As with any international relocation, there are a lot of things to consider, as I found out when searching for a property on the Costa Blanca. If you are a parent, one of your biggest worries might be whether or not your children will be able to adjust well to their new setting. Two of the biggest issues would usually be around what schools to enrol your children in, and whether they will be able to adapt and settle in happily.
Spanish schools fall into three main categories. State Schools are free, local, and teach in Spanish. Private schools are usually bilingual medium, teaching in English and Spanish. The tuition fees may vary considerably. Finally, International or British schools follow the British curriculum and teach only in English. State schools usually dont have their results published, but there is a central schools office in each town and you can go in and ask about the performance of local schools. Also, if you speak some Spanish, ask the locals which schools they recommend.
Spain is a friendly and welcoming country. Spanish kids tend to have a lot more freedom than their British counterparts, and they tend to live much of their lives outdoors, free to explore and make friends. Small towns, particularly are considered safe for kids to play outside unattended. It really is a great way of life for kids. Children also tend to be able to adapt and pick up languages quickly. So you will probably find that they make friends before you do.
You should consider the age of your children carefully before you move. Younger children, especially toddlers, will easily adjust, and once surrounded by Spanish speakers, will pick up the language as easily as their mother tongue. Schooling starts with Nursery School from the calendar year that your child turns 3, until the age of 6. Then there is Junior School, which covers much of the same material as British schools. From 12 years to 16 years, kids attend Secondary school, and from 16 they can attend college. The schooling transition will be harder for Secondary school and children may be kept back a year and have to take extra language lessons to catch up.
If you are moving with an older child or teenager, encourage them to be a part of the decision process. Ask them what they think or what they are worried about. Teenagers are starting to form their identity in their friendship group and their social lives are important. Try to research events and facilities in the town you are moving to so that you can help them to find a new community easily. Try and all take a few Spanish lessons before you go. Take as many of your childs belongings and decorative items as you can. They will feel more settled in a strange space if they can still come home to familiarity.
Spain could be your answer to relaxed, family environment. But do consider your individual kids and their feelings and needs, especially if they are older. You may prefer State schools, for example, as you feel like it will help your children fit in. But a British school might save your child a lot of stress and help them to adjust at their own pace. Consider their ages and personalities before you make decisions that affect them.