“The view from my terrace is the best ever. I overlook the Mediterranean Sea!” gushes retired American teacher and mental-health professional Patti Addington.
When she walked the Camino de Santiago in 2018, Patti fell in love with Spain and Spanish culture. She came home to the U.S. “and began to concentrate on how, where and when to move. My children were grown. I was retired. Where I was living in Florida no longer brought me joy, and the political climate in America was making me very sad. I wanted to travel, and I had begun to miss Spain and the Spanish culture. It had taken hold of me, so I decided to move to the Costa del Sol.”
After plenty of research, the 68-year-old single woman took the leap from Florida to the Costa del Sol, near Spain’s southern tip, in October 2021. “I’m ecstatic!” she enthuses. “I have never been happier.”
Patti has settled in Torremolinos, near Málaga. “I look out my window or sit on my terrace daily, and I am catapulted to a world of blue seas, swooping seagulls, palm trees, boats, parasailing, promenades and lush vegetation.” At night, Patti’s view is brightened by colorful lights from the surrounding terraces and yards. “It’s just a short walk until I jump in and swim in my choice of two Olympic-size pools or wander over to the gym for a workout.”
For her, the main difference between her life in Florida and her life in Spain is that “overall it is more economically feasible to live here and enjoy my last chapter of life. Food is cheaper. Clothes are cheaper. Entertainment is cheaper. Flowers for my home are cheaper. A bottle of decent wine will not break the bank. Also, there’s so many things to do in Spain that don’t cost a lot of money. In Spain, if you’re sitting at home, it’s because you choose to, not because there’s nothing to do. I’m having a blast in Spain merely on my pension!”
Patti doesn’t have a car because everything she needs is within walking distance of her seaside home. She lives two blocks from a train station where a local train will take her “about anywhere I would like to go, and if that doesn’t solve my thirst for adventure, I can go in the other direction and shop in small-town stores where anything my heart desires has a price tag less than I would have paid in the U.S.”
She estimates that her monthly cost of living is about half what it was in Florida. “In the U.S., I lived on the Indian River in Florida, where the water was dirty and algae-ridden.” There she paid $ 1,500 per month, plus electricity (which was $ 150) and water (which was about $ 50), and TV, phone and internet totaled about $ 150.
In Spain, by contrast, Patti pays €860 for a two-bedroom apartment overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Her electricity bill is about a third what she paid in the U.S., and water costs about half. She pays €74 a month for phone, TV and internet, and her monthly gas bill is just €18. Her medical insurance is close to $ 1,000 cheaper per year than she paid Stateside. (The U.S. dollar and the euro are currently nearly equal in value.)
Patti uses the money she saves to travel around her new home. She plans a trip about once a month. “There are so many places to explore: the shoreline of the Mediterranean coast, Mijas, Jerez, Cádiz, Ronda, Alicante, Valencia, Madrid, Barcelona and the list goes on.”
When not “wandering around Spain,” she enjoys hosting friends from the U.S., taking Spanish classes, and volunteering in English immersion programs. Her favorite treat is to pamper herself with a Thai massage and facial. “We are talking about three hours of utter bliss for under €100.”
What Patti loves most about Spain is “the kindness of the people, both men and women. I like observing the family atmosphere and the fathers’ involvement with their children. I also like the accessibility of everything from transportation to entertainment, shopping and doctors’ visits. I feel very safe here, with exceptional security and privacy in my home of choice. I try to go on a walk into one of the local towns daily.”
This story originally ran in International Living.