Moving to the Costa del Sol

February 19, 2024 | Blog, Home & Relocation, My Story

Spain: A Journey of Love, Integration & Community Building
by Ali Meehan

Twenty-one years ago, a younger version of myself packed her life into a suitcase (a rather overweight one, according to the amused check-in crew at easyJet) and boarded a flight from London to Malaga. Little did I know, this was not just a move to live with the man who would become my husband but the beginning of a lifelong adventure in a country that would warmly become my home. In 2023, I celebrated my 21st Spainiversary, reflecting on the journey of integration, community building and the creation of countless memories in this country I now call home.

The Leap into a New Life

My story is not just about moving countries; it’s about embracing new cultures, the power of community, and the endless possibilities that come with a bit of courage and a lot of love. My parents’ tales of their life in the Middle East during the 1950s and my own experiences living and working in Australia in the 1990s instilled in me a deep appreciation for diverse cultures and the richness they bring to our lives.

Meeting my husband in 2002, already settled in Spain, I found myself at the start of what would be a decade filled with travel, exploration, and the challenge of making a new place feel like home. Spain, with its vibrant culture, beautiful landscapes and warm people, was the perfect canvas for this new chapter.

The Challenge of Integration

In 2002, the concept of remote work was still a novelty. Working online for a company based in the Middle East, I found myself navigating the then-unfamiliar terrain of being a digital worker in Spain. The internet in Fuengirola was surprisingly better than in the UK, but the challenge was not in connectivity; it was in finding my community, my “hive.”

The saying “If you can’t find what you need, create it” became my mantra. And so, amidst the early days of adjusting and integrating, the seeds for what would become a thriving community were sown.

When we returned to Spain in 2010 after 5 years of living in Dubai and then a year in Asia, I decided to create a community for Women because I missed the connection that female friends offer.  Costa Women quickly became a space and a hub for those adventurous Women who had made the move as well as those explorers who were contemplating life overseas.

Since then Costa Women has welcomed 13,000 women into our community and its grown and growing into a hive of community and connection.  And our Business Growth Circle was launched in 2019 as a space for learning, communion and sharing.  

Make it Happen 2023: a yearly conference for women in business held in Marbella

A Spainiversary to Remember

As I celebrate 21 years in Spain, I am filled with gratitude for everything this country has given me: a home, a community that has grown to become family, the joy of flamenco and fiestas, two weddings to the same wonderful man (because why not celebrate love as often as you can?), and a lifetime of memories with friends and family from all corners of the globe.

Spain has taught me the importance of embracing new cultures, the strength found in community, and the beauty of creating a life filled with love and shared experiences. My journey from a bewildered newcomer to a proud, integrated member of my local community is a testament to the warmth and welcoming spirit of this beautiful country.

Looking Forward

As I raise my glass to the next 21 years, I look forward to continuing to build connections, support others in their journey of integration and community building and embrace every moment of this beautiful life in Spain. My Spainiversary is not just a celebration of the years passed but an ode to the future, to the adventures yet to come, and to the endless possibilities that await when you open your heart to a new culture and community.

Here’s to the next 21 years in Spain—may they be as fulfilling, adventurous, and fun as the first.


Ali Meehan is a Business Growth Coach. She has been a woman in business since the 1980s with a global career in Spain, the Middle East, Asia and Australia and understands the challenges of managing a business, whatever the size. Having a business is simple, it’s just not easy.  That coupled with life in another country can bring additional challenges. Ali’s business coaching services include:
  • One-on-One Business Coaching: build your business from foundation up
  • Avenue Growth Intensive: join the 12-week intensive programme with weekly calls and access to the online course for 1 year
  • Workshops & Seminars

Find out more about Ali Meehan’s work as a business growth coach on the Costa Women website

Read more insightful and inspiring stories about moving and living abroad on the MumAbroad blog.

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