Spain has quickly become one of the hot spots of Europe, with regards to the place of rest for many foreign nationals. According to Wikipedia in 2009, since the dawn of time, because of its crossroads location, Spain has integrated many early civilizations and was further enriched by its colonial activities. This has resulted in a truly multi-cultural society, offering a safe and pleasant haven for many looking to settle overseas. The excess sunshine also seems to attract many from the colder areas of the world!
Spain is one of the more popular destinations for foreign nationals looking to move overseas and become Expats living in Spain. An estimated 4.8 million foreign residents as at the end of 2005 were Expats in Spain . The country is very popular with Moroccan and Ecuadorian nationals, although the British (8.09%), French (8.03%) and Germans (5.58%) also make up a substantial part of the overall 4.8m total. The country has particularly strong cultural ties with south America, hence the high number of south American nationals choosing Spain for their new home.
Spain is a fairly diverse country with a number of sub cultures entrenched in their history, including Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia. While this has resulted in various infighting and terrorist activity in the past, this area has been fairly quiet of late with ongoing discussions and political activity to resolve the situation.
It rich culture and history has been attributed to the Iberian, Celtiberean, Visigothic, Roman Catholic, Islamic and the myriad of other cultures that came under Spanish rule in its colonial heyday. To date, it has forty UNESCO World Heritage Sites which is second overall in the world, according to 2009 Wikipedia.
Spain is very much a holiday industry based culture, with seasonal work available in all of the coastal resorts (much in line with the UK holiday industry). If you are looking to work long term in Spain it is essential that you have a contract of work with your employer. This though has been subject to stress as it has one of the highest unemployment rates in Western Europe at 11%, mainly due to the worldwide financial recession. While employers are allowed to offer short-term contracts of up to 9 months, you are entitled to a longer term (full time) contract after the initial short term contract is up. Do not forget the famous Spanish siesta – the much welcome 2-3 hour period of rest in the afternoon, when all shops are closed, opening later in the cooler evening.
Even though wages are generally lower in Spain compared to e.g. the UK, the cost of living is also less. It is therefore essential to compare wages / cost of living in Spain against your country of origin. While all taxes, etc will be deducted from your wages at source, any overseas national found working illegally in the country will be sent “home” and the employer fined. Be very wary of cash payment employment!
If you are dismissed from a long-term contract you have the right of appeal, under what is a fairly rigid and structured procedure – offering a degree of protection to overseas residents. There is also very little problem being accepted into the Spanish employment culture, with overseas workers more common place than the majority of European countries. To work in Spain you must have an NIE Number – this is vital!
The property market in Spain is very fluid, especially on the coastal areas which are proving ever more popular with holiday revelers. While there are a variety of hot spots on the coast, inner city prices are less inflated, although as more foreign nationals look to make Spain there long term homes, the prevailing market conditions of 2009 have seen a drastic fall in property prices, some as much as 26% in the most developed areas. As of late, this seems to be alleviating as prices are expected to pick up once 2010 rolls around.
Customer comments and reviews of the apartments in Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote can be found on the Puerto del Carmen Apartments site.
Thankfully for those looking to settle in Spain, the benefits system is much like the UK in that once you start to contribute taxes to the system. Only after contribution can you begin on the path to full entitlement under the Spanish welfare system. If for example you were to lose your fulltime job after 6 months or more, you would be entitled to the full range of benefits, including health, social security, etc. For those looking to move permanently to a new country, it may be possible to arrange for part of your national insurance payments to be transferred to an overseas state benefit agency as this is recognized under the current system.
For many, Spain has become the country of choice when considering moving abroad. A mix of the weather, employment opportunities and a lower cost of living all add to the attractions. The benefits system also seems to be very fair, with similar protections enforced for non-nationals as foreign residents.
Many testimonials from Spain Expat Forum, one of which dated last August 14, 2009 elucidate the loveliness for the Spanish region:
“Love… The sights, the sounds, the food, the attitude of the spanish, the culture in general, less crime, lots more smiling faces, and the weather of course.”
One post succinctly puts how living in Spain is, shared last July 23, 2009 in Spain Expat Forum:
”Or maybe I’m just a very privileged person, I live in a tiny typical noisy Spanish flat, but have wonderful neighbours. I live in tiny town where the kids have free activities all through the summer, teenagers look after tots, whole families and friends party together, where I leave my car inevitably unlocked cos my old one hadn’t locked for the past two years and it’s still there next day, I work in an even smaller office in a small town where every day ex-clients who are now dear friends come for a chat, a coffee, to put up a notice or to drop me some eggs or a lettuce, to ask a small favour; when I go out for a cofffee, my office is open, my handbag is there and the only danger is getting told off by the taxidriver cos the phone rang twice while I was out or I come back to find I have missed a kind visitor who has dropped off a couple of English books for me. Yeah… life’s tough in Spain, I earn about 800€ a month cos I do private teaching and courses after I finish full time work and I still have two girls at school who live with me. I haven’t been back to the UK for 10 years, only five times in 35 years, I don’t have holidays and we can’t buy custard powder or gravy here but I have a wonderful life, I have a lot of wonderful people in my life and every day I have at least one magical moment when I think, wow… some days it could just be that first cup of coffee at work ‘cos when I get to work every morning my boss has my cup of coffee waiting on my desk!”
Living in Spain, in a nutshell, is truly marvelous and magical.
Capital : Madrid
Official Language : Spanish
Government : Monarchy (with an appointed President)
Size : 506,030 km2
Population : 44.7 million
Currency : Euro
International Dialling Code : +34
Economy : 8th largest in the world (5th largest in Europe)
Religion : Predominately Roman Catholic