Jo Fulton was 18 the first time she visited Spain. She had gone to Mallorca, the largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands to work as an au pair for the summer, prior to starting university. It was a summer of such easy going, sun-filled bliss—taking the kids to the beach, roaming the narrow streets of the capital’s old town, and feasting on tapas at the water’s edge—that for the next 25 years she dreamed of returning to that little slice of paradise.
Three years ago, she was able to do just that.
It wasn’t the result of a carefully laid plan, so much as fortune intervening. Like so many, she had spent decades caught up in the rat race that is city life, climbing the corporate ladder and putting her dreams of moving abroad on hold. But when a company takeover resulted in redundancy, she was forced to explore other employment options.
“It wasn’t long before I secured a job as a digital marketing manager,” she says. “But the way new businesses work is changing and my employers—a travel start-up—all worked remotely from different parts of the world, and preferred their associates to also be living the digital nomad lifestyle. This was clearly my chance.”
Seizing the opportunity, she rented out her apartment, packed her bags, and hopped on a flight to Palma de Mallorca—the city that had bewitched her all those years ago. Palma sits on Mallorca’s south coast, stretched along a wide bay that has become the yachting hub of the Mediterranean. Within the old city walls are countless art galleries, museums, historic churches, and fascinating patios to explore, whilst newer neighborhoods have embraced a more bohemian vibe. Beyond the city limits, the coastline is indented with sandy coves surrounded by pine forests, and in 20 minutes one can be in the mountains, walking through orange and lemon groves to reach picture-perfect villages nestled into the hillsides.
“Palma is even better than I remembered it,” Jo says. “In the years since I was first here, the old town, which was rather derelict, has been magnificently restored. It is now full of sidewalk cafés and quirky boutiques, a lovely new seafront promenade has been built, and with an increasingly cosmopolitan population, dozens of new restaurants serving every type of cuisine imaginable have opened.”
She works less hours than she did in her previous role, has more disposable income, and a much-improved quality of life.
“Money goes so much further in Spain,” she says. “I pay $603 per month for my apartment. It’s not luxurious but it meets my needs. Going to the beach doesn’t cost a cent and there are all sorts of free outdoor events that happen throughout the year. I get wonderful fresh, local produce at the market, and if I want to eat out, a three-course set lunch menu will set me back $14 to $18, so I really don’t need much.
“When I was working crazy hours in the corporate world, the main thing that kept me going was the thought of those two weeks of the year when I could escape to sunny, laid back Spain for a vacation. Now, I have that every day. I can go out for a bike ride along the seafront on my lunch break if I want to, and in the summer, it’s light until 9 p.m. so I can easily get to the beach for a swim after work.
“Winters are cool, but generally sunny, so at weekends I’m often out either hiking in the mountains, exploring the traditional rural villages of the interior, or visiting little family-run wineries…and of course purchasing a few bottles for my growing collection.”
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