Retiring to Spain is a dream for many. The idea of living out your golden years on the golden Spanish Costas is a retirement goal for thousands of brits, and year after year, we see more and more expatriate retirees buying property all along the coast.
But what if we told you that you don´t have to wait until retirement?
If your dream is to live in Spain, then why wait until retirement to fulfill your dreams? You can move to Spain today and start living your life where you want to be while you´re still young and hungry for life.
Often when we mention this to people, we´re immediately bombarded with the same old questions;
What about work? How do I overcome the language barrier? What about health care? How will I be able to survive in a foreign country?
Well, these are all “problems” that are actually easier to overcome for someone in their younger years, than if you were a retiree.
Yo no hablo Español!
Starting with the language barrier, it´s well-known that it´s much easier to learn a foreign language when you´re younger. I won´t go into the ins and outs of why this is, but the fact of the matter is, it´s true.
Would you rather retire to Spain and face the language barrier, or reach your retirement years and comfortably be able to communicate with the locals and get on with your life without the need of translators?
I moved here 6 years ago, without knowing a word of Spanish! Now, I can comfortably have a Spanish conversation without even thinking about it. Would I have been able to do this is my later years? Probably not.
Now, I´m not saying that you can just move to Spain when you´re younger and you´ll automatically learn Spanish, that really isn´t the case.
I know more than a handful of young Brits in Spain that have spent more than half of their life in Spain, yet they still have less Spanish vocabulary than a 2-year-old.
To overcome the language barrier, there are several things that you can do to help speed up the process, and none of them include downloading an app!
- Throw yourself in at the deep end – rent a property in a very Spanish area.
- Learn English first! You simply can´t learn another language without first knowing why you say what you say in your own language. Hint: Start off with the terminology of tenses.
- Anticipate situations where you´ll need to use Spanish ahead of time. If you´re going to the local barbershop and you know you´re going to need to say “short back and sides and a trim on top”, then learn the vocab beforehand – Don´t try to wing it!
- If you´re going to translate, then translate in context – Reverso Context is the best by far!
- Learn words and phrases that you´ll use – There no point in writing a list of 10 words every week if you´re not going to use them.
- Learn sentence stems that you can use in different scenarios. For example; “Me podrías poner…” (Could I have a…)
Using these techniques will help you develop your language learning skills and will make life in Spain a lot easier!
Now, what about work?
How can you work in Spain without speaking the language?
Given that the Spanish economy relies heavily on tourism, there are always jobs available for young English speakers.
When I first moved to Spain, I was immediately offered a job teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL). I had no qualifications, I didn´t speak Spanish, and I definitely didn´t have any teaching experience, but thats exactly the way the academies in Spain want you!
English academies will be able to provide you will all the training that you need, provide you with all the materials you need, and will often help find you find accommodation before you even arrive in the country.
A typical take-home salary of an English teacher in Spain, with 25 hours of classes a week, is around 1,100€ a month!
And what about accommodation?
I was lucky enough to have a friend that I could crash with until I found my own apartment, so I didn´t take the academy up on their offer of finding accommodation.
But within 3 months I´d found a place with my girlfriend who I´d met in Spain.
A 3 bed 2 bath apartment for 350€ a month about 8km from where I was working!
I was genuinely shocked at how cheap this was considering how much I was paying in the UK, but looking at the market, it was actually above average for the area.
I literally went from paying well over £1,200 a month in rent to just 175€, in less than 6 months.
Will I be entitled to Healthcare?
So that´s work and accommodation sorted. So what about healthcare?
Well, before you can actually start working, you need an NIE number and a National Security Number, but thankfully, that was all sorted and arranged by the academy.
After all, they need their workers to be legal before being able to write up a working contract.
So, seeing as you now have all your paperwork in place, and you have a work contract, then you´ll be entitled to state healthcare.
You just have to register with the local medical center and present them with all the documents you have. (Take literally every piece of paper you have!)
Getting out and about
Now, what about a car? You´re going to need some transport! For the first 6 months of living in Spain, I was using my car from the UK, but seeing as you´re only legally allowed to do this for 6 months, I had to find an alternative.
So I started renting cars! I was nervous at first because I´d heard so many horror stories about Spanish car rental companies, but it actually worked out really well.
When I first started searching, I was getting quotes around 300€ for a 2 week rental of a measly little Fiat 500. But then I changed my search criteria to 4-5 weeks.
Surprisingly, the prices went down dramatically! Most months I was paying less than 150€ a month.
I wondered why this was, but it turns out that if you´re booking for 2 weeks, then chances are you´re a holidaymaker, so they charge you holidaymaker prices.
If I remember rightly, the best deal I had was a Range Rover Evoque for 178€ for the month!
Understandably, the academy I was working at didn´t like this, as the parents of the students were starting to wonder why a TEFL teacher was driving around in a 40k Range Rover, but never mind!
The cost of living
Taking all of the above into account, how much is left to live on and how far does it go?
Well, on 1,100€ a month for 25 hours a week, I had about 700€ a month to spare, which doesn´t seem like much, but considering a beer costs a euro, a fancy(ish) restaurant could cost around 40€ PP, I was living pretty well considering I wasn´t working half of the hours I was working in the UK, and I was able to top up those 25 hours with extra classes for 12 euro an hour.
At this point, I had just turned 24, I had my own apartment in Spain, I was driving around in brand new cars, and I had money to save.
So there you have it! It can be done, you don´t have to wait until retirement, and you can live a good life.
Living in Murcia has also had some positive effects on my health, my diet and general well-being… Why wait?