Spain is the number one tourism destination in Europe, therefore it is also one of the most popular places to move to, to live, study work and even retire for expatriates from all over the world. And if you're looking around for a sunny spot where the way of life is excellent, the standard of living is high and the climate, culture, history and lifestyle are so rich and varied that you're practically guaranteed to find a better quality of life, it's certainly a country to consider.
However, living in a foreign country is a very different experience to visiting it on holiday - and if you want to avoid the culture shock and homesickness sometimes associated with moving abroad, any top tips from expatriates who have already made the move overseas will likely stand you in good stead and be well worth reading and noting.
Therefore, if you're contemplating a relocation to this stunning and vibrant Mediterranean nation, here are the top 5 tips from expatriates for living in Spain and settling in so that you can get the very most from your new life abroad.
1) Learn the Local Language
If you want to truly settle in and get the most out of your move, even if you're living in an English speaking enclave and working in a position where you need know nothing of the local language, learn Spanish! You will be more accepted by your colleagues and the local community, you will get far more out of your new life, you will be able to communicate with everyone and understand everything - from signposts and menus, to popular culture and politics. This will allow you to get so much more out of your new life. If you have children you will be hugely embarrassed at your own lack of language after about a month when they come home and are fluent in Spanish - so make a real effort and learn, practice and adopt the local language if you want to settle in completely.
2) Adopt Spanish Timekeeping
The Spanish work to live, they do not believe in slogging their guts out in a pointless job for the love of the corporation that employs them! As a result they have a completely different - and very healthy - attitude to life. They enjoy 2 hour lunch breaks every day, they get up late, eat late, party and socialise late, they enjoy longer holidays than much of the rest of the world and generally don't give a hoot about keeping to anyone else's times or rules! Whilst you will be expected to turn up in good time for work, and the local transportation networks do follow a timetable, you need to become far less rigid and controlled when it comes to keeping time. And don't ever turn up to a restaurant for dinner before 8 or 9 in the evening, because it may not even be open to serve you!
3) Don't Fight the Bureaucracy
Many people are employed by the government and in the public services sector, meaning that they all need to justify their employment! This results in reams of paperwork and bureaucracy whenever you want to register for anything or apply for any sort of permit or licence. Get used to it. Get used to queuing, visiting and revisiting public offices with random bits of paper, of having to submit your personal details time and again on various forms. You will never change the system so accept it and factor in a whole day to get anything changed, done, registered or applied for! That way you will reduce your expectations sufficiently and avoid stress.
4) Explore Your New Nation
Spain is a stunning and diverse, beautiful and blessed nation. And it's vast! Don't be content with landing up in Barcelona or Benidorm and thinking that's it. To get the most out of your new life you need to get to know the whole country and what it can offer you in terms of beautiful places to live, visit, eat or enjoy. The more you know Spain, the more you will love it. The more you love it, the more it will feel like home...and the more it feels like home the closer you will be to happiness!
5) Integrate Fully
The final top expatriate tip for living in Spain is to integrate as fully as you possibly can into the local way of life, and into your local community. Once you relocate overseas you leave behind your support network of friends and family - but the sooner and more comprehensively you can integrate into your new place in life, the more quickly you will rebuild the support network that's vital for you to lead a complete and satisfying life.