Social life. Children running between the restaurant tables on the huge antique square next the local church during a late evening. A few elderly men playing chess under the cooling shadow from an old olive tree. The deafening noise of loud chatter on the crowded tapas bar during lunch time. Typical Spanish social life that fascinates many of us foreigners. Not rarely one of the reasons people considering to move to a south European country such as Spain.
Lo siento (sorry)
I will begin this post by saying i’m sorry for the rare updates lately! I promise to better myself moving on. We have just been really really busy. But not because of a stressful work-life mind you. There has also been little time spent on our digital devices. This is positively also the case for the children which of course pleases us as parents. The reason behind this is simple, you guessed it – social life.
So much fun and so little time
I don’t even know where to begin as it’s sort of a constant, but pleasant, chaos which it’s hard to explain. There are a lot of things going on the entire time and it’s hard to know how you ended up doing them. It is actually more of a lifestyle than specific events. I´ll give it my best try though and break some of it down and give you a peek of what we have been up to. We’ve been loving it though, i can promise you that! The question arise – can you ever go back after a life like this?
Social gatherings are usually not that planned, they just happen. All the time! After leaving the kids at school. Running into people in the city or at the children activities. Doing things together with others – “Want to take a coffee”? “Up for lunch”? “We should go for dinner”! or just a classical WhatsApp (chosen weapon of communication in Palma) mess.
This is btw one of the favourite examples of the FIRE community on what to avoid to lower your spendings when saving for that money machine of yours. One less bought coffee a day is a fortune in savings in a twenty year perspective from an interest on interest kind of perspective. Coming from one of the most expensive places on earth I couldn’t agree more and had (almost) completely stopped buying coffee, lunches and dinners out. It really made a huge increase to our savings when building that pile of stash. Now when we are not really saving anymore and live here, we have another perspective on things. We want something to do during the days, preferably at times with other people to avoid a potential divorce. Social feeding is one of the more popular ways to do this here and believe me when I say it is an incredible relaxed experience, also for a small budget!
It’s so cheap (coming from Sweden) that it doesn’t hurt our budget at all. We could, if we wanted, eat all breakfasts and lunches out for less than 300€/month, and that is for 2 persons! Lunches is really price worthy as well. One of my favourites is a large Bocadillo with lamb, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise for 4,50€, including snacks and a beer. If you’re really hungry during lunch you can have the Menu del Dia on almost every restaurant in Spain, and it’s hilariously cheep.
The Menu del Dia consists of a starter, a main course and a dessert, or coffee if you’re already full. All for a really reasonable price. To make it even more appetising they almost always throws in some bread, olives and one drink (wine, beer, soda, etc) into that price as well. This idea of a daily meal actually comes from the former fascist leader Franco. He apparently found it important that all his people should have at least one real meal a day for a reasonable price. For some reason, that we are not aware of, the Menu del Dia continued to live on even after his death.
There is always things going on here, my guess it’s one of the reasons why people are outdoors all the time. For example every single town with some self respect seems to have it’s on own market day. It’s really nice to take a trip to a nearby town and just walk around looking at all the things/crap they are selling.
There’s also always some sort of celebration going on, if it’s not a local saints day then it’s the municipality’s pets day. In other words – if you want you can keep yourself quite busy with events all year around. It’s easy and cheap to get around as well, and it’s always free entrances to these types of events. The local buses (EMT – 0,8€/adult and children for free) cover most of Palma and it’s surroundings. To get further you have both subway, trains and busses (TIB) that can get you pretty much anywhere on the island within 2 hours.
Now when we are getting close to Christmas Palma city really puts on an effort by lighting up the entire city like a Christmas tree. There might not be that much of a white Christmas, as up in the north, but it’s christmassy shiny enough during the evenings.
Hikes and excursions
There are endless of hikes into the forests and mountains and they are spectacular! You can choose a hardcore route such as the GR221 which goes all along the mountain range from Port the Andratx in the west up to Pollenca in the North during an 8 day walk. There are also plenty of day hikes suitable to do both with and without the little ones. We love these small excursions. They say that Mallorca lacks of seasons, which is only somewhat true. During the summer the nature tend to be quite dry and brownish, but during the winter the Island turns beautifully green with awesome nature to experience. So if you want awesome hikes, I would recommend autumn and spring not only because of the surroundings but also because its way to hot to walk during the summer.
Keeping that body happy and shiny
When you have this much time on your hands, in combination with outdoor-friendly weather all year around, it’s really not that hard getting that crucial exercise. Remember – after 30 that body of yours needs training just to keep it as it is. Running is as easy as it gets, but I also throw some core training to make it lasting. Also, I found a new insanely entertaining sport here – Padel. I was kind of negative towards it in the beginning as i heard there was a ton of Swedes playing it, but after trying it just once i was hooked. If you haven’t tried it yet, i would recommend that you do. It’s like a combination of Tennis and Squash, but much simpler and played like a double. Apparently a Spanish sport that just recently is starting to get a foot-hold in the rest of Europe. I play 3-4 times a week now. Isn’t it expensive? Nope, not here. You can get away with 2,50€/person and hour here. I’ve heard it is at least 4 times as expensive in Sweden.
An important insight for a active social life on FIRE
We have discovered something really important the last few months which we had not fully comprehended before. We had a discussion regarding why we should not move back to our old home and live the same typ of active life that we live here. Away from the rat race and stressed private life. It should be practically the same, right? It was then it really hit us. If we move back home, who exactly are we going to do all of these funny things above with? All the people we know back in Sweden are working and have a lot of to-do´s on the evenings – feeding children, taking care of the laundry and so on. That means no one to do hiking with, activities, having coffee, walks, ice cream, sports and whatever. This was a tough insight for us – we probably can´t get this level of social and active life in the nordics.
Is this realisation going to be the thing that tip the scale and make us decide to stay indefinitely? It might be, it just might be.
Who are all of those people that does not work?
Based on the realisation of the above, we also realised the opposite. There is a lot of people living FIRE like lives here, they are just not yet aware of thats what it’s called. That group of people would be more used to the expression “really really rich people who decided to stop working and enjoy life”. I call them “unaware fat FIRE enthusiasts”. They are surprisingly many, but not in any kind of majority.
Then we have the “inequality group”, as I call them coming from a country fixated by equality (yes, it’s a good thing). As it is impossible to have two people working here and in the same time drop off and pick up your children. No child care after school and long working hours kills that equation. The Spanish parents usually solves this by using their old parents as “nannies”. Most expat families don’t have that choice so they tend to only have one person working and the other one taking care of the kids, the mother as a rule. The working parent usually works for international companies (higher salary) as remote workers, freelancers or traveling. A few work on the boats with a petty income tax of only 7% and no expenses during work-weeks. The last one is an interesting fast-track to FIRE for you youngsters out there. Spend a year or two on the boats earning a really competitive salary, pay 7% tax and have absolutely no expenses at all! You’re done with your stash building without even realising it and get a nice tan while doing it.
For us it doesn’t matter the reason why all these people are not working, what´s important is that we have realised how dependent we are on them to make our own FIRE-based lives complete.
Things are cheap here. I doesn’t matter how much activities and snacks we throw in, we make our budget by a wide margin anyway. Yes, of course we avoid expensive tourist restaurants etc, but that goes without saying.
Have you thought about how your current/future FIRE based social life look like?