Healthy Food, a Happier Life, and Rent of $440 a Month in Spain

Before I left the United States, I led a stress-filled lifestyle. I was working a lot, just to be able to afford my living costs and was exhausted at the end of the work day. Weekends were spent recuperating only to have it start all over again on Monday.

By October 2014, I’d had enough and started my retirement planning. I was disillusioned with the United States due to the cost of living and the quality and cost of the healthcare. So I started looking overseas.

In the summer of 2015, I read an article in International Living magazine about Altea, Spain. Having previously lived on the Spanish island of Mallorca for 10 years, this caught my attention. A few months later, I found myself on a plane from California to Spain to start my new life.

Altea is a seaside town on Spain’s east coast. My new life here is simple…and I love it. Each day I go out for a walk, then I’ll meet friends for coffee, grab a menu-del-dia lunch (a two- or three-course meal including a beverage) for around $12, or indulge in some tapas in the evening. I don’t need a car in Altea but if I need something that is not available locally, I jump on a bus which costs just $1.50 a ride.

And I can afford this fantastic lifestyle on my Social Security. I rent a two-bedroom, fully furnished house for $440 a month. My utilities are $30 to $40 a month for electricity and $10 to $15 for water. I have a pre-paid phone which costs $10 to $20 a month.

When I moved to Spain, one of the things I vowed to do in my new life was to eat healthily. No more microwave dinners for me. And here in Spain, it’s actually been an easy vow to fulfill.

I love fruit and vegetables, so every Tuesday I go to the open-air farmers market in town. Most weeks, I come away with a huge bag of fresh vegetables and fruits, everything that I want and need, for less than $10. The produce may not look as polished and pretty as the produce in the U.S. supermarkets, but the flavor is far superior.

Besides the quality of the produce, the market holds a special charm. I love grappling for the best vegetables and fruits with the locals. There’s always a great buzz with the vendors shouting greetings to regular customers, and people laughing and talking while they spend their money. On my first visit, I bought way too much because I got so caught up in the energy and zeal of the market (I had to turn vegetarian for a week).

As Altea is on the Mediterranean Sea, the amount of seafood available is incredible. In the market are various fish of all shapes and sizes, as well as shellfish, octopus, and squid.

I spend more time in my kitchen than anywhere else in my home now and get great joy from chopping, grating, slicing, baking, and roasting all my fresh produce. My home is constantly filled with the perfume of olive oil, garlic, and freshly squeezed orange juice…the list of scents is long.

When I decided to retire to Spain, I chose it for its balanced lifestyle, cost of living, and excellent healthcare system. Little did I know that I also would embrace its delicious food. I am happy with my choice. Not once have I looked back…it doesn’t get any better than life in Spain.

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