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Since moving to Spain, we have fallen in love with so many things about this country. Obviously, not everything about living in Spain is amazing, but there are definitely some things we love about living abroad in Spain!
This isn’t an indefinite list of what we love about Spain because that could seemingly go on forever. However, these are some of the most obvious things that are great about living abroad in Spain!
As Americans living abroad in Spain, we know a lot about how cars truly dominate the transportation culture in the US. In Spain, this is the complete opposite!
Yes, many people have cars and get around that way, but public transportation in Spain is absolutely outstanding!
We live in Madrid and have access to one of the best metro systems in Europe, with the Madrid Metro, but there are also long distance trains and buses that are available throughout the country. If you are living in a smaller village in Spain, there will surely be at least a bus that connects your village to a nearby city, which is something that just doesn’t exist in the US.
Since we don’t have a drivers license in Spain, we really love the efficiency and ease of public transportation in Spain, and Madrid in particular!
Eating tapas, and the culture of eating tapas, is of course one of the best parts of living abroad in Spain.
Tapas might be the thing Spain is best known for, even if Americans don’t quite get what it is…Hint, it’s not a $15 small plate of food that you “share” with friends.
Throughout all of Spain, tapas culture is abundant. You can go to almost any bar in the country and get some sort of tapa when ordering a drink—alcoholic or not.
The exact tapa varies and can be quite small or much larger. Usually, a bar will give you something small and free to snack on with your drink, like olives, cheese, or nuts. In some places, you can also order a tapa and pick something you want, but it’ll cost a little extra.
Now, the holy grail of places in Spain is where you get FREE TAPAS with a drink! While this used to exist more often in Spain, it’s less common now and may only exist in a few bars in most cities. But there are a few cities in Spain that still offer free tapas with a drink, like Granada, Jaén, León, and Alcalá de Henares to name a few.
Aside from the delicious tapas that you can get in Spain, we love the tapas culture of getting a drink and something small to eat and then moving onto the next place. Eating tapas in Spain is a very social event and a fantastic way to meet other people and try lots of food!
Going along with the theme of food in Spain, the fresh produce you find tastes so much better and fresher than it does in the US.
Whether you buy it from a produce shop, market, or even the supermarket, it’s amazingly fresh and filled with flavor. We think the reason is because a lot of the food you can find in Spain is grown right here in Spain. Whereas in the US, it’s flown in from all over the country—which is obviously much larger—and even imported from other countries.
There’s no specific scientific proof behind this reason of why we love living abroad in Spain, other than our own taste buds, but we think the fresh produce in Spain taste way better than in the US.
People Live in the Streets
If you look at any list of reasons why Americans love living in Spain, this one is bound to pop up. Spaniards don’t live in their homes nearly as much as Americans do. They live their lives outside of their homes, in the streets, parks, and plazas much more.
We absolutely love this because there’s always something happening outside, and there are always people out and about. It makes the social culture of Spain so much more intriguing and community-based, especially when you compare it to much of the suburban US where people drive in their car to work and then drive home, park in their garage, and spend the night at home.
The type of daily social interaction in Spain simply doesn’t exist in the US, and in Spain it even exists in smaller cities too because they are much more dense and built for people rather than cars.
As Americans living in Spain, we love the ability to go outside of our apartment and interact with others on a daily basis.
On of the best ways to get outside is to sit on a terrace and have some food or a drink!
Spain absolutely LOVES their terraces, and this is a huge understatement.
It’s a myth that Spain is sunny and warm all year round because it does actually get cold and rainy in the winter. However, that doesn’t stop Spaniards from sitting outside on a terrace with their winter coats and having a glass of wine or a beer.
Nearly every single bar, cafe, or restaurant seems to have a terrace where you can sit outside, and they are generally the first seating area to fill up, regardless of the temperature!
We love the terrace culture in Spain because it’s another way to be outside and have some of that social interaction with others. It’s also nice to simply have the option to be outside. Plus, it keep the streets lively with people and conversation instead of having empty streets filled with just parked cars.
Spanish is obviously spoken nearly everywhere in Spain, which gives us the perfect opportunity to practice and continue to learn Spanish. We fit this to be a huge pro to living in Spain, but understandably, it may be a con for you.
Spain does not exactly have the highest English level of European countries, so it can be challenging to get by without any Spanish, especially outside of major cities, like Madrid and Barcelona.
Given the fact that we chose to move to Spain because we wanted to improve our Spanish, all the Spanish spoken around us in Spain is something we love about living abroad here!
Luckily for us too, Spanish people are generally incredibly friendly and willing to strike up a conversation with you. It’s not uncommon to be at a cafe or bar and get into a conversation with others there.
This has not only made it easier to make friends—which can be challenging too—but has allowed us to really improve our Spanish and learn things about the Spanish culture and have local experiences we otherwise wouldn’t have had.
Cost of Living
And finally, the cost of living in Spain is much lower than in the US, which is why we are able to live in Madrid on only €1000 per month through the Auxiliares de Conversación Program.
It doesn’t seem like much, and at times it isn’t much, but it’s still possible. This would be impossible in the US, especially in a major city like Madrid.
The cost of rent, transportation, food, drinks, etc is so much lower than in the US and really makes living in Spain so much easier and enjoyable. It must be said though that the average salaries are much lower than in the US too, which is why the costs are lower.
This is something that makes it difficult to live abroad in Spain as an American because not being in the Spanish pension system means you still have to save for retirement as an American. If your salary is lower, it can be difficult to save a lot for the future, but it’s great for living in the present with prices in Spain.
Overall, we love living abroad in Spain, and find it to be a welcoming, beautiful country with so much to offer anyone who moves here. Living abroad in Spain is not all perfect, but all in all, it’s definitely a country that you can live abroad in.
To find out more information about how to live abroad in Spain as an American, check out some of our other posts about moving to Spain and how to teach English in Spain.