Day to Day Living in Spain
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Day-to-day Living in Spain
The price of living can vary substantially depending on the area you work and live. Generally, the cost of living is higher in urban areas such as Madrid or Barcelona than in rural villages and towns.
In the cities of Spain, the price of property is high in relation to the costs of living. Many Spaniards spend up to half their income on housing. On the less expensive hand, a cup of coffee or a glass of beer can be bought for one Euro, maybe less.
Immediate gratification comes from the cordiality of the people (apart from when shopping!), the beaches of soft sand, long days of sunshine, the breathtaking mountains, vast plains, the nightlife, the wonderful cuisine, the restaurants, markets, and so on.
The Spanish social security system is much like the British one: you pay your contributions every month, and that entitles you to a pension, unemployment benefit, sick pay, maternity pay and the right to receive free healthcare. The amount of pension or benefit you receive depends on the level of contributions you have been paying.
The majority of Spanish stores are small family-run affairs, although many more hypermarkets and supermarkets have popped up. Hypermarkets tend to reside in the fast-growing Spanish suburbs, while the older city neighbourhoods are attached to their quaint shopping rituals.
The Spanish generally don't believe in queuing, and shoppers often push and shove their way to the front. Sales assistants will not always serve customers in order, so if it is your turn, don't remain politely British: speak up.
Stores, hypermarkets and supermarkets are open without a siesta close from around 1000 until 2200, Monday to Saturday. Most stores are closed on Sunday.
Small shops open from 0700 or 0800 until 1300 when they close for siesta. They open again from 1700 until 2000 or 2100.
What's driving like in Spain?
Road tax in Spain is paid to the local council. Payment is related to the individual vehicle and area. All vehicles are required to undertake a yearly inspection called an ITV, which is similar to an MOT here in the UK. Major towns and cities will have a handful ITV stations that you can take your car to.
- Autopistas or motorways 120kph
- Dual carriageways 100kph
- Country roads 90kph
- Urban roads 50kph
- Residential areas 20kph
No need to tell you, it is compulsory to wear both front and rear seatbelts.
What can I expect from utilities?
Electricity - Immediately after buying or renting a property, you should sign a contract with the local electricity company. This will mean visiting the local office in order to register.
You need to take with you some identification (passport or residence card) and the contract and bills paid by the previous owner. You will be billed bi-monthly for electricity.
Power cuts are frequent in many areas of Spain. When it rains heavily, the electricity supply can become very temperamental. If you live in an area where cuts are frequent and you rely on electricity, it may be a good idea to install an emergency generator.
Gas - Mains gas is only available in major cities in Spain. When moving into a property with mains gas, you must contact the local gas company to have the gas switched on, the meter read and a supply contract signed. As with electricity, you're billed every two months.
Water - Water supply is a major concern in Spain. It is controlled by local municipalities, many of which have their own wells. In some municipalities, water distribution is the responsibility of a private company. The cost of connection for a new home can vary from 50 to 300 Euros. There is a standing quarterly charge for a minimum consumption in most areas.
Internet - Internet usage in Spain is noticeably lower than in the rest of Europe. Around 34% (15 million) of the population are connected to the World Wide Web.
The government is encouraging the use of Wi-Fi as a way of connecting rural and poorer areas to the Internet.
What's public transport like?
Buses -The local bus services in cities run from around 0600 until midnight, when a more expensive night system comes into operation. Most buses don't have a lot of seats, opting instead for maximum standing room. Urban buses are quite slow, although some major cities provide efficient bus lanes. Keep in mind that when waiting at a bus stop, the bus may not always stop for you unless you indicate it to.
Metro/Underground - There are metro lines in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. They offer a rapid way to get the around the city and are sometimes, unsurprisingly, congested during rush hours. Saver tickets are available, such as a cheap day return, a metro-card allowing three to five days' unlimited use, and weekly and monthly passes.
Organisations that can assist with Day to Day Living
British Corner Shop is the online British supermarket with worldwide delivery. Ideal for British Expats, Forces and Brits living and working abroad who can't get hold of their favourite British food locally.