Melissa and William Ellzey, natives of Vancouver, had been wandering around the world for years, with no intention of settling anywhere.
They have always been globetrotters, the kind of people for whom the planet Earth is too small. In fact, more than once, when a Canadian friend told them "you'll see, one day you'll find calm, a place where you'll stop wandering around", they used to deny it. "Stop? Us? No way!" they would say, and laugh.
This is his story.
The penultimate trip
And if we say that they had to eat their words, it is because, a couple of years ago, Melissa and William were still living in Zambia. Yet another stop in a life in constant motion, which had taken them from their native Vancouver, on the west coast of Canada, to that corner of East Africa. They didn't know it, but this was their penultimate trip.
In Zambia, Melissa was a veterinary doctor, working for a company that helped raise and protect orphaned elephants. William, on the other hand, was employed by a tourism company that offered themed tours, safaris and other activities for travelers.
However, when everything seemed to be on track for them to stay in Zambia, at least for a few years, an unexpected change came along: a daughter. When she reached school age, Melissa and William had to decide between three possibilities. One was to send her to boarding school in Namibia, which did not appeal to them. The other was to return to their native Canada, where they would have help from family; but the high cost of living standards put them off. In the end, they were left with a third option: to look for a place that was cheaper than the Canadian country, but had a mild climate, good international schools and a high quality of life.
In their various searches, one name kept coming up again and again: Spain.
"William and I had already traveled here on several occasions during our vacations, specifically to this same area of the Costa Blanca in Alicante, Spain. We always liked it very much. It's neighborly, there's that small town atmosphere that we love and everything is very community oriented, people oriented," Melissa Ellzey explained recently from her home on the Costa Blanca, the place they came to after their time in Zambia.
Until recently, William and Melissa had never thought about the possibility of having found a place for the rest of their lives, but they have. After leaving Zambia, they applied for and obtained a golden visa to reside in Spain. They arrived on the Costa Blanca. And they don't even want to think about leaving.
"We know all our neighbors, the restaurant workers and the store owners, they all know who we are too," Melissa said from her home, adding, "We do what we feel like every day; sometimes we go to the beach and almost always eat out. There is a lot of variety, almost too many options and they are all good. Once a month, I go to a local meeting with a group of 20 to 25 women. The men usually play golf or do yoga, and I do yoga twice a week with my Australian neighbor!
Large expatriate community
Another great advantage, for people like William and Melissa, is that the expatriate community is relevant in certain areas of Spain, as is the case on the Alicante coast. "It's mostly Australians, there are a few Americans, some English and a couple of Canadians," said Melissa from her terrace, whose eyes light up when she talks about the local nightlife: "A couple of bars have live music on Fridays; our friends are always there and it's a nice meeting point for the community. The bars tend to have mostly local bands and we've found that there are a lot of good musicians around here."
"We all know each other," William recounted next to him. "We have a good mix of friends, including some locals with whom we interact in English. We haven't needed to use an interpreter at all."
"Nor a car!" added Melissa. "Everything is within walking distance of where we live, and if I need to go further, I take a cab. William has a motorcycle, which is all we need."
An economical option
But beyond the good atmosphere, there are many other compelling reasons that made Melissa and William delighted to have settled in Alicante. "Many families have been settled here for a long time, that's what attracted us, yes... but it's also true that we absolutely fell in love with the international school."
And then, above all, there is the economic aspect. Melissa and William have bought a home and garage valued at more than 500,000 euros, a block from the beach. "We have a three-story house, fully furnished. From the top floor, we have sea views."
Among the expenses Melissa and William have to deal with in Alicante are $87 a month for garbage, $26.50 for Internet and about $43 for electricity. Water costs us about $10 a month, and the stove is by gas cylinder, which costs about $14.30. But, of course, with Alicante's climate, they don't use it much. "The last one lasted more than six months," William said, laughing.
"In total, we spend between $1,200 and $1,500 a month, but we do indulge ourselves quite a bit, so our budget is more than many people would need; many of our friends live on much less than that. Not included in that budget is tuition for the school our daughter attends. That costs about $16,000 a year," Melissa added.
Llegados para quedarse
Al final, estos trotamundos han encontrado un lugar en el que parar sus viajes eternos. Y no parecen arrepentirse, en absoluto. "No podríamos vivir así en Vancouver. Costaría mucho más y, desde luego, no podríamos permitirnos un colegio privado. Todo ha sido muy fácil para convencernos de que nos tenemos que quedar aquí”.
Quién lo diría hace unos años.