How to start a new life in Spain before it’s too late.

Based on my own experiences, and reports from our forum, it’s never too late to move to Spain forever. In 9 basic steps, this is how it works:

1. Make up your mind to start a new life in Spain.

This is the really hard part, believe me! I mean we all know we want to move somewhere hotter, friendlier, and a good deal less dangerous, but everyone back home insists on telling us we are mad or just plain irresponsible. Ignore them, shut out the rising feelings of guilt, and:

2. Fix a date for departure.

Make it sooner rather than later to avoid procrastinating your way out of the decision. If you are from outside the EU you will need a return ticket to make sure the Spanish let you in. If you are from inside the EU, get a one-way ticket to ensure you don’t do something stupid, like return after less than at least 12 months.

3. Sell everything that won’t fit into a couple of suitcases…

…or your old bedroom at the parents’ house (Ebay is your friend!)

4. Have one last drink with the mates and get on that plane.

Don’t get morose. Soon you’ll be drinking colder beer in a warmer climate. Warning: Do not get so drunk that you change your mind or miss your plane! Life is about to get really exciting…

5. Work in whatever field you can upon arrival.

And if you can’t do anything else, then be an English teacher. Not qualified? No problem. If you can read this, then you can certainly teach English in Madrid or Barcelona. It’s the law of supply and demand. ;) Same goes for bar jobs in Spain’s Irish pubs.

6. Get an intercambio language exchange.

Which is a lot like a blind date with an excuse, really helps you to learn Spanish and make friends, and will often lead you to:

7. Marry or move in with him/her.

Warning: do not go out with, marry, or move in with a non-Spaniard. Sooner or later they will screw everything up by trying to take you back to where they came from (risk revising this rule only if they come from somewhere even nicer than Spain).

8. Get the job you always wanted.

Your Spanish is good enough by now, and, more importantly, you have all the enchufes (nepotistic contacts) you need via your new Spanish husband/wife/partner.

9. Sit back, relax, and remember that…

… You did it! ¡Olé! You triumphed where others feared to tread! And it wasn’t really that difficlut, was it?

Still need a bit more inspiration? Why not…

This post was inspired by a writing project at probolgger.net

36 thoughts on “How to start a new life in Spain before it’s too late.

  1. volker

    hola,

    muchas gracias por todos los informaciones en este site web. aye. soyyr for my bad spanish. however, thank you for this website and your podcasts! i am listening to it and plan my escape to venezuela… gracias otra vez!

    volker

  2. Skip

    Thanks for feeding my daydreaming mini-mid-life crises :). It is so Tempting just to drop it all, walk away, and do something crazy… what would I do with the wife and kids, they would adjust…

    “… wake up, wake up skip”… um-ah, oh thanks

  3. Ben Post author

    Thanks for all the comments so far!

    And Londinense, as a Spanish expat living in London, “Pero qué maní­a, que se queden donde están” is a bit rich, practice what you preach, or stop preaching! ;)

  4. Londinense

    I’m not either provincial nor xenophobic. I’m just adding a little bit of “vidilla” to your site.

    Sarah, Skip, don’t think much more about it. Just do it! Spaniards will be so “gilipollas” to help you through and you will be feel at home very fast.

    Let’s spread the new word: ¡Vente pa’España, Joe!

  5. Sarralucia

    Don’t give me ideas like this!! Moving to Spain has been my dream for quite a while… but I don’t think it’s wise to leave my bills/loans behind without the certainty of earning good income. Am I being too square here?

    I am anything but provincial — three generations ago my Spanish ancestors moved to Italy. Two generations ago they moved to Brazil. Having inherited this taste for adventure and change, I moved to the US, where I have been living for the past 8 years.

    As soon as I moved to the US, I fell in love with… Spain! I learned Spanish at Harvard, I took sevillanas and flamenco classes, and I immersed myself as much as I could in the Spanish culture, even though I was far from Spain. It’s quite obvious that I would absolutely LOVE to move again. However…

  6. Lori

    I agree – selling everything is a much better idea than storing it! As an expat myself (Saudi Arabia) I abide by that rule faithfully! Nice post – it’s always great to read another expat’s stories!

  7. Lawrence

    This is so persuasive and tempting. My worries are: how do my wife, young son and I cope as as non- Spanish speaking foreigners; I work in IT and don’t speak Spanish – presumably I’d need to teach English until I could speak the language before getting an IT job. This is something I’ve thought about for a while. I’m on the cusp and just need a bit of an encouraging nudge to go for it I think. Any thoughts appreciated.

  8. Ben Post author

    Lawrence, your wife and yourself would learn Spanish very quickly once you were here, and your young son would pick it up in no time at all. In terms of work, is there any possibility of finding a company that will send you to Spain, i.e. so that you arrive already in an IT job? Otherwise teaching English is not the end of the world by any means. I have a friend who started as an English teacher and now has a good position in Accenture here.

    Thanks for all the other comments. For all those who need the nudge of want to chat more about this, I really suggest checking out the ‘moving to Spain’ section of our forum.

  9. Londinense

    Vamos a ver, why don’t you move to Australia, South Africa or the warm states of the USA. Weather is good, no language barrier, you’ve got also a kind of exotism. So everything’s wonderful. Just forget Spain, ¿vale?

  10. Ben

    Londinense, Maybe you should just forget this website if it causes you so much pain to see so much love for the country you have abandonned…

  11. richardksa

    Lori, where in Saudi? I’m here too. Agree. A man is not free is his possessions are more than he can carry.

  12. Steve W

    Wow, I’m already on stage 6. I had an inkling that stage 7 might exist and I’m keeping my eyes peeled. I’ve done a bit of 9 already (out of order, I know) and stage 8 will have to wait.

  13. Londinense

    Ben, you need also un abogado del diablo in your site. I give a little bit of pepper and salt to the sweet comments of my fellow commentators.

    It’s sort of weird that so many Britons want to live abroad and leave the UK for good. I don’t know anyone in Spain that dreams to leave Spain to come to Britain. Who is abandoning what country?

    Ben, I think you are not so right when you say “so much love for your country”. You don’t love my country, you are just using it because life quality is so low in Britain.

  14. Joyce

    I’m going to move to spain on 21st December this year, yes its a big step, but its something I have always wanted to do, I have my own house hear in the uk, which I’m just going to lock up for about 3 months and if it all works out i spain for me I will rent it out, I’m not brave enough to put all my eggs in one basket, least I will have a home to come back to if needed, I’m Divorced I have no ties hear in uk so I’m just going to go for it and see what happens, big step I know but what the heack ur a long time dead lol

  15. richardksa

    Why can’t Ben love Spain?? Just because one was born in one country does not mean you cannot love another. Sure I meet plenty of folk who say Britain is the only country for them, but that’s where they live and have never tried anywhere else. When you travel it allows you to find something better – and if you find it in Spain then why not say how much you like it? Of course, there are also those who try other countries, but eventually return to the place of their birth. It’s a personal decision. There are many who find the British quality of life not so low as you would paint it. As someone who has lived in many countries I know there’s pros and cons with them all. My personal opinion at the moment is that Spain has fewer cons than most; and more pros than the UK – for me. So viva españa.

  16. Londinense

    Joyce, I hope you find whatever is what you are looking for. ¡Buena suerte!

    Richardksa, me enterneces.

    I don’t think you can love a land, we love our life in the new land and we judge this new place as we succeed in it or not. If your life is more confortable in Spain than in the UK you will think Viva España, if not, you will change it for Puta España. Whereas the love for your country is something so rooted in yourself that you cannot love or hate, it is yourself. It’s got something to do with your family, your dialect, the scents of your childhood, your teen experiences, the taste of your mother’s food.

    So, don’t tell me you love Spain, because if things don’t work for you there, you will try it in another place. And what kind of love is this that can change so easily?

    So, please, enjoy your life in Spain, you deserve it, you are an European Citizen, that’s your right and you can move all over Europe because we have decided to create this wonderful thing called the European Union. But don’t talk about love because I could think you are trying to pull my leg. ¡Disfruta del sol, guapo!

  17. Richard Morley

    But Cesar, as a thousand poets have demonstrated it is possible to love a land, its landscape, its people. And it is equally possibly to fall out of love, as I have with the land of my birth. As you will understand, travelling allows the luxury of a new perspective on the world, which includes the one’s own country. From when I was a small child I always wanted to travel. Something told me there was something out there I was not finding at home. To use an unlikely analogy: a transexual claims he/she was born into the wrong body. Is it not possible one could be born in the wrong country? I have travelled extensively, yet in only two countires have I felt immediately and completely “at home” – almost on the point of arriving for the first time. Spain was the second of these. I cannot explain why. It it totally emotional and, as you would probably say, irrational. Who cares? But when I am away on my travels it is not the UK I miss, but the noise, the people, the polluted streets of Madrid. "Allá donde se cruzan los caminos, donde el mar no se puede concebir, donde regresa siempre el fugitivo”. In other words, a place for all.

  18. Londinense

    Pues me parece muy bien, sigue así­. I wonder what name you will give to your son if you had one, Carlos or Charles, Jorge or George?

  19. Brian Curley

    What a ridiculous and naive take on moving to a new country??!!
    In the first instance Spain is in fact one of the worst countries for relocating due to the relentless red tape and beaurocracy that is involved in purchasing property. It is also notorious for many a dodgy deal happening with unscrupulous sellers (apparently the ex-pat Brit is often the culprit) selling properties with all manner of debts attached to them which automatically become your problem. Furthermore, you’ll never actually own the land that your home sits on and therefore can be moved on at any point in the future should the Spanish government decide they want to build a through road right across your land (as with friend’s of my parents).
    Work is hard to come by and badly paid. As for teaching, I myself am a qualified English Language Instructor and Spain is one of the lowest paid countries to secure well payed employment (in comparison to living) and it’s not uncommon for people to be paid the same rate whilst working in a bar (again crap pay).
    I have been fortunate enough to have travelled extensively and to have lived in many different countries and I have no hesitation is saying that Spain is top of my list for worst places to live (unless of course you’re happy to live in an ex-pat ‘Eldorado’ community). Whilst I do have many Spanish friends, my own personal experience of the Spanish themselves was that they are an unfriendly, unhelpful hostile bunch who do little or nothing to make the tranistion less painful. I had even arrived with a job, enrolled for refresher language classes and communicated soley in Spanish.
    Yes, people do move there in there droves but many come back to British shores with only the shirts on their back due to rushed, hurried decision making and lack of a comprehensive plan.
    I almost sold up before my last trip there having had many an enjoyable holiday and I’m so glad that I held on to my investment across here instead. As far as Spain is concerned the days of an easy buck in the sun are well and truly over!!

  20. Ben Post author

    Hi Brian, rather than ridiculous and naive, I would call it encouraging and maybe a hint of rose-tinted spectacles, but there is nothing wrong with that everynow and again. I too have been fortunate enough to travel extensively, and this is one of the easiest countries I have found to live in, quite the opposite to your experiences in fact. It is not true that the Spanish government can take your land whenever they want, that only occurs i isolated cases in the province of Valencia. As for work being badly paid etc, no more so than for a Spaniard who tries to make a living from bar work or teaching in London. You start small, and then your time and opportunities in Spain are what you make of them. Anything is possible here, just as it is elsewhere. My picture above is overly simplistic of course, but yours is also overly negative. Just ask the hundreds of thousands of foreigners who have moved to Spain and never want to leave…

  21. Stuart

    Brian Curley,
    I have seen and heard of many Brits who have sold everything they have on a whim and moved to a costa in Spain to start a new life, not speaking a word of Spanish, hiring help and signing things they would otherwise not have if they were familiar with the language and the country, then going on to loose it all or barely surviving.
    This is the standard British attempt and moving to Spain, and if applied to ANY country in the world is very likely to fail horribly.
    Ben, of course, doesn’t advocate this or else he may have made the same failings as your parents friends.

    Moving to another city and getting a job is something anyone and everyone can do successfully and easily, particularly in a European country for another European. You need no comprehensive plan, as you suggest. You seem to be confusing two types of people who would move to Spain.

    If the Spanish appear hostile and unfriendly to you, I can only assume you don’t currently live in the UK, but some paradise that far exceeds Mediterranean levels of welcoming friendly people. Either that or you worked with air-hostesses on Iberia Airlines.

  22. Stuart

    Brian Curley,
    I have seen and heard of many Brits who have sold everything they have on a whim and moved to a costa in Spain to start a new life, not speaking a word of Spanish, hiring help and signing things they would otherwise not have if they were familiar with the language and the country, then going on to loose it all or barely surviving.
    This is the standard British attempt and moving to Spain, and if applied to ANY country in the world is very likely to fail horribly.
    Ben, of course, doesn’t advocate this or else he may have made the same failings as your parents friends.

    Moving to another city and getting a job is something anyone and everyone can do successfully and easily, particularly in a European country for another European. You need no comprehensive plan, as you suggest. You seem to be confusing two types of people who would move to Spain.

    If the Spanish appear hostile and unfriendly to you, I can only assume you don’t currently live in the UK, but some paradise that far exceeds Mediterranean levels of welcoming friendly people. Either that or you worked with air-hostesses on Iberia Airlines.

  23. craig

    really up lifting to read all the positive comments, we are really wanting to move our family over within the next year but we need more info schools etc where do we look ?

  24. steve firth

    Have been thinking about this for ages, with current events in the UK and their foreign policy I just can’t take it anymore.

    Sadly I can’t even afford the passport at the mo and my mums very ill … am well and truley stuck here for the forseeable future.

    Britain really does suck.

  25. marie O Gorman

    Please help. I have an apartment in Fueteventura. The property market has slowed and the price we bought it for last year is less now.
    I would love to have the courage to move and live there but jobs are hard to get.
    anyone offer me any help

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