that things do quieten down a lot during the night.

Open up

The second thing that might put Brits at odds with their Spanish country cousins is the issue of privacy. The Spanish are completely baffled by our obsession with fences, walls and seclusion. Being a generally friendly and open nation, people in the countryside usually keep their doors ajar and will invite you in given half a chance.

What’s more, they may even lavish you with produce from their land, such as vegetables, honey, olive oil and wine. If you find yourself with neighbours like these, you should reciprocate, and give them something back.

Do you like summer barbeques? Well, if you live in the campo of the more arid parts of Spain you can forget about them. From early spring to late autumn, wildfires pose a huge risk inland. A single spark from a barbecue could lead to an inferno, and everyone is always on the lookout for signs of smoke.

Beasties that bite

Another thing to be aware of in the Spanish campo is that you won’t be alone – and we’re not talking about people here. Spain has an impressive variety of wildlife that can be painful to encounter. There are several varieties of snake, the most dangerous of which is the Lataste’s viper. But don’t worry too much, you’re unlikely to encounter one unless you go poking your hand into dark holes under rocks, which tends to be a bad idea no matter where you are.

Apart from snakes, there are several varieties of biting spider, large hornets and wasps, dangerous hairy caterpillars, scorpions and wild boars. Probably one of creatures you’ll most want to avoid is the somewhat aggressive scolopendra. These nasty-looking beasties are large centipedes that move at lightning speed and pack a powerful bite. They often creep into shoes overnight, so always give them a shake before putting them on. They have also been known to curl up in your bedding, and all campo dwellers have their own favourite scolopendra horror story.

Fortune favours the brave

Another factor to consider about living in the countryside is that there likely won’t be much in the way of infrastructure. Many rural areas are not connected to electricity, water or sewerage systems, so chances are you’ll have to provide your own utilities in the form of solar panels, a water supply and a septic tank.

Furthermore, the nature of the terrain means natural disasters are far more common in Spain than they are in Britain. Torrential winter rains can cause land slips, wildfires can strike, and rural roads often become impassable – but don’t let that put you off: the benefits far outweigh these usually minor annoyances.

After all, nothing beats the feeling of stepping out into your garden each morning in Spain’s beautiful climate, plucking some oranges from a tree to have with your breakfast, and being surrounded by friendly neighbours who are always willing to help you out.

So, buy that house in the campo, dip your toes in that pool, sip that glass of wine as you soak up the sun – but don’t forget to check your sandals before you slip them back on.

Spanish Orange Groves

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