We speak with Kay Newton, founder of Sensibly Selfish, supporting women from around the globe
JC: When did you first move to Mallorca and what made you decide to relocate to there? Was this a difficult decision to make?
KN: I helped bring a private motor yacht from Hull in 1985. I always say, ‘I forgot to swim back’! I worked on boats for a few years, then met my husband. He was from South Africa, we both decided that we would make Mallorca our family home instead of our respective countries. Not a difficult decision to make when you’re in love!
JC: What were the main practical challenges you encountered when you made the move?
KN: No challenges as such, we had no property in the UK/S.Africa, we were young, and full of ambition, willing to learn about a new country.
The first piece of advice I was ever given was to find a bank manager I liked and stick with him. If he moved, you moved your account. With internet banking it is not as important, yet having that personal contact does help. The same with finding a lawyer/Gestor/Asesor fiscal to help with your business paperwork, tax returns, or any paperwork for that matter!
Learning the language and understanding the way the Spanish paperwork system works were the biggest challenges at first.
JC: Are there any remaining challenges you face on a day to day basis?
KN: Life throws challenges at you wherever you are in the world. I am sure there are challenges, I just refuse to see them that way. For me, they are opportunities.
JC: Has Mallorca become more “expat friendly” during your time living here?
KN: Yes probably, although that feeling could also be because we have lived here for so long. I think there is a fine balance between being part of the expat community and living within the Spanish community. Our cultures are different and you miss out just being an expat.
As a Life Coach I feel many expats come to Mallorca to run away from something, something they do not wish to face. Coming here doesn’t solve it either and before you know it they have left and moved on.
JC: When you first arrived in Spain, did you speak Spanish (or Catalan)? If not, was this a priority to learn? Overall how important do you think it is to speak the local language when relocating to Mallorca?
KN: I didn’t speak any languages when I arrived. My priority was to be able to converse with other business people, buy food, go to a restaurant. Luckily I found a wonderful teacher who began by getting me to learn loads of useful words which we then linked together with verbs. The problem is that I got so far in my education, everyone can understand me, yet my Spanish is far from perfect. My boys who are fluently tri-lingual groan when I speak!!
Years ago, I did a free government run course in catalan for 40 hours which helped me cope with supervising the kids homework. I understand Mallorquin although I still don’t speak it.
I think it is very important to speak at least Spanish, you miss so much of local culture without it, going to the cinema, theatre, reading a paper, listening to the radio, dealing with government offices etc.
JC: Is there an established expat community in the area where you live? How important is this in your day-to-day life?
KN: We bought a house to renovate in Inca nearly 20 years ago. Very few expats lived in this area in those days. Now, although we have a small community of expat friends nearby, there are no designated, English-speaking pubs, bars restaurants, community centers in the area.
It is not important in my day-to-day life, although it is great to know that in emergencies there is someone to ring. My brain seems to only function in English in emergency situations!
JC: Do you feel well integrated into the local community?
KN: Enough, probably as much as I would have been in the UK, I live in the countryside away from people. I like my own space. It has taken me 25 years to get a friendly greeting smile from the local supermarket staff. We are still called ‘els Alemans’ (the germans) by our neighbors, so yes, I think we are doing quite well!
JC: What is the area like where you live?
KN: We are ten minutes from Inca’s city centre, in the countryside. We have a 10,000sqm plot of land. It is flat land in the centre of the island, usually 5º’s colder/hotter than the coast. We grow our own organic veg, have chickens, bees and have fruit trees to care for.
Inca is the second biggest city on the island. It has everything you need. I do not have to travel to Palma unless I wish to. Inca has changed over the years we have been here. It used to be an industrial leather city. It is going through something of a revamp, and it is exciting to watch.
JC: How would you describe a typical day?
KN: Typical day? No such thing! Both my husband and I are self employed. We work long hours, and do not see retirement on the horizon!
I work from home so anything goes. Now that the boys are out of the house things are quite different, no school runs to do, or out of school activities. Hubby goes off to work around 7.30am and come home roughly 12 hours later. He is a project manager working in construction. We have had it rough since 2008, now he’s back in work and working harder than ever.
I work in the garden or take the dog for a walk then sit at the computer working on my blogs, social media, skype calls with clients etc. We also rent out the main house and I use it for workshops and courses so this may be a cleaning/prep day or course day. I also attend some networking events on the island and help organize ‘International Women’s day’ on the 8th of March each year.
I have recently taken on a new role as a celebrant. This summer I have 10 couples to marry in some of the most beautiful locations on the island. It is a great privilege and honor and fun too.
JC: Your sons are 17 and 20 What do you feel are the greatest benefits of living in Mallorca for teenagers and young adults?
KN: My youngest has decided to go to study in the UK and is now in a Boarding school doing an International Baccalaureate course and then perhaps onto University. He comes home at half term to catch up with his friends and enjoy the weather!
My oldest loves the sea, sailing, diving and surfing as well as rock climbing, things he can do almost daily here in Mallorca. He is also a keen cook and is heading off to London for experience. He eventually wants to work as a chef on super yachts, an industry that is booming in the Balearics.
JC: What do you think are the main advantages and disadvantages of being a parent from the international community living in Mallorca?
KN: Advantages perhaps in that we have come from a different culture, seen something of the world, had different educational experiences and can pass these onto our children. They get the best of both cultures.
Disadvantages? Not sure, I am not very good at seeing the negatives in things!
JC: Have your children attended a local school or an international school? Why did you make that decision?
KN: My kids attended both local school and International schools. Decisions were made based on their learning styles. My oldest right brained and a kinesthetic learner, fared better in the English system. My youngest, left brained and logical fared better in the Spanish wrote learning system.
Now we have alternative schools here in Mallorca, my boys would have gone there if they had been available for their age.
JC: For you and your family, what have been the greatest benefits of living in Spain?
KN: The weather, outdoor living, local fairs, fiestas, traditions, fresh food, ‘mañanas’ and ‘siestas’. Bringing the boys up in more than one culture so they are confidently multi-lingual and understanding of other people.
Living close enough to my parents, it is about the same time to travel to Yorkshire from Mallorca as it is from the far ends of England. (Although this has changed in recent years, there fewer direct flights back to the UK in the winter).
JC: Can you envision ever returning to live in the UK?
KN: No, although now my father is 82 and lives alone, I am going back more often to spend time with him.
As a qualified life coach, in 2008 you founded Sensibly Selfish. Can you tell us a little of what first drew you to life coaching and inspired your business?
I remember sitting by the pool one day watching the boys at ages 8 and 11 and thinking, one of these days they will fly the nest and then what will I do? I literally opened a magazine, saw an article about life coaching and thought that’s what I want to do.
I studied Social Sciences at university and it all seemed to fit together. I found a course in the UK which allowed me to study mostly on-line with a few weekends in the UK and this fitted in with my family role.
I decided to niche in midlife women, helping them into the next stage of their life by understanding that when you look after yourself first, you are in a much stronger position to help those you love.
JC: Are the people whom you coach mainly local or expats?
KN: Neither, my business is based on-line. Many of my clients live in the USA, UK, S Africa, New Zealand and Australia, although I do run mini courses and retreats here on the island, both in English and Spanish languages.
JC: Tell us about some of your favourite places on Mallorca and why?
KN: My favourite places would not be so if I told you about them, as everyone will want to visit them!!
- I love to walk in the Tramuntana mountains, you will often find me walking from Caimari to Lluch monastery and back. I love the peace and beauty.
- Also an early walk on the beach at Son Serra De Marina, followed by coffee and croissants at the local bar. If we time it right, we get to see the most spectacular sunrise.
- I love to catch the train from Inca and meander round Palma’s centre or sit in a bar and people watch.
- Meeting friends at Binissalem market on a Friday for a good natter and/or a ‘menu del dia’ is a great way to start the weekend.
- My garden.
JC: Finally, what advice would you give others considering moving to Mallorca?
- KN: Don’t burn your bridges straight away. It is completely different living here and working here than it is coming on holiday. Give yourself 12 months.
- Learn the language, at least Spanish.
- Get local knowledge and recommendations, don’t go with the first suggestion, shop around an listen to your gut feeling. You hear of so many stories of people getting scammed: shifty builders, buying illegal property, getting huge fines for not knowing about tax payments etc.
- It is damp in the winter (we have lots of allergies, chest/bone issues) and very hot in the summer (not fun working in 40º heat!)
- Don’t open a bar!