Life's better in Spain, say expat mothers

Fiona Govan
Fiona Govan - [email protected]
Life's better in Spain, say expat mothers
Photo of a mother with her baby:Shutterstock"

Almost half of expat mothers don't ever plan to return to live in their home country believing that the quality of life in their adopted nation is far better.


A recent survey by has revealed that 49 percent of expat mothers living in Spain, France, Italy and Germany never plan to return to their home country to live.

And nearly two-thirds believe that the quality of life in their adopted nation is better than that in their native country even though they think the schooling is not as good.

The perks and quirks of having a baby in Spain

The questionnaire asked 650 mothers from the international expat community living in the four countries covered by, the majority of whose children were under 16 years old.

Significantly, education was perceived as worse (32.23 percent) in their adopted nation than at home as were children’s activities (38 percent) and children’s services (35 percent).

Exactly half of women surveyed (50 percent) said that they had given birth in their adopted country and 85 percent said that the experience was a positive one.

But the lack of natural birth options and few midwives was cited as a negative, particularly for mothers living in Spain.

Most children living with either one or two foreign parents attended a local school (61 percent), just under a third went to an international school (31 percent) and the remainder to state subsidized schools or were home-schooled.

"This is the first survey of its kind in Europe, solely focusing on mothers from the international community," Carrie Frais, co-founder of, told The Local.

"I think it is significant that such a high percentage of those interviewed are opting to stay in their chosen country for the long-term, despite some concerns over local education systems. It seems that a good health system and excellent quality of life are overriding factors and enough to deter many of us from returning home," she said.

Carrie Frais, pictured with her two children Poppy and Bertie, lives in Barcelona

Frais believes that more and more women are choosing to start a family abroad:

"We believe that we will see increasing numbers of 'lifestyle migrants' choosing to live in European countries which offer these benefits as travelling between different cities becomes easier and working remotely becomes more popular."

The survey coincides with the re-launch of the website for expat parents.

"When we originally launched our Spain site in 2008, the majority of our readers or their partners were living abroad because of international work contracts, which would last three to five years," explained founding director Rebecca Laidlaw to The Local.

"But seven years on, the picture has changed - many of those people have chosen to stay on voluntarily and we are also seeing growing numbers of families choosing to move abroad due to the fantastic quality of life these countries offer, as reflected in our survey findings," she said.

Jane Mitchell, 45, who moved to Spain in 2003 with her then boyfriend (now husband) explained that life in Catalonia just can't be compared to that in London.

She lives with her Italian husband and three children - aged 11, seven and four - in Maresme, which occupies a narrow strip of land in the North East of Catalonia, between Barcelona and the Costa Brava.

"It’s a very beautiful area that combines the countryside (mountains and vineyards) with the beaches of the Mediterranean," she told The Local.

"I think the whole family has a great quality of life here. My husband has a 15-minute commute to work in Barcelona and we live walking distance from the children’s school so there is no stress at the beginning or end of the day.

"The weather is great – we wake up to the sun most mornings and that alone has a very positive affect. And we are all comfortable in a multicultural and multilingual society – hopefully our children will find it easy to adapt wherever they choose to live in the future."

Jane Mitchell pictured with her three children



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