Living in Spain

9 Things To Consider If You Want To Move To Spain

Las Cruces, Granada

I’m all for not thinking toooo hard before making life-changing decisions, but when I moved to Spain in 1998 I was young, free, and single… so it was a bit of a “no-brainer”.

However, I’ve noticed a few comments on the blog recently from people wrestling with the decision: to move to Spain or not to move to Spain.

So, in no particular order (but all important!) here are 9 things to think about (even just a tiny bit!) if you are planning a move to Spain:

1. Language: Do you speak Spanish?

I turned up here 10 years ago without a word, but as I planned to be an English teacher in Spain for the first year, this didn’t really matter. Plus I planned to get very fluent very fast, which, with classes, intercambios, and massive motivation, I managed.

But will you have time to learn Spanish? Will you need it for a job? Are you bothered about it?

In general, I would say: count on needing to learn Spanish if you want a successful life in Spain. If you live outside the expat zones on the coasts, do not expect people in banks, landlords, people on the end of a phone etc, to speak English.

No problem anyway, learning Spanish is fun!

2. Expat guilt: Will you face it?

Are you leaving people behind that you will feel guilty about? Do you have responsibilities at home you really might feel bad about running away from? This isn’t the case for everyone, but where possible I highly recommend tying up any loose ends before you go that might tug at your conscience later. Or getting work here that frees you up to pop back often…

3. Work

What are you going to do for a living in Spain? Working in Spain is not as easy as it was where you came from, unless you plan to be an English teacher in a big city.

Spain is in the middle of its own economic crisis, and has very high unemployment at the moment. So make sure you think ahead, or better still, have something lined up for when you arrive.

If you arrive without work, aim to have at least 5,000 Euros in the bank before you get here to tide you over while you find work in the first few months.

4. Responsibilities

Will you be bringing a spouse, or children, that depend on you? Then things get a LOT more complicated. You need to work out what they are going to do in Spain too, work-wise or school-wise, and you need to have a LOT more money in the bank as a safety net before you arrive, not to mention a job lined up or very very solid plan.

If this is you, read this cautionary tale about leaving Spain.

5. You may never want to leave

OK, enough of the ‘warning shots’ above, this one is positive. Be warned that once you get here, you may stay forever… I planned to be in Madrid for a month, Spain for a year. That was 10 years ago, and I’m still in Madrid. It’s great, but something to keep in mind!

6. You may be changed forever!

Moving to Spain long term will almost certainly make you more independent, broaden your horizons, and will enrich and stimulate you mentally and culturally.

What’s wrong with that? Nothing! But you may find that after a time you loose touch with life and culture back home, and only have half a clue what’s going on here! It’s a weird transition, but in the end, you may end up more culturally Spanish than whatever you were before.

Again, no problem, but makes it hard when you go home for a visit and you have no idea about the celebrities, scandals and TV shows your old friends are talking about at dinner parties.

7. New friends

How good are you at meeting people and making new friends? Where will you find them? Lots of idea on that in this forum post: A happy landing in Spain

8. Leaving your comfort system behind.

By way of summarising the scary bits above, you will be leaving established work channels, friends, support systems… weather systems for that matter! You will be stepping out of your comfort zone. Make sure you are feeling good, fit, mentally strong, and up for an amazing challenge. And be determined to fit in with your new surroundings (see “The Ex-Pat Manifesto”…)

And don’t worry, as I always say, if I can start a new life in Spain, anyone can…

9. Over to you…

What would you add for number 9? Please add to the list or just comment below!