The heroine of our interview is Kristina Dragobicka, an employee of the real estate agency «Alegria» in Spain. Kristina moved from Poland to Spain less than a year ago, and today she shares with us her first impressions of life on the sunny Costa Blanca. We will find out where, Kristina said, living is cheaper, how her family’s standard of living has changed with the move, what are the pros and cons of moving from Poland to Spain, and much more.
So, let’s get you comfortable and get ready to hear firsthand the story of immigration from Poland to Spain in 2022.
Why did you decide to emigrate and chose Spain as your goal?
I am from Ukraine, Kyiv. My first immigration was moving to Poland. My goal was to reconnect with my roots, since my mother is Polish, and at the same time, go to university at the faculty of law. For 7 years, I lived in Poland: studied, worked, and planned to connect my life completely with this country.
There came a point where my husband and me began to think about buying our own housing. And that is all about we turn to the question of why I decided to move to Spain. We started looking for options to buy a property, our initial goal was a house. Looking through options, I quite unexpectedly followed the link «Real Estate in Spain», and that’s how it all started. My husband and I began to compare property prices in Poland and Spain, and what was our surprise when the results of this comparison were in favor of the first.
Prior to that, we did not even consider the Spanish real estate market, although Spain is close to us. My husband’s aunt lives in Malaga, we’ve been on the Costa del Sol on a number of occasions, and we know that there is always warm and great. Spain is relaxation and positive for us, that’s the kind of associations we had with this country. So, we got this idea to start looking for a property to buy in Spain. If we do take a property, why not in Spain? Now we are gaining minimal length of service to take a mortgage loan in a Spanish bank. To do this, you need to officially work in Spain for at least one year. We really like mortgage conditions here: you have the option to request up to 70% of property value, and the interest rate is two times lower than in Poland (4% per annum vs 8-9%).
Why the Costa Blanca and not the Costa del Sol?
When the final decision was made, I started looking for work, and we also began to explore the Spanish regions: in which part of Spain we could live? Malaga was one of the options, but there is a point that I don’t like in this area – the cold sea. Ocean currents run along the coast, and for the few times that I was in Malaga, I couldn’t swim with pleasure once. If we talk about central Spain, this variant was brushed away almost immediately due to weather conditions. For example, in November there is almost the same weather as in Warsaw. And, then it so happened that I found a job in Torrevieja, where the climatic conditions are the most optimal for us. Here the sun shines 320 days a year, there is a very warm, mild climate, healthy air thanks to pink salt lakes and, of course, the most important plus – the warm sea. Torrevieja has as many as five wonderful Blue Flag beaches.
Naturally, we were aware that we would have to change absolutely everything in our lives, in fact, start life from scratch. Again, we need to look for work, learn a new language, adapt to the conditions of a completely different country, and so on. But still, after weighing all the pros and cons, we decided to move. One of the main arguments «pro» was, of course, the climate. The second big plus for us is the friendliness of locals in general, and in relation to foreigners in particular. On the Costa Blanca, these two factors are especially noticeable, because the climate here is one of the best in Europe, and due to the fact that many foreigners live on this coast, there is a very cosmopolitan and comfortable atmosphere here. After we found out all these facts, there could be no doubt: we move to the Costa Blanca, namely – in Torrevieja.
Let’s talk a little about daily issues: how has changed the quality of your life after moving to Spain? For better or for worse? For example, if we talk about nutrition.
You will laugh, but when we moved to Spain, we literally started eating only seafood. Seafood prices in Warsaw are much higher than here, and at first, we just could not gorge on: shrimp, red fish, other seafood – we thought that this was the only thing we could eat. As a result, we were so loaded up that now we buy these products very rarely. That is why, if you move to Spain, I advise you to observe moderation, so that it doesn’t turn out like us. In general, in terms of food prices, we can say that the most healthy of them – fish, vegetables, fruits are very affordable, but dairy products and meat are somewhat more expensive than in Poland. A huge plus is that everyone can make a balanced and healthy diet for himself, so from my personal experience I can say that the quality of food in Spain is much higher than in Poland.
What about sports and an active lifestyle?
Sport still remains sport, but it acquires very bright colors. For example, the usual morning run turns into a beautiful and exciting journey. These are jogging along the promenade at sunrise or sunset with sea views, enjoying the fresh sea breeze… All this is very beautiful and bright. You are no longer just running, you are meditating, enjoying what’s around you. Sea sports are also very developed here: rowing, surfing, snorkeling and much more. And all this is also in very bright colors. Yes, even a simple walk along the promenade, if we take into account the benefits of sea air and the enjoyment and relaxation that contemplation of seascapes gives, brings simply huge health benefits. So, in comparison with Warsaw, sports here reach a new level.
I would like to touch on a topic that is extremely relevant now for many people: savings. Where is it cheaper to live now, in Poland or in Spain? On what you can save and on what – no?
If we talk about saving, then this is not totally about me, because Spain very much tempts you to spend money on some small pleasures. For example, it is very difficult not to go into some cozy Spanish cafe, try a Spanish dish, enjoy morning coffee or dinner with Spanish guitars. Evening bars with live music literally fascinate, it’s hard to resist. Thus, in Spain, you spend money on such pleasures, on which in Warsaw you would most likely save money, or at least think several times whether you really need it or can do without it. But our life is made up of such small moments, and Spain makes it possible to recognize this and enjoy every moment.
However, spending money on small pleasures in Spain, we save on such important household things as electricity, water, heating, that is, monthly household expenses. I will tell about it in more detail, and also about how you can save money on daily costs in Spain.
The first thing I would like to emphasize that is a huge saving on clothing. In Spain, we don’t buy expensive fur coats, warm jackets, hats, scarves, shoes… In Poland, everything is quite expensive, and besides, you have to keep in mind that you buy yourself not just one jacket or one pair of boots, but at least 3 or 4 things of the same kind so that you can change them, because you have to wear this all winter. All this results in enormous costs. The weather in winter in Torrevieja is about +16, it does not last long, there is no snow here, which means you can get by with a minimum of warm clothes. Summer wardrobe is also very plain and economical, you just don’t need a lot of things here. So, we save a lot on clothes here, that’s a fact.
My husband also likes that you do not have to buy winter tires for a car in Spain, and this is already at least 500 euros in savings.
Heating. In Poland, we lived in a private house and paid about 150 euros per month for heating, while the heating season lasted about 8-9 months a year. There is no summer in Warsaw as such, it is hot there just a week, and the rest of the time – there is rain, humidity and cold evenings. Therefore, there was a need for heating almost all year round.
It is difficult for me to compare utility costs in Poland and in Spain, because we lived in a private house in Poland, and here, at the moment, we are renting a house (until we bought our own). However, even taking into account this aspect, I can say that the difference is very big: in Warsaw, we paid about 220 euros per month for utilities, and now in Spain we pay about 50 euros. Here we save a lot on heating, as well as on electricity, also because there is a lot of sun and long daylight hours.
Tell me five main advantages of Spain for you.
The first and very important plus is mental rest. There is no frantic pace of life here, as in Warsaw, when you do not notice how days, weeks and years fly by. In Spain, time slows down slightly, and you can enjoy life, every moment, small pleasures – you can rest your soul.
The second plus, which I have already mentioned, this is, of course, the climate. The weather is very important for me, because, if it were up to me, in Warsaw, I would not turn off the heating for not 9, but all 12 months. On the Costa Blanca, the climate is just great, 320 sunny days a year, and when it rains, it’s a real event that you rejoice at.
The third plus is the opportunity to visit a great number of historical monuments and interesting places, not only in Spain itself, but also in other EU-countries, for example, in France or Italy, because plane tickets are sold at very affordable prices. Everything is very close and inexpensive. During the time that I live in Spain – and I have been living here since February – I have visited twice as many places as in a whole year in Poland. I’m not saying that there are no interesting places there, of course they are, but in Spain you have much more possibilities to visit them, if only there was time to go everywhere.
The fourth, and just a huge plus is the sea. Now I don’t need to go on vacation to the sea, I just finish my work week and go to the beach, even in October. For example, today – and now it is already the middle of November – I walked along the beach and saw people sunbathing. So I can say that every weekend I have holidays at sea!
Well, the fifth plus is very personal and important for me: now we are waiting for replenishment, and I am sure that this is a consequence of the first 4 pluses. In addition, there is another positive thing associated with this fifth plus: it allowed me to assess the quality of Spanish health system on my own experience. Medical centers provide very high quality services, even in Poland there is no such thing. I have a private insurance with full coverage, only 46 euros per month. I could, of course, use free state medicine, it is also excellent here, judging by the reviews, but the waiting times for various medical treatments and appointments at the doctors are not encouraging.
And finally, who would you strongly advise against moving from Poland to Spain, and who, in your opinion, should think about moving right now?
I strongly advise against people who are allergic to the sun to move to Spain, because there is a lot of it here. But I wish and advise everyone else to decide to move, although emigration is always a huge risk. However, in the case of Spain, this risk is more than justified, because, as you know, «he who doesn’t risk never gets to drink champagne at the seashore»!