ONE OF the most difficult things for some newly-arrived expatriates in Spain is a feeling of alienation and loneliness.
In many cases they don’t speak the language and have no close friends to turn to so they have difficulty in adapting.
When Ali Meehan who describes herself as a ‘digital nomad’ first arrived in Fuengirola with her partner (who is now her husband) in 2002 she has had travelled a great deal but still found it a little daunting to cope with.
The couple left from Spain and undertook in the Middle East and Thailand but when they returned in 2010, Ali decided to found Costa Women, the largest community for women living in or moving to Spain.
Birth of Costa Women
Her concept was that there was a real need for those new arrivals to be able to make friends, ask for advice and share problems and ideas.
Just like other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter she wanted to make this a free online members club which English speaking women could join and enjoy.
Although this is far from being a ‘vanity project’ it has become a major part of Ali’s life and she has funded it since its inception six years ago from the work she undertakes running a social media marketing consultancy on a global basis.
At last however she has attracted three major sponsors Caser Seguros, My Lawyer in Spain and International FX who now assist in ongoing running costs.
Costa Women now boasts 5,600 members based mainly on the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca but there are regular contributions from members in Almeria, Barcelona, Ibiza and Tenerife and because it offers free membership, more and more women are discovering it.
Aspects of help
Ali and a small group of volunteers organise regular networking meetings so that members can put names to faces and make new friends whilst costs to attend are minimal, generally just café or restaurant prices.
When asked what she considered the most important aspect of Costa Women, Ali responded “Being able to connect, inspire, enable and support women from 60 different nationalities during their move to and around Spain.
“Whilst we don’t know the outcome of Brexit, for our British members, this is a time of great uncertainty. To have a community where you can come and ask questions, get support, share experiences, and find likeminded souls to me is what Costa Women is all about.”
To summarise, everybody has a different way of using the community so it has a different value depending on what you want from the community. It could be just as an online resource, or it could be as a place to make new friends, business connections, or attend events on and offline, or post requests for work, create your own events, write and share blogs and even sell, swop or give away unwanted possessions.
If you would like to learn more or apply to join please visit www.costawomen.com.