Today I thought I’d work on the “musings” part of being a single mama in Spain, rather than the “adventures” part. What do I think are the pros and cons of being a single mama in today’s economy in Spain?
Well, Andalucía, the southernmost region of Spain, is definitely not the place to be in these times if your aim is to become rich and have a prospering career, with unemployment over 26% (and depending on which segment of the population you belong to, could be over 60% as pretty much the only employable people these days are single, childless men with a great professional training), a majority of businesses and jobs reserved for “family” and businesses going bankrupt left and right (like the company that I was working for).
So why DO I keep hanging on here and struggling away, instead of seeking out the “greener pastures” up north in Barcelona or Madrid, or even, for that matter, in another European country? Well, I do debate that myself, and sometimes I wonder whether I shouldn’t just pack up and head on north.
So, let’s see what I consider the pros and cons of continuing to live here:
Cons (or why life is so tough here in Andalucía):
- obviously, just about all the cons will be related to money, since that is what appears to be most lacking in this part of the world
- the first major con, of course, is the absolute torpidity which is the act of trying to find a job here, trying to secure any kind of employment, even if only the most unstable, temporary of temporary or contract positions, is like trying to wade through treacle
- the salaries here, which graze on the minimum wage in virtually any and every field or profession, unless you happen to be a highly qualified CEO, doctor or lawyer
- it’s hard to get ahead as well, both professionally and personally, if you don’t have family or know a lot of people here, when you come right down to it, nepotism is still pretty alive and well in these parts
- the social life, people are very friendly, but it’s hard to enter into the real “inner circles” if you don’t have some sort of family base around here, I myself have loads of acquaintances and people I might stop in the street and chat with, but I have virtually no close friends at all, people I would actually confide anything near and dear to me to
- the importance of family life, now, you could say that that is also a pro, because it provides me with every opportunity and excuse to get closer to my family (aka my kids) and spend more time with them, but I find that it is also a con, because people here place the greatest priority on their families, which means that they will plan most of their activities around their families and have little time or energy left over to do things with anyone outside their families
- once again, the social life, in a land where most people make the majority of their friends at grade school or the very latest, in university, so if you don’t happen to attend any of those institutions it’s almost impossible to meet good new friends, that is, people who are open to becoming friends with someone who is not from around hereabouts, although as I mentioned earlier, people are friendly and they will be open to meeting you for a drink or to have a café or breakfast, but it’s hard that a relationship would ever get any deeper than that
- the difficulties in finding things from outside Spain, now, of course, you might wonder, what sorts of things would I really need from outside of Spain, because after all, didn’t I come here for the “Spanish experience”? Well, there are some things that Spain doesn’t exactly produce an excess of, so you almost virtually have to buy these articles imported, one example is make-up, which, when it comes to Spanish-made products, is pretty much limited to the polvos de Maderas by Maderas de Oriente, a very fragrant and luxurious-feeling face powder but which, nonetheless, I can’t use (much to my chagrin, because I LOVE the way they smell!) because they are too drying for me (probably the only people who could use them are little kids, like my youngest son, who still has that sweet, soft baby skin, and my oldest son, a teenager with greasy teenage skin!)
- the lack of ecological, organic and vegetarian products, since unfortunately, Spain is still light years away from the “consciousness” and awareness of the importance of things like taking care of our planet and our health, and the south even more so than the more progressive and modernized northern regions
- the very laid-back and non-proactive attitudes that prevail in general around here, my ex (when he wasn’t yet my ex) defined it as: “People here talk a lot about doing things, but no one ever gets up off their butts to actually do these things that they talk about so much”, which, however, on the other hand, can actually be converted into a “pro” when you’re in a situation, like I am, where much of what you are doing you need to do alone, at home, at least for the moment (in the case where, for example, you happen to be working on a project that you need to work on alone in the introspection of your home)
Pros (or why I love Andalucía):
- well, it might be legendary and trite, but I bet every andaluz would agree, there’s just something about the sun in Andalucía that you won’t find anywhere else, that glorious fire that can give you a light suntan even in the middle of January and that stings so hard in July and August
- the people here are so friendly
- the cost of living is quite cheap here, compared to pretty much any other part of Spain or Europe, so if, like me, you are currently living on a fixed income like unemployment payments or pension payments of any sort, your salary will go further here than it would in a more expensive part of the world
- the blue Mediterranean, which just can’t compare to those cold, turbulent, dark grey waters in the north Atlantic or even worse, the total LACK of water in a more interior setting
- being able to go out and walk along the beach, no matter what is happening in your life, after all the beach is free
- the great climate, and isn’t that what draws most foreigners who live here, to settle here rather than someplace else, to begin with?
And here is my wish-list, of things that I could probably do if I weren’t living in this part of the world:
- have a car! Then I could TRAVEL (and if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ve probably realized that I practically live to travel!)
- earn enough money to take my kids on longer trips or holidays abroad, so they could get the opportunity to see the world and learn more open attitudes towards other cultures and languages
So who knows? Maybe one day I’ll just pick up that ole curriculum vitae and send it off to a hotel in Paris or a Starbucks café up in London.
But if I did that, I would miss that indelible Spanish sun that you can only enjoy on the coasts of Andalucía.
Thank you all for reading! I love to receive (good, positive, bright) comments, so please, don’t be shy, and leave me a word!
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