Last Updated on February 25, 2024 by Ali Hamza
You can have one of the most exciting experiences in your life by living abroad! It’s even better if you choose a destination such as Spain. However, do you know the seven biggest mistakes made when moving to Spain? Well, maybe that’s a little dramatic. However, mistakes happen as someone who studied abroad and lived in Spain. It’s easy for tasks to fall through the cracks when the to-do list gets long.
The more you know, the better prepared for your next chapter. Here are the seven biggest mistakes when moving to Spain without further ado. Take notes!
7 biggest mistakes when moving to spain
1. Spanish stereotypes may lead you to move to Spain
Not doing enough research is one of the people’s biggest mistakes when moving to Spain. ‘Beaches, sun, and tapas’ is not all Spain offers. There are many more factors to consider when relocating! Throughout Spain, there are 18 autonomous communities, all distinct in terms of language, culture, food, and climate. Those who enjoy mountains and colder winter weather, along with some rain, may prefer the north. Beaches and warm temperatures may be more appealing in the south.
2. You think you can get a job easily
Before moving to Spain, it’s a requirement to have a job before applying for your work visa. In Spain, finding a job can be difficult since the government maintains a job shortage list or the employer needs to prove that you’re more qualified than the locals. Your employer must apply for a work visa once you have landed a job.
Citizens of the European Union have no difficulty moving to Spain and finding a job. The Spanish unemployment rate is one of the highest in the EU, and it can take months to find a job. Have plenty of savings on hand. In contrast, if you live in the suburbs or the countryside, you’ll find lots of nature, larger houses, quieter streets, jogging in the park, weekend hikes, etc.
3. Renting a house before buying one
It is one of the simplest ways to become a resident of Spain as a foreigner to buy a house. Golden Visa program offers you the opportunity to invest €500,000 in a property and get a residency permit for yourself and your family. However, you may not want to buy a home in Spain right away. Having taken note of point 7, Spain is a country with a lot of diversity regarding landscapes, weather, culture, and food. In addition, some regions have higher property prices than others.
4. Not knowing the language or that there are multiple languages
There are many reasons to learn Spanish, but two of the most important are that roughly 80% of the population speaks Spanish, and Spain did not rank well on the English proficiency index in 2021. It would help if you did not assume that everyone speaks (Castilian) Spanish. Confusing, right? Here’s how it works. Each region of Spain speaks a different language. Those who live in Catalonia and Andorra speak Catalan or Valencian. Those in the Basque Country speak Basque, those in Galicia say Galician, and those in the Val d’Aran speak Aranese.
5. Take advantage of culture shocks to fit in like a local
You cannot expect the local cultural habits to change as a foreigner. There are some cultural shocks you’ll likely have to deal with, even if you don’t like them. Spain’s laid-back lifestyle: Spanish people love to enjoy life, and they work to live rather than the other way around. Therefore, siesta time or days off are sacred. If you are used to overworking in your culture, this might be a good chance!
Spanish people respect personal boundaries. To avoid awkward situations, remember that Spaniards greet each other with two kisses on the cheeks. As well as dealing with these cultural shocks, you should pay attention to these unspoken rules of living in Spain, such as not wearing swimsuits on the street unless you want to be fined, not dining with your hands under the table, not tipping because it’s considered rude, and not asking others what they do for work when you first meet them.
6. Ignoring finances: Budgeting, taxes, and bank accounts
We can’t forget that Spain is relatively cheaper than the United Kingdom, the United States, and most European countries. Additionally, this more affordable cost of living is accompanied by a lower salary on average.
Before moving to Spain, please look into the Spanish tax regulations. One of the biggest mistakes ex-pats make is not knowing that they must pay taxes on their worldwide income and that there are excellent tax-saving schemes for foreigners in Spain. You can, for instance, apply for dual taxation agreements, or you may qualify for the Beckham Law or receive tax benefits if you have young children or elderly parents living with you. Obtain a Spanish bank account as soon as possible!
Spain is a cash-heavy country, and most places won’t accept credit cards. Using your international debit card to withdraw money is also expensive. Additionally, you can’t get a Spanish SIM card, pay for local health insurance, or pay utility bills without a local bank account.
7. Not arranging paperwork immediately after arriving
Are you familiar with the stereotype that Spanish bureaucracy is time- and energy-consuming? Yes, it is. During the first 2-3 weeks in Spain, you must apply for the required documents, since without them, you can’t establish your life abroad.
- Legally residing in Spain requires a residence permit or TIE (foreigner identity card).
- Get your emperor ambient certificate and register your address at the city hall. Getting married, buying a house, applying for your NIE number, etc., are impossible without it.
- Get an NIE, your foreign tax identification number. Getting a bank account, finding a job, and applying for healthcare are required.
- Once you have your social security number, you can apply for a job. Public health care is not available without a social security number. Our residents in Spain will be happy to know that this is free.
Some interesting facts about living in Spain
- Siestas are real in Spain, where many businesses close in the afternoon for a midday nap, especially during hot summer months.
- Spain is known for its vibrant nightlife, with many cities having a bustling club and bar scene that doesn’t start until late evening.
- Spanish cuisine is diverse and delicious, with regional specialties like paella, jamón ibérico, and churros con chocolate.
- The Spanish take their festivals seriously, with lively celebrations throughout the year, including La Tomatina, Running of the Bulls, and Carnival.
- Spain has one of the highest life expectancies in the world, partly due to the Mediterranean diet and relaxed lifestyle.
- The Spanish language has variations across the country, with each region having its dialect, slang, and accent.
- Spain is home to some of the world’s most iconic architectural landmarks, including La Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, and Alhambra.
- The cost of living in Spain can be relatively affordable, depending on where you live, with groceries and dining out often being cheaper than in other European countries.
- Spain is renowned for its beautiful beaches, with stretches of coastline along the Mediterranean and Atlantic attracting millions of tourists annually.