In 2014 we decided to relocate our family to Spain to try to live abroad for a year and just a few months later we were on a plane down to Costa del Sol and our house in Sweden was rented out long term.
We realized early in our process that our plan to move abroad would take us to a place with more light and a better climate during winter and it took us just a few minutes to agree that we should look closer at Spain.
For the last decades most of our vacations have been spent in Spain and I probably have more weeks at different Ving Resorts around Gran Canaria than anyone else, but at the end this is something totally different and we decided to look at alternative locations focusing in areas with more activity all year around and with less season based tourism.
We started in Costa Blanca and in just 3 days we visited different areas, properties and the Swedish School there to find out if this was it but we never got the right feeling here and just a week later we went to Costa Del Sol and to Marbella to do the same thing.
It was a cloudy day but I still remember when we passed the Marbella branded bridge and all the palm trees and we both had the feeling of being in Los Angeles and we looked at each other and said, we HAVE to live here! This was even before visiting one single property!
As we both had worked in the Swedish real estate business for many years (since the year 2000), it was natural for us to also work with this in Spain. To work as a real estate agent in Spain is significantly different to Sweden, but one of the main differences is that you work more with the buyers in Spain and it suits us perfectly.
We also noticed that our experience from our work in Sweden was very useful for us, the process to buy and sell properties has so many similar steps and even if the legal part is being handled by lawyers in Spain we still have an important role to make deals go through.
We started to work as employees, but after a few months we felt that we wanted to start our own company. Since Fredrik has been running several real estate offices in Sweden and also has Swedish real estate education, it felt like a natural step for us. We also realized that there was a lot we could implement from Sweden and that would improve the way of selling properties in Spain.
Changing countries with an entire family is a process but certainly not impossible
Step one for us was to travel to Spain and look at different properties where we could feel like home. We had contact with an agent who was committed to look for properties that could suit our wishes. We thought it was very easy to only have one agent to work with. Our agent put himself in our search well and since it is not exclusive here in Spain, the agent showed us the whole market, even if the properties were not part of their company. This makes the Spanish property market more flexible and you can rely on the agent, and trust that they look for what is actually best for you and not only what is available within their company. After two days of viewings, we found our home. This was largely due to the pre work the agent made before we came and we got really inspired by the agent’s way of guiding us to find our home.
When our home was found, step two was to visit schools where the children would love to be, because if the children did not like their new country, it was just to pack up and go home to Sweden again. We decided on the Swedish School in Marbella and it was a success! One of our sons is still there. Of course there are a lot of good international schools in the area but we chose Swedish as we thought we would be in Spain one year and the school follows the Swedish curriculum.
Many things are very different here. An example is after school activities. In Sweden this meant that your kids needed a quick meal before going to a soccer training or other activity and then coming back home for homework when it is completely dark outside.
Here we often go together to pick up the kids from school, bring some picnic and then meet up with other families at the beach. The extra hours of light gives so much extra time to be with the family before going to bed.
Another example that has been an interesting, and fun experience for us is the Children’s birthday parties. Here many children’s birthday parties are at the beach clubs or in a restaurant where children are always welcome. The children are free to run around and thanks to the sound of the beach, the sound level of the happy children is not an issue.
Living in Spain is a dream for many and so for us, of course you miss the family and friends in Sweden, but they come and visit as much as they can. In our experience, us moving here has actually led to more quality time with family and friends. Of course you can see your friends everyday but on the other hand, when we see family and friends, it’s more focused and therefore more quality time. We noticed, when we lived in Stockholm, all the people around us were too busy to even have time to meet once a month. Here in Spain life is easier and you tend to live more spontaneously. For example, on a rainy and cold November day you might not feel that tempted to dress your children and go out for a coffee. Here you just put on some light summer clothes and you can go out and be social.
To sum up, moving to Spain has been life changing for us. Our relationship is stronger than ever and we got ourselves a beautiful daughter just a few years ago to complete our family which we never guessed we would have before moving here.
We also were in a position where we made a career and it was a big risk leaving this behind us to create our own company and start from nothing. But our last years with our company Serneholt Estate have shown us that we are on an extremely successful path at the moment with 5 offices around Spain and almost 30 employees up and running. We are one of the most important and influential agencies at the moment.