Best Place to Be: If you are looking for advice about starting a new life abroad, don’t ask Baz Ashmawy

Television: Ashmawy is a past master of feel-good telly and he brings a sparkle to his new frothy lifestyle show about Irish people who have embarked on a new life

It’s easy to imagine the two-word elevator pitch for Baz Ashmawy’s new travel and lifestyle show: Baz Abroad. Having served as the figurehead for a lorry-load of feel-good construction projects in – deep breath – the DIY SOS: The Big Build Ireland, on Best Place To Be (RTÉ One, Tuesday, 7pm), he packs his suitcase and jets off to the Continent. But it’s for work rather than frolics in the sun: he’s talking to Irish people who have upped sticks and embarked on a new life under a different sky.

Fresh from his new quiz, The Money List, he begins his adventures in Catalonia. In a village in the Tarragona region, Ashmawy catches up with Joan and John Gallagher, originally from Boyle, Co Roscommon, who decided 20 years ago they’d had enough of the Connacht heartlands and moved to Spain, taking their four sons with them.

They’ve been keeping busy. Initially, they pitched up fashionable (and expensive) Sitges. But they recently relocated to the Tarragona region, where they have opened a boutique aparthotel. There are no regrets: their sons are grateful to have grown up in Spain where two of them represented the national rugby team at underage level.

One of the motivations was the desire to live in a country that didn’t judge people for who they were or how they lived. “I had seen how my sister had struggled. She’s married to a woman. In the early days it was very difficult for her,” says Joan. “I wanted [my children] to grow up with more sense of freedom.”


Then it’s off to Barcelona, where Róisín Moloney and her German other half, Rene, have relocated. Moloney, who works in event design and styling, loves Barcelona and has extended family there. But she doesn’t have the language, which has been a struggle. “It’s been a lot harder than I thought it would be,” she says. “No matter where you move to, you have to adjust.”

Ashmawy is a past master of feel-good lifestyle telly. Best Place To Be is essentially froth – anyone looking for a detailed breakdown of buying or renting property abroad or the finer points of the Spanish tax system can jog on. Nor does he get into the potential downsides of living in Spain, for instance, the impact of climate change.

Still, he’s good company. I remember when I found him intensely annoying – but it feels like it’s been a while. He’s great fun on DIY SOS – a series that could easily slip beneath cloying waves of self-worthiness. And he brings a sparkle to Best Place To Be. In one scene, for instance, he encourages some locals in Tarragona to say “howya” and “I’m bleedin’ great”. It isn’t TV rocket science, but he nevertheless makes it look easy.