If you are moving as a family, the area where you decide to live will have a big impact upon your lifestyle, so there are a few things you should think about before you begin to look at houses.
If you choose to live in the centre of the town or city you have chosen, which is a common choice in Andalucia, you will have access to all the shops and services you should need, many within walking distance, and others by taking public transport. This can be very useful for someone who does not drive.
However, you will also have the tradeoff of probably needing a garage to park your car in if you do drive, and of course the noise factor. In the city centre apartment-living is the norm - and it is the norm in Spain, as most Spaniards prefer this lifestyle. It is, therefore, much more difficult (and costly) to find a villa-style house and garden - something foreigners often expect to find when they move to Spain, especially with children.
This doesn't necessarily mean you will have to give up swimming pools or gardens; many apartment complexes, even very centrally located ones, include these amenities, as well as private parking. But whether or not the apartment complex has these things, there are municipal pools and sport centres that you may want to live nearby because of the sports programs that are offered for all ages. Music, art, languages and other programs are usually centrally located as well, as for example at the "Casa de la Cultura", "Conservatorio", "Escuela Municipal de Música", and "Escuela Oficial de Idiomas". And all of these are very useful to families with children. The convenience of having them close by is what makes city-centre living so popular among locals.
If you choose to live more on the outskirts of a city or in the countryside - which is what many foreigners moving to Andalucia do end up choosing - do be aware that you will be more isolated in all respects, such as shopping, nearness of friends, schools, sports centres, hospitals etc. You will most likely rely on a car to go anywhere, and will face urban parking problems that those living in the centre of town avoid by walking everywhere. You will probably have the quiet of the country and probably a lot more space for your money, but it is worth considering the trade off if you have children in need of playmates, organised activities and sports facilities.
The school that you think you might like your children to go to is a very important consideration also, as you will be going anywhere from two to four times a day - as many private Spanish schools break the day into a morning, long lunch and then "back in the afternoon" schedule. Look into what schools are in the areas you are considering, and find out what procedures there are for admitting new students (many schools have waiting lists).
Naturally, your workplace (if you know it) is another factor to consider, riding a bike or walking to work is a luxury few people have nowadays. However, it is one many Spaniards make a priority, as it means being able to have lunch at home, and perhaps even meeting your children at home for lunch, if their school permits leaving the campus and allows enough time to do so before returning after lunch. (School schedules vary greatly, with some having lunch at school and getting out in the afternoon at 16.00 hours, others at 17.00 or 18.00 after a midday lunch break of a couple hours, while still others get out at 14.00 without having eaten lunch, and they do not return later).
Once you have narrowed down the neighbourhood, you may want to try to find out if there are other families in the area, providing friends for you and your children, as well as perhaps a little more tolerance to the lifestyle with children. This is especially important if there are shared community areas that all ages will be using. Many apartment complexes along the coasts, for example, are popular among retired individuals - and not everyone enjoys hearing children shouting while they are dozing by the pool. Obviously, being at home is much more pleasant if one has good relations with the neighbours.
|Family life in Andalucia.|