Dreaming of basking on golden beaches in Andalucía, exploring cosmopolitan Barcelona or dining exceptionally well in Basque Country? Have you always wanted to learn Spanish and immerse yourself in a new culture? I wanted it all when I set out to find a way to move to Spain in 2009.
I remember searching the WWW high and low for someone like me, someone who’s been there, done that, whom I could ask questions from like “How did you move abroad?” and “How did you find a job in a different country?”
Before I made the move to Spain, thoughts of pursuing a life abroad consumed me , I knew there had to be a better alternative to signing up to slave away in the corporate world for the rest of my life. And though I didn’t have a guide like this, spelling out my options for me, I did find an opportunity in Spain that would change my life forever.
If you’re interested in moving to Spain, I want to help you.
Here are your options:
Go as an Au Pair
This is how I first came abroad. An Au Pair is a young man or woman (though most families prefer women) who come to live with a family and teach the children English, or whatever their native language may be. It’s a great way to experience living abroad without having to worry about paying for rent or food, as it’s all provided to you. In addition, you’re given a weekly wage that you can use to go out, travel, or however you like.
I signed up for a free account on greataupair.com* and started to communicate with families. After a few months on the site, narrowing down choices and options depending on where in the world the family was located, how many kids, what would be expected of me, etc. I found a family that seemed like a good match and made the move to southern Spain.
*You can also go through an agency, but this requires money on your part.
Apply for the North American Language and Cultural Assistants Program
This is a fantastic way to come to Spain legally with a secure job. I applied to this program in 2010, and though was given a position (in the Balearic islands!) ultimately decided to give it up, as I knew I would get island-fever, and had a good reason to return to Andalucía. Basically, the Spanish government gives out a couple thousand English teaching assistantship positions in Spain to college graduates from North America.
Though getting all of the required paperwork, background checks and visa appointments is a pain in the arse, if you apply early, your chances of getting a spot are pretty good. You’ll work just 12 hours a week for a salary of around 700 eur/month. Not bad, as you’ll find if you budget and teach private classes in your free time, you’ll have enough to get by and even travel a bit. Applications opened in November and though getting placed in the area of Spain you want may be slim, it’s not too late to try.
I am a huge advocate for studying abroad. It was single-handedly the most positive college experience I had, and if you have the opportunity to do so, what’s stopping you? If it’s money, look for scholarships that will help make your study abroad dreams a reality. If you’ve already completed your undergrad—don’t worry! Consider studying for your Master’s degree in Spain. Not only is tuition often cheaper, an international Master’s program always looks great on a resumé.
Get a work-sponsored visa
This is undoubtedly the most difficult way of coming abroad, but if you’re already working for an international company with offices in Spain, your chances of getting a work-sponsored visa may be higher. Also, contact language academies in Spain looking for professors—they may be willing to sponsor you. Do a Google search for “academias de íngles” followed by the city you’re looking to live in.
It’s not easy for someone outside of the European Union to find a way to live and work in Spain, but there are options. Just remember to really research the town/city you’re interested in before making the move—trust me! Or else you could end up in a city like Algeciras, which isn’t exactly straight out of a fairy-tale.