Erik Rasmussen is originally from North Carolina, USA. He moved to England in December 2001, and lived and worked there for three and a half years. He then moved to northern Spain in June 2005, and quickly adjusted to the lifestyle. In March 2009, his daughter, Nora, was born. Erik blogs about his life and times at American in Spain.
Read more about expat life in Expat Arrival's guide to Spain, or read more expat experiences in Spain.
Q: Where are you originally from?
A: North Carolina, USA
Q: Where are you living now?
A: Colindres, Cantabria (halfway between Bilbao and Santander)
Q: How long you have you lived in Spain?
A: Since June 2005, six years now.
Q: Did you move to Spain with a spouse/children?
A: Yes, with my wife.
Q: Why did you move; what do you do?
A: I telecommute to the United States, so I can live wherever my wife has a job. She was hired by an anchovy plant in Colindres, so we moved from England.
Q: What do you enjoy most about Colindres how’s the quality of life?
A: With almost 8,000 residents, Colindres is a very pleasant place to live. It’s sandwiched between the beautiful Cantabrian mountains and the sea, with a picturesque estuary of the River Asón and the famous 7 km beach in Laredo 4 km away. My wife walks to work and I work from home. Sometimes we go weeks at a time without moving the car.
Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: I really don’t feel that homesick. I wish I could have more contact with my family, and I miss golfing. Golf is a very expensive pastime in Spain.
Q: Is the city safe?
A: Extremely safe. I’ve never felt remotely threatened.
Q: Describe an ideal way to spend a weekend in Colindres?
A: There’s isn’t that much to do in Colindres itself, but nearby Laredo swells with domestic tourists in the summer, and the beach in Laredo is about the nicest I’ve ever seen. There are great hiking options available as well. But my perfect weekend would involve a tour of the bars and a mariscada (shellfish platter).
About living in Spain
Q: Which are the best places/suburbs to live in Colindrea as an expat?
A: I’m 40 km away from anything I’d call a city with suburbs, so this question doesn’t really apply that well to my situation.
Q: What’s the cost of living compared to home? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A: Wow, I really can’t remember what the cost of living was like back home. Also, I was never a homeowner in my home country. One example of price differences I like to use is how, in a restaurant the United States, the soda is cheaper than beer is cheaper than wine, but in Spain, it’s reversed: wine is cheaper than beer is cheaper than soda. Suits me fine!
Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats?
A: I don’t know any other expats. All my friends are Spanish, and they are very friendly and accepting of an American in their midst. Several people like to practice their rudimentary English with me, which is fine.
Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends in Spain?
A: The problem with a small town is that most residents have lived their all their lives and already have well defined social groups by adulthood. My wife and I met our best friends by taking some salsa dancing lessons and then going to bars with them after class.
About working in Spain
Q: Did you have a problem getting a work visa/permit?
A: I don’t work in Spain, but I’m married to a Spaniard, which gives me residency and the right to work should I ever need to.
Q: What’s the economic climate like in the city, is there plenty of work?
A: From what I can tell, things are as bad here as they are in the rest of Spain.
Q: Is there any other advice you like to offer new expat arrivals?
A: Just be open to new experiences and keep a healthy curiosity…but most expats are already like that.
~interviewed July 2011
Are you an expat living in Spain? We'd love to hear your story. Open the questionnaire here, copy into an email and send it back to email@example.com