When tourists arrive on the Costa del Sol for their summer holidays or mid-winter break they soon discover that some of their fellow countrymen are so enamoured with the place that they stayed behind when their group went home or organised a move, lock, stock and barrel, or made elaborate plans to retire here when the time came. Immediately the visitors start wondering, "what is life like for foreigners who settle on the Costa del Sol?" The answer is they love every minute of it and wouldn't dream of going home or moving elsewhere after experiencing the lifestyle.
Any initial hiccups are soon smoothed away by the charm of the local people, the Andalusians. Newcomers find plenty of neighbours, whether Spanish or foreign, who speak their language and help them settle in. While foreign residents who do learn to speak Spanish inevitably get more out of their life on the coast as they can communicate with more people and take part in a wider range of activities, it is by no means a necessity. Thousands live very full lives on the coast with only a smattering of the language, while many town halls have set up special offices with staff who speak their language to help them with bureaucracy.
While the language is usually the first question that people ask about, the second is generally the food. Those foreign residents who seek items from their home countries, which years ago were unheard of in Spain, will be surprised to find that almost everything (at least from EU countries) is available here and they need lack nothing. And in addition, there is all that wonderfully healthy Mediterranean food, fish, fruit and vegetables.
And what about the lifestyle? What do foreign residents do with their time if they do not work? This is where the Costa del Sol really comes into its own as it caters for absolutely every type of lifestyle and taste.
First of all, for those who work it provides a very pleasant atmosphere to work in as the Andalusians, always full of vitality and with a ready quip, make extremely congenial colleagues. Foreign residents who have children find that they can choose between sending them to a Spanish school or one in which the system and the language are the same as at home.
And for those who do not work - the majority of foreign residents, far from being in their dotage, are people who have taken early retirement - there are facilities here whatever their hobby or inclinations may be. Those who want a quiet life, live in a rural environment in the startlingly beautiful hinterland or one of the glistening white villages. Those who prefer a more intense social life and an urban ambience stay right on the coast itself. Many are very active retirees who occupy their time with sports - golf and sailing are particularly well catered for, with a high density of golf courses and exquisitely beautiful marinas. Others are pleased to find that with time on their hands they can devote themselves to helping others.
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The foreign residents - and the range of nationalities is very wide - have founded many charities on the coast. There are also approximately 90 clubs on the coast, organised principally by foreign residents, although they do include Spaniards among their members. Most of the clubs do not limit membership and newcomers are always welcome.
Other activities which hold special interest for the foreign residents are the musical events. The concerts given by the Malaga Symphony Orchestra, conducted generally by the resident conductor Odon Alonso at the Cervantes Theatre in the city are a favourite as are those by the recently created Andalusian Classical Orchestra under the baton of Octav Calleya in Fuengirola.
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