I Hate Spain (by Nick Anders, disillusioned expat)
Maybe hate is too strong a word but ok then I dislike Spain, I’ve had enough, get me out of here – whatever your choice, the end result if the same. I’m leaving Spain to go back to the UK.
I’m not the only one who now hates Spain. It’s a bit like the thin line between love and hate.
I moved to Spain four years ago to start a new life and at first I loved it but now I hate Spain and can’t wait to get out.
There are lots of downsides to living in Spain and I just didn’t know about these when I moved to Spain.
I’ve been living in Nerja which is a coastal town with nice sandy beach on the Costa del Sol of Spain, I won’t bore you with my tales of woe but I wanted to write this to let off some steam but also to warn anyone thinking of moving to Spain to be very careful.
At least move to Spain with your eyes wide open – aware of all the negatives about living in Spain.
An expats life in Spain can be really hard, a constant struggle, make sure you are prepared for all of this because you haven’t seen anything like this on A Place In The Sun and nobody involved in the property/estate agent business will ever warn you of the downsides and disadvantages to moving and living in Spain.
Table Of Content
Reasons I Now Hate Spain and Want To Move Back
Crime in Spain
I felt safe in Spain when I first moved here. I didn’t see any crime, people were friendly, I thought crime didn’t hardly exist here.
Until I found out that often when people are burgled in Spain they are bound and gagged.
The luckier ones are gassed. Even houses with dogs – and have you noticed how many people have big dogs – yeah now I get it – get hit because they poison the dogs.
No, I don’t like living in fear and I’m sure the recession will only increase crime in Spain.
Trouble is Spain is very close to some very poor African countries and there are lots of poor immigrants, mostly illegal, who will do anything to survive.
Work and Jobs in Spain
I moved to Spain for a better life. I hate how I now work harder in Spain than I ever did in the UK. I moved to Spain with savings of £15,000, now I have pretty much nothing but the shirt on my back.
I figured that with so many expats living in Spain that there must be a bundle of potential new business opportunities or companies looking for staff. I was so wrong!
I soon found out that jobs and opportunities in Spain were few and far between apart from the obvious ones.
Fact – I hate villa cleaning, I hate cleaning pools, I hate working in bars until 2 am waiting for the last drunken expat to leave, I hate building work in the baking midday sun. I hate Spain!
The Word Manana
Like everyone else I thought this was a funny joke at first. Every time a person in Spain – whether Spanish or British let me down I would grin and say manana like it was ok or normal. When I’m paying for a job I want it done as promised – and on time – or am I mad for expecting this?
Customer Service in Spain
What I hate in Spain is when I go into a shop and stand waiting while the assistant chats away to their friend or relative totally ignoring me and everyone else.
In this global economy you just can’t see the Spanish having a chance against the likes of American, British or Indian companies who are hungry and put customer service first.
There is NO customer service in Spain. Much of the time you are served when people feel like it, you get little help and assistance and often you are not even greeted at the counter – you greet them. It is like you are doing them a favour by shopping there!
I hate getting anything done in Spain. Often I end up going to the local town hall and being sent from one department to another where I am told conflicting advice. The paperwork and bureaucracy is horrendous. If you are coming to live in Spain bring a photocopier!
Getting Ripped Off in Spain
I hate that people prey on each other in Spain. Everyone seems so desperate that getting cheated is a story every expat I know can tell. I personally put a €8,000 deposit down on an apartment and the estate agent did a runner with my cash. God knows where they are now but I won’t stop looking until I find them.
Other common expat stories are ones such as being sold a property that was actually illegal, didn’t have planning permissions etc and often the people had a Spanish lawyer so they were not cutting corners and they still have lost their life savings.
Corruption is a problem in Spain and often there are stories in the newspapers about local town hall officials being involved in shady/illegal deals. Anything and I mean anything, can happen in Spain.
When I first moved to Spain the currency was the Peseta. The cost of living in Spain was low as most food and drink was cheap compared to northern Europe. Then the Euro came in and it seemed everyone took the opportunity to raise their prices – typical – now I think it could actually be possible – no I’m sure it is – that the cost of living is now higher than the UK!
When I go back to the UK I notice sales, discounts. When I go shopping in Spain, despite a so called recession I don’t see shops dropping the prices, I don’t see special offers, I don’t see much evidence of competition between retailers. In my local supermarket when food goes out of date they don’t slash the price, instead it stays on the shelf and so you have to be careful what you are buying.
Poor Roads/Facilities in Spain
I hate the lack of infrastructure in Spain. The motorways/auto routes are superb as a lot of EU money has been given to Spain but locally our roads are terrible. The amount of tyres we go through because of holes in the road is ridiculous.
There is no drainage so when it rains heavily places get flooded and roads are washed away. Areas that used to soak up the water have been built on due to pure greed. The councils just don’t seem to invest back into the community, instead the money collected from me in taxes is blown up – literally – by stunning firework displays that even Disney would be proud of.
I wish I had never moved to Spain and I urge anyone else thinking of Spain seriously to consider my story, especially any young families who I see writing on the expat forums about how they can’t wait to move to Spain, how they are fed up with life in the United Kingdom etc – you don’t realise how lucky you have it!
What they don’t read about are the thousands of young families who have moved to Spain and who would love to move back to the UK, if they only could afford to as they have no money. Or the ones who have moved back already having realised their mistake in moving to Spain in the first place.
Response From Silvia as a Spanish Expat in the UK!
I’d like to give my point of view as a Spanish expat in UK.
The problem comes when you move to another country without enough information about the place. When I came to UK I spent months searching information about the country and its people. Because I really wanted to fit in. And I think a lot of British don’t do that when they move out to Spain. They spent their holidays in Spain and they think they know the country. I had been in London before but I knew that it wasn’t the same. The life as a tourist is totally different than the life as a citizen.
And, to be honest, after all this time I don’t know where I prefer to live. There are bad and good thing in both countries. But I want to focus in what you said in your post.
– Spain: Really?? Didn’t you speak with a Spanish person before you moved to Spain?? Any Spanish had told you about the problems we have in Spain with this. And it’s not only about find a job, it’s when you get one what conditions you’re going to have: low salary, a lot of extra unpaid hours, asshole managers….
– UK: I’m graduated and I have several experience years in my sector but I was working for 2 years making sandwiches why?? Because my English wasn’t good enough. And when it improved, it took a lot of time to have a better job, because I had experience but not in UK. So I had (and I still have) to fight for my opportunity. Because I have to prove I’m a better option than a native or someone from another place. I have to fight against the topic “Spanish are lazy people thinking in anything but take siestas and eat paella”
I worked more hours here than in Spain. 56 hours is just illegal in Spain…. the good thing is: UK they pay every single hour you work.
A bad thing in UK is when you get sick, for example. They don’t pay you, even if you had an accident at work and you’re sick or injured because of it.
I remember I had to work having a terrible flu because I couldn’t afford stay at home. Another time I cut my finger so deeply with a knife at work and I had to keep working bleeding!!! Do you know how dangerous is that a sick person makes sandwiches for customers? But I, as many other people, had to do it because we have to pay our rent.
– Spain: It’s true, the crime in Spain increased lately because of the crisis. You have to watch your belongings because of the pickpockets. And obviously, when you’re going to pay for something (as a deposit) you have to be sure you are giving the money to a formal agency. Scammers are in all the countries. But usually Spain is safe as the statistics say. We have a lot of police patrolling the streets.
– UK: One thing that surprised me about UK it’s that the windows of houses don’t have grilles; the doors are made with wood and glass, easy to kick and open. At first I thought it was because it was safer here, people aren’t going to get in your house and steal your staff. But not….that wasn’t the true. Your can be stolen at any time. Actually, there were 3 burglaries in my building in a year. And you could think “London is a place with a large amount of immigration, maybe that’s the reason”. Well, I have to say that the police caught the thieves, and 2 of the 3 occasions, they were English.
About the police, I don’t see them, they don’t patrol the street. They come up when something happens, but they’re not watching that nothing happen really. So I can see a lot of young people offering weed in every corner of the high street. And the fights in the street are something normal every single weekend….
– Spain: I really don’t believe someone doesn’t make the job you’re paying for. I just don’t believe it….In Spain there is something called: “consumo”. If you paid for something and you don’t receive it you have to go to consumo and they’ll fix it. Companies and self-employed don’t want a penalty from consumo, that’s for sure.
– UK: In UK, I worked in something related with construction, remodelling houses. You can’t imagine how many times I saw a work unfinished or wrong done when the customer paid a lot of money for it, and he just didn’t have what he paid. And you cannot do anything, because in this country “consumo” doesn’t exist. So if you want your money back you have to take that people to the court and spend a lot of money, and that is so unfair.
Another example, recently I moved to another house, and I was shaking because I remember how hard is here to get your internet supply. And I wasn’t wrong. I need internet for work, I contracted one of the most expensive internet providers and the instalation of optic fibre for that company was alredy done in this house. Well….It took for them 1 month to come to my house to plug the router. According to them this was something only its staff could do, so they weren’t going to send me the router to plug it for myself. The real reason was it charges me 10 pounds for the technical’s visit and they told me it was an offer because normally it was 40 pounds…..come on….
– Spain: that’s true, customer service in Spain sucks. It seems like they are making you a favour….and it’s something I hate form Spain. Companies don’t care about his employees, they pay a low salary, employees work a lot of hours, some of them unpaid, and this has repercussions in customer services. It’s a pity.
– UK: Normally, at least in London, the customer service is good. Except for GP and hospital receptionist; doctors and nurses are really charming but the staff in the reception 90% of times are rude and impatient.
Getting ripped off:
– Spain: The thing is I can’t speak about this in Spain, I don’t have any experience and I don’t know anyone that was in that situation, even my foreign friends. Maybe because I know the country and the language and it’s difficult for them try to rip me off. I don’t doubt that this happen as everywhere.
– UK: As in Spain I don’t have the experience to be ripped off in UK, but I know some people who do. They were cheated when they were trying to rent a flat or a room. And this is something so usual in London. I read about that before I came here and it’s for that I’m very careful when I want to rent something.
They main problem here are the landlord, you can be very careful but if you have a bad landlord it’s difficult to do something. And I lived and I heard terrified stories about some landlord and their houses.
– Spain: In this point, I totally disagree with you. I’ve driven in both countries and in many areas of them, and I have to say that Spanish road have a high quality if you compare them with France ones or England ones. Obviously, you live in a village, you can’t expect the same road in Madrid (6 million hab.) with Nerja (21.000 hab). Some local road to connect villages to each other or a village with a main motorway could be worst. But the government just cannot invest in the best road for every single village in Spain, it’s just impossible; it’s a big country with a lot of small villages. I’ve travelled through Europe and I have seen lots of villages with dirt roads instead of highways and that it doesn’t happen in Spain, even in the smallest village in the middle of a mountain…
About the floods, that is something so difficult to fix because of the ground. That area is not used to getting so much water suddenly, and when it happens the ground can’t take it, even if it has the best sewage system. Something like that happened some weeks ago in Paris, so imagine in a village. But it doesn’t happen in the north of Spain for instance, because the ground used to get lots of water as in England.
– UK: Do you know how many council tax I pay in London? Like 5 times what I used to pay in Spain. Apparently it’s not enough to fix the streets. Every single tile in my street is not in its place, so I see every day people fall in the street because of this. The streetlight in front of my house is broken for 4 months, I’ve called 3 times to the council and it’s still broken.
The sign indicating the name of the street, two streets away from mine, fell down a month ago and god knows when they’re going to fix it.
And a special mention to the rubbish truck, which comes once every 2 weeks to take the rubbish. I know this country is not hot and the rubbish doesn’t smell as it does in hot countries but it brings rats and the foxes are fighting for the rubbish every night. And I’ll say the price we pay for the rubbish collection is far to be cheap.
One good point, public transport is expensive but it works so well and I love it.
I don’t want to compare both countries, because it doesn’t make sense. They are just different, if you want to live in one of them you have to assume the change and be part of the community.
I love my country and I think Spain have something special that everybody likes and I love England and I see special thing here as well.
I know some Spanish and Italian people here and they always say “I want to go back to Spain/Italy”, and I don’t have that feeling. When I’m here in UK I miss Spain, the weather, my people, my food. And when I go to Spain, at first I’m happy, but then after a couple of days, I start to feel sad because I miss UK, I realized I miss the same things: the people, the food, even I miss the language.
The point is, my friends want to go back because they didn’t want to be part of the English culture, so they are fighting every day to keep their culture, to not change anything. They idealize their countries and forget why they decided to leave it. And when they finally return, most of them realise it’s not what they thought.
Response From Shirley Who Does NOT hate Spain!
Below we have a response to the ‘I Hate Spain’ article from Shirley who has a house in Ontinyent:
“After reading your article from Nick from Nerja, I would expect that you received many emails in reply.
I realise that life has become more difficult for many during this recession, and Britain is no different from Spain. I don’t know when Nick was in the UK last, but around half the shops in our town in South Wales have closed down, and many families are struggling to get by after being made redundant. I work as an estate agent, and we are getting several repossessions every week and house prices are not increasing, as a lot of people believe.
I wonder if Nick learned to speak Spanish before he moved out to Spain, as I would imagine it is quite difficult to get work anywhere that you don’t speak the language. He didn’t say what work he did in the UK or in Spain.
I have been learning Spanish for a few years now and wouldn’t expect to get work in Spain, other than by working for Brits, doing things like cleaning apartments and pools. How would a Spaniard fare in Britain getting work if he didn’t speak English?
I feel that the Costa del Sol is probably a much different place to live than the Costa Blanca in many ways and I’m not sure Nick is qualified to comment on the Costa Blanca uncovered newsletter! One of the reasons we avoided the South of Spain was that it’s closer to Africa and has more crime. I wonder how much research Nick did before choosing an area to live in Spain.
We don’t know any Brits in our area, although we don’t live there, and I don’t kid myself that we could move out and make a good living, certainly not in this economic climate. I also think that moving out with just 15k savings is a very risky thing to do!
We have had no bad experiences of being cheated by anyone, and have made some wonderful friends. I am always happy with the service I get in local shops and restaurants, although I do agree that certain things are more complicated, like dealing with the council etc.
But then there is no litter in our town, no discarded chewing gum stuck all over the pavements, and NO drunken louts fighting in town on a Saturday night out. My 21 year old daughter was recently assaulted on a night out in our home town in Wales, and head-butted in the face, by a complete stranger, another girl, completely unprovoked while walking down the street with some friends.
As for Manana, when we went to buy some air conditioning in July from a small retailers, they turned up, as agreed, the following day, and worked until late until the job was finished, which wasn’t what we expected after all the stories we heard!
We recently had a problem with our internet in the UK, and were told by our supplier that we needed a new modem, would arrange an appointment for their technician to call to replace it. We asked if they could send a replacement by post but were told no. They couldn’t give a specific time, but booked a morning appointment between 8am and 12 noon.
My partner took a morning off work to be there. No one turned up, and when he rang them, they said that there had been a fault in our area at the time of our complaint, so they had cancelled the appointment (without bothering to tell us!) When he pointed out that it still wasn’t working, they said they would send us a new one, which was what we originally asked for but were refused!
I might also mention that our fuel bills at present are £60 a month for electricity, £80 a month for gas (due to increase again soon), and £45 a month for water. My council tax bill here £120 a month compared to 189 euros a YEAR in Spain.”
Linda Whitehead is Also Moving Back to the UK
“Hello, I am just commenting on the above writer’s online report on his life in Spain. I think he is so correct and it is not at all uncommon amongst Expats.
I myself had once dreamed about sunny Spain and couldn’t believe it when my mum who already lived there told me its difficult to get jobs. Which is even worse now what with the recession.
Us Brits generally get the feeling that the Spanish do not want us here. Very often we hear them calling foreigners ‘Giddies’ and push through in the supermarkets.
Like so many people from the UK, I was bored of the climate back home and wanted something exciting. I didn’t want to hear negative stories of Spain back then. But now I appreciate what the UK has to offer. It may not have the climate but it is a country that can stand on its own two feet, economically. It has politically correctness and is generally more of a ‘forward’ thinking country than Spain.
Needless to say, I am going back home to England for good this summer and it can’t come quick enough.
Thanks for listening – Adios Espana.”
Strong Response From Rachel
I have been living in Spain for 8 years, within the first 9 months of living here our house was robbed we had a Doberman at the time they threw tiles at him and kept him at bay with a pitch fork.
They do call us “guiris” but we call them “spiks” and we are a easy target to be ripped off. They think that the girls are all drunken slags and a easy lay and English men do nothing but cause trouble>
They believe we eat fried eggs, bacon and sausages for breakfast everyday and they swear down that our food is crap,
We also got ripped off by the estate agents and lawyers being over-charged on the house price, deeds being lost and being charged twice for the same thing, then she buggered off to get a boob job and we never saw her again.
Electric bill is around 100 Euros a month and sometimes can reach 160 a month to “Shirley Who Does NOT hate Spain!”
I speak fluent Spanish and I have no English friends in Spain, I moved to a small Spanish town with my parents when I was 20, my parents even call me a plastic spik because my outlook on life and the way I live is not that of a English person, I have no job, there is no work at all, there are no opportunities to climb any ladder within any company in Spain…
Most Spanish have moved out of Spain. The only good thing about knowing Spanish is that they know they can’t rip you off… that you have been here for a while and you have some contacts up your sleeves, but then again it’s not only the Spanish that rip you off, it is the English who rip each other off which is even worse.
The customer service in Spain is non-existent. When I was younger in the UK I did a NVQ in customer service and I found it very hard at first to adapt to the way you are treated here and I still find it frustrating.
It was only two days ago I was forced to turn around and say to the shop assistant “Can you chat to your little mate after and serve me I’ve got things to do!” and the other thing that Spanish don’t know what to do is queue in the correct manner.
They are all over the place, you have to guess who is last or they will tell you if they think your pushing in, they don’t open doors, most of the time you can see a mother with a pram struggling to get in or out of a door and they just stand and stare. Or if you do help them you get no thank you for it.
It is hard to adapt to a culture that isn’t familiar to that of your own. As the years have passed I have adapted in a way to not take any notice to these faults which in my eyes they are faults, but to a Spanish person they are not, it’s just the way they are. The town hall are time wasting, table humping thieving pen pushers.
Jay is Also Depressed in Spain
Nick Anders & Linda & Rachel you are spot on, I have lived in Spain since 2007 on and off and then permanently since 2009. We bought a place in Costa del Sol and since left that to rent another, as crime scary and was a bit remote and felt unsafe.
We had the bogus forceful gas men trying to gain entry to rip us off, etc etc so we rented to be nearer people and feel somewhat safer, I agree with Nick, just today as every day, in shops the Spanish seem to chatter to their colleagues, not even look at you, while you stand with your shopping, they do it to other Spanish too though not just us Guirres.
Spanish are nice though, if you can speak some Spanish it does make a difference, but everything is such hard work, everything is done the slowest, longest, way possible, costing time and money, no wonder it is in a state, not saying other countries are any better, I can’t say, but what Nick, Linda and Rachel put is so spot on!
It’s not a bed of roses, it’s a flaming headache at times, new laws all the time, anyway they can get money out of you they will, I am told today if you drive a Spanish car and have a UK licence you are fined?? A solicitor here, a UK chap, told my son, apparently you need a medical and have to apply for a Spanish licence and if checked you could pay a fine and if you don’t have the cash you can be frog marched to the cash point.
It’s all stuff like this all the time, you get to a point you can’t be bothered to go out in the car as you don’t know what’s going on next.
It was also my dream to move here and I have never been so lonely in all my life, I am so depressed and I try and snap out of it and it just doesn’t get better, it’s hard to make new friends unless you go to bars every night and drink like a fish and I just don’t want to do that, so it’s a dismal existence…
Sammy From Murcia Writes In…
I can see both Nick and Shirly’s point of view, but I’m afraid I have to agree with Nick on this one, Spain is going downhill and fast, much faster than England, I know the recession has hit both countries badly but there is no doubt that it has really taken it’s toll on Spain.
I live in Murcia and have done for 10 years with my parents and younger brother. I’m 20 almost 21 and my brother is 19 we both went to school here as children at the ages of 10 and 11 and both speak Spanish fluently now most people think that I am Spanish unless I inform them otherwise.
It took me 3 years to speak fluent Spanish and in this time I was bullied badly by the Spanish just for being British, they would shout guiri as I walked by and insult me and tell me to go back to my own country, my brother had a hard time coping with this and disliked school so much that he dropped out early. I stuck it out and left at 18, got a job as a teacher in the city teaching English at an academy.
Not bad, my employer is English too. What I didn’t know is whether you speak Spanish or not, makes no difference once you apply for a job working with Spanish people and they see your documentation and discover you are actually English, the job is then passed to anyone else providing they are Spanish.
Being almost Spanish , having lived here 10 years i will always be a foreigner to them, no matter how good my Spanish and how Spanish I may look, the job will always be given to Spanish first.
So I studied my whole teenage years (with a few English friends at school who later left as they didn’t like living here and being classed as a foreigner and picked on constantly, while their parents struggled to find work to keep them going)
I find myself alone most nights in or at work with the few friends I have their, who are English as the Spanish don’t tend to mix with the English too much not unless you are willing to pretend to be Spanish, dress like them, eat their food, socialize only with Spanish, then they might accept you more or less, but never completely.
My parents have both struggled for work, since we arrived here my dad is a builder and my mum worked in England as a secretary to a doctor, here we have tried cleaning jobs, private teaching in my area for little money and unreliable students who do not even bother to ring when they decide not to even show up most days.
There is no doubt about it, if you are deciding to move to Spain, DO NOT EDUCATE YOUR CHILDREN HERE. The bullying drove most of my friends into a depression and breakdown before leaving. I have to say it was not an easy time, the only time it improved was when I was fluent in Spanish then my classmates would actually acknowledge me, yet I was still the outsider, and was always treated as “dumb” or a “stupid english guiri” or as they like to say extranjera.
If you move to Spain and have young children be prepared for all of this as it will be a very very difficult time for your kids no matter what age they start school they will more than likely be bullied.
At the end of the day Spain is a lovely country with the sun and the laid back way of life, but once you scratch the surface, it is a holiday resort , that puts their own people first regardless of what any other person may have to offer, and life is definitely a lot more tougher than England here.
But hey, it’s been an experience, mostly bad times but some good, I’ m off to England soon to try and finally fit in!
Also may I add we came to Spain with A LOT of money, and all of it has now gone. The Spanish should be grateful for the amount of English people that plowed their money into their economy. But no …
And Shirley, what is your plan, to stay in Spain and retire possibly without a pension ? or survive on little money? Who will look after you in your old age? What happens if the Euro crashes?
All I can say is good luck Shirley..
And I have read the other messages and am glad that you all agree more or less that Spain is not the place to be..
I Hate Spain Page Summary: This page features the story of Nick Anders who has become fed up and unhappy living in Spain and intends to return back to the UK. Nick’s story is good reading for anyone thinking of moving to Spain.
We love living in Spain ourselves but we have agreed to post his article in the interests of fairness as most of his points have a degree of truth in them and at least they provide an antidote to the people who have a vested interest in telling you that moving to Spain is a bed of roses.
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