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Five things that will change when you move to Spain

Like every country, Spain has its habits and charachteristics. Some of them might be weird, some are funny, others maybe a bit annoying. One thing is certain: moving to Spain will change your life(style). And provide a backpack full of anecdotes, memories, funny stories and experiences. Here are five “before-and-afters” you will experience when moving to Spain.

Before: weekend – After: mini-holiday

In Spain every weekend is like a mini-holiday, certainly if you live near the coast. There are so many places to visit, and everyone will find an activity he or she likes. Whether you are a nature lover looking for peace and quiet, you want to go hiking, enjoy Spanish gastronomy or you want to be surprised by cultural and architectural highlights, you will always find somewhere to go.

And if you have seen it all, you can still fill your agenda with local festivals and events. In fact, you will have to make difficult choices, because it’s just impossible to be everywhere. And if you just want to relax, there’s still the beach, one of the many parks or just your own garden or balcony…

Before: a little bit of rain, often – After: a lot of rain, rarely

A better climate is one of the main reasons why people decide to move to Spain. And indeed: the mediterranean coastline in Southern Spain guarantees over 300 days of sunshine per year. So, goodbye to the grey skies and endless streaks of rainy days.

But… If you have a look at the average rainfall on yearly basis you might be surprised. Depending on the region you choose, the difference with your home country might not be as big as you expected.

So, what does this mean? Well, it’s pretty simple: IF it rains, it might seem all hell breaks loose with immense amounts of rainfall in a short period. But then, as quickly as the rain came, it’s gone again and when you wake up after your siesta the clear blue sky is back. Or in the worst case, it might just rain for days and days after a dry period, until a new period of weeks without a raindrop starts.

Before: a tiny parking space – After: a huge parking space

Finding a parking spot in Spain can be quite a challenge, certainly in bigger cities or popular villages near the coast. Parking bumper against bumper is rather the rule than the exception. Meaning bumpers are used to do what they are made for: bumping against other cars! Who needs sensors, if you can just feel where the other car is by kissing it?

It might be a challenge in the beginning, but moving to Spain is like a speed parking course. And that’s not all: with the tiny roads in some villages and the “optimal” use of parking space you will soon learn how to take a turn or pass between two cars with just millimeters on both sides. In no time, you will perfectly know the size of your car. It might cost you some scratches to get there though…

Before: taking a ticket – After: asking who’s last in the queue

Queuing in Spain can be a bit confusing if you don’t know how it works. Sure, in some places you will just take a ticket and know when it’s your turn when your number is announced. Or there’s just a single line and you join it. But in many places, certainly in smaller and typically Spanish villages, queuing doesn’t work like that.

You might get in a bank and just see a bunch of people spread all over the place, without any clue who might be the last one. There might even be several queues for several services. So, how can you know? The question to ask is simple: ‘Quién es el último?’ (Who’s the last one?). However, the answer might be slightly more complicated: ‘A man with a hat and a small dog, but he just went out’. Yes, you can actually leave the queue and recover your place when you get back.

Before: having lunch – After: having your second breakfast

As everybody knows, Spaniards do everything a bit later than other Europeans. From getting up to going to bed, from breakfast to dinner. Typically lunch is after 2pm and Spaniards only start thinking about dinner around 9pm. In the meanwhile, they just don’t stop eating: five meals a day is normal.

So, if you adopt the Spanish habits, this will be your schedule:

  • Desayuno: first breakfast, before leaving for work (7.30-9.00). Compared to breakfast in other countries, it’s just a light meal, consisting of coffee and a toast, croissant or a magdalena (Spanish cake).
  • Almuerzo: somewhere between 11 and 12 it’s time for a second breakfast. Typically a sandwich, or a piece of fruit.
  • Comida: an important moment for Spanish people is lunch time. No quick sandwich at your desk, but a full meal. Three courses in lots of cases.
  • Merienda: tea time? Not in Spain. Around 6pm it’s time for merienda! Can be something sweet or salty.
  • Cena: a light meal in the evening? Not really. Around 9.30 it’s time for another meal. Not as extensive as lunch, but it’s not exceptional to have two or three courses at night!

Still hungry? Of course you can also have some tapas in between!