Many of us relocate to Spain with ambitions, dreams, and misconceptions. We come in search of a relaxed life in the sunny climate away from the stress of the rat race lifestyle in the cool damp depressing northern climates. However, of course, a new life in a foreign country is bound to hold a variety of surprises, including challenges to our misconceptions.
Here is a Top 10 Things you did not know about Spain until you live here – probably because your misconceptions lead you to believe the opposite was true!
1. It does get cold in the winter.
No more heating bills…
For most of us, our only prior experience of Spain was those sweltering beach holidays. Fighting to get off the plane, reaching the door to be met by a laser like heat bearing down on our pale skin. Buy hey that’s what we came for – wouldn’t it be great to actually live in it.
But, just remember, even in Spain’s warmest provinces, temperatures do drop in the winter so you will need some form of heating in your house for those chilly winter evenings, even if you have managed some sun bathing during the day!
2. You do have to pay taxes
No one pays tax in Spain, its all black money, under the counter…
Well yes Spain does have a reputation for preferring cash, and it is said there are more 500€ notes in circulation in Spain than the rest of Europe put together.
However, things are a changing, as they say. In an attempt to prevent money laundering, illegal rackets and of course tax evasion cash transactions are gradually being made a lot more difficult to conduct. Banks will ask questions about large cash deposits. The alternatives, including keeping it under the bed, carry their own obvious risks.
Bottom line – if you want the tax benefits (yes there are some) you have to pay some first.
3. Not everyone who lives here is Spanish
Be great to have Spanish neighbours…
Spain too is now a multi cultural society. Not everyone who speaks Spanish is Spanish which seems to surprise many people. They say travel broadens the mind, well so does living with other nationalities. Initially the British only tend to trust other British, however with greater experience, gained after a few ‘mishaps’ their trust does expand to their hosts, which generally is a good strategic move.
4. There are skiing resorts
Don’t pack the skiing gear….
You could, at certain times of the year, be sun bathing on the Costa Blanca in the morning and with around a 2-hour drive be skiing in the Sierra Nevada in the afternoon. Spain is very diverse; shame people do not explore more in this incredible country.
5. You must buy a car with air conditioning
Must get a car with a sunroof…
Yes, you can get a great bargain priced car without air-conditioning aka Climatizado. However you will pay a much greater price in the summer months when you get in your car to find a temperature of 50 degrees + with no easy way of reducing it to more tolerant levels. Forget the sunroof, get the magic button marked AC.
6. You will still have to do house painting
No more painting for me…
Many 1,000s of Expats bought brand new properties in Spain, with the male side of the partnership assuming another of the benefits was no more DIY. Wrong! Be prepared to start touching up those grilles and gates quite soon.
7. You can learn how to clean a pool
Maintaining a pool beyond me…
It is only natural to be attracted to the private pool option, budget permitting. The overhead is the cleaning and dosing with chemicals, which can be a serious challenge for the non-engineers amongst us. But with a good tutor and some common sense, this obstacle can be overcome, and enjoyed. Plan B – pay a man to do it.
8. You need photocopies of everything
That’s the end of office work…
Settling into your new lifestyle does incur some administrative procedures. Residency, Health service registration, Padron, Spanish driving licence etc. This is where the photocopier, or rather the local shop providing the service, becomes your best friend. Because boy will you be hitting the photocopier. Always best to have too many rather than too few copies of passport, residencia etc. You will also learn the benefits of keeping a stock of ID type photos as well.
9. Squid can be nice to eat
Can you get mushy peas…?
Foreign land equals foreign food, unless you plan to patronise the over priced local UK supermarket. So be bold try something new, you may even get to like squid. Forget those rubbery rings that have sat in a freezer for years – eat the fresh stuff, you will get a surprise.
10. You Need Time
It’s all manana…(Yes sometimes it is!)
To enjoy this country don’t let time rule you. Shake off the watch wearing and watching habit. OK so the plumber said he would arrive at 9 to fix your dripping tap and now it is 9.45. But perhaps his neighbours invited him in to celebrate a new family arrival. Remember this is Spain, which works on a very different time and priority system, so chill and go for a coffee, he will turn up.
This guest post was brought to you by Rob Innis, a freelance writer, photographer, and expat from the UK living in Alicante, Spain. you can follow along his experience by reading his blog, Rob in Espana.