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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Spain Offers the Best Quality of Life for Expats

Expats are extremely happy with the quality of life and find it easy to get settled in.

Ranking 5th out of 52 destinations in the Expat Insider 2022 survey, expats vote Spain the best in the Quality of Life Index (1st). The country lands among the top 10 for four out of the five subcategories featured in this index, even coming first worldwide in the Leisure Options Subcategory. Expats love the variety of culinary and dining options on offer (91% vs. 77% globally), the opportunities for recreational sports (90% vs. 75% globally), and the culture and nightlife (85% vs. 67% globally). “I enjoy the social freedom and culture in Spain. There is a great nightlife,” explains an expat from Australia.

These leisure options are easy to enjoy in a great climate, another factor for which Spain does very well (2nd). More than nine in ten (94%) are happy with the climate and weather (vs. 62% globally), and Spain is only beaten by its neighbor Portugal (1st).

Healthcare Highlights

Spain also finishes in the top 10 of the Health & Well-Being Subcategory (7th). The affordability of its healthcare system (6th) is a highlight for expats, and almost four in five (79%) rate this factor positively (vs. 61% globally). The majority of expats (82%) also describes healthcare as generally available (vs. 73% globally). What is more, 84% rate the quality of medical care positively (vs. 72% globally), and 77% say that they can access all the kinds of healthcare services they need (vs. 67% globally).

A Place to Call Home

Spain excels in the Ease of Settling In Index (10th), ranking in the top 10 of both the Culture & Welcome (7th) and Finding Friends (9th) Subcategories. Over two in three expats (67%) are happy with their social life (vs. 56% globally), and 68% have a personal support network (vs. 59% globally). Maybe this is why expats find it easy to get used to the local culture in Spain (78% vs. 62% globally), feel at home there (76% vs. 62% globally), and feel welcome too (78% vs. 66% globally). “Once you get used to the local people and culture, it is a great and easy place to live in,shares a Colombian expat.

A Very Reasonable Cost of Living

Spain narrowly misses out on a top 10 spot in the Personal Finance Index (11th). Expats regard it as one of the destinations with the best cost of living (9th). Seven in ten expats (70%) are happy with this factor, compared to a global average of only 45%. An expat from New Zealand says he greatly enjoys the “quality of life for a very reasonable cost of living”.

The affordable costs are also reflected in the Housing Subcategory (16th): more than half the expats (54%) describe housing as affordable (vs. 39% globally), and 63% say that it is easy for expats to find housing (vs. 54% globally).

Getting Online Is No Problem

Housing is actually Spain’s best subcategory in the Expat Essentials Index (14th), but the country also does not do too badly for Digital Life (21st). Expats are happy with the unrestricted access to online services (92% vs. 82% globally), the opportunities to pay without cash (92% vs. 84% globally), and the ease of acquiring high-speed internet access at home (86% vs. 79% globally). Only the availability of administrative/government services online is a lowlight here: 26% rate this factor negatively, compared to 21% globally.

Just over half (52%) find it hard to deal with the local bureaucracy/authorities, 13 percentage points more than the global average (39%). Since expats’ satisfaction with the ease of opening a local bank account (66% vs. 64% globally) and getting a visa before moving to Spain (59% happy vs. 56% globally) is just about average, Spain ranks 33rd in the Admin Topics Subcategory.

Less-Than-Satisfactory Career Options

Spain performs worst in the Working Abroad Index (37th), which is largely due to the Career Prospects Subcategory (41st). Expats are unhappy with their personal career opportunities (27% vs. 22% globally) and the local job market in general (37% vs. 27% globally). In the end, 30% believe that their career prospects have worsened after moving to Spain, compared to 18% globally. It does not make the situation any better that 24% feel that they are not paid fairly for their work (vs. 20% globally). An Irish expat puts it simply: “You will not get rich living here, but the cost of living is low, and the culture, lifestyle, and weather are spectacular”.

However, at least they seem to have enough leisure time to enjoy themselves, ranking the country 13th for work-life balance. Over two in three expats in Spain (69%) are pleased with their work-life balance (vs. 62% globally). This might be related to their working hours: expats in Spain work an average of 36.2 hours per week, four hours less than the global average (40.2 hours per week). Moreover, an above-average share of expats in Spain are retirees (24% vs. 10% globally), and among those who do work, 27% work part time (vs. 17% globally).

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