The Good and the Bad about living abroad in Spain – 13 Expats in Spain share their experience

Affiliate links
This post might contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through this link I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. But I will only recommend products and services I believe are of value for you. Thank you so much for your support.

Do you also think about packing your bags and emigrating to Spain? On this blog, you already had the chance to read a lot about my life in Spain and about life as an expat in general.

Now I have interviewed 12 fellow international expats living in different parts of Spain so that they can share their experiences with us. In this way, you can’t only find out more about life in my hometown Barcelona but also other popular expat destinations in Spain, such as Madrid, Mallorca, Seville, and Valencia.

Living abroad in Spain – Expats share it all.

Ucman in Madrid

Ucman in Madrid expat

Why did you move to Spain?

Spain is the perfect country if you like the sun, sea, and sand. I’ll throw in food and really nice people for good measure as well because it’s very true. I moved to Spain to work as a digital nomad to get away from the winter blues of London, where I live.

Which place in Spain did you choose and why?

For 3 months in spring, Madrid was the perfect spot to live and work from, and with so many places around to explore. I chose it because I know a few people there, and it is a great place to work in with the necessary infrastructure around. I decided against a beach place because Madrid is very well connected and it was very easy to travel around.

What do you like most about your life in Spain?

Spain is a stunning country! They have an amazing gay scene in Madrid, and guys from around the world travel to Madrid to experience it. It is very easy to make friends. It is also a cheap place compared to most north and Western European capitals, and did I mention how amazing the food is? 

Fun Fact: Madrid has the most number of restaurants, cafes, and bars per capita in Europe, and the oldest restaurant in the world is also located in Madrid.

I also really loved traveling around Madrid, especially day and weekend trips. I visited Salamanca, Toledo, and Segovia all as day trips, Barcelona, Valencia, and Majorca as weekend trips. For my last week, I traveled around in Andalusia to Granada, Cordoba, Málaga, and Seville.

What did surprise you the most about living in Spain?

It was the pace of life that was very different. Although I’d been a couple of times before as a visitor when I lived here, things worked on a very different level. The pace of life is very balanced; you get to enjoy life as much as you work. A great lunch with a glass of sangria in the sun in March is y kind of perfect workday. I also found Spaniards to be very helpful and nice, but that I knew beforehand.

What don’t you like about living in Spain?

If you have to get something done via the civil sector, it can be quite frustrating. I remember getting my driving licensed notarised, which took a few visits. According to my local friends, I have recently heard they are making things more digital, which has sped up things.   

What are/were you doing in Spain?

I worked in Madrid as a digital nomad. While I was still doing my job in London, I did some research and found that I could live and work in Spain as an EU citizen if it was for less than three months. So I sublet my room in London, packed my bags, and headed to Madrid. Since the UK was in the EU back then, no paperwork was necessary, and I still filed my taxes in the UK.

Was it difficult for you to find a place to live?

Yes and no! Initially, I was checked online and through Facebook but not knowing Spanish made it a bit hard. I consulted some local friends, and they recommended two websites to me: Idealista and Fotocasa.

Idealista was where I found the room close to Chueca and Fotocasa, while it offers renting option is more suitable for buyers. I ended up sharing with a very nice Peruvian girl, and after 6 viewings, it was not as hard as it could be in London. I was pleased.

Tell us about the process to obtain your NIE/TIE?

Since I was an EU citizen back then, I didn’t need to get an NIE/ TIE to live and work in Spain for less than 3 months.

Was it difficult for you to make friends and settle in?

Spaniards are the friendliest people in Europe, and I get along so well with them. While I had a couple of friends before moving there, it was really easy to make friends. I also met a lot of South Americans who are amazing to hang out with. Bars are a great way to meet people. Grindr also helped me get in touch with locals. I am in touch with quite a few people, and some of them really helped me plan my trips to Brazil, Argentina, and Chile.

If you could give one important tip to people about to move to Spain, what would that be?

I think the most important thing about living in Spain is the culture shock. While people don’t seem initially ‘hardworking’ or ‘committed’ to work, they are very focused and highly productive. Spaniards work to live, not live to work. Go with an open mind and do some research before heading, and it will be all good. 

Ucman from Brown Boy Travels

Paulina in Spain

Paulina in Spanien Auswandererin

I am originally from Luxembourg, and I moved to Spain for my Master’s Degree. During my studies, I fell in love with my boyfriend and decided to move to Spain. Before my studies, I worked for 2 summers in Spain as an AuPair.

Which place in Spain did you choose and why?

As an AuPair, I worked in Murcia and Zaragoza. Zaragoza because the agency decided this for me, and in Murcia, I knew a Spanish family from Luxembourg that was looking for an Aupair. For my studies, I lived in Malaga. My first job, I got it in Barcelona. Then I got promoted and moved to Madrid.

When my contract finished, I found a new job in Seville. I had to stay in Seville for 6 months before moving back to Madrid. When I decided to leave Madrid, I found another job in the tourism sector in Tenerife.

What do you like most about your life in Spain?

The weather, the food, and that you can still go out after work. People are friendly, always in for a good laugh. I love the social aspect here.

What did surprise you the most about living in Spain?

Their professionalism in the tourism sector. I came with the wrong idea that there would be more of a “laisser faire” attitude. The Spanish tourism sector is one of the best-prepared ones in the world. We created massive events thanks to highly skilled and quick professionals that go all in for their clients. 

What don’t you like about living in Spain?

That it’s mostly assumed that you do endless extra hours for free. There is like this unsaid competition of “who stays longer in the office” that I hated! You can get your work done during the working schedule if you want to. 

What are/were you doing in Spain?

First, I was an Aupair, then a student, then an intern, then an Account Manager as an employee, and finally, I worked in Tenerife under a Luxembourgish contract. I could get into all of them, but that would take almost a book. To become an Aupair, I went first with an agency. They proposed several families, and I could pick. It was really straight forward.

The second time I already knew the family, so it was even easier. Nowadays, there are many Facebook groups where you can reach out to families and aupairs.

Was it difficult for you to find a place to live?

No.

Tell us about the process to obtain your NIE/TIE?

For Aupair, you don’t need an NIE. When I needed one for my working contract as an Account Manager in the event sector, I found the process quite easy. I got mine in Madrid.

It’s very important that you notify them when you change addresses. I got a bill of 2000€ because of belated taxes – just because they still sent my tax recordings to the old address. Even though I had registered in my new place, it was a mess!

Was it difficult for you to make friends and settle in?

It was easier to make ex-pat friends. Thanks to my partner, I got in touch with many Spanish people too. I loved joining volleyball groups or MeetUps to meet other people.

If you could give one important tip to people about to move to Spain, what would that be?

In the beginning, it might be overwhelming to make social connections. But don’t give up. Depending on where you are, it can take months until you are considered a friend by Spanish people.

Paulina from Visit Southern Spain

Marion in Gran Canaria

Playa Maspalomas in Gran Canaria, Sand dune
Playa Maspalomas on Gran Canaria

Why did you move to Spain?

Because I love the warmth of the people here, and despite all the difficulties, they always have a smile on their face and do everything possible to help if you ask them to.

Which place in Spain did you choose and why?

I chose to live in Playa del Ingles on Gran Canaria, because I fell so in love with this place on my first vacation in 1982 that I stayed here straight away, but had to go back to Germany after 2 years for family reasons (that was the biggest mistake in my life ).

What do you like most about your life in Spain?

To be far away from the problems in Germany and of course the weather and the ease with which the Canarios live here.

What did surprise you the most about living in Spain?

Nothing at all. I’ve been dealing with Playa and the island for 39 years and know the place very well.

What don’t you like about living in Spain?

That the ambulance can take half an hour to come and the Policia sometimes doesn’t arrive at all because there is no car available at the moment.

What are/were you doing in Spain?

I’m looking for work, but thanks to Corona, it’s more than hopeless at the moment.

Was it difficult for you to find a place to live?

Finding an apartment was easy. I have already contacted all brokers in Germany and signed the lease here in October. My landlord was so nice and kept it free for me, and I didn’t have to pay rent until January.

Tell us about the process to obtain your NIE/TIE.

Obtaining the NIE was also very easy. You just need a lot of patience, a Spanish lease for at least 1 year, of course, an ID, and a Spanish mobile number (can also be the number of your Spanish neighbor.) I was at the Policia at 7 am, and it was my turn at 9 am.

All documents were checked, then I had to go to the bank and pay about 10 €, wait another hour with the receipt, and then you get the NIE.

Was it difficult for you to make friends and settle in?

I didn’t need to settle in. I’m just at home here. In Germany, it always felt like I was born in the wrong country. You can get to know people quickly, actual friends less often. “Those who call you a friend today will talk about you tomorrow …” So be careful what you tell whom.

If you could give one important tip to people about to move to Spain, what would that be? 

Just do it when it feels right. I am 59 years old, and I am so happy that I finally made it. Don’t wait that long; otherwise, you will miss the most important thing: your life!!!

Marcus in Mallorca

Cala de Llombards in Mallorca, white sand and turquoise water
Cala de Llombards in Mallorca

Why did you move to Spain?

Before we emigrated, we spend 4-5 times a year on vacation in Mallorca and had local friends. That’s why we sold everything in Germany and dared a new start in Mallorca. In Germany, we had achieved 99% of everything, and we needed a new challenge.

Which place in Spain did you choose and why?

Santanyi/Mallorca since we know many people there from our vacations.

What do you like most about your life in Spain?

The nice weather and laid-back people.

What did surprise you the most about living in Spain?

Nothing. Due to many vacations and many people we got to know, we were able to assess everything well in advance.

What don’t you like about living in Spain?

Infinitely slow administrative procedures.

What are/were you doing in Spain?

Self-employed and managing director of an event agency, Finca hotel, and company for interior design.

Was it difficult for you to find a place to live?

No, we found our dream house in Mallorca before moving to Spain.

Tell us about the process to obtain your NIE/TIE.

Without any problems, as we applied for the NIE at the Spanish consulate in Düsseldorf, Germany, before emigrating and received it 6 weeks before moving to Mallorca.

Was it difficult for you to make friends and settle in?

No, we already had a lot of friends, Spanish and German-speaking ones.

If you could give one important tip to people about to move to Spain, what would that be? 

Always make provisions for a nest egg for at least a year. Learn the language before you move to Spain. Be prepared for the fact that everything runs slower in Spain and that you have to work more hours per day and week than in Germany if you want to be successful in the long term.

Izzy and Phil in Marina Alta (Valencia)

Izzy und Phil in Valencia

Why did you move to Spain?

I’m a Brit and hubby is a dual Brit/Irish citizen…we didn’t want to live in the UK after Brexit.

Which place in Spain did you choose and why? 

We had spent months road tripping in Spain and loved the interior and mountains. We chose the Marina Alta in Comunidad Valenciana for its beauty and loved the fact that it’s off the beaten path but just an hour from the coast.

What do you like most about your life in Spain? 

Being off-grid, so minimal bills…and our amazing mountain views!

What did surprise you the most about living in Spain?

hat it gets properly cold in the mountains in winter, we have frost most days in December and January.

What don’t you like about living in Spain? 

The food! We miss easy access to world foods in both restaurants and supermarkets.

What are/were you doing in Spain?

We run a travel blog and spend six to eight months of the year traveling in our motorhome in Europe. We work on the road and from home when we’re there. Because we don’t live in Spain for more than 180 days a year, we are not residents but have an NIE so we can buy things and have a Spanish bank account. 

Was it difficult for you to find a place to live?

We saw our house on eBay and bought it privately; we fell in love with it as soon as we saw it!

Tell us about the process to obtain your NIE/TIE?

This was more complicated than we expected, and in the end, due to a lack of online appointments, we got a solicitor to do it for us.

Was it difficult for you to make friends and settle in?

We have been very lucky…we met a couple in our village who lived in the UK for a couple of years, so speak English and understand the customs.  There are also a couple of other ex-pat couples living close by who we have become friendly with.  We’re busier here socially than we were in the UK.

If you could give one important tip to people about to move to Spain, what would that be? 

Research, research, and then research some more. Spain is a complex country with very different customs and ways of doing things.  

Izzy and Phil from the Gap Decaders

Sabine in Madrid

Madrid, Spanien, Auswandern nach Madrid

Why did you move to Spain? 

I was working for a large steel company in Belgium (where I’m originally from) when I was offered a new position with the same company in their Madrid office. Apart from the business knowledge that I had, I was also offered the job because I had spent one semester in Spain during my studies, and so had prior knowledge of the language and the culture, which would make my integration that much smoother and quicker.

Which place in Spain did you choose and why?

The Spanish headquarters of the company was located in Madrid, so I moved there initially with a contract for 3 years, which later was extended for another 3 years. I lived in Madrid from 2002 until 2008. I loved living in Madrid. Even though it’s a large city, it still has a village mentality but with the addition that there are in fact lots of interesting things to do.

On top of that, Madrid’s surroundings have a lot to offer. To escape the city, within a circle of 100 km, you have mountains to go hiking or skiing (in winter), and there are lots of interesting Spanish landmarks to visit like Toledo, El Escorial, Segovia, and Avila.

What do you like most about your life in Spain?

The Spanish way of life felt like a homecoming for me. There was much less stress than in Belgium, a much less ‘structured’ life. It was so easy to meet new people, and there was always something to do. Lots of sunny days generally makes people more friendly, more colorful, and more relaxed.

What did surprise you the most about living in Spain?

I didn’t really have any expectations about life in Spain, so nothing surprised me that much.

What don’t you like about living in Spain?

Spanish people live outside way more than inside, so that’s where you normally meet your friends and acquaintances, especially in large cities like Madrid. I sometimes had the feeling I always needed to go out to meet friends, which was sometimes difficult to combine with my job. I missed the coziness of just meeting some friends at home instead of with large groups in a bar. 

What are/were you doing in Spain?

I was sent as an expat by the company I was working for in Belgium, so I, fortunately, had the support of other expats in the same company when it came to things like the local paperwork. Since it was before the digital era, there was still quite some paperwork involved, even just to open a bank account. I think it took about 1 year until I managed to get everything sorted.

Was it difficult for you to find a place to live?

Madrid is a very expensive place to live in regards to the average salary. However, since I was sent there on an expat contract, I had housing compensation included, which helped me to find a nice place close to my work and the city center. It still took me a few weeks and an estate agent’s assistance to find a suitable apartment to live in.

Tell us about the process to obtain your NIE/TIE?

I started the process to get my NIE when I officially moved to Madrid, even though I had already been working there for a few months before. What I didn’t know was that it would take 5 months to get a first appointment to apply for my NIE. I eventually received my NIE card nearly half a year after I officially moved to Madrid.

Was it difficult for you to make friends and settle in? 

Madrid is a very social city, so it’s very easy to meet new people there. My first friends were naturally some of my colleagues, but I soon met more and more people, both other expats as well as local Spanish people.

If you could give one important tip to people about to move to Spain, what would that be?

Try to integrate as much into the Spanish lifestyle as possible in order to get accepted. Don’t try to bring your own culture to Spain, but embrace your new country. Spanish people love it when expats try to integrate when they genuinely show an interest in the Spanish language and local culture.

Sabine from The Travelling Chilli

Stuart in Santander

Stuart in Santander Auswanderer

Why did you move to Spain?

I moved to Spain from the UK three years ago to work as an English teacher.

Which place in Spain did you choose and why?

Most of my time in Spain has been spent living in Santander in the north of the country, initially because I was offered a job there.

What do you like most about your life in Spain?

I really love how social people are in Spain. Simple things like neighbors greeting each other with a passing hello even if they don’t know one another.

What did surprise you the most about living in Spain?

Spain is such a culturally diverse country. Each region has its own dishes, festivals, dances, and sometimes language.

What don’t you like about living in Spain?

Dealing with any kind of bureaucratic official in Spain can be a nightmare, with success very much depending on the mood of the person you’re dealing with on the day.

What are/were you doing in Spain?

I work as a TEFL teacher (Teaching English as a foreign language) and have been employed in a high school, an academy, and most recently on a residential course for university students.

Was it difficult for you to find a place to live?

Finding a place to rent can be frustrating, but there are several useful websites such as Idealista, Fotocasa, Milanuncios, and Piso Compartido.

Tell us about the process to obtain your NIE/TIE.

I needed an NIE to work in Spain, which I obtained with help from my employer. I was required to attend the local government office and complete a series of forms before receiving my NIE card a week later. It’s another part of Spanish bureaucracy where I might have got my card on the first day but eventually had to return the following week.

Was it difficult for you to make friends and settle in?

Moving to a new country without knowing anyone was difficult, and in the north, it’s usually even harder to make new friends. In my first job, one teacher showed me around the local area with her husband. Since then, I’ve met other teachers (who are also expats) along with several locals through attending language exchanges and similar social events.

If you could give one important tip to people about to move to Spain, what would that be?

A ‘menu del día’ is a cheap way to fill your stomach at lunchtime. Generally, restaurants that only have a few dishes to choose from have better quality.

Stuart from Just Travelling Through

Mario in Mallorca

Palma de Mallorca Skyline

Why did you move to Spain?

Three reasons: the Mallorcan way of life, the climatic conditions, the sea.

Which place in Spain did you choose and why?

For the first four years, I lived on a large Finca in the middle of the island. Decisive for this were the peace and quiet. I’ve been living in Palma for four years now and enjoy the urban flair, even if I live away from the hustle and bustle.

What do you like most about your life in Spain?

I love not having any stress here. Life is slowed down; I can enjoy it to the fullest.

What did surprise you the most about living in Spain?

What surprised me most was that the Mallorcan language plays such an extremely important role, especially in rural areas, and that some kindergarten children don’t even understand Spanish.

What don’t you like about living in Spain?

Some German holidaymakers who think they have been to Spain and know the food, culture, country, and people, even though they only stayed two weeks in the all-inclusive hotel – without even having left it apart from the airport transfer, I cannot really be bothered, but I kind of find it amusing!

What are/were you doing in Spain?

I brought my work with me; I’m a blogger and have my own SL (Spanish Ltd) on the island.

Was it difficult for you to find a place to live?

No, that was pretty easy in the price range I was looking for. I searched for two weeks and then immediately got an acceptance for my dream property – fifteen minutes after the viewing.

Tell us about the process to obtain your NIE/TIE.

I have a Gestoria do those things for me, so it was a breeze.

Was it difficult for you to make friends and settle in?

It wasn’t difficult to make new acquaintances because I am very open and like to dive, where I have met many people, residents, tourists, and locals. Apart from that, I already knew some people from my professional environment who live here on the island.

If you could give one important tip to people about to move to Spain, what would that be? 

The best tip: learn Spanish if you are considering moving to the island or to Spain! In rural areas, in particular, English is often spoken very marginally, not to mention German. Otherwise, put aside a few quirks, chill a little bit, and just enjoy life!

Justine in Barcelona

Park Güell, Barcelona, Katalonien, Gaudi, Barcelona im Winter

Why did you move to Spain?

I’m a US citizen from California, and I fell in love with Seville first when I studied there at age 20. That’s where I met my then-boyfriend, now-husband who’s from there. 

Which place in Spain did you choose and why?

I always wanted to live in Barcelona for the infinite choices of cultural activities, architectural beauty, and warm weather. Coincidentally, my husband found a job here, so I’ve lived here since 2008.

What do you like most about your life in Spain?

Unlike in the US, I feel like people aren’t too materialistic. I also like the way kids are raised here: they’re encouraged to socialize often, and schools have a strong role in the community. 

What did surprise you the most about living in Spain?

The cultural differences between different regions. My husband’s family is from Andalusia, where people have a laid-back attitude and are very festive. When I moved to Barcelona, I realized the Catalans are more serious but progressive.

What don’t you like about living in Spain?

The bureaucratic paperwork and red tape when dealing with getting your residency. Queuing for lines and getting a scheduled appointment is frustrating. It happens for other government-related procedures also!

What are/were you doing in Spain? 

I’m a freelance writer now, but I was also an English teacher. As an English teacher, I walked my CV from door to door at language academies. For freelance writing, most writing jobs are through my local contacts, or companies find me through my blog.

Was it difficult for you to find a place to live?

Yes. When my husband and I were looking for a place to rent, many owners and agencies weren’t ashamed to show you a dirty flat. Plus, they ask for a huge deposit before renting. We eventually bought our own flat, but it took about a year of researching overpriced and ugly flats that didn’t look like the photo. 

Tell us about the process to obtain your NIE/TIE.

My husband is a Spanish citizen, so I was able to obtain an NIE (Familiar Ciudadano de la Union). The process was long and excruciating because we got married in the US and didn’t register our marriage there first. If you marry abroad, register with the Spanish consulate in your country! 

Was it difficult for you to make friends and settle in?

Yes. Because I was pregnant when I arrived in Barcelona, I wanted to meet other mothers. Back in 2008, I used Meetup and a Google group of moms. Eventually, I made friends through work or through other friends. Nowadays, it’s easy to meet parents in Facebook groups. Today, I have a mix of local and expat friends.

If you could give one important tip to people about to move to Spain, what would that be?

Try to learn Spanish, which will help you integrate and live Spain’s unique customs. You can probably get by without knowing it, but that would take away from getting to know the rich culture.

Justine from Latitude 41

Linn in Mijas (Andalusia)

Linn in Mijas, Andalusien

Why did you move to Spain?

I’m originally from Norway and looked for work in Spain as I had started dating one of my friends from Seville. I had studied and lived in Seville before and had friends there. I knew Spain was a country I would like to live in again.

Which place in Spain did you choose and why?

Mijas, because that’s where I found work in a stable, Norwegian company where I could see myself grow. I wanted to go to Andalusia, and the area around Malaga has a lot of Scandinavian job opportunities, which made it easier. The Spanish work market is not very stable, it’s hard to find a job that pays enough to pay the bills, and it’s easy that they fire you because they don’t need you anymore. I also love the fact that Mijas offers both beach and mountains.

What do you like most about your life in Spain?

I like the culture, language, and obviously the weather!

What did surprise you the most about living in Spain?

Having lived in Seville before, which is a really traditional Andalusian city where the locals are happy to speak Spanish to you, it was a huge shock to come to Costa del Sol, where prices were higher, and people spoke English to me even though I’m fluent in Spanish. I really noticed the backsides of tourism here.

What don’t you like about living in Spain?

The extreme bureaucracy! They’re still working with everything on papers, stamps, offices, and long queues instead of moving things online. It makes a lot of things more complicated when you live here.

What are/were you doing in Spain?

I work in a company that has helped fix everything I needed to start work, like NIE, health card, etc., so I could work. Otherwise, this is a long process visiting many offices and standing in many long queues. I started working as an autónomo (self-employed) this year, and I got help from an agency. They told me which office to book an appointment so I could get a number to give to them and they fixed the rest. They also do my taxes every 3 months for a small fee.

Was it difficult for you to find a place to live?

I found it quite easy when I moved here and have lived in the same house for the last 6 years. But with tourism and Airbnb taking over the coast, prices have raised a lot over the years, and it’s pretty hard to find a place to live here now compared to when I moved here. Especially in the summer months.

Tell us about the process to obtain your NIE/TIE.

As mentioned above, my company helped with that. They booked the appointment with the police station and gave me the right form to fill out. I got the card directly at the station.

Was it difficult for you to make friends and settle in?

Here in Mijas, I mainly got to know people I work with, mainly Norwegians and Swedes. But I haven’t really been out trying to meet people either. And there are a lot of expats on the coast. When I lived in Seville, on the other hand, I made mostly local friends. They are good friends I still see regularly as they only live 2,5 hours away.

If you could give one important tip to people about to move to Spain, what would that be?

Make an effort to learn the language, integrate, and go with the flow. Especially in Andalusia, mañana, mañana is a reality. And enjoy! Spain is an amazing country to live in.

Linn from Brainy Backpackers

Becki in Seville

Becki in Seville, Auswanderin

Why did you move to Spain?

I moved to Spain as part of an Erasmus internship. During the first UK lockdown, I lost my job, so I had a lot of ‘gained time.’ One thing I had wanted to do for a long while was a TEFL course, so I used my time to complete this. After I gained my certificate, I was searching for online teaching, and I found an opportunity to move to Spain to be based in a language school to continue my training.

Which place in Spain did you choose and why?

For the internship, we had the option of two locations; Lisbon and Seville. Both are equally amazing cities, but I chose Seville as I wanted to learn Spanish.

What do you like most about your life in Spain?

There is so much I love about living in Seville. A massive plus is the weather. Even in mid-November, I can walk about in a little strappy top. Seville is a visually stunning city, so I’ve really enjoyed spending the time getting under the skin of it and exploring areas I would have missed as a tourist. 

It’s also a much more relaxed lifestyle here. Right now, there’s not much I’m missing about my British life.

What did surprise you the most about living in Spain?

I’m really struggling with picking up the language. I’ve been told that the Spanish from Seville is one of the hardest to learn as they speak a lot faster and don’t pronounce the end of words. I’ll get there eventually, but progress in picking up the lingo is going a lot slower than I thought it would. 

What don’t you like about living in Spain?

There’s nothing I dislike as such, but one of my frustrations is that they just don’t understand the concept of vegetarianism. So it can be hard to find anything on the typical Spanish tapas menu (unless you want to live off patas bravas!). 

What are/were you doing in Spain?

Currently, I’m working as an English teacher and assistant. The internship is ending soon, so I’m just starting the process of looking for work in a local school right now. There are loads of language schools in the city, so I’m confident I’ll find something soon. If not, I’ll pick up some online work to tide me over until I can find something more permanent out here. 

Was it difficult for you to find a place to live?

We had our accommodation provided for the duration of the internship. However, when the internship ends, I will be looking for a place to rent. I’m part of an ex-pat Facebook group, and there are so many adverts for rooms available to rent. It’s very easy to find a place to live in Seville. 

Tell us about the process to obtain your NIE/TIE.

This has been the bane of my life for the past couple of weeks. I’m just starting the process of getting my residency. There is so much conflicting information online. The forms are all in Spanish too, and everything we supply as evidence has to be converted into Spanish, so I have a nice long to-do list right now. I also have the added pressure of Brexit to take into consideration. 

Was it difficult for you to make friends and settle in?

I’ve found it so easy to get out and meet people. In the UK, I do a lot of dancing (salsa, swing, jive). These are always great ways to meet people. Although it’s been a bit restricted because of covid, I’ve been able to get out and meet like-minded people. There is also the ex-pat Facebook group, so I’ve met some great people through there. We’ve been cycling, kayaking, and for meals. 

If you could give one important tip to people about to move to Spain, what would that be?

If you’re coming from a chaotic country, like the UK, don’t expect anything here to be efficient. It took me a few weeks to learn to slow down. Nothing in Spain is fast; even ordering a coffee or beer can take ages. Also, in the UK, I’m so used to supermarkets being open 24hours and on Sundays. It’s still quite traditional on that front, where shops close in the afternoons for siesta, a lot of them also close on Sundays.   

Becki from Meet me in Departures

Jeremy in Seville

Jeremy in Sevilla, Auswanderer

Why did you move to Spain?

I am originally from the USA (Florida), and I moved to Spain to do research for my Ph.D. in the historical archives. I also taught English as an Auxiliar in Seville.

Which place in Spain did you choose and why?

I lived in Seville and commuted between Seville and Madrid. Both cities had archives I needed to work in, but I chose Seville because I was able to teach English there in the Auxiliar program (and generate some income).

What do you like most about your life in Spain?

From the perspective of an American, the pace of life was like a deep breath of fresh air, a meditation on how to live and the problems with the fast-paced American life I had been accustomed to.

What did surprise you the most about living in Spain?

The first time I stepped foot in Spain was when I moved there. Everything was a surprise, but I did not expect to fall in love with Madrid or Seville.

What don’t you like about living in Spain?

It was a bit difficult making friends in Seville. In Madrid, less so.

What are/were you doing in Spain?

I was an Auxiliar at a school in Seville from Monday to Wednesday, then I took an overnight bus to Madrid and worked in the archives a few days before returning to Seville. Being an Auxiliar gave me plenty of time to engage with other work, like my research and writing.

Was it difficult for you to find a place to live?

It took me about a week to find a piso in Seville. It wasn’t difficult, but I did see a few terrible and falsely advertised pisos before finding “the one.”

Tell us about the process to obtain your NIE/TIE?

I remember it was a long day that involved standing in line at around 5 am and waiting until around lunchtime for my turn. People brought pillows and camped out. Other than that, it was a breeze as I had Auxiliar papers that make the process smooth (if long!).

Was it difficult for you to make friends and settle in?

As I mentioned earlier, it was hard to make local friends, but it is not impossible if you put yourself out there. I also had many expats friends from France and Italy.

If you could give one important tip to people about to move to Spain, what would that be?

Try to talk and make friends with as many local Spanish people as possible — your experience will be far better. And, never reject an invite into a Spanish person’s home for a meal!

Jeremy from Travel Writing World

Joanna in Fuengirola (Málaga)

Joanna in Fuengirola (Málaga)

Why did you move to Spain?

I am originally from Romania, and I have moved to Spain following my heart. I have lived in Spain for two years.

Which place in Spain did you choose and why?

I moved to Fuengirola, a small town near Malaga. I moved there following my other half, who already had friends in the same location. He wanted to try life in the sun for a while, and I didn’t see why not experience it as well.

What do you like most about your life in Spain?

One of the things that I really loved about living in Spain was going out after a hard day’s work and relax over a few tapas and a cold beer. I loved the weather, most of the time it was sunny and warm, even in winter. I also loved exploring the local life by spending my weekends in off the beaten path villages, interacting with the locals, and trying to practice my Spanish. I found so much kindness in rural Spain.

What did surprise you the most about living in Spain?

There were a few things that surprised me after I moved to Spain. One of them was the fact that all shops close on a Sunday. Some of the restaurants do too. There is nowhere to buy food on a Sunday unless you order a takeaway or you go to the petrol station.

Another thing that surprised me was the large amount of international food the big supermarkets stock.

Third – in two out of the three houses I lived in, I did not have a post box. The mail would come to the building’s administrator, who would give it to me when he would see me passing by. I don’t know if this is normal in Spain, but I found it very odd.  

What don’t you like about living in Spain?

What I struggled with, in all the places I lived in Spain, was the way the houses are built, without heaters. I love heat, and I like to be comfortable, but in winter, even in the South of Spain, it can get very cold. I used to heat up the house using the air conditioning, and I was still cold. The white buildings, which are great in summer, become a nightmare in winter, especially that almost all of them have marble floors. 

What are/were you doing in Spain?

I work remotely as a self-employed, and during the time I lived in Spain, as an EU citizen, I did not need any special papers to be able to work from the country. All my clients were abroad, I carried on with my work as normal and traveled many times in and out of Spain, for business.

Was it difficult for you to find a place to live?

Not at all. During my two years living in Spain, I have moved three times. Each time I found an apartment through the expat community – there is always someone who owns an estate agency for foreigners.

Tell us about the process to obtain your NIE/TIE.

Again, that was very easy for me because of the expat community. I just had to provide all the documents needed, and someone else obtained the NIE for me. I did not have to queue or deal with the bureaucracy from the junta.

Was it difficult for you to make friends and settle in? 

To be honest, I did find it very hard to make friends. At first, the only people I got to know were the other expats in the local community. I got to make friends through my other half’s circle, but I can’t really say that I’ve connected with them very well because of the lack of common interests.

Most of the people in the expat community were retired, spending their time between the golf courses and the restaurants and bars on Costa del Sol. My lifestyle as a young professional without plans of having a family and children, with a desire for traveling all the time, was clashing.

If you could give one important tip to people about to move to Spain, what would that be?

I think the community where you chose to live is very important. Looking back, I would have loved to be more exposed to the Spanish lifestyle, make Spanish friends, and break away from the expat community.

I feel that in order to experience the real Spain, you must surround yourself with Spanish people, and the first step in doing that is choosing to live in a place where there are no expats. Sure, it’s much easier to find people who speak your own language and join their community, but that makes it much harder afterwards to expand your horizons and explore the real Spanish lifestyle.

Joanna from Andalucia in my Pocket

Vicki in Barcelona

Vicki und Eduardo in Barcelona

Why did you move to Spain?

On a trip through southern Europe, I met my husband, Eduardo, during a weekend in Barcelona. As soon as I had finished the attendance part of my studies in Germany, I packed my bags and moved to live with him in Catalonia.

Which place in Spain did you choose and why?

Barcelona, since this is Eduardo’s hometown.

What do you like most about your life in Spain?

The weather. It is sunny almost every day, and even in winter, it only gets really cold here at night and in bad weather. I’ve also always dreamed of living by the sea, and in Barcelona, that dream came true.

What did surprise you the most about living in Spain?

There are many cultural differences between Spain and Germany that I did not know before moving here. Especially here in Catalonia, there are many interesting traditions that I’ve never heard of before.

Another surprise for me was the cold in Spanish houses during the winter. Many buildings have no heating, so it can get quite chilly, especially at night.

What don’t you like about living in Spain?

Spanish bureaucracy! Here in Spain, the responsible authorities just seem to work completely chaotically and without any kind of system. Although the authorities here in Barcelona process thousands of applications every day, they seem to have to reinvent the wheel for each applicant.

What are/were you doing in Spain?

After my arrival in the country, I first worked in one of the typical foreigner jobs for Germans in business development. After a year, I started working as a freelance writer and published my first posts on this blog.

Was it difficult for you to find a place to live?

Eduardo already had an apartment that I simply moved into.

Tell us about the process to obtain your NIE/TIE.

The process of obtaining my NIE was a true struggle that dragged on for several months. From getting in line at 5 am at the police station in Barcelona’s outskirts to countless appointments in different offices.

Was it difficult for you to make friends and settle in?

In an international city like Barcelona, it’s easy to meet new people. However, the friendships here are often short-lived, as many people return to their home countries after a few months. In the meantime, I’ve made a few friends, locals and fellow expats, who are also staying in the city for a long time.

If you could give one important tip to people about to move to Spain, what would that be? 

Be sure to learn Spanish. The English level in the country is usually quite low, and so it is difficult to make friends without sufficient knowledge of the language. Because only through the locals do you really get to know the country and its numerous traditions.

Vicki from Vickiviaja


Did you like the insight? Do you live in Spain and have made similar experiences? Share your experience with us in the comments below!

about-the-author

About the AuthorVicki

Hi, we are Vicki & Eduardo, an international travel couple on a mission to help you save money for priceless travel experience. Follow us through the miracles of this world and you will be rewarded with a bunch of practical travel tips.

More about us

Subscribe!

Leave a Comment

 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.