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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Spain: Sunny Side Up

Excellent weather and leisure activities give Spain a good score in the Quality of Life Index, but poor ranks in the Working Abroad and Personal Finance Indices drag it down again.

The Sun Also Rises

A better quality of life is the top motivation for relocating to Spain among those surveyed (22%), and it is a valid reason since Spain ranks sixth in the Quality of Life Index this year. Boosting the rating is the excellent score in the Leisure Options subcategory, where Spain comes in third after Australia and Mexico. Over half of the respondents (51%) rate the available leisure activities in Spain as very good, whereas globally just under one-third (32%) can say the same.

Spain is ideally located for holiday excursions, as over nine out of ten expats feel generally positive about the opportunities for travel (92%) it provides, as well as the transport infrastructure (91%) in the country. But why would you even want to leave when the weather is so good?

Spain is known for its sunshine, so it doesn't come as a surprise that the climate and weather were a factor considered by two-thirds of the survey participants prior to moving. Their expectations are met, as three out of five expats say that the climate and weather are very good, and only less than two percent have anything negative to say about them. As a comparison, the worldwide averages are 23% and 22%, respectively.

In the case of heat stroke, expats can rely on the local hospitals, as the quality of Spanish healthcare is perceived positively by over seven out of ten participants (73%). Over three in four (76%) also think that medical care is generally easy to afford. Out of harm's way, nine out of ten respondents rate their personal safety positively, and 87% say it is peaceful in Spain. However, only 15% say that political stability in Spain is very good, which is less than half the global average (34%). This perception of political unrest is possibly due to the state of the economy.

Expat Statistics 2015

Expat statistics for Spain - infographic
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Working Hard or Hardly Working?

There is little faith in Spain's economy, the survey finds: over four out of seven expats (58%) rate it negatively. The lack of personal job security is also bothering expatriates, as almost two out of five (39%) are generally dissatisfied with the situation. These factors give Spain the 58th rank out of 64 countries in the Job Security subcategory.

Spain does equally bad in the Job & Career subcategory, as over three out of eight (38%) respondents find their career prospects lacking. Combined, Spain ranks 59th overall in the Working Abroad Index, slightly worse than its ranking in the Personal Finance Index (58th out of 64). However, not everyone comes to Spain for full-time employment.

One in seven respondents in Spain (14%) are retirees, which is almost triple the global average of 5%. Furthermore, over one in five expats (21%) is working part-time, probably contributing to the low number of average working hours that the participants report. Expatriates in Spain work only 37.8 hours per week, over four hours less than the worldwide average of 42.0 hours.

Best Friends Forever

Less work means more time to spend on getting to know the local customs and making friends. Over three-quarters of expats (77%) generally agree that it is not difficult to settle down in Spain, and almost four in five (79%) say that getting used to the local culture is usually easy. These factors put Spain fourth in the Feeling Welcome subcategory, behind Ecuador, Portugal, and Mexico.

Those moving to Spain love the late-night tapas, and getting to know the local residents over a shared jug of sangria is easy. Over four out of seven respondents (58%) say making local friends is not hard, and over five in seven (84%) describe the Spaniards as a generally friendly bunch.

However, Spain is only 19th in the Ease of Settling In Index, as the Language subcategory brings the average down: over half of the participants (55%) agree that it is difficult to get by without knowing the local language. The good news to those attempting to overcome the language barrier is that three-fifths say learning Spanish is quite easy. Three out of eight expats also say they speak Spanish very well.

Sagrada Família

This ease of learning the local language can also be seen in expatriate children, as over half of the parents (51%) say that their kids speak Spanish very well. It seems that Spain is a good country for bringing along your children, as the availability and cost of childcare and education are all within the first quartile of global rankings.

This is why Spain does quite well in the Family Life Index, claiming the 12th spot out of 41 countries. The only factor dragging down the ranking is the quality of education, as only about one in ten expat parents (11%) would rate it as very good, with the global average being twice as high (20%).

Further Reading