Published 6th August 2019
Think you know everything there is to know about moving to Spain? Think again, mi amigo. Moving to Spain is more than deciding which bikini to pack and learning how to order a beer in Spanish. While it is most definitely a paradise of sorts if you enjoy a bit of sangria and siestas, what’s it really like living there and what do you need to know about moving to Spain?
Moving to Spain and Getting a job
First things first, let’s talk about getting a job. The main hiring seasons in Spain are September/October and January so there are always going to be loads of jobs up for grabs in the months leading up to then. On the other hand, if you are looking to work in a language school, they hire all year round so you can find a job anytime.
No need to bother trying to find a job online. It’s most common to find a job while in Spain. In other words, you don’t necessarily need to apply for a job before you arrive in the country. Instead, be prepared to pound the pavements and interview in person when you arrive. Of course, this does depend on your passport and visa situation – some nationalities may require a job before they qualify for a working visa.
In terms of where to look, Madrid, Barcelona and Bilbao are the cities with the biggest market for TEFL teachers.
Something that will most definitely affect you if you are living in Spain and which might not be something you think about is working hours. In Spain it is customary to take a long lunch, presumably so you can fit in a siesta afterwards. At this time, shops will close. Because you are missing a couple working hours during the day, you make up these hours at the end of the day, which means you usually work til the evening.
As a consequence of working late and coming home late, dinner is usually only eaten at around 10pm. If you’re used to eating at 6pm, this is a big change. You’ll either find yourself going hungry or eating two dinners until you get used to it!
Cost of living
The cost of living in Spain is low compared to the rest of Europe, so don’t let your first paycheque break your heart. It’ll go a lot further than you think it will. Having said that, there are obviously differences depending on where you live. Barcelona, Madrid and San Sebastian are the more expensive cities while in Granada, Almeria and Seville you’ll get more bang for your buck.
When dealing with any kind of red tape in Spain, take an extra copy of your paperwork and something to read. Whatever papers you need, make sure you have more than you think you need, because you never know when they are going to ask for more than one. Be prepared to wait, and wait, and wait, so take some reading material to keep you occupied.
While we’re on the topic of paperwork, you’ll need to get a NIE number if you’re working in Spain. An NIE, or Numero de Identidad de Extranjero, is a tax identification number given to you by the National Police of Spain.
You will be forgiven for thinking that it’s sunny in Spain everyday – the Costa del Sol sees 320 days of sunshine every year – but it gets pretty chilly and wet in the north in winter, and you can even snow in central Spain. So while you should definitely pack those bikinis, you might need to think about taking a jacket or two as well.
Public transport is a breeze in Spain. In the cities, the metro is cheap and easy, and buses are reliable and affordable. To travel between towns, trains and buses are good as well. Getting around Spain should be the last thing you worry about.
For your first three months you’ll have free access to the Spanish healthcare system. After that you’ll have access provided you contribute to the Spanish social security system, which is compulsory if you are working. When you have a job you are required to register for social security and then apply for a health care card which will give you access to the medical care you need.
It might be your birthday but don’t expect your friends to take you out to celebrate. It is customary for the birthday girl or boy to take treats to work for everyone else, and if you plan a birthday dinner, it’ll probably be at your own expense. Feliz cumpleaños!
Don’t bother trying to get anything done in August. Nothing happens in August, besides being on holiday. If you have to renew your passport, go to the dentist, get your geyser fixed, postpone your plans until September everybody has come back from the beach.
Whichever way you look at it, moving to Spain is a good idea. Though it may not be as utopian as we might like to think, there are definitely more pros than cons and with this guide you’re now more than prepared to make the most of your time there.