7 Things to Know Before Moving to Spain

For many, Spain means holidays, sun and sangria but… is that really true when you actually live there?

In this article, we want to present you some useful tips based on the personal experience of one of our workmates of having lived many years in Spain. When you first come here many habits may surprise you quite a lot! If you don’t want to feel lost when you arrive here then read this and we guarantee that you will adapt faster to the Spanish way of life.



  • Tip 1

If you feel like having a beer/wine/ drink or whatever alcoholic beverage on the budget in Spain–  buy them before 10 pm in the supermarket or you will be left with an option of going to the bar. Why? the reason is quite simple. Not so long ago they forbade selling alcohol after this time. The majority of the supermarkets are closed after 9.30 pm anyway. They are only a few of them (if any) opened 24/4 h or after 10 pm.

  • Tip 2

Remember, the notion of time is relative. In Spain la mañana (the morning) lasts until about 2pm, la tarde (the afternoon) extends to nightfall. To our surprise, there is no word for evening, and the early hours have another name: la madrugada.

  • Tip 3

Do you smoke? If the answer is yes, forget about getting the tobacco in the supermarket. You may purchase it only in so-called ´estanco´.

  • Tip 4  

The time schedule in this Mediterranean country differs from the one in most of the European countries. The majority of businesses opens at 9 am and close at 8 pm, but also close between 2pm and 5pm for the siesta. Besides, between 2 and 4pm (sometimes 5pm) Spanish offices and companies are ´frozen´, they do believe in siesta time.

Weekends normally vary:  shops and supermarkets are open on Saturdays but a lot of other services are closed. When it comes to Sunday – forget about any type of shopping unless you go to ´chino´, which is a Chinese supermarket that opens daily from 10 am to 10 pm, plus they don´t tend to close during the siesta time.

When it comes to mealtimes – Spanish people do follow the specific timing, There is nothing more sacred than eating time. You can have breakfast usually between 7.30am and 9.30am, lunch is from 2pm to 4pm, afternoon snack (merienda) is between 5.30pm and 6pm, and dinner, quite late, between 9pm and 11pm.

If you are having your dinner out, most restaurants will not serve you before 8.30pm unless you are in tourist areas. The same rule applies to lunchtime if you want to have lunch after 4pm you need to head to the centric area because the kitchen is close up to 8pm.

In addition, if you plan a wild night out, make sure that you will not leave your house before 12 or so. Every party starts relatively late if we compare the timing to other countries.

  • Tip 5 

August is a complicated and extremely hot month when it comes to trying to arrange serious matters like making an insurance claim, seeing a doctor, getting a new kitchen put in or buying a house.

Spain is not in. Everybody is on the beach.


Spain beach

  • Tip 6

When you arrive in Spain and you want to start your working life, you will need to get through really long processes of getting or registering for basic administrative essentials like your Tax Number – NIE (it took me literally 2 months to have it done), social security number and medical card.

What is true is that you cannot do some of the above-mentioned things until you arrive, but have an idea of what to expect so that you can get this done as quickly as possible when you arrive and start enjoying your new home.

  • Tip 7

It is quite risky to refer to Catalan, Valenciano or Gallego as dialects of ‘Spanish’. They are proud of them as all of them are languages in their own right, and are co-official with Castellano in the autonomous communities in which they are spoken (ie. Catalunya, Valencia and Galicia).

At every possible occasion try to take advantage of the opportunity to speak a foreign language and push yourself as it will be truly appreciated. Be prepared by knowing basic greetings, and standard phrases (good morning, thank you, how much? etc).

You might be able to navigate your way in English in more touristy locations but not always in small villages. Write down new words you learn and practice using them over and over again in everyday situations.

Additionally, If you decide to come here and you end up living in Andalucia you should read our article about  8 epic places in Andalucia, Spain even locals don’t know about.

Remember these are learning experiences that will be foundations on your journey to becoming a true expatriate.

Anyway, whatever you are doing in Spain you will always enjoy the nice weather, people and relaxed way of life here. Good luck!