It Could Be You – Joanna Styles

10 February 2017 1 Comments Category: blog, Expats Interviews, Living in Spain

My name is Joanna Styles, I’ve lived in Spain since 1989 and I’ve now lived here over half my life. I came originally to Spain to work as an English teacher in Granada where I met my husband. Since then we’ve lived on the Costa del Sol in different places with very different flavours – we started in Calahonda, a very expat residential area, then moved to Marbella where the luxury rubs shoulders with the very normal, and now we live in Malaga city. A very Spanish experience!

One of the things I like most about Spain is its culture of working to live, rather than living to work. Andalusians know how to enjoy life whatever it throws at them. I also love the family-friendly way of life. It’s a great place to bring up kids. And of course, I mustn’t forget to mention the wonderful climate. I do get tired of the endless sunshine and heat in the summer, but the warm temperatures and lovely blue skies for the rest of the year more than compensate!

Malaga has a special place in my heart because it has grown on me. I can remember how down-at-heel it was when I first visited in 1985 and couldn’t wait for the bus to leave because it was so awful. The difference now is like day and night – you couldn’t find a more welcoming city with such great cultural attractions, lovely seafront and amazing countryside just 10 minutes’ drive away. Add to that Malaga Airport with connections to just about everywhere in Europe and I don’t think it gets much better. In fact, it’s so good I’ve produced a guide for it!

My favorite Spanish cities are of course Malaga for what I said before, but for beauty I would go for Seville or Salamanca. For elegance I would choose Madrid and for great vibe it has to be Barcelona. Granada also comes high on the list because I met my husband there and the Alhambra Palace is quite simply one of the most beautiful monuments in the world. But my favourite place in Spain (and possibly the whole world) is Cabo de Gata, a remote region in the south-east corner of Andalusia. It’s extremely dry but I love its stark beauty. We visit at least once a year and I can’t wait to go back!

I learnt Spanish at school and then studied it at university so by the time I can here to live I was reasonably fluent. However, I found Spanish verbs really difficult, especially the subjunctive that took some mastering but I got there after a lot of practice. One of my biggest problems was with accents. After living in Salamanca where the accent is very easy to follow I moved to Granada. When I discovered I really couldn’t understand much of what anyone was saying I felt pretty depressed. I can more or less follow any accent now, but there are still some strong ones that leave me flummoxed. However, I think that’s true of any language – I find it hard to follow a strong British or American accent sometimes.

What I would take to my hometown would be the sunshine and the joie de vivre! 

When I first arrived in Malaga in January 1985, I got the train to Granada. The long journey (I should have gone by bus!) had 2 firsts for me – orange trees, miles and miles of them sparkling in the sun and the stunning snow-capped Sierra Nevada. I’d never seen oranges growing or so much snow on mountains. I remember thinking what an amazing country it was.



Joanna Styles  is a freelance writer and journalist, based in Malaga on the Costa del Sol, a place she is more than happy to call home. When she isn’t writing about property and Spain, she loves to run along Malaga seafront, enjoy the cultural and foodie scene in Malaga, and travel. She is also the author of The 5 Best of Everything in Malaga, an essential guide to the city with up-to-date and new information.

One Comment

  1. Tony Isaacs

    Hello Joanna,
    I’m planning to move to Malaga in November.
    I recently rented a flat for a few days in the old town. It was very noisy at night, fun for a day or so but not for any longer.
    I plan to rent a 4 bedroom flat or house for 6 months +.
    I will have several friends and relatives to stay for short periods.
    Are there any neighbourhoods you’d recommend or avoid?
    I’d value some independent advice.

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