Every country in the world has good and bad things. When we get to live abroad, we get to experience all of it: the good, the bad and the ugly.
Spain is obviously no different! We are going to be sharing a few things that you will absolutely love, and others that you could probably do without.
First, Let’s get into the good!
#1 The lifestyle!
If you come from a country that worships the busyness of life and constant performance, you will gladly know that Spain isn’t necessarily like that. In fact, Spaniards usually enjoy a pretty laidback lifestyle. They take the precious present moments seriously, such as enjoying a delicious breakfast sitting down, with no rush; taking a little coffee break with your coworkers and laugh with them; enjoying a beautiful walk around the city / town you live in during the weekend, and frequently going for tapas in a terraza in the afternoon with your friends; all of those are some of the things people in Spain have as part of their normal life.
The cost of living in Spain is so affordable! Rent prices usually change depending on the region, but it is safe to say that, if you don’t live in Madrid or Barcelona, you can find very inexpensive places to live!
This applies to food as well. You can pretty much eat a balanced diet for one person for no more than 100 euros a month. And sometimes you don’t even need that much!
If you go out to eat, you’ll also see that, in general, prices are very affordable. You can have breakfast for as little as 2 euros (yes, you heard right! 2 euros!). This can include a delicious coffee and some pastry. And if you are willing to spend 1 more euro, you can add a freshly squeezed orange juice 😉 You can also find plenty of restaurants that will serve a combo homemade meal for not too much: between 6 and 10 euros depending on the region! This always includes a starter, a second dish and dessert (or coffee)!
#3 The beauty
Spain is just a beautiful country. No matter where you go, you will absolutely fall in love with the beauty of the area you’re in. Whether it is the landscape (Spain has it all: beach, mountains, sunshine, snow, forests, everything!), the cities (you will love the architecture!) or the little cute coffee shops, Spain truly showcases its beauty. You will also find that the North is very different from the South in terms of climate, architecture and more, which makes it even more enriching!
As you see, Spain has a lot to offer! Now, bear all these beautiful things in mind to have the right approach to read about the things you will probably dislike about Spain:
#1 Things move slowly…too much sometimes
Remember how Spaniards love enjoying the precious present moments? Well, sometimes that can translate into certain things not moving as quickly as we would want them to, such as bureaucracy (we’ll talk about that more, keep reading!); businesses usually close from 1 p.m to 5 p.m due to siesta time (or sometimes they close at 1 p.m until the next day), which means that some important errands you had to run would need to wait; people may walk slowly on the streets, etc. For instance, if you are an auxiliar de conversación, you may experience delays or changes in your school schedule. And people don’t necessarily care even if you are losing your mind about it. Things that you know shouldn’t take so long, do. So, what can you do about it? Change your mentality from “I can’t believe this is taking so long!” to “let’s chill, we’ll see how this goes!”
#2 Bureaucracy (or bureaucrazy!)
Yes, this is one of the hardest parts for those who come from very efficient countries! The truth is, Spaniards are not like the Germans…but more like the Italians. Any kind of paperwork you have to do through an official entity will probably take time…more than you think. If you are applying for a specific type of visa (or residency, or anything of the like), you will have to stock up on patience! You’ll usually need appointments for everything that can only be booked online…only to find out that there are no appointments available. And when you call or go to the official building to ask for help, they’ll tell you that you need an appointment just to be there. You’ll then explain that you’ve tried your best to get one, but you weren’t successful…only to hear that you have to book appointments online only. This is only one example, but there are so many others! So, patience is always needed, and expect for bureaucratic processes to take longer than you anticipate!
#3 Lack of organization and communication
Together with the fact that Spain isn’t the best at dealing with paperwork, you’ll also find that organization can be challenging as well. For instance, if you are teaching at a school, sometimes you’ll find that they haven’t been communicated that you are going to be teaching at that particular school. Or they simply won’t have your schedule ready when you arrive. Or they won’t have all the curriculum completely finished for you to teach. The answer, again, is patience, and doing your best to not be critical about these factors. The truth is, Spaniards will do everything they can to help you! So a little patience and kindness will always go a long way (not to mention that it will make your life easier as you accept things the way they are in Spain!).
In any case, every country has great and not so great things about them! Enjoy your time, explore, live life to the full and be gracious and patient with the factors that are more challenging!