GREAT BRITAIN has endured one of the worst summers ever as wind and rain spoiled the school holidays.
Let’s be honest: the summer of 2023, coupled with the cost of living crisis, was a wet day all round.
Meanwhile, holidaymakers are enjoying 30°C on the Costa del Sol as we wait for a long-promised heatwave.
Around 15 million Britons travel to Spain each year and Benidorm – immortalized in the hit ITV sitcom – has been a long-time favourite.
But have you ever wondered what it would be like to live there full time?
Michelle Baker, mother of five, has lived in Benidorm for 40 years.
Her parents – Pat, 78, and Clive, 83 – moved to the sun-drenched town from Solihull in the Midlands when she was 13.
Michelle who runs this Benidormforever Facebook pagethinks life is far better abroad.
Here she reveals 11 reasons why her compatriots should swap at home and abroad.
Benidorm is a great place for food – whether you buy it or grow it.
Everything is so fresh here. When you go to a restaurant in the UK, the food is good, but sometimes you’re served a pre-packaged, portioned meal from a supplier.
Here all the local restaurants and tapas bars prepare everything fresh – and the added benefit is that there are plenty of staff on site to serve you.
We love spanish food like paella and mussels.
We have a piece of land with our house that is just outside of town and right now I have about 50 avocados that I have grown lying on my kitchen side.
My husband Paco keeps telling me to keep eating them, but I ate avocado with everything!
You can drive to Benidorm and have a famous full English breakfast, but most locals eat a toasted baguette with grated tomatoes and olive oil.
It’s relatively cheap to eat out here and my parents go out every morning for baguettes and coffee for €3.50.
Benidorm really knows how to put on a show and all for the price of a beer or cocktail.
There are around 800 bars in the city and most try to attract tourists with their entertainment.
When they can’t attend shows, they compete for drink prices.
The acts are great and you can catch five or six quality shows back to back with tributes to big names like Adele, Queen and Elton John.
It goes without saying, but the weather is amazing. We enjoy 320 days of sunshine every year.
My parents came to Benidorm over four decades ago. You would save all year round to book the first two weeks of January at the best price just to enjoy the sun.
They liked it so much that they moved here. When my brother and I were young, starting a bed and breakfast and then a tour company was a real financial challenge.
Whenever they complained to their family back home, they said, “At least you’re poor in paradise,” and we realized how lucky we were.
It’s great to get up at 6am, take a walk along the beach, watch the sun rise and know it won’t rain at the parade.
You can also plan a BBQ weekend and not have to worry about the weather!
The heat makes you drowsy, especially in summer, so we just indulge in it with an afternoon siesta.
At home, the children come back from summer school at 2 p.m., we have lunch and nobody goes out until 6 p.m. because it is too hot.
The Brits come here for 15 days and want to get a tan so they’re in the heat all day and I can’t blame them but the locals think they’re crazy!
The work-life balance is great here. Everyone takes a little siesta and a walk on the beach at sunset is just lovely.
That’s why you see Spanish children running around at midnight – to let off steam.
The older generation goes up the steps of their house at dusk and stays up until three or four in the morning, chatting and enjoying the outdoors. I love the spanish traditions.
sense of community
Spain is still a place where people actually talk to each other and spend time exchanging pleasantries.
The walk through our village takes about half an hour as everyone stops to chat. I describe it as 1960s Britain.
I really enjoy being able to go to a bar, have a coffee and chat.
High quality fashion
The Spaniards have a very different attitude towards buying clothes.
They shop like the French do, investing in something expensive that you wear over and over again and upgrading it with accessories. This means that the women always look very well-groomed
Primark has only been here for about 10 years and the Spaniards aren’t really the fast fashion fans.
When I moved here, Zara didn’t have clothes in larger sizes. It was like manufacturers telling you that crop tops and mini skirts couldn’t be worn by taller people, but that’s changing now.
I think the European influence also contributes to the sense of style here.
In Spain, people tend to dress for the month rather than the weather. That’s why in April the kids are still wearing woolen tights because summer isn’t here yet, even if it’s warm.
The Brits have a preconceived notion that Benidorm is a kind of Blackpool on the beach, but explore a little further and you’ll be blown away.
You can get your kiss me quick hats and eat on Breakfast Alley if you want, but there’s also a side of Benidorm that’s like LA, with luxury hotels and beautiful seaside estates.
The old town and the waterfront are just beautiful and the beach at Poniente is beautiful.
It’s like Benidorm’s Miami and property prices are astronomical – that’s where the future lies in my opinion.
There is something for everyone here and the theme parks are amazing.
We have Terra Mitica Park which is a bit like Alton Towers but with no lines! We can never find out why that is, but I think it’s because there is so much to do in the city and the competition for tourists is fierce.
We have two water parks. Aqualandia is the busiest but I like Aqua Natura where you can see the whole park at once and keep an eye on the kids. It’s much quieter and there’s a zoo too.
Then there is the Mundomar animal park, where you can swim with dolphins and see a sea lion show. It’s just wonderful.
In every town across Spain there is a week when locals enjoy themselves for the annual festival.
In Benidorm we’re waiting for most of the visitors to go home, so it’s the second week of November.
There are marching bands, parades and fireworks where everyone has a really good time. It’s a bit like Mardi Gras and there’s never any trouble.
We also host a costume party that gets bigger and better every year. Last year there were 50,000 people and some of the costumes are just wow.
Not wearing a costume makes you feel a bit ridiculous, so everyone has loads of fun dressing up.
The family is really big in Spain. In general, people take care of their elderly and children and are welcomed everywhere.
People tend to stay close to their families. While people do move, they tend to stay in the same area for generations.
I always joke that I’m bringing fresh blood to the area!
In Spain all employers pay for their employees’ access to the NHS, which means it is really well funded.
The typical wage is around $1,100 a month, which is pretty low, but your bosses pay an extra 50 percent for your health care.
If I need a doctor because one of the children is unwell, I can go to the emergency room in 20 minutes and be treated there.
If it is not urgent, we can make an appointment for the next day.
If you lose your job, you will be given a medical card so you can access medical care.
If you’re self-employed, you’ll pay around £320 a month. It may seem like a lot, but your health is your wealth.
Brits have been unable to use their European health cards since Brexit, but if it’s an emergency they’ll see you.