Spain at a Glance
Education and Healthcare in SpainiStockphoto
Spain has much to offer to expatriate families with children.
If you will be living in Spain with your family, you may consider sending your children to an international school, preferably with the option of an international baccalaureate so they will have the opportunity to study abroad as well. A major drawback of these private schools is the unfortunate fact that they are usually very expensive. You might pay anything from 300 to 1000 EUR per semester and child in tuition fees.
Spain’s international schools are highly regarded and usually employ mostly experienced international teachers. The most common international schools, where some locals also send their children, are American, British, German, and French schools. Please contact your nearest embassy or consulate for a list of international schools in your area.
The Spanish state school system is generally considered good, allowing for academic standards varying between cities, neighborhoods, and individual schools. The public education system in Spain is free for all children residing in Spain. It is mandatory for all kids and teens to attend school between the ages of six and sixteen. Most parents send their children to preschool and kindergarten as well, once their kids are three years old.
Spanish schools are divided by age groups into three, possibly four, types. The primary school (colegio) teaches children from the ages of six to twelve; the secondary school (instituto), which twelve to sixteen-year-olds attend, is followed by the bachillerato. The latter is no longer compulsory, but it gives older teens the chance to get a degree equivalent to that of the British A-Levels or the American high school diploma. Some schools also offer an educación infantíl for toddlers and children between the ages of three and six.
Spain has no known health risks, and no immunizations are necessary before entering the country. For a list of immunizations required by schools, please contact the school district of your neighborhood or town in Spain.
Every resident of Spain has a right to healthcare. The Spanish healthcare system is a non-contributory system paid from tax money. Each autonomous community has its own budget.
If you are a non-EU national living in Spain, you are entitled to healthcare only if you are a legal resident and currently paying for social security. This means that you must either work in Spain or be self-employed there. Citizens of EU member states who are living in Spain should see if they can get international coverage from their country of origin. They will automatically have access to health coverage in Spain once they become legal Spanish residents.
The healthcare system is very up-to-date, and doctors are up to speed on the latest medical innovations. Due to the fact that medical care is state-run though, hospitals are often overcrowded, resulting in long waiting periods. Spaniards sometimes choose the more expensive option of taking out private health insurance. One of the most popular private insurance providers is Sanitas, whose website also helps you locate the specialists they cover.
Dentists are private doctors in Spain, and dental care is very good. As quality comes with a price, however, they do require payment that is usually not covered by your health insurance.
Unlike in some other countries, you are unable to buy medication elsewhere than at the pharmacy. Farmacías can be found on almost every street corner, clearly marked by green crosses.