Travel & Expat Lifestyle Magazine

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Spain Until You Live Here

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

Tomorrow 3

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.


20 thoughts on “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Spain Until You Live Here

  1. Ola Rob, well my partner and my-self have lived there on and off for months at a time, but we rent, no painting, cleaning pool, etc., sadly the English must always own things, and now some are in the mierda, and can’t afford to stay there. Now I dont know if I will go back or know next year. I love the Country, the people and culture, etc., etc. But it has gone very expensive, it was costing me a €1000 per month and that was just food, fuel and we dont drink, am now in deep thought. Me gusta sus sitio.

    Colin Matthews, Cornwall, U.K.

  2. Thanks Jenny, glad you agreed!

    Hola Colin – yes I guess us Brits to have a culture to ‘own’ (an English’s home is his castle and all that!) Yes the pd:Euro has put costs up but rents are down due to the amount available, fuel is cheaper than the UK and with some careful buying of food ie offers, using coupons, markets etc there are still bargains to be had. So I am not sure that I can agree with all of your comments. But thanks for reading and commenting on the article, appreciated. Good Luck.

  3. Interesting article–and great idea for a topic! It is so true that there are some things you’ll just never know about a country until you live there.

  4. Hi Michelle,

    Glad you enjoyed reading it – they say “travel broadens the mind” and I am sure it does, but actually living there…..

    If you need more on Spain let me know.

    Rob Innis

  5. Hi Rob, followed your link from timspain.com. A very good and well written article. I agree with all you said and some very good advice in there. Unfortunately, sometimes it seems to me that many people come for the weather and the lifestyle and have no intention of integrating with the ‘natives.’ Despite the fact that by creating a microcosm of their life back home, they are effectively sabotaging their desire for that lifestyle; which is essentially Spanish.
    But it was ever thus! Oh well! I’m off to bed, the hot water bottle should have done its work by now. The electric radiator will have taken the chill out of the air and if I leave the super ser on in the kitchen, it might have dried out the ceiling before morning…providing the rain stops tonight. Coladh go sabh, agus go n-éirigh leat.

    Mise le meas,


  6. P.S. Lest you think I am writing from Siberia, let me add that I am residing in El Rebolledo, Alicante: The rain capital of the Province.

    Wouldn’t trade it for the world! I am delighting in the
    ‘Greening of Alicante’.

    airais arís,


  7. Hi Mavis, Many thanks for taking the time to both visit and comment, much appreciated. Yes I agree it is a pity more people do not get more out of the country by integrating. Yes we have suffered a bit this winter, I would say the worst of my 10 yrs here. I live on the coast which is actually mild and fairly dry. Expatify will be posting more of my articles very soon, also see the TIM blog for some entertainment. Take care.

  8. I too followed from the timspain web site. Well worth the visit if only to read more scribes from your good self. Another top quality article, written by a top quality writer. Well done, but don’t think of leaving tim, as the readers would hound you down no doubt. lol

    Colin Matthews may I suggest you are renting in the wrong place.

  9. Thanks Sully – and point noted, you can run but you can’t hide from The Inland Magazine’s R & N!

    Cheers thanks for visiting. This article currently 4th highest viewed.

  10. Lovely article Rob, and I really like the picture of the car! Reminds me a bit of the ‘insult’ car we are currently provided with by our local repair shop whilst they ‘manana’ their way towards hopefully maybe fixing ours sometime…!

  11. I love Spain! And yes, squid is delicious. But what made me laugh is ‘you need photocopies of everything’. The photo is hilarious, of course, but yes, I have encountered this same in Madrid. Never mind, each place has their own issues. Its part of what makes the expat life so stimulating–keeps us always on our toes!

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