Introducing: Femke Spiering (42), Erik Stekelenburg (48), Daniel (8) and Joshua (10).
A cheerful Dutch family with two young children packed their bags and left for Southern Spain to start over. Read their story here:
A New Start
Femke Spiering: "For some time we toyed with the idea of leaving the Netherlands. Changes in society and atmosphere, the large amount of people in a relatively small Country, climate and culture were the reasons for these ideas, although the idea was often pushed aside and seemed unrealistic as we were running a private enterprise”. Femke has been running a private care home business for 18 years and Erik is a freelance journalist. “Our age, the age of our children and social bonding also played a role continued Femke. In our 40's we still have the energy, drive and time to start a new business. The kids are still young enough to go along with our choices, and build a new social life quickly."
"We had previously visited the local school and obtained information about opportunities in Restabal, the village where we are going to live. It was exciting but at the same time we were nervous about telling our children the news, which we did in the summer of 2009, as we had decided that we would not go if the kids really didn’t want to. Their reaction was “COOL!!!” . We visited the site a few times together and were so happy they felt at home and we are confident that they will make new friends quickly."
"We feel Spain is a great country to live in. The culture, history, climate, people, space and the overwhelming nature appeals to us tremendously. Soon the idea was born to set up a Wellbeing Centre, a company that we will manage together using our experience, education and corporate training as a solid basis for this new company.
On 24th October, 2008 we bought a Farm with a ruin in the Lecrin Valley, named by the Moors, meaning, The Valley of Happiness, well that can not be a coincidence! This is where we will start our new life and a new adventure. The location is really great, the combination of authentic Spanish villages and beautiful scenery make it idyllic. The view is astonishing and yet you're so close to Granada city and the beaches of the Costa Tropical. It is high enough above sea level for lavender plants and is the perfect location to design our wellbeing Centre."
The family is now in the process of developing a lavender (oil) farm and a Wellbeing centre with 9 luxurious resort rooms. Femke enjoys caring for people, so the centre will be a great environment for her as she is also an aroma therapist and trained as a nurse. Another significant point is that after 18 years she will be able to spend more time with her husband and their two children. Erik has years of experience in logistics, sales & as a marketing manager, he is also a trainer / team leader in sports.
In recent years, Erik has been taking care of the household and the children, so Femke could fully focus on the business. As a technical coordinator in youth football Erik's social features have developed, he is always cheerful and his need to communicate makes him an ideal host. The combination of all these factors, made them take this step.
Leaving the Netherlands
Erik: "Leaving the Netherlands and our 'safe harbour' is not a big step for us. The distance is not a problem as we have a great relationship with our family and friends. We have friends in Egypt, South Africa, England and throughout the Netherlands, so you can keep in touch with people anywhere in the world and now the Internet makes the distance even less of a barrier. We hear from many expats in Spain that they see their family and friends more now than when they lived in busy Netherlands. Often for a whole week at a time and that is more intense than the fleeting visits in the Netherlands. So quality over quantity is important."
"In January 2010 we made our plans to move to Spain public. The business plan for ´Casa Lavanda´ is ready and it's great for us to be openly preparing for our departure in 2011. It gives us so much energy to be getting a little closer to the goal. The construction of our house is in full swing and now everyone knows what we are planning and we are really excited about it!"
If you would like to stay informed about the progress of Casa Lavanda Wellness Centre you can follow them through the blogspot: http://lavanda-wellness.blogspot.com
The professional website is: www.casalavanda.nl