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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Sun, Sea, Sand, and the Good Life in Spain

Not only families feel welcome in Spain: expats in general find that the population is friendly towards foreign residents, and a large proportion considers the local language easy to learn.
  • Spain ranks 8th out of 68 countries overall.
  • The country is even in 3rd place for quality of life.
  • Many expats choose to retire there.
  • Less than half believe the economy is stable.
  • Over nine out of ten parents are happy with family life.

Quality of Life: Spain Comes Out on Top

Spain comes in at an impressive 8th place out of 68 countries in the Expat Insider 2018 survey. The country performs well in many indices, including quality of life, where it ranks 3rd out of 68 countries. Expats there are particularly happy with both the leisure activities available — 93% rate this factor positively — as well as the climate and weather: 96% are happy with this. In fact, over eight in ten (81%) agree that the quality of the environment, such as water and air quality, is by and large good.

The Spanish lifestyle and the quality of life on offer are key reasons why many choose to move to Spain: just over three in ten (31%) cite a better quality of life as the main reason for relocating. The destination is especially popular with retirees: a quarter of the respondents in Spain cite their employment status as retired, this is 14 percentage points above the survey average of 11%.

I don’t like the political instability of the last three years.

Further adding to the high quality of life in Spain is an excellent healthcare system: 86% of expats believe that the quality of healthcare is largely good, and a similar percentage (81%) agree with the statement that medical care is affordable. In addition to this, a vast majority of respondents (93%) rate personal safety positively, while nine out of ten agree that Spain is generally peaceful. Although over half (55%) rate political stability positively (compared to the survey average of 63%), only 11% regard this factor as excellent — maybe partly a reflection of the Catalan independence crisis. In the words of one expat from Panama: “I don’t like the political instability of the last three years.”

Friendly Locals and a Language for All

When it comes to feeling at home in Spain, expats face few challenges settling in: 77% agree that it is generally easy to settle down in the country, compared to the global result of 59%. Over eight in ten state they feel largely at home in the local culture (81%) and believe that there is a friendly attitude towards foreign residents (83%). An even larger proportion of respondents (87%) also rate the general friendliness of the local population positively, a factor which 64% of respondents considered a potential benefit even before moving. Close to three-quarters (74%) are satisfied with opportunities for making friends, and just over six in ten (61%) do not struggle to make local friends, compared to the global average of just 45%.

Spain’s impressive performance in the Ease of Settling In Index, ranking 7th out of 68 destinations, can also be linked to its local language. A majority of 65% believe that learning the language is generally easy compared to the global average of just 36%. Equally, well over six in ten (64%) state that they considered the language a potential advantage before their move to Spain.

Still Doubts Surrounding the Spanish Economy

One area where Spain performs somewhat poorly is career prospects and satisfaction: it ranks just 41st out of 68 countries in this subcategory. Even less impressive is Spain’s result for economy and job security — it comes in at 54th position out of 68 countries. Less than half the respondents (49%) agree that the Spanish economy is in a good state, compared to the global average of 64%. At the same time, just over a half (51%) rate job security positively.

The people here in Spain work to live, and do not live to work, like in the US. It's just a more relaxed and outgoing environment and I really enjoy that.

However, seven in ten are at least satisfied with their work-life balance. According to one US American expat, “the people here in Spain work to live, and do not live to work, like in the US. It's just a more relaxed and outgoing environment and I really enjoy that.”

Despite doubts over the Spanish job market and economy, the cost of living is rated positively by over eight in ten respondents (81%). In fact, a majority of 66% state they considered this factor a potential benefit before moving. Although just over one in ten (13%) have a yearly household income of 100,000 USD or more (compared to the survey average of 24%), 78% agree that their disposable income is enough or more than enough to cover the cost of everyday life.

Families Feel Welcome and Children Are Safe

Families in Spain benefit from good availability and affordability of childcare and education. Just under two-thirds of expat parents (64%) agree that childcare options are generally numerous and easy to get — this is compared to the worldwide average of less than half (47%). In total, 62% of parents state that childcare is affordable, while 67% say they do not struggle to afford education for their children.

When it comes to children’s health, almost all parents (95%) rate this factor positively, with 94% stating that children’s safety is generally good, and 97% agreeing that they are satisfied with their children’s well-being in Spain. All in all, 96% agree that attitudes towards families with children are friendly, 69% even find attitudes very friendly. It is no surprise then, that a large majority of parents (93%) are satisfied with family life in Spain.

Opportunity to Travel and Good Digital Infrastructure

Travel and transportation in Spain are rated well: over nine in ten (92%) regard the opportunity to travel positively, and 89% state that the transportation infrastructure is by and large good.

Expats are just as happy with Spain’s digital infrastructure: just 3% disagree that there is unrestricted access to online services, while 91% say it is generally easy to get a local mobile phone number. Equally, almost nine in ten (89%) say they do not struggle to pay for things without cash, and four in five agree that it is easy to get high-speed internet set up.

Further Reading