live in spain

Living in Spain: The Ultimate Guide

Relocating to a completely different country is no easy decision to make. To be honest, it took me years to build up the nerve to start a new life in Spain, even though it was a long-cherished dream of mine. When I finally got the guts and moved there—I’m not going to lie—I was an alien for a while. However, as time went by, Spain made me remember why I dreamt of living there for such a long time. Now, I can say with confidence that it was the best decision of my life. 

If you’re keen on moving to Spain as well and wondering how life in Spain is, read on because I’ll tell you all about it.

Vamos!

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Pros and Cons of Living in Spain 

As does every other place on earth, Spain has its advantages and downsides. I can confidently say that my experiences were almost always on the positive side of the line but it’s good to know what to expect when relocating to a completely different country: so, here’s a list of pros and cons of living in Spain.

Pros of Living in Spain

 

Great Weather

Let's talk about the weather in Spain: which is one of the best in Europe. With its long, hot summers, and mild winters, Spain is just the country for those who like warm climates. Imagine basking in the sun on a brilliant beach in Majorca or lounging in a park in Barcelona with a cold drink: even the thought of it is excellent!

Stunning Landscapes

Spain is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts with its diverse and breathtaking landscapes. From the sandy beaches of the Costa del Sol to the snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenees, there's something for everyone to enjoy.  You can hike through the rolling hills of Andalusia, take a dip in the crystal-clear waters of the Mediterranean, or explore the hidden gems of Picos de Europa.

Low Cost of Living

The Spanish way of life is all about enjoying simple things, and this extends to the cost of living to some extent. Living expenses are relatively affordable in Spain, especially compared to the other countries in Western Europe: you can get great deals on housing, food, and transportation.

Prosperous Culture

Spain is a country that's incredibly prosperous in terms of culture, history, and tradition. From the streets of Madrid that swarm with traces of history to the lively nightlife of Barcelona, you'll find yourself surrounded by centuries of culture. The abundance of opportunities like festivals and traditional events where you can immerse yourself in the culture of Spain won't ever fail to surprise you.

Great Transportation Network

Spain offers affordable and effective transportation options. Public transportation such as the subway, tram, buses, and trains are widely available and run frequently, making it easy to get around. The high-speed train network, known as AVE, connects major cities and is a fast and comfortable way to travel. Additionally, the metro systems in cities like Madrid and Barcelona are efficient and easy to navigate. For those looking to explore more remote areas, car rental is also readily available at reasonable prices. With a well-developed infrastructure and well-maintained roads, getting around Spain is a breeze. 

Effortless Property Purchasing

Purchasing property in Spain can be a relatively straightforward process for foreign buyers. Spain also offers a variety of property options, from apartments in the city to villas by the beach, making it an attractive option for property investment. Furthermore, property purchasing in Spain by foreign buyers is encouraged by the Spanish government with a program known as Spain Golden Visa, which allows those who invest in Spanish real estate under specific conditions to obtain a residency permit. 

Traveling Around in Europe

Spain is a great hub for exploring Europe due to its excellent transportation network. The airports in Spain offer a wide range of international flights, making it easy to hop from one European destination to another. Traveling by train is another frequently preferred option among those who have the time. 

Excellent Healthcare 

The Spanish healthcare system is considered one of the most efficient and affordable in Europe. With a comprehensive network of hospitals and clinics, access to healthcare is easy and accessible for all. Spanish doctors are highly trained and equipped with the latest technology to provide top-notch medical care. Not only is healthcare affordable, but also the Spanish culture places a strong emphasis on preventative medicine and a healthy lifestyle so you can feel good inside and out. So, whether you're a traveler in need of medical attention or a foreign resident looking for a healthcare system you can rely on, Spain has got you covered.

Delicious Food and Drinks

Spain is a food lover's paradise: Spanish cuisine will astonish every gourmet palate whose path crosses this beautiful country: the tapas are to die for, and the paella will make your taste buds sing. The drinks, however, are entirely something else! Spain is famous for its wine, sangria, and beer, which are all perfect for sipping on a sunny terrace.

Community 

The Spanish people are known for their hospitality and open-mindedness, befittingly to the welcoming culture of the country. They are typically very accepting of foreigners, LGBT people, etc.

Spain has a large expat population, and there are many networks and communities to connect with, making it easy to settle in and make friends. The country is also a popular destination for digital nomads, with its various coworking spaces and nomad communities to connect with. 

Quality of Life

Despite its low cost of living, Spain offers a high quality of life. All the factors listed above boost the living standards in the country. With a low cost of living and high quality of life, Spain is a great place to call home.

Cons of Living in Spain

 

  • Immense Bureaucracy: The process of obtaining legal documents and navigating government services in Spain can be time-consuming and frustrating. Furthermore, the bureaucracy in Spain can often be opaque, making it difficult to know what steps need to be taken to complete a task. This can lead to delays and added stress for those trying to adjust to the system.
  • Language Barrier: One of the disadvantages of living in Spain for foreigners can be the language barrier. Although many people in Spain speak English, it’s less common in some areas, which can be challenging when searching for housing, accessing healthcare, or navigating government services. Many official documents are also only available in Spanish, which can be an obstacle when dealing with bureaucratic issues.  
  • Inadequacy of Job Opportunities: The unemployment rate in Spain is relatively high, and the job market can be competitive. Furthermore, many jobs may only be available for those who speak Spanish fluently, which can be a disadvantage for non-native speakers. Also, the salaries and benefits offered in many jobs may be lower compared to other Europe countries. However, if you already have a job where you work remotely, this won’t be much of a problem for you. 
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The Best Places to Live in Spain 

Barcelona

Barcelona is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city located in the Catalonia region of Spain. Known for its rich culture and history, as well as its stunning architecture and beautiful beaches, it offers a unique and exciting lifestyle. The city is bustling with energy, filled with plenty of shops, restaurants, and nightlife options to keep you entertained. It’s also home to many famous landmarks such as the Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, and Picasso Museum.

It’s relatively affordable to live in Barcelona due to its cost of living, which is considerably lower than in other major European cities. The prices of accommodation, food, and transportation are all relatively reasonable, making it an attractive destination for people on a budget.

The city’s transportation system is efficient and reliable, with an extensive network of buses, trams, and subways that make it easy to get around. 

Madrid

Madrid is the capital and the largest city in Spain. It offers a diverse and exciting lifestyle, with plenty of museums, art galleries, and historical sites to explore, as well as a wide variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. Madrid swarms with famous landmarks such as the Prado Museum, the Royal Palace, and Retiro Park.

The cost of living in Madrid is considered to be moderate, although the prices for accommodation, food, and transportation are slightly higher compared to other Spanish cities. This perception relies on the city’s relative affordability compared to other major European cities.

The city’s transportation system is reliable and efficient, with an extensive network of buses, metros, and trains that make it easy to get around. Taxis are also readily available and relatively affordable. Getting around on bikes in Madrid is another effective and eco-friendly means of transportation. 

Madrid has a continental climate, with hot and dry summers and cold winters with occasional snowfall. Despite the heat in the summer, Madrid has plenty of green spaces and parks, which make it a nice place to be during summertime. Madrid is also a good option for people who like to enjoy urban life and experience different seasons.

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Madrid

Majorca

Majorca, also known as Mallorca, is part of the Balearic Islands of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s known for its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and picturesque landscapes. 

The island offers a laid-back lifestyle, with plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors: swimming, hiking, or simply relaxing on the beach. Majorca also has a good range of restaurants, bars, and nightlife options for those who like vivid night sceneries.

Seville

Seville, as a Southern Spain city, offers a unique lifestyle, with plenty of opportunities to explore its many historical sites, such as the Alcazar Palace, the Cathedral of Seville, and the Giralda tower. The city’s also known for its lively nightlife: it’s hard to choose from among its plenty of bars, clubs, and restaurants. Furthermore, living expenses such as accommodation, groceries, and transportation are affordable in Seville.

Valencia 

Valencia, the birthplace of the famous paella, is a city in Eastern Spain. It’s known for its delicious cuisine and many historical sites to explore, such as the City of Arts and Sciences, the Central Market, and the Colón Market. 

Valencia offers a variety of housing options, including modern apartments, traditional Spanish villas, and spacious townhouses. Each neighborhood has its own unique character and style, making it a great place to find a home that suits your needs.

Spanish Lifestyle 

Spain is a nation that embodies the Mediterranean way of life, characterized by a laid-back pace and appreciation for simple pleasures, and adds a dash of its own uniqueness. The culture of Spain prioritizes a healthy balance between work and leisure, making it known as one of the happiest nations. The famous siesta, a midday nap, is a daily ritual that helps people to recharge and refresh, and when the workday is done, the streets become home to a vibrant nightlife, filled with people sipping on some good wine or sangria. 

The Spanish people are known for their high-spiritedness and zest for life. The country’s beautiful beaches, delicious food, and vibrant festivals all contribute to a feeling of joy and relaxation. Spain’s climate also plays a huge role in the lifestyle, it’s usually sunny and warm, which makes it easy to be outdoors and enjoy nature. All these elements make Spain an ideal place to live, work and play.

Transportation in Spain

The public transportation network in Spain is extensive: it includes buses, subways, and trains that connect major cities and towns. The subway systems in cities like Madrid and Barcelona are efficient and easy to navigate, and the buses are widely available and run frequently. Those looking to explore more remote areas may want to check out car rentals, which are also reasonably priced.

Valencia

Accommodation in Spain

In Spain, there is a wide range of accommodation options, including traditional villas, apartments, modern condos, and townhouses. The cost of housing varies depending on the location and type of property. Big cities such as Madrid and Barcelona typically tend to have higher rents compared to smaller cities and towns. However, you can still get good deals in these cities if you’re a good enough home hunter. 

To find suitable accommodation, you can check websites like Idealista or Fotocasa or contact a real estate agency. Renting from a private individual or renting a room in a shared apartment can also be a cost-effective option. Seville, Malaga, Valencia, and Bilbao are some of the most affordable cities in terms of housing expenses. 

Buying Property in Spain

Buying instead of renting can be advantageous in Spain due to the convenience of the property prices. Although the prices per meter vary according to the location, properties in Spain are typically affordable compared to other European countries. 

Furthermore, purchasing property in Spain can be an excellent long-term investment. Spain offers a Spain Golden Visa program for non-EU citizens who invest in a property that's worth over €500,000, which grants residency in Spain to the property buyer and their family. It's recommended to work with a real estate agent during the property purchasing process in Spain, who can guide you through the process and help with legal and financial matters. 

Related Articles

 

Renting in Spain

Renting a home instead of buying property in Spain has its own advantages. For one, it allows you to live in a prime location without committing to a long-term mortgage. Furthermore, it provides you with the flexibility to move around and explore different parts of the country without being tied down to one property.

Renting also means you can avoid the hassle of dealing with legal and administrative matters associated with buying a property in a foreign country, as well as help save money on maintenance and property taxes. Overall, renting allows for a more carefree and relaxed way of life in Spain.

Food in Spain

Spanish food and drinks are truly something special. Spanish cuisine is known for its rich, bold flavors and fresh, high-quality ingredients.

From the rich, savory flavors of paella and tapas to the refreshing taste of sangria and cerveza, there’s something for every palate in Spain. Spain is also famous for its cured meats, such as jamón ibérico, a type of ham made from the Iberico pig, and chorizo, a spicy pork sausage. In addition to these, the traditional Spanish breakfast called Pan con Tomate or Tostadas is a simple yet satisfying meal consisting of fresh bread, tomato, and olive oil.

Overall, the Mediterranean climate, the fresh ingredients, and the traditional cooking methods all contribute to the delicious and varied flavors of Spanish cuisine.


Weather in Spain


Since it’s located on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, Spain has a diverse climate where different regions experience different weather conditions.

The coastal areas of Spain, such as the Costa del Sol, have a Mediterranean climate; characterized by mild winters and hot summers, whereas the interior regions, such as Madrid, have a more continental climate with cold winters and hot summers. The north of Spain, such as Galicia, has a temperate oceanic climate with mild winters and cool summers.

Spain’s warm climate and abundant sunshine provide many advantages both for the country and its residents. The warm weather and long summers pave the way for a thriving tourism industry, as well as the cultivation of various types of crops, which provides access to great fresh products. Spain is one of the most important wine producers in the world because the climate is also ideal for growing grapes. Moreover, the mild climate allows outdoor activities and sports such as hiking, biking, and golf to be enjoyed year-round. The weather in Spain is also beneficial for solar energy production. 

Money and Credit Cards 

If you’re an expat preparing to live in Spain, opening a Spanish bank account is crucial for you to manage your money like a local without any obstacles. It’ll come in handy to do your research online beforehand to understand the basics of banking in Spain.

Although cash is still one of the most common payment methods in Spain, credit cards are widely used as well. Debit cards are also typically accepted when shopping but they’re not as commonly used as credit cards.

Healthcare 

The Spanish healthcare system is extensive, with a large network of public hospitals, clinics, and specialized medical centers. It’s also quite affordable, with most services provided at little or no cost for the residents.

One of the primary advantages of the Spanish healthcare system is its accessibility. Spanish citizens and legal residents are entitled to use the public healthcare system that’s funded by taxes and social security contributions. 

Another advantage of the Spanish healthcare system is its high quality. The doctors and nurses in Spain are finely trained, and the healthcare facilities employ the latest medical technologies. Spain also has excellent cancer treatment centers and world-renowned hospitals such as La Paz, Gregorio Marañon, and the Ramon y Cajal.

Driving in Spain 


Spain has a far-reaching highway system that connects all major cities and tourism destinations. It’s considered one of the most extensive highway networks in Europe. Foreign drivers can easily rent a car and drive on the right-hand side of the road, the same as in most of Europe. The roads in Spain are generally in good condition and well-marked, making it easy to get around. There are also many rest areas along the highways where travelers can take a break and enjoy the scenery.

To drive in Spain, foreigners need to have a valid driver’s license from their home country, as well as proof of insurance and registration papers for the vehicle they are driving. An International Driving Permit (IDP) is also recommended, though not always required. It’s in your best interest to check with the rental car company or local authorities for specific requirements if you’re planning to get around by car in Spain. 

live in spain

Things to Know Before Moving to Spain 

It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the culture, customs, and language of Spain before relocating there. 

Spain has a rich and diverse culture, with significant regional differences and a deep history, which its art, music, and cuisine strongly reflect. The official language is Spanish, so it’s a good idea to learn at least some basic Spanish before you go and be prepared to hear different dialects depending on the region. 

You should research the cost of living in the area where you plan to live, as it can vary significantly from one region to another. Setting up a bank account and learning about the financial system will help you avoid financial inconveniences and therefore is very important. 

You may also want to consider getting a Spanish SIM card to access the internet and make calls.

Quick Tips for Living in Spain 

 

  • Learn some basic Spanish before moving to Spain, as it will make daily life much easier.
  • Get used to the siesta culture, where most businesses and shops close during the afternoon.
  • Take advantage of the Mediterranean climate by enjoying outdoor activities and spending time at the beach.
  • Embrace the Spanish culture of socializing and eating out, as it is an important part of daily life.
  • Be prepared for the hot weather in summer: make sure to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun.
  • Be aware of the different fiestas and holidays that happen all year round, they are a big part of the culture.
  • Learn about the public transport system, it may be different from what you are used to and it will help you move around more easily.
  • Be mindful of Spanish etiquette, such as punctuality in business, table manners, and social norms.
  • Do thorough research and get a private health insurance policy if you're a foreign resident, it'll give you more options and flexibility in terms of healthcare.
  • Try and benefit from the abundance of cultural activities and festivals that take place throughout the year in Spain, which is a great way to experience the local culture.

 

Learning Spanish 

Being familiar with the native language of a country you’ve relocated to helps you mingle in the community and adapt to your new life much easier and quicker. Similarly, learning Spanish will provide you with better communication skills as well as a finer grasp of the culture. Furthermore, it’ll multiply your professional options by opening up new job opportunities. 

There are various ways for foreigners to learn Spanish such as taking classes at a language school, hiring a private tutor, practicing with native speakers, and using language learning apps or online resources.

Things to Know Before Moving to Spain 

It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the culture, customs, and language of Spain before relocating there. 

Spain has a rich and diverse culture, with significant regional differences and a deep history, which its art, music, and cuisine strongly reflect. The official language is Spanish, so it’s a good idea to learn at least some basic Spanish before you go and be prepared to hear different dialects depending on the region. 

 

Life in Spain: The Bottom Line

There you have it! I’ve told you all about living in Spain: where the sun always shines, and the wine flows like water… Trust me when I say that Spain will steal your heart. I’ve lived here for a while now, and it’s been an absolute blast; each day has been nothing short of a fiesta!

FAQ

 

What is the cost of living in Spain?

The cost of living in Spain varies depending on the location and lifestyle. However, to begin with, Spain is more economical than most Western European countries due to its low cost of living.

What is the best place to live in Spain for digital nomads?

The best place to live in Spain for digital nomads will depend on personal preferences and needs. Some popular cities for digital nomads in Spain include Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, and Seville.

What is internet connectivity like in Spain?

Internet connectivity in Spain is generally good and widely available, with most cities and towns having access to high-speed internet.

What is the visa requirement for living in Spain as a digital nomad?

To live and work in Spain as a digital nomad, you will need to obtain a long-term visa, such as a student or work visa. It is recommended to check with the Spanish embassy in your home country for specific requirements and the application processes.

What is the healthcare system like in Spain?

Spain has a national public healthcare system that is considered to be one of the best in Europe. As a resident of Spain, you will be able to access public healthcare with a valid national insurance card.

What is the language spoken in Spain?

The official language spoken in Spain is Spanish, also known as Castilian. However, there are also several regional languages spoken throughout the country, such as Catalan and Basque.

How easy is it to find a place to live in Spain?

Finding a place to live in Spain can vary depending on the location. In larger cities like Madrid and Barcelona, it can be more competitive and expensive to find a place to rent. However, in smaller towns and cities, it may be easier to find affordable housing.

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