Living in Spain - Top 5 Tips

Published on 13/04/2010 in Living in Spain

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.

Brits in SpainHowever, 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.

Written by: R. Davies

About the author:

Rhiannon Davies writes about living and working abroad, to read more about living in Spain visit her site

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Andalucia anais said:
25 December 2013 @ 05:17

To Paul Cheerios Box,
Dee, good riddance rabbit nuisance ,I suggest you cross when the light is green maybe the ferrocarril,will accidentally run you over,don't travel to Spain you are not welcomed there!

Gerry Mandering said:
31 July 2011 @ 11:43

Spain is corrupt , and to be avoided .However Britain is allso corrupt .Corrupt MPscum in Wasteminster, corrupt lords esp. kinnock , corrupt local clowncils . Another PONZI SCHEME . Madoff would be proud .

Graham Grainger said:
31 July 2011 @ 11:37

Spain is the most corrupt country in Europe . The Spanish nation are all beggars , cheats , liars , thieves and swindlers.AVOID THIS CORRUPT HELLHOLE .THE COUNTRY IS A PONZI SCHEME .

John said:
05 April 2011 @ 14:32

We lived in Calpe for a year and returned to the UK (its not called useless kindom for nothing) for two main reasons firstly DWP threats to pensioners income which caused many sleepless nights, secondly my health. We are now thinking of returning to Spain, the overeducated wealthy schoolboys now in control of the UK are a much greater threat to our mental wellbeing than any Spanish corruption. However this time we will do it differently, we will sellour Uk property first then rent in Spain and avoid being reliant on Tennants and unreliable estate agents in the UK. Spain, with out doubt, has its problems, but, compared to the useless kindom and its bent MPs. the educated beyond any usefullness idiots in the coalition who are hell bent on social experiments which have destroyed so much of all we hold dear. I think that Spain with all its warts and problems offers a better life style and quality than the open prison which the UK has become. Also, remember all those in the uk whose property has been snatched back by zealous banks and building societies over the last 36 months. Its no different, but i think Spain has the edge.

Sam said:
20 April 2010 @ 14:42

Dunn - I back what your saying, the ones who sit back and sun bathe should try doing business here, its a nightmare especially with the town halls. I deal in the Forex market, the euro is screwed and in 5 years time there will be no Eurozone, the likes of Germany and France who I might add prop up the rest of Europe inc GB, really want out SAP and the best thing the UK did was staying out. As an example Germany who are one of the finest producers of machinery in the world, how can they continue to do business with ultra corrupt Mediteranean countries, the culture is different and that is the main issue. If the interest rate changes in the Eurozone its applicable to every country regardless of wether there economy can stand it. Spain needs to devalue now but is not possible. Much worse to come I fear.

Sam said:
20 April 2010 @ 14:02

Dunn - I back what your saying, the ones who sit back and sun bathe should try doing business here, its a nightmare especially with the town halls. I deal in the Forex market, the euro is screwed and in 5 years time there will be no Eurozone, the likes of Germany and France who I might add prop up the rest of Europe inc GB, really want out SAP and the best thing the UK did was staying out. As an example Germany who are one of the finest producers of machinery in the world, how can they continue to do business with ultra corrupt Mediteranean countries, the culture is different and that is the main issue. If the interest rate changes in the Eurozone its applicable to every country regardless of wether there economy can stand it. Spain needs to devalue now but is not possible. Much worse to come I fear.

James said:
20 April 2010 @ 13:03

I got my NIE in just a couple of hours.

I was flabbergasted but then I was in Gijon.

Graham said:
20 April 2010 @ 10:45

Jim your quite right and with your attitude! living in Spain would be much easyer.
I intend to move to Spain after Christmas this year with my family, I have a large family with the youngest being 2 and the oldest being 11 with 3,6 & 9 in the middle and as a father I hope when my children grow up they thank me and their mum for giving them a better life.
Life is about what you put into it? not what you take out of it or expect of it.
Everyone has a story to tell, some stories are bad luck ones, some are happy ever afters. Work at it, settle, get to know your new country and treat people with respect and your half way there.

Regards Graham and family in (for a change) sunny UK and looking forward to the future.

Jim Ross said:
20 April 2010 @ 10:31

Hi,my thoughts for what they are worth.
First , we move to spain for the weather, its healthier,the sun makes you happy .

Secondly this thing about losing money on property - why buy property anyway. This property ownership thing is very U.K.. It was drummed in by a whisky soaked female primr minister years ago that you were a second class citizen if you did not own your own house.

Better to rent, you get great value or even rent for a few years until a great deal comes along or your prepared to put down roots. Move if you find out you dont like where you are.

Quite correct do not compare Spain with the UK.

Also a good tip is to tell the locals you are Scottish not English and this will increase your quality of life locally.
The Spanish cannot stand this "Union Jack - we used to have 2/3rds of the globe attitude" They love the Scottish and are great fans of Braveheart.

Move to Spain, live peacefully with the Spanish, enjoy the sun, try to fit in and learn the lingo.
Otherwise return to an overcrowded over ruled tiny isalnd with rotten weather.

Me? Just pass me the bamboo and I will start putting up my own fingernails than return!

dunn said:
20 April 2010 @ 10:09

Re: Message by Clive, "What a pair of "saddos".
Clive, why did you choose Spain?, was it because there are so many of your fellow countrymen living here, making you feel safe, or because you are not so far from the UK?, making you feel safe, or because Spain is part of the European Community and you misguidedly feel safe because you feel they have to comply with their citizens human rights as in other European countries.
Well Clive, think again, approximately 250,000 home owners are living under a cloud of uncertainty in Spain, at the mercy of authorities dealing with the situation in the manner of "loose cannons".
I doubt that you are that much smarter then all those unfortunate people, so maybe a little more compassion for the victims of Spain, would not go amiss.

dunn said:
15 April 2010 @ 14:34

Spanish Corruption
The world corruption league table has once again been issued by Transparency International for 2009.It lists 170 countries from the best to the worst.Spain was ranked 28 but it has dropped to 22.The countries with the least corruption are New Zealand,Denmark and Finland.All very stable economies.TI indicates that corruption is widespread in Spain.It affects all strata from politicians to political parties ,it is in the private sector ,Parliament and the media plus sadly the judiciary too and legal system.
TI in its 2009 report stresses what a negative effect corruption has on society ,it stifles fair competition,economic growth and ultimately it undercuts a business’s own existence.Town planning scandals are a major reason for their drop in position.This will not surprise Spaniards or foreign residents.Town planning has been identified quite clearly as one of the main sources of corruption.Laws havebeen introduced but there were still major deficiencies in the system.
Illicit payments are still being paid to political parties even though a law was introduced in 2007 to prevent this happening.The EU has brought in regulations concerning the issuing of contracts but they are not being used yet.Towards the end of 2007 the Guardia Civil set up a special unit to investigate town planning fraud and crime and that has begun to bear fruit.Spain is also improving its legal capacity to fight corruption.However Spain has not yet ratified its
Regional and local governments have declared war and the the most vulnerable, elderly British expatriates are used as human shields.
You can be hauled of to court, no accusation needed, you will be told when you get there, the prosecution can have all the time they need to conjure up a case. You work out a defence when you get there.
The Hacienda can rob your bank account, that is the law, the Junta and the Town halls have gone from corruption to racketeering.
This is modern day Spain, where they are used to kicking defenceless animals and now the frail and elderly expats.

Meg said:
14 April 2010 @ 15:02

I used to love Spain, now I am bitterly disappointed with it. We were sold a house which dropped in value the moment it was built. It is now a noose around our neck. It has been on the market for over 3 years. Now it is let for such a small amount of money that it doesn't cover the pool maintenance. The tenants hold us to ransom but we cannot leave it empty. Thank goodness we can still live in the UK. Our retirement dreams of living in Spain are shattered. It will be GB till we die.

Roger said:
14 April 2010 @ 11:54

I think the article contains good advice. I also think that if you are not happy in a place you should accept that fact with good grace, decide where will be better for you and......Leave.

Dee said:
13 April 2010 @ 23:18

Paul cheerio and good riddance....Shirley keep the UK your welcome they deserve you !!!!

The sooner you go back the better for the rest of us.
All people like you want is the UK with sunshine.

This article is missing one vital point. WHEN YOU COME TO LIVE IN SPAIN... STOP KEEP COMPARING IT TO THE UK.

Clive said:
13 April 2010 @ 18:24

What a pair of 'saddos' the first two commentors are. It's the likes of you that really deserve not to live here at all. Tis obvious you haven't got the 'bottle' to adjust to a new way of life, because that is what it is...a new way of life. You HAVE to adapt, and leave behind the mentality of UK living, otherwise you WILL have problems.

Paul said:
13 April 2010 @ 16:35

Sorry, but this kind of advice might have been valuable 20 or 30 years ago, but Spain is busted beyond repair at least until it gets rid of the Euro.

No one with any sense and full possession of the facts would want to move here. The quality of life/cost of living equation is no longer satisfied and there are infinitely better destinations elsewhere.

PS, I've given up on Spain and am leaving for good in 3 days' time.

Shirley said:
13 April 2010 @ 15:48 do not need a day to get anything done in Spain you need weeks...maybe months. And they are lazy, there is no other word for it .....sorry! Manana does not mean tomorrow it means when theye feel like it and only if the wind happens to blowing in the right direction and for that reason Spain deserves the economic crisis they are in. Fully! Sadly we have only only home in Spain and I would rather have needles poken in my eyes than ever live in that place. And you will not print this I know.
Your article did make me smile though.

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