If you are Moving to Spain from UK, avoid these mistakes and save yourself stress and even unnecessary embarrassment …
Congratulations on deciding to move to Spain. You’ve chosen a fabulous country for the next stage of your life. Spain has so much to offer in the way of culture, cuisine, beach resorts, cities, art and sports. However, there are a few things you need to bear in mind as you adapt to living in Spain.
Firstly, you have to lose the great British reserve. Spain is a friendly country and people will think you odd if you don’t join in the fun. Make an attempt to join in the conversation at the bar or bus stop, dance at the fiestas and shout for your team at the football. Just relax and be spontaneous. Embrace the culture, try new foods and open your mind to new adventures.
You seriously mustn’t speak English all the time. Don’t just mix with the other expats but make an effort to learn Spanish. You don’t need to be word perfect but learn enough to talk to your Spanish neighbours, read the newspapers or watch Spanish television. Many towns arrange exchange groups and will put you in touch with a Spanish person so you can practise speaking and make a new friend.
Don’t expect people to form an orderly queue at the bank or bus stop. There is some kind of system going on here. Often you need to get a ticket so you know when it is your turn in the bank or post office. Otherwise, people ask who is the last person in the queue – ¿Quien es el ultimo? – so they know when their turn arrives.
Never underestimate Spanish bureaucracy. The paperless society doesn’t exist here and you need photocopies of so many documents when you get your NIE number, register on the Padron or deal with any kind of officialdom. And, you can almost guarantee, that you will always have one vital photocopy missing. Although the Spanish are notoriously unpunctual, you really need to turn up to these appointments on the dot.
Don’t expect to get anything done in August. It’s too hot to work and many people are on holiday. Anyone still at work has to do the work of two or three people while dealing with local residents and the massive influx of tourists. If you can, leave all appointments until September.
Be well prepared if you decide to spark up a conversation in the bar or with Spanish neighbours about football. The Spanish are very passionate about the sport and you will never escape once you’ve opened the debate. Real Madrid and Barcelona are definite no-go areas. Talking about politics and politicians is also best avoided.
Watch what you wear and where you wear it. Speaking of football, you should never wear the wrong football shirt in the wrong city. A Real Madrid shirt in Barcelona is asking for trouble. Also, you should never wear the wrong clothes. Beachwear should be kept on the beach not the streets and topless men in a restaurant is a real no-no. Never wear socks with sandals. Never ever!
You mustn’t think you are going to get a quiet night’s peace unless you live in the campo or anywhere else in the middle of nowhere. While the Brits are going home at midnight after a night out, in Spain the fun is just getting started. Often live music doesn’t start until midnight, fiestas can go on all night and firework displays are often held at about midnight. If you can’t beat them, join them, that’s what we feel. After all, you can always embrace the Spanish tradition of taking a siesta the following day.
You mustn’t get married or travel on Tuesday 13th, according to an old Spanish saying. For the superstitious, it’s no longer unlucky Friday 13th but Tuesday 13th is a day for staying in bed. Also, from now on, April Fool’s Day (or the equivalent) is held on December 28, which is the Day of the Innocents. This is when you can play pranks or practical jokes on your friends and work colleagues.
You mustn’t ignore rural inland Spain and the mountains. There’s so much more to see in Spain than the beaches and the “costas”. Make time to explore small inland towns such as Alhama de Granada, Jaen, Ronda, or Arcos de la Frontera, and the spectacular mountain ranges such as the Sierra Nevada in the south or the Picos de Europa in the north.
And last but by no means least, you mustn’t forget to grab a copy of our book, Moving to Spain with children. It will save you a lot of time, money and headaches when preparing your move to Spain, with or without children! Don’t just take our word for it, read the Reviews here Let’s have a look …
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