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In the May 2009 issue of Viva España - Temperament, you can find on page 91 an interview with Patricia telling her personal story as a foreigner in the Spanish property business. See the full report below.






In early 2004, Patricia De Donder (35) and her partner Geert Grommen left Belgium with a fully loaded car to try Spain for a year. That was nearly 6 years ago; last year their son Alejandro was born.


In Frigiliana (north of Nerja), proclaimed one of the prettiest villages on the Costa del Sol. Next to the Natural Park of the Sierras de Almijara, Tejeda y Alhama, in the province of Málaga (Andalucía).


In Belgium I was an independent architect, active mainly in the region of Mechlin (Flanders). I was about to expand my business, in order to abe able to focus more on creative design and construction follow-up. But Belgium's high labor costs, and the highly bureaucratic nature of the profession of architect made me question this choice. Would this decision give me more quality of life? Very doubtful! Once I started thinking about this together with my partner, who was also active in construction (renovation and decoration), the doubts started growing. Were we not busy enough already? Was Belgium really the place where we wanted to spend the next 10, 20 - ... years of our lives? Our doubts led to some more profound reflection! To work and live in a country with a warm climate, where nature abounds, without being faced with endless traffic jams all the time (even in weekends!), to live in a society that is still genuine and not rushing past itself... that was our real dream. Moving country was the message, instead of a career turn in our own country! Our reflections resulted in us moving, after a few detours in Alicante (Costa Blanca) and Granada, to Frigiliana, on the Costa del Sol.


My studies and experience as an architect quickly introduced us to the Spanish construction world. Our craving for activeness and creativeness and our desire to make proper use of the knowledge and experience gained in Belgium, led to us founding 'Hogar Creativo'. Started off as a project management company, mainly active in construction and renovation, we quickly extended our services to include buying and selling real estate. Nowadays we mainly provide independent advice to people buying and selling real estate. Unlike a real estate agent, we act as an independent real estate consultant, tailoring for our customers, in cooperation with a quality real estate agents network, a compilation of the best properties available on the market.


A real culture shock we did not experience, but sometimes I do feel being catapulted 20 years back in time. And there are the cultural differences: eg. Andalucians are very open and direct when communicating. Family is sacred. Making clear agreements is not their strongest. The mañana mentality and the siesta are still strongly honoured. People live more in the here and now. Long working hours: from 10h to 21h. Saturday afternoon at 14h formally starts the weekend; the quality of life is woven throughout the entire day. There's no rush: at 10:30 all work stops for the bocadillo (sandwich) and from 14h to 17h, there is the siesta.


We both speak Spanish and are, on behalf of our profession, in daily contact with both Spanish and foreign customers. It's important to combine the best of both worlds. Our son Alejandro is now 8 months old and is our next step towards integration. Spanish people love children, which means that we now have even more daily contact with Spanish life.


Spain, no doubt, but there are always the things you miss. Family and those few close friends, and the culinary and cultural sides of Burgundian Flanders of course. There's no denying we are Northern European, but the 300 days of sunshine a year on the other hand, the splendid nature, the Mediterranean coast, the clean air (no smog or fine dust), no traffic jams and the more relaxed way of life, provide far more quality of life.

¡Viva España!

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