Cost of Living and Teaching in Spain.

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28 Jun 2012 6:49 PM by pmalenoir Star rating. 1 posts Send private message


I am considering moving to live in Spain. I am a qualified EFL teacher and from what I can see most salaries range from 1,100 - 1,400 Euro per month. I believe the salary slightly varies according to area as well as establishment; obviously cost of living is higher in Madrid etc.

I will also try to earn a little extra from private tuition.

I would like to know if it is possible to live on this amount and maybe even save a little. I am used to living on a tight budget! I would be flat sharing and using public transport to lower costs.

Also does anyone there have any advice on teaching in Spain or areas to consider or avoid. 

Any advice would be most helpful!

Thank you.

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28 Jun 2012 10:41 PM by marcbernard Star rating in Marina Alta; Alicant.... 253 posts Send private message

You would be much better off going to Korea or China

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29 Jun 2012 9:40 AM by alysonwenham Star rating in blackpool, england. 83 posts Send private message

let me know if you are interested in Barcelona, you can pm me.


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29 Jun 2012 10:50 AM by Bri Star rating in North. 591 posts Send private message

 Actually, there is plenty of work around for TESL - sadly because so many young Spaniards are learning English so they can leave Spain to find work or improve prospects in Spain.  But yes - you go for it.  My son is taking a break from a busy life in law teaching English in Andalucia.  I would not be surprised if he does not come back!!!!     How much you earn will depend on the kind of contract you negotiate, and they vary enormously - even within the same school.

Beware Madrid though - I love it - but it is really expensive.  Most other Spanish cities renting seems cheap at the moment, and on the costas it is really cheap because of the numbers available.

Enjoy yourself!! 



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29 Jun 2012 11:22 AM by Sanchez1 Star rating. 853 posts Send private message

You won't be able to work in state schools in Spain as you will need to go through the oposiciones entry exam.  You may get a job in a private school but they will usually require fully qualified teachers.  So your only realistic option is to work in an Academia, which is usually working evenings and the pay will be around 800-1000 euros per month after tax.  You could probably just about get by on that amount outside of Madrid and Barcelona.


Read my blog: Spain Money Saving Tips and Offers 

Use TransferWise to send money abroad. A lot cheaper than the bank and other online currency exchanges!.



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29 Jun 2012 11:30 AM by Bri Star rating in North. 591 posts Send private message

 I think we are looking at private Language schools??   They operate differently, but you might also be able to get odd hours in an Academia to supplement.   Certainly you cannot teach in a Spanish school, but I don't think you were expecting to.  I agree re the living cost comment - you should just about be able to do it.  My son also works for Spanish friends who have small businesses and supplements that way. For that, you need to speak Spanish too. 



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30 Jun 2012 9:54 AM by dalmata Star rating. 22 posts Send private message


When I moved to Spain 2 years ago I was offered a job teaching English in a private language school 45 minutes from my home, unfortunately to keep costs down, the owner did not offer permanent contracts but expected teachers to register as self employed/autonomo and pay their own tax and NI. This seemed ok in principle as I was desperate to work and so I got myself a good accountant (Advoco internet lawyer and accountancy services) who advised me that in order to avoid being "autonomo falso" (Registered as SEmp. but having just one client ergo an "employer" I would need other clients too.

So I set up a business, found a room to teach in, developed a website, had business cards, car stickers printed etc. etc. I registered with the Tax Office and Social Security offce which was very straightforward.

The problem with the language school was that the hours were from about 3 in the afternoon for children and up to 22.00 in evening for adults, plus Saturday mornings;  so I had to fit in my other private clients around this and often was working from 8 in the morning untill 10 at night. The school only paid for lessons taught or those cancelled within less than a few hours notice and so my weekly hours with them constantly varied as lessons were often changed or cancelled and the private clients. Private students were also unreliable and often wanted to change classes or didn't show up.

It was impossible to accurately profile monthly turnover, this created a major stress for me because in Spain you pay your self employed  NI every month regardless of turnover (very different to the UK) and it is a flat fee of about €250.00 per month. This €250.00 plus the accountants fee of €45.00 plus petrol costs (all tax deductable)  ate into my profit margin and it was very difficult to actually turn a profit consistently and if we had not had savings and my husband's income I could not have survived on the money I was making as some months I didn't even break even. I found it quite depressing to be working such long hours and see so little for it.  I loved the actual teaching and met some fabulous people but could not generate sufficient profit to make it work in the long term.

I would say choose the school carefully, try to get a fixed hours/pay employment contract and be wary of taking private clients on the side and not being registered as S.emp I know  a lot of people do it, and even think it is ok but the Hacienda are tightening up

Also bear in mind that if you are not employed or registered as Self Employed you will not have access to NHS health care or be contributing towards your pension. I think it is possible to make it work but not where I am living as the demand is lower than some other places and there is an excellent Official School of Languages.

Good luck with it

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30 Jun 2012 10:03 AM by This_Cat´s_Abroad Star rating in Erbil, Iraq. 2 posts Send private message

 If you´re interested in Madrid or Spain, you may wish to use the services of Lingobongo  - for a small fee they´ll send your c.,v. out to hundreds of schools. I used them a few years back & got a great job in Madrid. Yes, rents are high there but I was paid well and had as many hours as I wanted; in fact, I kept having to turn down hours.

If you´re going to teach in larger cities, try to teach business English - much better money. But like one of the posters said below, do your homework. Check, for example, Daves ESL Cafe´s Spain forum to see if the school you´re thinking of working for has a good or bad reputation.


Good luck!

" ... I came to live out loud." - Emile Zola

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30 Jun 2012 11:23 AM by finkies Star rating. 44 posts Send private message

Hi pmalenoir,

I hope that all goes well for you, but as one of two people have already pointed out, do prepare yourself for a rather large culture shock.      Whilst there may be a little "lip service" paid to employer/employee protection, and employment legislation, in reality, an employee doesn't really have much in the way of legally-enforceable protection.   Theoretically it sounds fine, it's the enforcement that tends to fall by the wayside.

Around 2 years ago,I was idly chatting to a Spanish friend, a lady teacher, who told me that she was "moving on", as she had to leave her job near Murcia (her own personal position  had been handed to a friend of the headmistress) and the only job that she could now get, was in Valencia.        She also happened to mention that her salary was then only €750 pm - although this was Net-in-her-hand.

Having teaching friends in UK, both of her statements sounded unbelievable to me, but I now have no reservations in beiieving either.

Spain IS different, but many people would insist that a living can be made..         I would just emphasise that you have to do all of your homework first, and very thoroughly, and then double-check.

Good luck. 


This message was last edited by finkies on 30/06/2012.

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30 Jun 2012 11:41 AM by finkies Star rating. 44 posts Send private message

And to alysonwenham.

I would not dispute your promotion of Barcelona as a place to work, but it doesn't ring entirely true with what I have been told.

I have another Spanish friend who, apart from obviously speaking Castilian, is also fluent in English & German. She had to move to the Barcelona area because of her husband's job.          She HATES living there as (and I can only repeat what she tells me) not speaking Catalan automatically classifies her as a "foreigner", and a highly unwelcome one at that - and it is brought home to her every day.

Her son had to cope with being taught only in Catalan for his last year at school, and he told me that the puplls were split into two wholly separate factions outside the classroom - those who were pure home-bred Catalan, and those who were not.

Perhaps it is only the non-Catalan Spanish who are ostracised, but she cannot wait to return to Murcia.

Perhaps another area to explore though.         Nearer "home" almost-similar experiences have Wales.


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30 Jun 2012 12:42 PM by saggyraver Star rating. 17 posts Send private message

Hi pmalenoir,

I am also a qualified tefl teacher currently living in Spain. My friend who has lived here many years opened a language school in Ocana which is about an hour on the train south of Madrid last year. She has found that there is a great demand and already has around 100 students plus work from private companies and even from the local council who are paying here to teach the unemployed english. She is looking for staff at the moment so if you are interested let me know and i'll speak to her for you.

Otherwise you will find a fair amount of jobs advertised for TEFL qualified native English speakers. There is one near me in Malaga who advertise in the local paper every week. I've no idea of the salary though.

Good luck

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30 Jun 2012 8:37 PM by Rob in Madrid Star rating in Madrid. 274 posts Send private message

Rob in Madrid´s avatar
The problem with teaching English in Sapin, at least as far as Madrid goes is the long break you get over the holiday periods. The year can range from Septmber to June with a two week break at Christms and Easter, to October to May with a two month break over Christmas.

Average income is under a 1000(I make 24 an hour average) per month with 7/15 percent income tax (you get most of it back) AND almost 300 a month if you're autonomo. Doesn't leave much to live on.

Because of those costs more and more teachers are going back on contract, but then you get 12-18 an hour.

Hours are typically 8-9.30, 13.30 - 15.00 and 16.30-18.00

Full time is considered 24 hours a week but In 5 years of teaching I only had that once. Work varies

Regarding privates, well do a survey of expats and ask how many of them started Spanish only to lose interest, yes privates pay more but they cancel and drop out. Same with business classes 1-1 groups always take priority, 1-1s even when paid by the company cancel way too often.

This is only my experience but I could never live off of what I make as a teacher. I know a lot of people who do, how I don't know



Decided after all I don't like Spanish TV, that is having compared both.

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30 Jun 2012 8:52 PM by Rob in Madrid Star rating in Madrid. 274 posts Send private message

Rob in Madrid´s avatar
@schanez1 that actually isn't correct, I meet a lot of British and Americans who teach in the public system, it's just they are contract and also proper teachers.

@dalmata not sure who gave you your information but it is completely wrong. Your are correct that you have to registar autonomo and it takes about half a day and costs in the range of 300 a month. But as to the rest about having to "create an illution" of having a business and espically having to hire an account. Simply not true, someone is taking you for a ride.

Autonomo is a wierd hybrid of self employment and being an employee.You get all the benefits of being self employed, such as paying full SS and being able to deduct everything. but you're an employee in the sense that the company you work for must withhold income tax and send you a T4 slip (I have no idea what it's called in the UK or Spain)

So drop your accountant and get rid of all business junk.


Decided after all I don't like Spanish TV, that is having compared both.

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30 Jun 2012 11:50 PM by Finisterre Star rating. 26 posts Send private message

There are a lot of pessimistic posts here but I say go for it! With the caveat that an actual salaried post is probably essential if you want to live off your earnings.

I moved out here with my partner in Jan 2009. The previous October, I came out for a weekend and took my CV round all the language schools I could find (in Seville). In December, one of them phoned me and offered me a job. I was lucky, in that one of their teachers had just suddenly left, but on the other hand October is absolutely the worst time to look for work (because term starts in Sept so all the schools already have staff), so that doesn't mean that jobs are so terribly hard to come by.

I have worked for the same place since then. It's a bit precarious, as I get laid off every summer and re-employed in September, but on the other hand as a salaried taxpayer I have claimed unemployment benefit for the two months I'm not working, every summer. It's only about 70% of my full salary (as how much you get depends on how much you've contributed), but it covers my rent.

My situation is slightly different to yours, as we didn't want to flatshare, so we've been paying €720 for a three-bed flat near the centre of Seville for all this time. But my salary (€1200 gross, nearly €1100 net) covers the rent and bills, and we live off my partner's earnings. It has been a struggle at times but we've never been in serious danger. OTOH I also do freelance work for English companies so that has helped too, but then we do live pretty well - not luxuriously by any standards, but we eat out a lot in cheap local bars and sometimes very nice restaurants, and we go back to the UK twice a year, for summer and Christmas.

Seville's lovely, but I think you'll be absolutely fine in most places. Just make sure you get a job with a reputable academy. How do you know it's a reputable academy? Rather handily, it's the reputable places that offer you decent conditions - a salary, no deductions for cancelled classes or holidays, adequate facilities (textbooks, photocopier) and so on. Also, a proper, legal, salaried job means you won't have to worry about the dreaded autonomo payments. Paying €200-300 a month is NOT feasible for a lowly language teacher.

To summarise: it's a cliche, but wouldn't you rather regret doing it than not doing it? And I venture to say you won't regret doing it. You'll have a blast. I earn crap money but I work much fewer hours than I did in England. It's a trade-off, and we're really happy here - so much so we've even produced a little Spaniard of our own. ;-)

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30 Jun 2012 11:55 PM by Finisterre Star rating. 26 posts Send private message

PS @ Rob

Spain does many things very well indeed, but the tea is facking disgusting. Your English friends are right about this. :-)

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01 Jul 2012 12:21 AM by hobnob Star rating. 1 posts Send private message



I am a qualified primary teacher and looking for work in Spain. My main worry is the same as yours. I know the salary will not be anything like I get in England but I dont mind as long as its enough to live on.  Can someone help me as well!




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01 Jul 2012 11:45 AM by polopalicante Star rating. 1 posts Send private message

Hi, I've been teaching EFL for a number of years on a Self Employed basis, working from home, at the moment I have in the region of 30 Students (all levels), I only work approx. 18hrs a week and I have no problem finding new Students. I actually have a waiting list for the new term in October. If anyone is interested my business will be for sale and the Duplex apt I live in, as I am returning to the UK very soon. The life here is great, but for personal reasons I have to make this move.



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