During your life in Spain, you will be sharing your new host country with more than 47 million other people, most of them of European or Latin American descent. The large population of Latin Americans in Spain, particularly from Ecuador, Colombia, and Argentina, is due to the fact that employment opportunities in Spain used to be better than in their home countries. Furthermore, for Colombians and Argentinians it is relatively easy to enter Spain in terms of visa requirements.
Spain, the second largest EU country after France, 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 holiday mood 24/7 and everything will happen mañana mañana (tomorrow, tomorrow). Having said this, many expats have indeed noticed that their stress level has reduced greatly once they have acclimatized to the Spanish lifestyle.
Spain is a constitutional monarchy with King Felipe VI as the sovereign. The Spanish monarch has no executive role, though, but rather the President of the Government. Since December 2011 Mariano Rajoy from the People's Party (Partido Popular), a center-right party, holds this position. General elections in November 2015 could, however, deliver a different outcome.
The electorate living in Spain votes for a legislature made up of the national assembly 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 are a legal resident of Spain.
Regional identity is an important aspect of Spanish life. Although the main language is, of course, Spanish, while living in Spain, you will quickly learn that many Spanish people take great pride in their regional culture and may speak different languages altogether, e.g. in Catalonia or Galicia. Should you be living in Galicia, for example, and take a vacation in southern Andalusia, the differences in climate, culture, attitudes, traditions, and local food will surprise you!
The Catalan independence movement, which has been increasingly active over the past years, is of particular relevance to expats living in Barcelona and the surrounding region; the call for autonomy will undoubtedly come up in conversation with impassioned locals, so it could be worth reading up on it.
Spain is home to a vast number of large cities and an even larger number of small towns, so how do you decide where to settle down? If you prefer living in an urban setting, cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville are an obvious choice. If your move to the Spanish peninsula is motivated by more recreational goals, you might consider a town along the Costa del Sol, which is popular among retired expats living in Spain.
In what kind of accommodation and which city you want to start your new Spanish life is 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. Other helpful and regularly updated websites for house-hunting are:
We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.