Moving to Spain is an incredible adventure and the best decision I ever made. If you’re considering relocating to the country of sunshine, smiles and sangria, here are my 5 top tips to help you get the most out of your time in España!
1- Get a job
One of the most common jobs for fluent English speakers in Spain is teaching English. If you have good communication skills, enjoy being around people and like working independently then this might be a great option. While I lived in Madrid I taught English in businesses, to adults for the Cambridge exams, in private classes and to children in schools and extracurricular classes.
It’s a great job because you get to know Spanish people even if you can’t speak Spanish yet. It’s sociable and rewarding and it’s the kind of job that when you go home you can completely disconnect and enjoy your time in your new city! If you would like to teach English there is also the Auxiliar programme. In my opinion it is definitely worth getting a TEFL qualification before applying for English teaching jobs although some schools may accept native speakers without qualifications (they will pay less).
Of course there are many other options, perhaps your company already has an office there. Maybe you have an online business which allows you to work from anywhere. Perhaps you already speak Spanish, in which case you can apply for jobs directly in the Spanish job market. In any case, be prepared for your salary to be substantially lower but also know that the cost of living in Spain is also much lower. You can really enjoy your time in Spain with a very modest salary.
2 – Find an apartment
Do your research. Read about different areas of the city, find out about prices, the kinds of people who live there, the vibe of the neighbourhood. Check transport links and proximity to amenities like supermarkets, etc. Renting a place in Spanish cities is similar to most big European cites. If you have been renting before, take into consideration that your rent should be cheaper in Spain and check if bills and internet are included.
I recommend the website idealista.com especially if you are looking for just a room to rent in a shared property but also for whole apartments. It tends to be cheaper because there aren’t as many estate agents advertising on that site. You can also look at fotocasa.com. If you are renting from the landlord you will probably need one month’s rent plus a deposit (fianza) which is usually the same amount as one month’s rent. If you’re going through an estate agent you will also need to pay the administration fee.
3 – Learn the language
It is a good idea to learn at least basic Spanish before you go. The more you know, the easier it will be. Find a class, download a language app, watch films in Spanish, listen to music in Spanish. Become familiar with the sound of the language and practise as much as you can.
Once you get to Spain you can continue with classes but you also have options such as language exchanges which are free. Something I’d also recommend is to have somewhere on your phone where you can write down new words you learn throughout day so you don’t forget them. Watch the news in Spanish, it’s great because they use more formal language and speak clearly so it’s easier to understand and you have images for context.
4 – Get involved
When you move to a new city and especially a new country, it’s important to feel connected. A good way of doing this is to get involved with an activity you enjoy. It can be an existing hobby – join a sports club, find a yoga class, join a choir. It can also be a new activity – try a flamenco or salsa class, get involved with a charity. Not only will you be doing something fun but you will also meet new people.
Spanish people, in general, are very welcoming so make an effort to talk to them and make new friends. Not only will you feel more at home in your new city but it’s the best way to improve your Spanish too. You can also get local recommendations for places to eat or things to do.
It’s also nice to speak to people in English so join Facebook groups of other English speakers in your city and go to meet-ups. As much as it’s great to immerse yourself in the new culture, I know it can also be very tiring, especially if your Spanish isn’t fluent. It’s also nice to speak to people in your native language and share experiences with people who are doing something similar to you.
5 – Be open-minded
Moving to another country is a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow. Allow yourself to be open to new experiences and new ways of thinking. Just because you are used to doing things a certain way doesn’t mean that it’s better than a different way of doing things. By being open and interested towards new places and people, you’ll find you learn things about yourself that you never would have otherwise.
It is possible to live in another country and stay close-minded and stubborn in your ways of thinking but you will never get to truly enjoy the experience and grow as a person if you don’t become more open. Re-evaluation of your own lifestyle and beliefs can be hard and even realising you were wrong about certain things, but it will make you a more tolerant, understanding person. For everyone I know, living in another country has been one of the best decisions they’ve ever made. It certainly was for me and I can say with absolute certainty that it has made me a better person. Plus I met the love of my life in Spain.