Spain has always been a home away from home for me. I spent endless childhood summers in Catalunya and recently lived and worked in the less glamorous, but equally alluring, north and centre. It is a placed filled with contrasts and part of my soul will forever be tainted with red and gold.

Spain is one of the world’s most visited countries and so, it comes as no surprise, that when it comes to international teaching, it is a coveted destination. There is far more to this wondrous country than meets the eye, with a wealth of diverse geography and cultures that challenges the stereotypes of hot, sandy beaches littered with all-inclusive resorts.

Frequently asked questions about Spain

Isn’t it really hot?

Spain has 3 distinct climates - Mediterranean, semi-arid and coastal. As a result the temperatures can vary wildly from region to region, and believe it or not it can actually get pretty cold in places! For 3 months in the winter, some parts of Spain (including Madrid), can easily average around 5˚C and you can go skiing in some of the mountainous regions. The beautiful Atlantic coast is mild all year round, and is notorious for its rainy weather, whilst the city of Toledo is commonly referred to as “the frying pan of Spain” for its oppressive summer heat. Those that live in central Spain commonly retreat to the coasts in the hot, summer months and local bars and restaurants may have water misters to help cool you down.

Do I need a visa?

If you are lucky enough to hold a passport from a country in the European Economic Area (EEA) then you are able to freely relocate to live and work in Spain. Should you not hold one of these passports then a work permit is needed, although most schools won’t consider non-EU applicants.

What you will need though is a tax number called a NIE (número de identidad de extranjero). You will be guided through the process and will most definitely need your passport.

Can I drive in Spain?

Yes! For those that hold an EEA issued driving license you can use it for up to 2 years. You must register with the Spanish authorities within 6 months if you intend to stay for longer than this. If you plan to live and work in Spain for 2 years or more then you will need to exchange your license for a local one.

Will I need to learn Spanish?

Most people in Spain have a basic command of English at the very least and it is compulsory that all children have English lessons in primary and secondary school. You will often find that people will want to speak English with you so that they can practice their language skills. That being said, a little goes a long way and locals will always appreciate you making an effort. Depending on where in Spain you are, you may find that other languages besides Spanish (Castellano) are spoken such as Catalan, Basque, Galician and Asturian.

Do the Spanish really have daily siestas?

Yes… and no. These days, it is more of an extended lunch break used to escape the heat of the day and relax. When visiting regional capitals, and smaller cities, you’ll find that many independent shops are closed between 14:00 and 16:00. Whilst this might seem like an inconvenience it means that in the evening places are open much later to what you’re usually accustomed to. Major chains and supermarkets tend not to close, whilst in Madrid and Barcelona, it’s pretty much a universal rule that nowhere closes. 

Does everyone eat paella?

Definitely not! Spain’s cuisine is regional and paella originates from the east coast, near Valencia. Each region has its own speciality and local delights include hearty stews and roasted lamb. Seafood is popular, with Octopus (pulpo) being a Galician speciality. Cured meats (jamón) and cheese (queso) are universally popular, whilst you’ll find tapas (aka pinchos, pinxos) pretty much everywhere. Fresh produce rules the roost and when eating out, the menu del día is nearly always your best bet.

I hear that the Spanish like to party - is this true?

When the summer months hit, you can always find a party, though it might not fit your typical view of one. The vast majority of villages (pueblos) have an annual party, usually related to a Saint’s day in which all of the locals will gather, feast on enormous amounts of food and stay up until the small hours. As each region has a large degree of autonomy, you’ll find that bank holidays will vary to enable local fiestas to be celebrated. In Oviedo, there is a Tuesday every May dedicated to picnicking whilst in the province of Burgos you’ll find El Colacho, or the baby jumping festival in which men jump over infants to protect them from the devil…  Meanwhile, in Barcelona there’s a festival dedicated to giants, one in the Valencian region dedicated to (throwing) tomatoes and one in Asturias that’s all about horses. There is quite literally, something for everyone.

What’s the health care like?

If you’re an EU citizen, you are eligible for treatment in Spain providing you are registered with the social security office. Wait times are short and everything runs efficiently. Many doctors will speak English, although not necessarily to high standards. Private health insurance options are available and affordable.

Where are the best places to visit?

Spain offers a bit of everything. The north offers fantastic hiking trails in the mountains, picturesque lakes and skiing in the winter- it’s great for the outdoorsy types. If you’re more of a city slicker then Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and Valencia might be more your thing and they’re filled with wonderful bars, restaurants and things to do. Let’s not forget that Spain has a fantastic coastline that includes rugged, quiet beaches on the north coast and the glorious sandy beaches of the Mediterranean.

My personal top five are:

The Alhambra - Granada: a grand Moorish palace set against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains that is nothing short of beautiful.
La Sagrada Família - Barcelona: Gaudi’s unfinished and awe-inspiring masterpiece is my favourite piece of architecture.
Picos de Europa - Asturias, Cantabria and Castile & León: One of the Western Europe’s last wildernesses is home to wolves and Brown bears. Great for skiing, hiking, kayaking and other outdoors activities.
San Sebastián - Basque Country: the undisputed foodie capital of Spain is a must for its delightful pinxos.
Seville - Andalusia: the birthplace of Flamenco is picture-perfect with an enviably sunny climate

If you love the sound of Spain, then get in touch with us for details of current vacancies. Our helpful and well-travelled team are always on hand to answer any questions that you might have, no matter how small.

Lauren lived and worked in Spain for four years. She loves Spanish ham, good wine and siestas in equal measure.