The smell of baking bread greets me as I walk along the narrow medieval streets in the early morning. The church bell is chiming. It’s September and there are no clouds to obscure the vivid cobalt-blue sky. It’s just another day in Costa Brava, the Spanish town we call home.
In 2015, my partner William and I began to consider moving overseas. We wanted to escape the spiralling costs back home and we knew we could have a lifestyle overseas that allowed us to indulge our passions for a lot less money.
In April 2016, we made the move to Costa Brava, a coastal town of 20,000 people. We wanted a quiet yet still vibrant environment close to the sea, with a laidback lifestyle. And this place fit the bill. Normal summertime temperatures are in high 20s C. In winter, temperatures can dip below 4 C, with some rain but no snow. It’s our kind of weather.
To say our lives are more enjoyable is an understatement. We are both in our 60s and free to pursue our interests without having to worry about the escalating cost of retiring back home.
We’re about four kilometres from the sea. During the summer, guitarists play traditional music at the beachfront restaurants, lending a romantic atmosphere to the beautiful surroundings as the sun sets over the ocean.
Our local market is open six days a week, all year. On Sundays it expands to include clothing, shoes, handbags and household goods, in addition to the normal colourful vegetable stalls. The big fish market and the meat and sausage vendors next door have their own covered space.
We spend about $108 a week, including items like salmon and prawns. For two pieces of salmon, cut straight off the fish, we pay around $8.70. Locally grown tomatoes are $2.20 a kilo.
We can eat out for as little as $18 for two chicken salad baguettes, pan-fried potatoes with pepper sauce and light mayonnaise and a decent red wine. Or we can splurge and spend $72 for a gourmet feast, a great bottle of local champagne, topped off by prunes in brandy with slivered oranges.
Our rental house costs $1,160 a month. It has four bedrooms and two full bathrooms. We have a deck with a gorgeous view over the town and beyond to the mountains and an enormous tiled basement.
Our overall cost of living is just $2,400 a month and this includes eating out most mornings for breakfast and twice a week for dinner.
We liked the idea of not buying a car here. We use local buses and trains to get around. Or we ride our bikes down to the beach, which takes about 30 minutes. Both of us feel much healthier here; we walk everywhere.
Without a doubt, Costa Brava has the best healthcare either of us has ever had. Many doctors speak English, and there is a hotline for English-speaking people. It’s really amazing value. Back home, a prescribed, medicated skin ointment is $131; here it’s $32.
If we need a prescription, we go to the pharmacy, which gift-wraps your medicine in a thin, parchment-coloured paper stamped with a red picture of an alchemist blending his potions. It’s a charming touch and just one of the little things I love about my new life overseas.
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