The Other Version Of Expat Life In Spain

Whether this will interest other Eye on Spain readers, I do not know, but, whilst greatly enjoying the articles here, it strikes me that there is a group of expats who rarely feature. So, I thought I would fly the flag and give a brief flavour of life for those of us who are not here through choice.

Before questions arise as to how I get internet access in jail, I should explain that I am not referring to criminals but to business people ("what's the difference?" I hear you ask) and others who find themselves posted here. Spain's charms were not something we sought out; we have had them thrust upon us.

There's quite a community of us, mainly in Madrid and Barcelona - bankers and accountants, military personnel and engineers - and our experience of the country can be quite different from those who have chosen to move here, selecting their location.

Comparative costs seems to be a perennial topic on EoS. This subject looks quite different if you've moved from working in central London or New York. A Metro journey costing one euro instead of four pounds, rent on a four bed house with shared pool, 20 minutes from the office, being EUR1200 - whilst a two bed house an hour from the office in London costs GBP2400.

Perhaps surprisingly, given we're a group who never planned to be in Spain, there seems to be an overwhelmingly positive view of the location: city life, the beauties of the surrounding countryside, the food, the weather. Advance knowledge varies from person to person - but it may be that those who come to Spain at short notice with few prior expectations naturally find it a better experience, as they do not have preconceptions which may get disappointed.

The downsides? In common with our compatriots on the coast, some of us also struggle in our attempts to gain the language. Those who have given up jobs to accompany their spouse or partner in their career move find it very difficult to find work here. And this may lead into a major problem from the corporate perspective: it's challenging to persuade people to take up a role in Spain. This seems to be in part because the country is viewed as off the beaten track from a corporate perspective, but also significantly because dual career couples may struggle to find work for the other half.

Endeavouring to provide a practical conclusion, I'll attempt to offer some tentative advice, both for those who find themselves posted to Spain and for those with an active desire to move here.

If you are considering a role in Spain, I would encourage you to go for it. From a business perspective, the country will be embarking on a great deal of change - many IPOs planned, probably more mergers and acquisitions to enliven things. From a personal perspective, Spain is more distinct than most European countries, and there are few cities to rival the mix of culture and outdoor activities easily on hand in both Madrid and Barcelona.

If your dream is to live in Spain, I would urge you not to forget the inland heart of the country. Stunning scenery, medieval walled towns, great city life. There is some work for English speakers - more, inevitably, for those with Spanish as well - especially in secretarial and administrative roles, but also in IT. You will see some adverts in English on the Spanish job boards - they are posted as such specifically to attract native and fluent speakers.

And for those of you who have already made your homes on the coast - do visit the capital! A swift train ride delivers you to Madrid from most points around the country, and here you can find everything from fascinating historical sites to some of the world's best galleries, to absolutely first rate food. You may even bump into an unintentional expat whilst here. Do say hello if you do.




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