Expats moving to Spain will find a country steeped in a rich and eventful history. As the western-most peninsula of Europe and the landmass closest to Africa, Spain has hosted the meeting of some of the world’s largest and most influential civilisations.
The Iberian Peninsula has witnessed the rise and fall of the Carthaginians, the Romans, the Moors and the gold-flush empire born of that ambitious sailor who famously discovered a ‘New World’ in 1492.
Spain was also one of the last countries in Europe to see the fall of fascism, and though it became a resurgent economic force thereafter, it has fallen on hard times as a result of the recent recession. Expats who fail to secure employment before relocating may have a difficult time obtaining a work permit
and a contract upon arrival. In 2012, Spanish unemployment rates reached record highs.
However, the allure of a vibrant country famous for its fashion, food, architecture, music and arts nonetheless makes for an attractive expat destination.
Not to mention, the unhurried lifestyle and cheap beachside property lures many expats to live out their days as retirees on the Spanish coasts. In particular, the Britons and Germans have historically flocked to the sunny shores of Spain to scoop up reasonably priced villas and haciendas. The housing market has deteriorated somewhat in recent years but there's still over an estimated one million British expats in the country.
Spanish culture shares much with Europe, but it still has an idiosyncratic core which makes learning to live there a challenge. The dominant language of the country is Castilian (what many think of as Spanish), but the use of co-official languages, like Catalan, Basque and Galician, all define important social groupings. In fact, the Basque region has such a distinct national identity that part of its population wants the region to form an independent state.
Overall though, the Spanish are renowned for both their relaxed attitude to life, and their exuberant social personalities. It is common in Spain to be interrupted while speaking, which in contrast to the English way, is a sign of interest. The Spanish tend to be unhurried in their activities, and do not readily hurry for anyone else’s urgency. It has been said of the Spanish that they invest a lot in established interpersonal connections, but if you are a stranger, then to expect nothing of them is not to be disappointed.
The public transportation in Spain is decent in the large cities, like Madrid
. Buses are the first choice for much of the countries transit needs. The rail system is extensive, but the radial architecture means that it can take a lot of time to get to somewhere relatively close.
The Spanish terrain is highly varied, with the twin distinctions of having both the only desert in Europe and its southernmost ski resort. As a result, though the nation claims a reputation for ideal weather
, expats should pay careful attention to the regional climes associated with their city or town.