9 Things to Consider Before Relocating to Spain

Spain is one of the most top destinations for expats and those seeking to work abroad.  While their economy has certainly seen better days, if you’re able to obtain any sort of job—whether in teaching or tourism or elsewhere—consider yourself very lucky. Spain is a country with friendly inhabitants, perfect weather, and a buyer’s market for real estate, should you also be keen on investing in that area.  But before you drop everything and book a flight for Madrid, there are a few things you should keep in mind when it comes to living and working in Spain.

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1. You will need an EU passport.  Work regulations in Spain are very strict and most jobs will generally give precedence to a European applicant.  So unless you have already worked out your visa or your permit with an employer beforehand, you may find yourself working under the table.

2. Be wary of crime.  Since the recession hit and austerity measures were instituted in Spain, poverty has increased, and with that crime has increased in many of the poorer areas.  When picking out a place to live, be aware of the safety of your neighborhood. Barcelona, which wasn’t hit as hard by the crisis, remains a safe place to live, while port towns in the south such as Algeciras, which are closer to Morocco and receive an influx of illegal immigrants, should be avoided.

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3. Everything happens mañana.  While plenty of us might love the relaxed attitude towards work and life that is the rule of the land in Spain, (country-wide naps in the afternoon are fantastic idea, in my mind!) it can be frustrating when you want to get something done post-haste.

4. Don’t try to do anything in August.  This is the month that Spanish people go on holiday, so it’s likely that your city will become a ghost town.  Be sure to get any important errands done beforehand, because the country virtually shuts down for 30 days (similarly, don’t go to the beach in August, because that’s where everybody runs off to).

5. Be wary of swindlers.  As an expat, people will try to cheat you at every turn—this is true of most foreign countries you travel to, but it has been worse in Spain since the recession.  If you think something’s not worth the price you’re being charged, you’re probably right.

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6. Don’t be afraid to speak up.  Spain has a very loud, emotive culture, so if you quietly wait your turn and hope to be acknowledged, you’ll find yourself waiting for a drink, a meal, a seat on the bus, etc. for ages. If you’re getting fed up with being passed over, shouldering your way to the front of the mob and shouting, ¡Oye! Should do the trick.

7. People love their children.  They take them out everywhere and allow them to run and scream in public places to their hearts’ content.  Bring a hefty amount of aspirin with you.

8. Spain is a diverse country with diverse languages.  Catalan, Valenciano, and Gallego are all languages in their own right, not dialects of Spanish.  Never refer to them as such or you may cause offense.

9. Learning Spanish is crucial to your survival.  While some speak English in the big cities, you really will be helpless unless you know the basics of Spanish to get around.  It will help you make friends, catch buses, defend yourself against unscrupulous shopkeepers, and any number of useful things.  Try our free online Spanish language level test to see where you place, or send us an inquiry for more information.

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