Benidorm ‘lonely’ but has ‘fantastic community spirit’ – what expat life is really like
Benidorm: British couple discuss decision to move to Spain
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Benidorm promises sun, sea and sand and, crucially for many Britons, plenty of people who speak English. Expats have headed to the resort in Spain in droves over the years and a large community of Britons now resides in and around Benidorm. As with anywhere, living in the Spanish town comes with both positives and negatives.
Expat Chris Green, 47, spoke to Express.co.uk exclusively about just this.
He explained that Benidorm attracts a variety of people, not all of whom have jetted to the coastal resort for the weather.
This can sometimes serve to make forging relationships tricky.
“A lot of the people there have run away from something whether it be debt or crime or something,” said Chris.
“Not everybody obviously but there’s a lot of people who have moved there for different reasons other than just sun and the sea, so it’s very difficult, I think, to get to know people properly.”
One reason for this is that you can only know so much about someone in an expat community.
“When you grow up somewhere you know their mums or dads, their grandmas, granddads, you know, the whole family,” explained Chris.
“Whereas when you move to a foreign country and you’re mixing with expats, you only know what they tell you, and what they tell you isn’t always necessarily the truth.”
In short, said Chris, “it’s very difficult to make genuine friends.”
Of course, plenty of friendships are made among expats in Benidorm but there’s always the risk your pals might leave.
“I have made a lot of friends over the years and you get very close to people and then they suddenly decide they’re going to go back home or they meet a holidaymaker and then move back with them,” shared Chris. “So it’s quite lonely at times.”
Another problem with living in such a close-knit community in Benidorm is how quickly gossip can travel.
Chris found this out after a break up with his partner Gary. The pair had moved together to Benidorm, with their arrival in the resort documented in Bargain Loving Brits In The Sun but went their separate ways last month.
“I think the problem with the expat community sometimes can be that everybody wants to know your business and what they don’t know about your business, they’ll make up,” Chris explained.
“So it’s like, for example, when me and Gary split up, I had loads of messages saying, ‘Oh, I’ve heard he’s back in Wales already’ – well, that wasn’t the case but that’s the rumour mill going round such a small, little community.”
However, Chris believes the downsides stop there. “I think the pros outweigh the cons; I have met some absolutely brilliant people,” he enthused.
The extent to which the community pulls together was evidenced for Chris during a lockdown in Benidorm during the Covid pandemic.
“We had a complete lockdown,” he said. “If you went to the supermarket you had to keep the receipt and if the police stopped you you had to show them your receipt, and if you didn’t have a receipt, then obviously, you’re in trouble.
“It was really, really tough. I remember one day I had literally not realised that it was a Bank Holiday and the supermarket was closed.
“I just put a silly status on Facebook saying, ‘Can’t believe the supermarket’s closed, looks like it’s beans on toast without beans tonight’ and I must have had 100 messages from people saying, ‘Oh Chris, I’ll send you some food out’, ‘I have all got this in the freezer’… so the community spirit there is fantastic.”
The weather is also unavoidably a huge part of the appeal of Benidorm.
“I think the best thing [about Benidorm] is probably the weather, and the beaches and the sea,” admitted Chris.
The “atmosphere” (in pre-Covid times) is also praised, “whether it be the nightlife or whether it’s just having a nice, quiet coffee on the beach front,” he said.
“You know, it’s just absolutely perfect really.”
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