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    Ireland just can’t offer the lifestyle I’ve had since emigrating. They understand work-life balance here – The Irish Times

    Fourteen years ago I made my first move to Spain. It was 2008, and I was 23. The world was falling down in financial chaos – isn’t it always? – and I’d just taken a severance package from a large financial institution.

    I’d started seeing Xaris a year before. She’s originally from Peru but has lived in Spain most of her life, so not quite Peruvian, not quite Spanish, but definitely Latina. Things were going well, so I figured I’d give it a spin and follow her to Spain – Pamplona, to be specific.

    Jump forward 14 years and we’re married with two kids and on to our second house here.

    I began by teaching English – the only business that boomed during the recession – but after three years I started to get itchy feet. I decided I’d come home and finish my degree at Dublin Institute of Technology. Xaris stayed in Spain, and we managed to make the long-distance thing work. It took me two years to finish the degree; the job market in Spain looked bleak, so I decided to get work in Dublin, and managed to land a job in IT.

    My wife, who’s the open-minded type, was well up for trying things in Ireland. She moved over, but Dublin life was a grind. I knew a better quality of life was waiting in Spain. I wanted to give it a real go, so we packed our bags and headed back in 2015 – the year we also tied the knot.

    I still work in IT. For the past three years I have been working for BSH, the division of Bosch that makes all its home appliances. My wife has returned to her natural role as a teacher.

    In 2016 we bought our first house, a new-build, in a picturesque village about 10 minutes’ drive from the city. That’s where we started our family journey in 2018, when daughter numero uno arrived. The first couple of years of her life were a blur of sleeplessness and many, many learning experiences.

    There is no way we could have achieved the equivalent of what we have in Spain in the same space of time in Ireland

    Then suddenly it was 2020, and coronavirus hit. Thankfully, in this tiny village we were better off than most people during those dark lockdown days. As almost everyone in Spain lives in an apartment, the neighbourhoods go up rather than out. The pandemic days were harsh for people stuck in their 90sq m, not to mention what it was like if they also had young kids – it would drive the best of us to distraction. In the village we could at least escape for a stroll from time to time.

    Just before the pandemic we had decided we’d try for numero dos. Come May we’d stuck gold and were staring down the nine-month barrel of the gun again.

    In May 2020 the first lockdown was lifted here. It didn’t take long for us to notice cars passing and people walking by again. These were poor, lost souls from the city escaping to the countryside after months in their caves.

    All this got me thinking. We loved the village but needed the car for everything. There was no shop, no cafe, no pub. We decided to stick the house on the market at a mad price. It sold in a month.

    We found a lovely house in a great neighbourhood of Pamplona. We got it at a really good price and now have all the amenities in the world within five minutes’ walk. The city centre is only a 10-minute bus ride away. My daughter gets the schoolbus every morning. It is only five minutes away. The added perk? My office is a nine-minute walk from my front door.

    Our firstborn is an Irish girl without question. No matter how much Latin blood flows through her veins, she is Irish through and through. She even speaks Spanish with an Irish accent

    There is no way we could have achieved the equivalent of what we have in Spain in the same space of time in Ireland.

    Spain generally understands the whole work-life-balance thing. I know that we are extremely fortunate and that in other areas of Spain things are much more challenging. I’m grateful for what I have.

    And, sure, the salaries at home in Ireland are a completely different ball game, but some things don’t have a price. It genuinely saddens me that I don’t think I could ever match the life we have here in Ireland.

    All that said, I would consider a move home if it benefited my kids. While our secondborn has yet to show her true colours, our first is an Irish girl without question. No matter how much Latin blood flows through her veins, she is Irish through and through. She even speaks Spanish with an Irish accent, I’m told.

    So maybe it will be for them that we seek an Irish future. But who knows? I quite like Santander. Maybe I’ll stay.

    If you live overseas and would like to share your experience with Irish Times Abroad, email abroad@irishtimes.com with a little information about you and what you do

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