Spain is way more than the country of flamenco, bullfights, “fiestas and siestas”. Spain has it all. Spain is home to 17 regions (including 11 islands) and they all have their own personality.
If you are looking for an urban, cosmopolitan city life consider moving to Madrid. But if you always dreamed about living inside a modernist masterpiece, Barcelona is your city.
Do you prefer good weather, super tasty food, and a slow life? Then Andalucía is your region. If the beach is not your thing, check out the beautiful and unexplored hills of Galicia for your next home.
Living in Spain
It’s a multicultural country with a growing economy, a creative soul, a mild climate, an ancient history, world-class public universities and a healthcare public system that is ranked among the best in the world. This is where you want to be if you are seeking a laid-back, friendly way of life.
Visas and becoming a citizen
If you are a European citizen from the Schengen area you don’t need a visa to live and work in Spain. If you are not from these 26 countries you can apply for a work or a student visa.
After five uninterrupted years of residence, you can ask for a long-term or permanent residence which allows you to stay in Spain indefinitely under the same conditions as Spanish citizens.
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The healthcare service is regularly rated among the world’s best and every resident has a right to free public healthcare. If you are a non-EU citizen living in Spain, you are entitled to public healthcare only if you are a legal resident and currently paying for social security.
If you are an EU citizen, but you are not be eligible through employment to have access to the public health system, you have two options: hire a private insurance or use the “convenio especial”, a state-run insurance scheme. It is managed by each autonomy and the basic monthly fee is EUR 60 for those under 65 and EUR 157 for those aged 65 and over. It will give you full access to the public healthcare system.
If you want to avoid the queues of the public healthcare and, for example, choose your own doctor, you should consider using a private health insurance. There are plenty of options and hundreds of private clinics and hospitals across the country.
Spain has been through a tough economic crisis and it’s now starting to recover. Since the beginning of March 2014, employment rate is rising and things are starting to look up.
Industries to look for jobs
Finding a job in Spain is difficult, but not impossible. The country is still the favourite vacation spot in Europe, so it’s easy to find job opportunities in the tourism industry. Other sectors as the high-tech industry are growing and always looking for specific skill sets.
Learning Spanish will definitely increase your job opportunities. Skilled trade workers, IT engineers, web and multimedia developers, teachers of foreign languages (especially English), and experienced tourism workers are well needed is Spain.
How to find a job in Spain
Here, word-of-mouth is very important. So if you are looking for a job our best tip is to be proactive, find your opportunity, and most importantly, network. It is easier to find a job in Spain if you have connections.
Typical workday in Spain
Once you start working, you can expect a 40-hour work week with up to 30 days of paid vacation. Normally the months of July and August are slow for business (unless you are working in tourism!) with shortened working hours.
You can also expect working from 9.00 to 20.00, with an average two-hour lunch break (between 14.00 and 17.00).
Essential info for Spain:
|Official languages:||Spanish, also called Castilian. Recognised national languages are Aragonese, Asturian, Basque, Catalan, Galician, and Occitan.|
|Currency:||Euro € (EUR)|
|International dialling code:||+34|
|Drives on the:||right|
|Tipping:||Locals often tip, even if modestly. There are normally no added service charges on the final bill, but it is considered polite to tip around 10% if you are happy with the service.|
|Unusual fact:||Spain has more than 8,000km of beaches.|
Over 80% of Spanish residents owns their own home. Since 2008, the property prices have fallen over 30%, so if you are planning to move to Spain for a long-term, you may find more profitable to buy than to rent.
The prices, as in almost every country, vary depending on where you want to live. If you want to run away from the big cities, you can expect to pay EUR 300 a month (rent) or EUR 100,000 in order to buy a 3 bed apartment. Double that will get you outside Spain’s main cities such as Madrid or Barcelona.
But if you are willing to live inside the city centre, you will have to pay EUR 1,000+ a month for the rent or almost EUR 500,000 to buy a nice 3 bed apartment.
Cost of moving to Spain
Shipping your things over to Spain is cheaper than you may think, especially when compared to airfreight. You can choose to fill a 20ft or 40ft container (the different size containers depend on the amount of belongings) yourself or transport your belongings in a shared one.
|London to Madrid||£1,000 GBP|
|Hong Kong to Barcelona||£1,400 GBP|
|New York to Madrid||£2,410 GBP|
|Sao Paulo to Barcelona||£3,110 GBP|
|Cape Town to Barcelona||£3,300 GBP|
|Dubai to Madrid||£3,600 GBP|
Even if living space in Spain is still high, life is cheaper than other European countries regarding food, eating out, shopping, transportation and education.
In an average supermarket you will spend less than 1 euro in a litre of milk, a loaf of (good!) bread, 1 kg of rice,1 kg of potato or a bottle of beer.
Good wine is also very cheap. A bottle of a Mid-Range wine will cost you around EUR 4.50.
When dining out, you can still get a menu of the day (Menu del dia) for around EUR 10, which includes three courses, one drink and some bread.
Public transportation works very well in most cities. In Madrid a monthly ticket will cost you around EUR 50+. If you are moving to a smaller city, then you should consider to buy a car. You can pick up a new one for around EUR 15,000.
Schools and education
School is mandatory in Spain for all kids between the ages of six and sixteen and the school year typically extends from mid-September to the end of June.
While arriving in Spain, parents will be presented with three choices: public, semi-private (colegios concertados) or private schools. For the first two, knowing Spanish will be mandatory. There are also private international schools where all classes are taught in English.
In Spain public education is free for all children residing in the country and it’s generally considered good by expats and residents.
Universities in Spain
The higher education system is also well positioned internationally, and generally ranks in the top 10 education systems alongside US, UK and Germany.
In the last official world university ranking, six Spanish universities appeared within the world's top 300: University of Barcelona, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, University Complutense of Madrid, University of Navarra and Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
Driving in Spain
If you want to drive in Spain (and you are from outside the EU area), you can use your foreign driving license for the first six months, after that, you will have to get a Spanish driver’s license.
The current speed limit in towns is 50 km/h; open roads 90 km/h to 100 km/h and motorways 120 km/h. Be aware that radar traps are frequent.
And don’t even consider drinking and driving, the blood alcohol level is 0.5 per mg. This corresponds to one small beer and you can lose your license or end up in jail if you are caught driving drunk.
Spain is one of Europe’s favourite country for expats from around the globa. Its mild climate and laid-back life attract thousands of immigrants every year. Barcelona and Madrid are normally the hotspots, but there are also more options.
Valencia, for example, is situated on the coastline and it has become very popular among Anglo-Saxon expats seeking a new life. If you prefer good weather and a tourist related town, you can choose Costa del sol (with cities like Malaga or Marbella) or Costa Blanca (Benidorm and Alicante) where you will find a huge expat community, great beaches, and a lot of opportunities.
Ranking against the world
Spain is a friendly country with a great weather and a cheap lifestyle. Maybe that’s why it was ranked as the best place in Europe for expats to live, and second in the world ranking, just behind New Zealand.
Its Mediterranean diet (with fresh vegetables, fish and olive oil) and its good public health care system, makes it the number one expat destination when it comes to health.
Spaniards are also friendly and welcoming. “Tapas” and “fiesta” are normally the first two words you will learn when you arrive in Spain. If you like to party, don’t even doubt for a second, this is the country where you want to live; it is ranked as the best place in the world for expat social life.