What's it Really Like Living in Spain?
Having lived in Spain for over 13 years, I hope I can give a comprehensive answer to the question which I get asked on a daily basis. Once you have made the move my advice is to embrace the culture as soon as possible, this will take some getting used to. For example banks only open half from 8.00 am until 2.00 pm, the famous siesta from 1.30 pm until 4.30 pm where you will find the streets deserted, shops closed and everything at a stand still! Don't expect shops to be open at 9.00 am most open at 10.00 am or there about's! If you expect the same working hours as the UK, you are in for a big shock! Arrange for a tradesman to meet you or meet a Spaniard for business and most likely they will be late such is the laid back attitude, and as I mentioned previously this takes some getting used to if you originate from a disciplined work background!
Living in Spain offers you an incredible lifestyle, masses of culture, fiestas, diversity, and sunshine! The Spanish love their fiestas and each town prides itself in hosting these spectacular events so much so there are fiestas taking place somewhere in Spain, either at a local, regional or national level. Once you have experienced a fiesta it will leave you waiting for the next one!
The diversity of Spain offers you fabulous coastline and beaches as you well know, however you are able to be in the mountains in a very short period of time and a few hours drive you could be skiing!
The weather is a major factor in people making the move to Spain, ask most people and they will tell you that they had enough of dull grey skies, cold wet summers and miserable winters in the UK. Living in sunshine for the majority of the year offers so many different possibilities for a healthy outdoor lifestyle, plus the feel good factor to wake up to glorious sunshine! One thing you can do here is plan for the weekend without the weather spoiling your plans, so get your BBQ ready!
Coming to Spain opens doors to a new world of friends and acquaintances, however you have to be prepared to work at this and make the effort, join local clubs, talk to people, don't be shy! Everybody will help you if you have a question and need some guidance if you ask and the Spanish will help and they appreciate you making an effort with the language. The language should be learnt and even you aren't 100% fluent it goes such a long way to interacting with locals and enjoying their company, and don't be afraid to try the little Spanish you have learnt or learning, you will be rewarded for trying.
Working in Spain is hard, and anyone that tells you different is lying! There is very little work for expats and don't expect wages the same as the UK! Before you move here be prepared to work, if you are buying a business in Spain then we can advise and help you through the whole process, but don't think for one minute having your own business will be easy. My advice is that you have to be a certain person to be self employed, you have to a be fighter, not be beaten, and a grafter. Simply because it will never always be plain sailing and there will be times when the chips are down and you have to fight to survive. Anyone that's got or had their own business will know exactly what I am saying.
To summerise , Spain is a wonderful country, it's welcoming and offers fantastic opportunities and a fabulous place to live. However, don't compare it the UK! I hear many expats saying "well I could it in the UK" you aren't in the UK! Respect the laws, respect the people and work hard to build your life here and you won't go far wrong. I for one have never looked back, I am passionate about living here and I enjoy every minute of it.