From Germany to Spain… meet Secret Serranía contributor Rita Whitelock

From Germany to Spain… meet Secret Serranía contributor Rita Whitelock

Rita Whitelock has lived in Montejaque and Ronda since 2005. German-born Rita, a retired intensive care nurse first came on holiday to Montejaque because she’d heard about the village in the south German town of Knittlingen where she was working at the time. Knittlingen is Montejaque’s Twin Town. On that first visit she bought an old house on the second day and had it remodelled prior to moving here full-time the following year.  A passionate cook she is happy to offer some of her favourite recipes to readers of

Secret Serranía: So, Rita, where are you from originally?

Rita: I was born in a tiny village called Oesterholz, near Detmold in northern Germany, but I lived most of my life in Baden-Wuerttemberg in south Germany. Until I moved to Andalucía, of course!

Secret Serranía: Where are you living now?

Rita: We live in the campo near Ronda. I also still have my house in Montejaque, so we spend a lot of time there too.

Secret Serranía: How did you come to decide on your particular location in Spain?

Rita: Patients and work colleagues at the clinic where I worked in Knittlingen, who came originally from Montejaque, recommended it. I came on holiday and immediately fell in love with the village.

Secret Serranía: What was it in the first place that attracted to you to move to this area?

Rita: The scenery is stunning, the people are very friendly and the pace of life is slower and less stressful than in Germany. And of course the weather is fantastic.

Secret Serranía: How would you describe your life here in Spain?

Rita: I like it. It’s a more relaxed lifestyle than in Germany. I have made some good friends and we enjoy socialising together. Being retired there is no pressure to be anywhere or to do anything at a specific time.

Secret Serranía: Do you miss anything about home? What would you say are the negatives of living here?

Rita: Of course I miss my family. I have three siblings, three children and six grandchildren, all of whom live in Germany. Until this year of the Covid-19 pandemic I used to visit Germany regularly, but the virus has really restricted our movements since March of this year. That’s the only negative really.

Secret Serranía:  How do you find the cost of living here compared to Germany?

Rita: Things are getting dearer all the time, but in general the cost of living is lower here than in Germany.

Secret Serranía: Did you find it easy to integrate when you first came here?

Rita: Yes, I have made some very good friends, especially among the British guiris. In addition I knew a lot of local Spaniards from Knittlingen who lived, worked and went to school there. Although I am not good at languages, I have learned to cope in English but still struggle in Spanish.

Secret Serranía: You are married. Do you have a family?

Rita: Yes, I’m trying marriage for the third time. I had three children with my first husband over a 20-year marriage. My second husband discovered our house in Montejaque, Casa  Rita, with me and oversaw the reform. We were together for 10 years. My current husband, Paul, an Englishman I met in Ronda, is also a contributor to We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in July this year. Actually we couldn’t celebrate on the day as we were still in lockdown, but we have since made up for that.

Secret Serranía:  What about day-to-day living, healthcare, etc.?

Rita: This year has been complicated, of course, with the Covid-19 pandemic, but we’ve survived and kept ourselves busy. We are both in the Spanish healthcare system but also have private healthcare insurance. That proved invaluable a few years ago when I had to have an urgent operation. From diagnosis to the operation took just three days! I was only in hospital for one night, but I had a private room with a second anteroom with bed for Paul. Very impressive.

Secret Serranía:  When you first moved here, do you think you made any mistakes that looking back you can warn/advise others about?

Rita: The main thing I believe I could have done better is to have made a greater effort to learn Spanish. It’s very frustrating, because I understand a lot but don’t know how to reply. Nevertheless, if Paul isn’t around to help me out, I can usually get by with Händen und Füssen (hands and feet)!

Secret Serranía:  What would your advice be to would-be expats looking to relocate to Spain?

Rita: If you are retired definitely do it! But if you need to earn a living, it’s harder.

Secret Serranía:  Finally, do you see yourself ever returning to Germany?

Rita: Not really, unless I become too ill or dependent on others to cope with living here! Also, if things don’t improve with regard to Covid-19 and I cannot see my family on a regular basis, I might have to reconsider my options.

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About Secret Serranía

The aim of the Secret Serrania web portal is simple… to bring together the best rural tourism businesses, big and small, in the Serrania de Ronda to one brilliantly useful website.