Spain is one of the most popular destinations for people from Northern Europe to consider moving to.
The attraction of Spain’s weather and climate, its perceived low cost of living, the closeness of Spain and the number of existing expatriates serve to appear to make this an easy decision to make.
However, what many people do not realise is that life in Spain for expats is hard – unless of course, you have lots of money and no need to eke out a living in Spain.
Many people end up moving back. In order to help you avoid this fate, we have a selection of advice and observations from expats who have already made the move.
Of course we are often asked, is Spain a good place to live?
Well yes, obviously, if you are of retirement age and you have a good financial position then moving to Spain is one of the most attractive countries you could consider retiring to. In this situation, it is just a case of doing some research into the best places to retire in Spain depending on your preferences.
Use their pearls of wisdom to prepare yourself for your big move to Spain. The better you are prepared the more chance you have of making a successful move to Spain.
* If you can afford to buy a house outright you are laughing because although costs have gone up a lot that doesn’t apply so much to the costs of running a property which is still relatively low.
* If you don’t speak fluent Spanish you will struggle.
* Try have a job sorted in Spain before you come out here otherwise you could spend precious weeks/months while savings melt away. Best come out on a flying visit, hit the streets, read the local papers, get something in hand and then go back home to pack up.
* Many people do come and go – don’t assume you won’t be one of them – rent first so you don’t end up being stuck in Spain against your will as property can take years to sell.
* Be practical – you can’t make a living in Spain if you are stuck in remote mountains or inland. Think about living within easy access to international airports.
* The Spanish state schools are in general very good.
* Your child will have a rough couple of weeks but then that could apply to any new school. In six months they should be fluent in Spanish.
* Many people say they are happy to do anything and that they will do cleaning, bar work whatever they can get – all very commendable but the novelty does wear off and then you realise you are struggling to make ends meet. This puts great strain on relationships.
* Competition for construction jobs in Spain is fierce. Southern Costa Blanca going rate is approx. €80 a day. Northern Costa Blanca is €130 but costs of living are higher.
* You may currently be fed up with your fellow countrymen but after awhile you may yearn for some creature comforts and familiar customs i.e. English football or certain products you cannot find in Spain.
* Perhaps the best time of the day is early evening – going for a walk in the sun along the beach and enjoying a drink afterwards.
* Foreigners are tolerated at best and often ripped off by the locals.
* Pay is much lower than Northern Europe yet the costs of living have rapidly increased – Spain is no longer cheap.
* Getting bar work in Spain is fine in the summer but come October you may find you are out of a job when bars close up! If however you are intent on finding temporary work then see our guide on seasonal work in Spain.
* The Internet is fantastic for advance research but do visit Spain on fact-finding trips, visiting the different areas so you know which area of Spain you like best.
* Your problems go with you when you move to Spain, they don’t magically disappear. You don’t change personality so be realistic. Life and its many problems continue to hit you in Spain – in fact, many people would say life in Spain is even harder than wherever you are coming from.
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