Living in Spain?

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Spain at a Glance

Living in Spain

Living in Spain holds many attractions and challenges for expats. However, life on the Iberian Peninsula will indeed be more laidback once you have gotten used to expatriate life. InterNations supports you with essential information on Spain, from housing to healthcare.

During your life in Spain, you will be sharing your new home country with 47 million other people, most of them of European or Latin American descent. The high population of Latin Americans in Spain, particularly from Ecuador and Venezuela, is due to the fact that employment opportunities used to be better than in their home countries.

Spain, the second largest EU country, is also one of the most popular destinations among European tourists. It is therefore a common misconception that settling down in Spain means being in a 24/7 holiday mood and everything will happen mañana mañana (tomorrow, tomorrow). However, many expats have indeed noticed that their stress level has reduced greatly, once they have acclimatized to the Spanish lifestyle.

Spanish Politics and Regional Pride

Spain is a constitutional monarchy with King Juan Carlos I as the sovereign. The Spanish king has no executive role, though. The country is mainly governed by the Prime Minister or President of the Government, since December 2011 Mariano Rajoy from the People's Party, a reformist center coalition.

The electorate living in Spain votes for a legislature made up of the senate and the congress, in which at least two seats are given to each of Spain’s 50 provinces. If you are currently living in Spain as an expat, you may register to vote in all sorts of elections as long as you have legal Spanish residency.

Regional identity is an important aspect of Spanish life. Although the main language is, of course, Spanish, life in Spain will quickly teach you that many Spanish people take great pride in their regional community, e.g. Andalusia, Catalonia, Galicia. Should you be living in the Galician part, for example, and plan to take a vacation in southern Andalusia, the differences in climate, culture, attitudes, traditions, and local food will surprise you!

Accommodation in Spain

Spain offers a vast number of large cities and small towns, so where exactly would you enjoy living? If you prefer living in Spain’s urban setting, cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville come to mind. If your reasons for a move to the peninsula are motivated by more recreational goals, you might consider a town along the Costa del Sol, which is popular among retired expats living in Spain.

Where you want start your new Spanish life is generally up to you. However, it is highly recommended to find an apartment before moving to Spain. Expats may have a hard time finding short-term housing. Checking out the (Spanish only) website of the Ministerio de Viviendas (Ministry of Housing) is very useful for people keen on living in Spain. Another helpful and regularly updated website for house-hunting is www.segundamano.es.

InterNations Expat Magazine