I bought a property in Spain and moved there just under 15 years now, after an epiphany on a beach when I decided it was time for a change and a new way of life.
I knew of an area that was charming, pretty and didn't feel like I was moving to UK in the sun. Funnily enough, that was where I had had my epiphany.
Knowing that if I chose somewhere with a primarily expat scene; I would not immerse myself in learning the language (as much as I told myself that I would). I chose to move to a charming pueblo blanco village in Andalucía, about fifteen minutes from the sea and most definitely Spanish speaking.
Before moving, I had contacted the local language school and signed up for a one month intensive Spanish course.
The teachers didn't speak any English and on day one; I was put in with a class that had been learning together for three weeks. I was already rather nervous about the daunting prospect of learning the language and then I was very much thrown in at the deep end to say the least.
The class could not have not been more welcoming. Possibly as the teacher's eyes were off them momentarily and I felt instantly relaxed. That was rather short lived as it came time to speak out loud in Spanish. Of course the whole idea was to learn and speak the language, that didn’t stop the stage fright though.
Realising I was not alone in this and that some of the group were still dealing with their fears of public speaking in a different language; made the learning process a-lot easier. We all supported and encouraged each-other and never laughed at the expense of the others which I believe is deep down what we were all nervous about. We overcame our main fear together and when others joined the group (it was constantly changing), we supported and encouraged others. Luckily there were never more than about eight in the group. Which was enough to receive attention needed from the teacher and also enough to sit back a little when the brain drain set in; which it certainly did.
We would practice in class and also take our homework out into the real world together. If I had just have had a private tutor; I really don't feel I would have received the same support and confidence to just go for it.
If you are looking to learn the language and (as I did); do not have a word to your vocabulary; I highly recommend signing up for a Spanish intensive course soon after you arrive.
I recommend a small group class as if you are afraid of speaking the language for fear of getting it wrong or looking stupid; (as I was); you realise you are not alone in this and can support each-other through. You know the world isn't going to end if you mispronounce a word, but in the moment, sometimes it doesn't feel like that.
Being in a group environment gives you the opportunity to meet and support others and meet for homework together to practice. Practice for me is the main part of learning the language.
My other recommendation if you truly wish to immerse yourself, is do it. The sooner you are out and about using all the practice from the classes you have attended; the faster your confidence will grow and it will soon feel natural to have a conversation in Spanish. You may also be rather surprised at how well your efforts are received.
The Andalusians for me, have the kindest and warmest hearts and were extremely patient and helpful in my learning process as I brought my jittery Spanish out into the world. Fifteen years later; the rest as they say, is history.