Are you considering moving to Spain? We at MiMove have lived here for a while now and thought we’d share with you a little bit about what is good to know about the sunny country.
This blog theme comes in two parts. Already next week you can read part 2 which will be more about the home, signing a contract, inspection and other things related to moving.
Now we want to tell you about the first impressions and some tips about a few things that we think are worth knowing as a newcomer to Spain.
An Unforgettable Experience
Each place has its own atmosphere and feeling. Normally, people want to live in a place that makes them happy and feel safe. For some, the sun is more important than anything else as it often contributes to better health and well-being. Many of them move to countries like Spain.
Sometimes it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes you more drawn to one place than another. Other times, the reason is crystal clear. In the end, it’s the feeling that determine, and thanks to it, many people decide to move and change their lives for the better. Moving to a new country can be an unforgettable experience that you don’t want to miss out on.
Moving to Spain, for a shorter time or permanently, is increasingly popular among northern Europeans. As a younger person, you may want to study in Barcelona for a while or work a summer season in Mallorca. Why not take your virtual job to Costa Blanca for six months or retire among the many golf courses and beaches on Costa del Sol?
Whatever reason or time period you decide to stay in Spain, it may be helpful to know a few things.
It’s not without reason that the term “mañana, mañana” exists. Many things take a little longer in Spain. Everything from getting help in a store to getting important documents ready at the state office. However, most things usually resolve, even if it can take a little longer and feel more complicated than one might be used to.
You simply have got to plan ahead as much as possible and expect that things often take longer to solve. If you keep that in mind, the situations of frustration will hopefully not be as unbearable.
Keep in mind that it’s not to be taken for granted that the representatives you come in contact with always will give the correct answers. Therefore it’s a good idea to inform yourself about things as much as possible in advance, online for example. It’s also good if you get to know someone you can trust when it comes to finding (and understanding) the right information that can help you out unless you manage on your own.
Renting an Apartment
While some things move slowly in Spain, other things, such as finding a rental apartment, is usually a very quick deal! For example, if you want to move into a new apartment on May 1st, it’s most common to find a home and sign a contract just a couple of weeks before the move, in this example between the 1st and 4th week in April.
If you try to plan several months in advance, it can be very difficult to get a place to stay. It may feel stressful, but the positive side of it is that you do not have to wait in a housing queue for several years.
As in most countries, they usually require some documents, such as your ID, employment contract and the latest salary specifications. However, the requirements diferentiate depending on the landlord.
It’s easier to be a foreigner in certain areas of Spain. For example on Costa del Sol, Costa Blanca, Barcelona and Mallorca you can often find English-speaking representatives in shops, banks, health centers, etc. You will also find brokerage firms that dedicate themselves to the British- and otherwise international market. The international atmosphere makes it easy for anyone to feel at home.
Education and Health
It’s also common to be able to get help in other languages, especially on Costa del Sol, such as Swedish, German, Dutch or Russian. Much here is adapted to foreigners, which makes everything a bit easier – especially for newcomers. For example, there are a lot of British health centers and schools that work much like at home. Read more about schools here from our previous blog post. Here you can learn more about the health system in Spain.
Overall, Spain has good infrastructure and it’s easy to get around by municipal, regional and national transport. Metro is available in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Bilbao, Seville, Granada, Málaga and Palma de Mallorca.
If you are going to travel longer distances by train, you normally go with Renfe. Otherwise, each region and municipality has its own buses. In Barcelona, for example, you can get a Bicing card and rent a city bike – you pick up and drop off the bike at specified stalls.
If you want to lease a car or moped for a shorter (or longer) period, we recommend Bipicar, which accepts European driving licenses. They have a rental agreement between 3 to 36 months and you can easily change cars after 6 months of rent if you feel like it.
Naturally, cultural clashes occur when you go outside your own culture. Fortunately, we can often joke about our differences.
Even if there can be frustrating moments, it’s an advantage if you can keep your mind open to other people’s way of thinking and living. We are all part of and a consequence of our environment and social norms, which of course varies in many ways around the world.
Something that can affect one’s schedule is that most places still have siesta. This means that they are closed for a few hours in the afternoon. Normal opening hours are between 9 am – 2 pm and then between 5 pm – 8 pm, although it can vary. Also keep in mind that almost everything is closed on Sundays, except for some restaurants and bars.
When it comes to payment, you can not always pay by card, especially on public transport but sometimes also in kiosks and other places. Therefore, it’s a good idea to always keep at least a few coins or smaller bills in your pocket.
It often happens naturally that we get in touch more quickly with the people who speak the same language as we do. The difficulty of meeting new people mostly depends on your personality, but there are of course ways to meet new people regardless.
In Spain, it’s common to exchange a few words with strangers at, for example, the bus stop or in the grocery store. The Spanish are usually friendly and not shy if aproached. However, if you are looking for closer friendships, one way of meeting them is through group gatherings, such as a course, a job, sport or anything that involves interaction.
You can also join Facebook groups with members from local areas or find other ways through social media to meet new people. At Meetup.com, for example, you can find different interest groups and join various events all days of the week!
Definitely worth it!
Compared to most other countries in the world, Spain’s amenities are not far from what we are used to in the northern parts of Europe. Here’s everything you could possibly need and more.
Many of us at MiMove have come from abroad to live in Spain. We all agree that it was worth moving here, even though we had different reasons for it. We like the climate, the spontaneity, the food, the beaches and everything else that makes us feel more alive!
Above all, we feel more alert and motivated during the course of the everyday life. The weekends feel like a holiday when you easily can enjoy the good life at the beach bar, city strolling or among nature up in the mountains.
During these more difficult times, it’s not entirely easy to plan your life. However, it’s always possible to continue dreaming and preparing as much as possible for new times and a move to Spain!