Spain is a fantastic place. But what is living in Spain really like? I want to give you a little dose of reality about living in Spain. Is it all long lunches with wine, tapas every night, late nights, siestas all day, and Flamenco and bullfighting on the weekends?
Today I will talk about some Spanish stereotypes. Some of them are mere myths, while others hold some truth. So let’s get started!
Top Myths About Living in Spain
1. It’s always sunny in Spain.
Most people start living in Spain with a concept that Spain is always warm, sunny and will always have that beach weather. Well, I am very sorry to burst your bubble, but that is not the case at all. Winters are cold here.
The places in the north of Spain get very cold and sometimes get snowfall. For example, in the Madrid city center, it snows, but the snow wears off due to pollution. However, there are some places in the south of Spain like the Canary Islands that are warm and do not get that cold. But the fact that it is always sunny is a colossal myth.
Malaga is indeed the sunniest city in Europe, and you will need air conditioning in homes. Another fact about the Spanish weather is that it is predictable and does not change that much. But it mainly depends on the various regions. They are indeed blessed with a temperate climate, but it is not sunny all year round.
However, the houses are old and are not very well prepared for the winter. A lot of the apartments, even in the cities, might not have central heating. So sometimes you need to wear sweaters inside too if it gets too cold.
2. Spanish people have a good work-life balance and family life.
The people living in Spain are much more conscious about maintaining the right work-life balance.
An interesting fact is Spain is actually in the wrong time zone. It should be in the same time zone as London. But in 1940, Franco, the dictator, changed the clocks up to Berlin time in a show of solidarity with the Nazi government. Ever since then, it has been in the wrong time zone. So what that meant is that the clocks shifted forward an hour.
Everything shifted. But the workday still started at the same time. But it just got dragged out an hour-long, which resulted in the work hours being longer.
Although there is one thing which is significant here- People don’t mix business with personal life. For example, you won’t ever find a Spaniard asking about your work at a dinner party. They know the perfect time and place for everything and know how to distinguish between the two.
Also, the family is essential to the Spanish people. No matter how late they get home from work, they will always squeeze in time for their family.
You will often see prominent families get together in pubs or restaurants on Sundays. Kids are also allowed in bars and pubs, so you don’t even need to worry about getting a babysitter on your night out.
3. You only need Spanish while living in Spain.
No, this is a big myth. While living in Spain, you will get to hear a lot of languages that you had no clue about. They have five different styles, if not more. Depending on the region you are living in Spain, you might need to learn another language.
One of the most important languages you will listen to in Spain is Catalan, which is the native tongue of Barcelona. Now don’t go on thinking this is something that their grandparents speak in. No, it is still very active, and people talk in it.
Another one is Galician, which is similar to the Portuguese language. This is spoken in Galicia.
The people of Basque country speak the Basque language, which is entirely different from that of Spanish. Other popular languages are Aragonese and Castellano. But you need to understand that these are all different languages and not dialects of Spanish.
If you want to be treated as a local, then I’d suggest you learn another language depending on the region you live in.
4. Spain is a wine country.
People always assume Spain is a vast wine country, and people spent their days on the beach sipping on Sangrias. This is absolutely a myth. Spain is indeed one of the largest wine-producing countries in the world.
This is more of like a yes and no question. Yes, in terms of production and no in terms of consumption. They have the broadest coverage of vines in the world. And Spain is one of the three top producers in the world.
But in terms of consumption, they are not even in the top twenty of drinkers. Other EU countries like Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Sweden, France- they all drink more wine than Spaniards.
Also, they don’t sit around on beaches sipping on Sangrias. Sangrias are more of a foreigner thing. If you are a tourist and order a Sangria in a bar, immediately everyone will smell the foreigner on you.
5. Spanish food is spicy.
If you are thinking people living in Spain eat spicy food, then you are so wrong. Don’t confuse Spanish food with tasty Mexican food as most people tend to do that. Spanish people do not have spicy tacos or burritos. Their food is incredibly non-spicy. And especially if you are coming from a place where they use a lot of spices, you will find Spanish food extraordinarily bland and boring. They have this natural way of cooking food, where they use Olive oil, water, and salt as spices. Yes! Seriously they don’t even use black pepper.
This feels great once you get habituated to this.
6. Spaniards have incredibly long lunches with wine.
Yes, lunch is the main meal for people living in Spain. So they actually can’t imagine having a sandwich or something light for lunch. They bring Tupperware from home, heat the food, and eat it during the office lunch break.
Though Spanish people indeed get a two-hour lunch break from 2-4 pm, you also have to consider the fact that they work longer hours. However, there is a Spanish tradition called ‘sobremesa’ which usually occurs on weekends.
So what is ‘sobremesa’? So, Spanish families don’t get up from the table after dessert is served. They get their coffee or mixed drinks like Cubata (Rum and coke), sit there, and just talk. It can last for like one hour, two hours.
Sobremesa means upon the table. And it’s a period where lunch might finish at 4 pm ( the actual eating), and you’ll sit there for hours just talking until the sun goes down.
But as mentioned earlier, this is a weekend thing to do with the family. People living in Spain don’t do this every day.
7. Spaniards love Flamenco.
If you thought that there’s a Spanish guitar playing Flamenco music on every corner of the street and everyone is listening to Flamenco, then you are profoundly wrong!
The reality is far different from that. You can almost say that there is an anti-Flamenco attitude among the people living in Spain. It’s not that popular. It is, however, a little bit more popular in the south, like Costa Del Sol, which is where it comes from. More people are into it.
But in cities like Madrid, people don’t favor it that much. They think it’s kind of a traditional backward low-class.
You can go, check out a Flamenco show in Tablao (Barcelona) and you will find other tourists around you. These incredible world-class artists need tourism to survive because the flamenco venues are not filling up with locals.
There’s just not enough fans in Spain. They find the music to be hard on their ears as the rhythms are very different.
8. Spaniards spend their weekend watching bullfights.
This is a myth. Most of the people living in Spain hate bullfighting and are against it.
Bullfighting was banned a few years back, but the UK government re-legalized it. There are a few shows still going on in Madrid, but you won’t get to see any bullfighting in the south of Spain like the Canary Islands.
It is another tradition like Flamenco dancing that will soon disappear because there won’t be enough people to buy tickets and keep them going.
9. Spain is cheap.
There is this impression that the cost of living in Spain is super cheap. When you look at food or wine, then yes! It is cheap. Eating out is more affordable; even wine rates are more economical. But the cities are expensive.
There is this imbalance between rent and salaries. The rent is quite expensive in comparison to what people earn. When you visit Spain on vacation, it might seem cheap as you are just eating and drinking. But living in Spain is expensive as the average wage per year is also low in comparison to other EU countries. Real estate is affordable too.
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10. Spanish people are always late.
Well, people living in Spain are not precisely punctual. But this is something that varies from person to person. But it is indeed a fact that you can be 15 minutes late somewhere and it will not be a big deal as compared to other countries.
11. Spanish people are very passionate.
This is a myth we often hear about living in Spain, but it is indeed valid to some extent.
This is the country of Picasso, of Dali, of Penelope Cruz.
It is valid to some extent that they are warm and easy-going, along with a good heart. Of course, this is a massive generalization. There are people of all kinds in this country.
But I guess Spaniards do have a bit of an open attitude towards someone who approaches them on the street.
People in this country love to talk. Living in Spain, you’d see a lot of open-hearted, warm people. Again these are generalizations. Not every Spaniard you come across is going to be friendly.
But in general, there is an openness, a willingness to have a conversation.
Spain is a beautiful place where you can walk into a bar and start chatting with someone. And it’s true that they might have a lot of struggles going on in the background, but they will often wear it down with a smile.
People will strike up conversations very quickly here. And so I think that easiness does feel like a form of passion. So yes, Spain is passionate in that sense.
So visit Spain, learn a bit of their tongue and engage in a conversation with a local. Trust me, and you are bound to learn a thing or two!
12. Soccer is life.
Yes! This is the most real thing about people living in Spain. Especially when there is a Barcelona-Real Madrid match going on, I’d suggest you keep off the streets! But jokes apart, their energy during a football match is unbelievable. If you are just a visitor or living in Spain and haven’t ever seen a game in a Spanish bar or a stadium, then please see one. The atmosphere is fantastic and full of energy. You won’t regret it.
A few points to remember:
Spain can genuinely be a beautiful place to live in. But there are some other things you need to keep in mind-
- The rent might be cheaper, but you have to spend a lot on utilities like water and electricity.
- The cooking will lack spices and taste bland.
- Some places in Spain can be too hot.
- If you are someone that believes in nothing good ever happens after 2 am, then Spain is not the place for you as people here party loud after midnight.
- But if you become a permanent resident, then you will get health insurance, and healthcare will be free, so that is a big plus point.
- Though the cities are clean, the countryside can be messy.
- Sometimes the people are too relaxed; Sitting in a restaurant, ready to pay the bill? The waiter will at least make you wait for a good 10 minutes.
Regardless of such cases, Spain is one of the best places for tourists that will always welcome you with a warm heart!
What are some of the other myths or truths about living in Spain? Let us know in the comments.