#DareToDreamCostaBrava: Arend Jan Steenhuisen of callCarlos on relocating to the beautiful Costa Brava

I moved to the Costa Brava because, to be honest, I think in general the people in Spain understand life better than we Dutch. I wanted to give my kids a better life!

When you start a new life in a new country, everything is a challenge, even doing the groceries. Now that it is our home we find that there are a lot fewer challenges.

The area hasn’t really changed much since we moved here although we see that the Spanish rules are changing. There are more taxes and the government is trying to control things in general. Which is best for all of us eventually.

I think learning the language is one of the most important things when moving to a new country. When I arrived I knew just a few words. I am still learning… every day. But my wife started learning Spanish and Catalan immediately. Our kids were 2, 4 and 6 when we moved and they go to the local primary school where they only speak Catalan.

Living in an expat community is not important to me. I moved to Spain to live with the Spanish. We are members of the Dutch Association and we have some really nice events, but on a day-to-day basis we have more Spanish friends and are more involved in the Spanish world. We feel very well integrated into the local community. But you have to show that you want to be part of it. It does not matter where you are in the world, if you want to live in another country and feel integrated you have to learn the language, embrace the culture etc.

We live in a lovely valley, where they make wine and olive oil. It is 5 minutes from the beach and the village and 30 minutes form Girona.

My typical day is all about working hard but also about enjoying every moment. We take our kids to every fiesta there is (and there are a lot!). That’s also a big difference. We never hire a nanny like we did in Holland. Here you always take your kids.

There are lots of benefits to living here for the kids. To learn how to enjoy your life and sometimes forget time being one of the greatest. I can’t imagine ever returning to Holland.

Our kids go to the local school. Again, it is all about integration and the willingness of being part of the local community. We want our kids to speak Catalan and Castellano fluently.

I run a company called callCarlos. We do everything for our customer. We sell time, offering to do all the things that people can not do, do not have time to do or do not want to do. We offer all maintenance services for their first or second residence. But, if they like, we also do the groceries, paint the house, import their car… We do all the basic things ourselves but we also hire the best, affordable and most reliable partners for their expertise. We are more concierges than we are a maintenance company. We offer to do everything for our customers so that they can enjoy their lives. We are a very fast growing company. There is a big market for us because we really think that there are more and more people who want to come to Spain to enjoy their lives and leave all the hassle to callCarlos.

We are currently selling our masia. It is, according to the people in the area, 500 years old. The garden is 15,000m² and is filled with fruit trees, olive trees and vines. We make our own olive oil and wine. It consists of a main house and a guest house, together more than sufficient for at least 14 people. We have our own wells, water tanks, sewer and modern solar panels for electricity and heating. The house was completely renovated 3 years ago. There are normally not many masias close to the sea but ours is. The house is still in its original state but equipped with all modern needs. We are looking for a house a bit nearer to the kids’ school.

I could not do without my family, my business and, at the moment, Lucas Fox… ;)


View Arend’s masia on the Lucas Fox website

View properties for sale on the Costa Brava on the Lucas Fox website