Living in Spain

Living la vida loca

The home of sun, sea and playa has become one of the top tourist destinations over the past years due to its pleasant climate all year round and its stunning beaches. The first time you visit Spain you will fall in love with it, not only with its beauty but also with its rich cultural heritage, its passionate language and above all its culturally unique and ambient take on how life should be lived.

Spain is the second largest country in the European Union and despite not having the strongest job market, it does have a powerful presence in industries such as tourism, textile, agriculture, foods and beverages, machinery and automobiles. Furthermore, the country has a large, long-established expat community who have uprooted from their country to come and make Spain home. Spain has become such a desirable place due to its emphasis on leisure time and friendships, its leading healthcare services and a general higher quality of life.

A unique way of life

Spain is a country worth experiencing properly. In contrast to other European countries, the pace of life is more relaxed in that the working schedules are different and so is time management. The working day usually starts at 9 am, stops at 2 pm for an hour lunch break, and continues until 6 pm. Spaniards cherish their meal times, which explains these long breaks. It is not customary to eat a quick sandwich during a half hour lunch break (like so many other countries in Europe) but instead lunch is seen as a meal that should be appreciated and savoured. It is customary to spend your lunch break enjoying a Menú del día at your local. This should consist of at least two courses and a drink. After the lunchtime service is over (around 4pm to 5pm), do not expect any restaurant to be open to serve food until they open again for dinner service. This is Spanish Siesta time and is still very popular in smaller towns all around the country.

Spanish language - The art of conversation

To make the most of your Spanish experience, it is a must to learn the Spanish language. Despite there being four official languages (Spanish, Catalan, Galician and Basque) as well as many more regional dialects, the Spanish are not renowned for being able to get by in English very well. Perhaps in a restaurant you could muddle by with hand actions but in a bureaucratic, medical, professional or general social context, you will really need to learn Spanish to immerse yourself fully. Given that you will need to take care of multiple paperwork and legal procedures to set up upon arrival, it is highly advisable that you learn some Spanish phrases beforehand. If you have come to Spain to learn Spanish, then you are in for a treat as you will be forced to speak Spanish from the outset. The locals will also really appreciate people making the effort with their language and are very patient with learners, so you will find that you will have plenty of opportunities to practice. Famous worldwide for being a friendly and animated bunch, there is nothing that Spaniards love more than to chat, especially if it is around a table drinking cañas and eating tapas with good company. This is the ultimate Spanish experience and it is through this means that you will find yourself exchanging stories about culture, politics and sports with the locals. Don't forget to make use of the English - Spanish dictionary if you forget a word. Additionally, learning Spanish has numerous advantages from a job perspective. Spanish is one of the most spoken languages worldwide and together with English, this is the most preferable language combination in the business world due to the large amount of fast-growing emerging economies in Latin America. Speaking Spanish is not only crucial for anyone planning on doing business in Central and South America, it is also a great asset for those living and working in the United States - the Hispanic population there is increasing steadily and it is even larger than the population of Spain itself. So, do not waste another second to start learning la lengua de Cervantes.

Spanish food culture

Spain has one of the highest life expectancies in the world. No wonder, given its healthy, Mediterranean diet that the Spanish are so proud of. Spanish food is exquisite and well-known all over the globe - among the main specialties, paella, tortilla de patata and gazpacho stand out, but the list goes on and on. There are countless less well-known dishes specific to each region of the country, and all have their very unique taste. Do not stick only to the typical (yet delicious) tapas, explore the most authentic Spanish cuisine by sampling the specialties of small bars and restaurants hidden in the less touristic areas of towns and villages alike. Sample the exquisite fresh Galician seafood, Andalusian salmorejo or Segovia's roast suckling pig. As one of the world's largest producers of olive oil and booming agricultural sector, part of what makes the food so famous is the freshness and quality of the products. With such idyllic landscape and temperature, it is certainly not difficult or expensive to buy products grown and/or made in Spain.

Travelling around Spain

If you are passionate about travelling and culture in all forms, Spain is a very rewarding place to be. Geographically, it is well-located in the South-West corner of Europe allowing easy access all over the continent, as well as it being very well connected to North Africa and Latin America also. Though it is not necessary to venture outside Spain to see interesting places. As a very diverse country, Spain offers a huge amount of varying landscapes from the pristine beaches along both the Atlantic and Mediterranean coast to majestic mountains capes of the Pyrenees or the Sierra Nevada. Each side of the country looks completely different from the last and it is impossible to not be amazed by the beauty of the landscape. If it is history you are interested in, Spain is also home to over 40 UNESCO Heritage Sites, such as the Alhambra in Granada or the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. These sites are scattered around the country so you can spend your life travelling from one spot of interest to another, comparing and contrasting the cultural differences in each region of the country. Transport links in Spain are also among some of the best in Europe, so visiting these iconic sites is not only easy but obligatory!

Work hard to play hard - Finding jobs in Spain

There are more British expats in Spain than in any other country in the whole of Europe, and of course there is a thousand reasons why this is so, sun, food and lifestyle ranking in the top few reasons. The least likely possibility Spain is attracting so many people from abroad, is the job market. Spain is ranked as one the countries with the highest rates of unemployment in Europe and there is a wave of young Spanish people eager to learn English to they can take advantage of the more burgeoning European job market. For this very reason there is a massive call for native English speakers (native German and French speakers on a lesser scale are also sought after). As opposed to many Spanish people who struggle finding a job in Spain, as a native English speaker you would not be hard pushed to find a job in a day. If you do your research beforehand, it is very possible to find a pleasant job as an English teacher where you are paid comfortably, get good holidays and full access to the fabulous health care system on offer. This all allows you to really appreciate the Spanish pace of life in all its splendor. If English teaching is not your thing, there are also plenty of seasonal jobs available all around the country, as well as new interning opportunities made available all the time. Check out a few of them on internships in Spain.