Boom in Irish families living 'Spanish dream'
"They come here to live the dream."
That's the estimation of Patrick Hughes, MD of Premier Property International, who has sold homes to hundreds of Irish families who decided to pack their bags and set up a life in sunny Spain.
Cheap travel, regular flights and the widespread use of the English language are just some of the factors that have made the country a home away from home for many Irish expatriates.
Indeed, the increasing numbers of Irish-born people flocking to warm Mediterranean countries has increased dramatically over the past decade, with over 78,000 Irish people now registered as living in Spain.
Mr Hughes, who has lived there for the past 20 years, says more people are discovering how they can have a better life in a sunnier climate without surrendering any of their home comforts.
"There's no sacrifice. We have RTE here. We can get the Irish papers every day; it's like home from home, except warmer and more comfortable."
He continues: "You live the same here as you would at home, the only difference is that you can do it outdoors. The lifestyle is considerably better; with 300 odd days of sunshine you can play golf almost every day of the year; if you're a sea-faring person, there's yachts and sailing; you can go walking along the beach in the summer; there's the beautiful people, good food, great shops, which are far cheaper than back home, and places like Marbella have a lot of style."
Tom McGrath, managing director of Tom McGrath & Associates Solicitors, who has lived and set up a business in Spain, agrees.
"The convenience is one of the things that attracts people. Flights are only two hours long and they run several times a day. The weather is also obviously a huge attraction too. You can go to the beach in January. You just feel healthier in general -- your bones don't creak."
Offering a cautionary word however, Mr McGrath says that, when it comes to rearing children, the Spanish culture means that kids tend to get their independence at a very young age.
"As part of the culture in Spain, people go around in groups and that tradition may encourage children to grow up quickly.
"Families need to be wary that if they're going to live in Spain, and they have children, that they need to consider how the children will integrate with the local children because there is this element of having your own 'gang', so it is something to be aware of."
He also explains how the Spanish nightlife kicks off much later than in Ireland.
"I remember when my kids were small, we used to get babysitters and we'd come home at maybe 1am and the babysitter would only be going out at that stage."
Meanwhile, on the business side of life, many Irish investors find the financial burden that accompanies starting up a new business a lot easier to bear in Spain.
As Jenna Callaghan who co-owns Callaghan's Irish bar in Marbella, explains: "Myself and my husband bought the bar three and a half years ago. We had the money at the time and felt it was far cheaper to invest here than it was in Ireland".