Living in Spain

The land of flamenco, paella and sangria is a popular option for those looking for a higher quality of life in pleasant climate. Although many people see living in Spain as a retirement option, in reality Spain is a vibrant country where it is enjoyable to live at any age.

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This page will provide you with information of what you can expect to find if you were to start living in Spain.

Culture in Spain

One of the most important aspects of the Spanish culture is the infamous siesta. It is well know that this is a few hours of relaxation in the afternoon. Surprisingly, this affects the whole day including the eating habits.

The Spanish eat 5 times a day – breakfast, mid morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack and finally dinner. On the average day people eat breakfast before starting work or classes between 8am and 9am and work up until roughly 11am or 12pm where they eat almuerzo. Lunch is usually around 2pm or 3pm and is the biggest meal of the day. Siesta is then common until 5pm. Often it is common to have an afternoon snack known as merienda around 6pm or 7pm. The work day tends to last until as late as 7pm before eating dinner around 10pm.

Obviously when it comes to eating so frequently then you’d want to make sure that its nice food! This is another thing Spain is famous for… Tapas! Tapas is small plates of food that tends to be eaten for dinner. There is large selection and each regions is known for having their own different styles of tapas.

Another important aspect of Spanish culture is how they celebrate holidays or festivals. From the running of the bulls to the tomato throwing festival Spain has some of the most famous festivals in the world. The Spanish know how to celebrate right!

Living in Spain

Welcoming People

Most Spaniards are very welcoming. It is common to be able to speak with neighbours or even people you bump into in the park or the street. Common greetings between two men tends to be a handshake. Between a man and woman or two women a kiss on both cheeks is the custom.

Spanish people are very welcoming and generous but it is still considered an honour to be invited into someone’s home. The phrase mi casa es su casa (my house is your house) is well known and this stereotype is largely true.

Another stereotype and something to prepare yourself before living in Spain is that the country is less efficient. This is especially true when it comes to getting forms signed and registering in offices such as universities or the town hall.

Houses in Spain

Housing in Spain in very Mediterranean, differing to the UK for many reasons. One of the main differences can be seen in bigger cities. Spanish people live in apartments in high rises buildings more so than in the UK. Even being common on the outskirts of cities.

Moving to more rural areas you can see that houses tend to be more typical and old style, often in the style of a typical villa. These houses often have swimming pools – a necessity in the sweltering Spanish heat!

Living in Spain

Renting or buying

Renting a place in Spain is relatively a simple process however people in Spain prefer to buy. In the short term renting is a much more attractive option and sometimes even cheaper after factoring Spain’s capital gains tax of 20%. Buying can be more complicated so it is important to research the property market first. Spain is a cheap place to buy, especially since the global financial crisis of 2008.

Buying a home in large cities such as Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia and Sevilla will cost significantly more than in other places in the country however as a whole the property market in Spain is cheaper than in the UK. You can buy a villa in Malaga for €450p/m – less than it would cost for a studio apartment in Manchester.

Daily cost of living

The cost of living in Spain is significantly lower than the UK. Comparing the cost of living in the capital of each country you can see in the table below how much cheaper it is to live in Madrid as opposed to London. Obviously these prices are not reflective of the country as a whole and smaller cities in each country will be cheaper to live in than these popular expat destinations.

Cost of living comparison: Madrid Vs London
Consumer prices in Madrid are 27.85% lower than in London
Rent prices in Madrid are 60.69% lower than in London
Restaurant Prices in Madrid are 33.79% lower than in London
Groceries Prices in Madrid are 18.31% lower than in London
Local Purchasing Power in Madrid is 0.08% lower than in London

As can be seen from the information above Spain isn’t so much of a complicated place to move to. The laid back culture and relaxed lifestyle is very inviting. For more information your move to Spain click here.