logo
Updated: May 2024

Interview with Christina

Sitges English Speakers catches up with Christina, a researcher in the drug development industry who lives with her husband and daughter in Sant Pere de Ribes

How long have you lived in the area?

We moved to Spain in 2004, first to Palma, Majorca, and then to the Barcelona area. We´ve lived in the Garraff since 2007, so around 16 years.

Where are you from originally?

My husband was born in Edinburgh, and I was born in Austria.

What made you choose this area?

Closeness to Barcelona and the airport, selection of international schools, good transport infrastructure. You get the advantages of being near a big city, without having to live in it!

Do you live in town, in an urbanisation or in the countryside?

We lived in the urbanisation of Las Colinas, Olivella, for around 12 years before moving into St Pere de Ribes centro pueblo a couple of years ago.

How does living here compare with other places you have lived (pros and cons)?

Pros:  The Spanish timetable, and the mindset of work to live, rather than live to work. The lively street life- compared to the UK town where my mother lives, where come 530 pm everything shuts, and the streets are deserted. Easy access to a wide variety of beautiful locations in the mountains and countryside of Catalunya. Wide variety of sporting facilities and clubs, at accessible prices. The climate. Relatively low levels of crime, especially violent crime when compared to the UK.

Cons: can be a long working week, with a culture of presenteeism- changing, but slowly, and depending on the industry.  Bureaucracy and taxes, buying/ selling car/ house- is a painful, longwinded, and expensive process. The Catalan separatist movement was a bit tense, though it’s less of a thing currently. Mandatory Catalan in schools, if it is at the cost of Spanish learning, can seem disappointing to some people.  High taxes for salaried workers, and high monthly social security contributions for self- employed workers (autonomo). Hard to find well paid work.

How do you and/or your partner make a living here?

We both work remotely for international contract research organizations working in the drug development industry. We used to commute to Barcelona every day before moving to fully remote work.

What activities do you and/or your family do in the area? Can you recommend any of them?

My daughter loves her Tae Kwando Gym in St Pere de Ribes, Gym Ribes. She has developed a real passion for the sport, and the coach there is great. Hubby and I also go there for pilates classes- the pilates teacher used to be an acrobat and is a great teacher. I also really enjoy padel and there are many padel groups that you can join to meet up and play.

In winter we sometimes head up to Port Del Comte which is the nearest ski area, in the pre-pyrenee area of Solsones. Its wooded pistes are good for beginner skiiers and its only 2 hours drive from St Pere. I am less keen on Andorra to be honest, too many people and the traffic getting in and out can be hideous.

If you enjoy hiking in nature and wild swimming – There are some stunning waterfalls and ravines to explore around Mon Ral, Tarragona. We also really like Lake Moncortes in Baix Pallars, Lleida not far from Tremp- its a beautiful mountain lake at 1000 m.

Gosol and Pedraforca is another special area area for us. There is a 15 km circular trail around the massif of Pedraforca starting from Gosol, which is stunning and quite an easy hike.

The cinder volcanos and beech forests of La Garrotxa, the wildness of Cap de Creus… the list goes on!  As you can tell, we really enjoy the countryside here.

What are the best things about living here?

Quality of life, definitely less stressful pace than the UK.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you arrived?

The cost of buying and selling property. The market is totally different to the UK, and is very localized.

Do you have any favourite restaurants in the area? What do you like about them?

La Rambleta in ribes is a good family option – burgers, salads, pizza, and for special occasions Nem in Sitges or the petit Bangkok – genuine and very tasty Thai cuisine

If you have kids, do you have any recommendations for schools in the area or other relevant experiences you would like to share?

We have tried the local school, but it wasn´t for us and then switched to the Olive Tree for the first 3 years, before moving our daughter to the British School of Barcelona where she currently is. Choice of school is very personal, and depends on you, your child, and your financial commitments. In the end we went international British system as we felt it gave us the quality and flexibility that suited us, and we were familiar with the system.

What advice would you give to anyone considering relocating to this part of the world?

Make sure you have an income stream and your tax situation sorted out! Learn some Spanish before you arrive.