"Therever I have lived with an international or expat community people come and people go...but on an island I wonder if this will be even more. Many people I have met work within the yachting industry so often live transient lives." (LMB, March 2014)
How long have you lived in Mallorca?
Since August 2013. But we have lived in Spain (Barcelona) since 2006.
Whereabouts do you live and what is the area like?
We live in a lovely small town called Santa Maria del Cami. It is close to Palma but surrounded by beautiful countryside, vineyards and a stunning mountain range. It has the charm of a traditional Mallorcan village with a lively Sunday market, plus nice restaurants. The area is a wine growing region too which is always a draw!!!!
Why did you decide to move there?
We were living just outside of Barcelona on the Maresme coast and we moved to Mallorca because my husband is from the island and his whole family live here. We decided to make our lives easier by having family nearby - my family are all in UK. Also, the family own a British school on the island and we wanted our daughters to go to it, as well as being abke to grow up near their cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles here.
We chose Santa Maria as it is ideally located for us; near to the childrens school, and close to Palma. We like living outside of the main city but within a short driving distance, so we have the best of both worlds. I like bringing up my children in a place where there is a community feel, which Santa Maria seems to have.
How many children do you have and how old are they?
I have two girls, Isobel who is 5 and Georgia who is 2...soon to be 3!
What was your experience of relocating with your children?
It has gone very smoothly but I think there are two main reasons for this: 1. We have lived in Spain for nearly 8 years so it is not a huge culture shock coming to Mallorca and 2. My husband is from Mallorca and his family are here so it has been a kind of home from home for us over the years and obviously a very familiar place for our children.
Our girls have settled in very quickly - they are young enough to be able to adapt easily. And we have met lots of nice people - parents of the childrens classmates which helps enormously when moving to a new place.
What are the main differences between life on the mainland and life on an island?
That there are far less direct flights - you often have to fly first to Barcelona or Madrid for not so common destinations or for long haul flights. Also wherever I have lived with an international or expat community people come and people go...but on an island I wonder if this will be even more. Many people I have met work within the yachting industry so often live transient lives.
How well integrated would you say you and your children are?
Well, we havent been here very long but we are integrating well. Weve met all our neighbours, most of whom are from Santa Maria who love telling us about the place. Our social life revolves mostly around the international community but we like to get involved in the local traditions and fiestas.
What language do you speak with your children?
English, and Spanish sometimes if we are in Spanish company. My husband Xandy speaks to them in Spanish.
Do you think it essential to speak Spanish where you live?
I always find it hard to comprehend why people dont speak the language of the country they live in. It must make life so much more difficult for day to day things and much harder to integrate. I am not talking about being fluent....but a little of the local language goes along way. I would miss out on so many things if I didnt speak Spanish so yes, for me it is essential.
Do you rent or own a property and how did you find the renting/buying process?
We are renting and I found the process fairly straightforward. We used a small agency and there have been no problems.
What is your impression of childcare and education where you live?
The state system is in some turmoil and there was a lot of strike action at the beginning of the academic year, as they are introducing subjects being taught in English in which is opening up a political minefield. However my children are in a private British school which I feel suits them. For me, the fact that the local schools teach in Catalan is too limiting in the international world we live in. I also dont like the rote learning system used in Spanish schools. On a good note, private nurseries and schools are more affordable here compared to the UK.
What school do your children go to?
The Academy, a private British school in Marratxi, not far from Palma - www.theacademyschool.com
Why did you choose this school and are you happy with your choice?
My mother in law founded the school in the 1980s. It is an excellent school and whilst I am of course biased I can see how happy my girls are there! It is a very unique school as it is a family business and you can tell that from the minute you walk into the grounds. It is on an old Mallorcan farm, so the surroundings are beautiful and it is a very nurturing school focusing on the individual talents of the pupils. There is a nursery on site so my youngest, Georgia, can go too which is lovely as she sees her sister at play times etc.
Are there any services, activities for kids, day-trips for kids, family-friendly restaurants or kids’ shops you’d like to recommend?
Too many to mention! Es Trenc and Sa Rapita beaches are a must, with shallow waters for kids to play in and restaurants and a cafe for a drink or lunch. Palma aquarium is fun and educational. Kids Republik in Palma is a nice soft play centre with a dressing up room and a trendy cafe for mums and dads.
El Club de Las Hadas (Fairy Club) is a recently opened Parisienne style cafe in Palma that is heaven for girly girls...they do cupcake decorating workshops and host amazing birthday parties with a disco room, a princess dressing up room and a pretty pastel coloured cafe for the parents to have a coffee in - www.facebook.com/clubdelashadaspalma
We went to Sa Calobra last weekend and it is a spectacular place to go for a day trip in the mountains...take a picnic and sit by the sea surrounded by jaw dropping mountains...but dont go in the summer when the tour buses descend.
Gymboree in Palma is a great place to take little ones....fun and educational activities and all in English - www.facebook.com/pages/Gymboree-Play-Music-of-Mallorca
Is there anything you think would improve childrens lives where you live?
I think children have a pretty amazing life here! Children are an integral party of Spanish society and they are welcomed everywhere. I do think kids activities start too late here but thats the Spanish way of life. I was at a soft play park in half term and I noticed it closed at 10pm!!!! I think the school day is too long in Spanish schools - 9 to 5pm and I think they are set too much homework from a young age. I would like to see more modern park equipment...a couple have cropped up locally which is brilliant. They have soft flooring and plastic slides so less hard falls and no burnt bottoms on scorching metal slides in the heat of the summer!
What advice would you give for anyone thinking of relocating to Mallorca with children?
Do it! I think it is a great place to live with children. Try and learn some Spanish before you come and get as much information and advice from families already living here. Join an online forum to ask any questions you may have as the bureaucracy can be hard to wade through when getting things such as ID cards, residency certificates etc.
What couldn’t you live without in Mallorca?
The beautiful beaches and countryside and of course, the weather. I love the fact you can be outside so much with so many brilliant places to go to. I also couldnt live without a nice cold glass of cava with a paella lunch by the sea. Heaven!
What could you live without in Mallorca?!
The mosquitos and the bureaucracy Both drive me nuts. Oh, and the corrupt politicians and the amount of motorways being built ripping up the beautiful countryside. Dont get me started!