Life Lately + Your Questions, Answered!

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After a long, wet winter, spring has been welcomed with open arms here in Basque Country. The city feels alive: people are out on terraces sipping wine (even though the rain truly stops no one here!), the region is greener than ever, daylight until 9:30PM! This week, however, as the rest of Spain is enjoying a heat wave, we’re being pounded by rain, wind and chilliness. Ugh! There’s certainly a price to pay for so much pretty greenery, but I digress.

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In some fun news, Travel + Leisure featured my Instagram shot of the Bilbao skyline on their feed! They curate the best travel shots from Instagram – WARNING – it will feed your wanderlust big time!

Upcoming

Next weekend, I’ll be returning to one of my favorite cities in all of Spain, Granada. Every time I go back, I’m just as in awe as my first magical trip there. If you’ve ever been, you’ll know what I mean. If you haven’t, then let me just say that there is something about Granada. I’m beyond excited to go back, eat Andalusian food, see old friends, and gaze up at the beautiful Alhambra.

New Series: Your Questions, Answered

Without further ado, I’ve decided to start a new series where I answer your questions. I’m often emailed and asked for advice about traveling to Spain, living in Spain, places to go, things to do, etc. and I thought it would be helpful to readers to answer the questions publicly here.

I’m planning to move to Spain at the end of this year for 6 months to a year. It would be my first time ever leaving for a great length of time and so far away (born and raised Canadian). I was just wondering, what’s the best place for me to start out in? I’d be going with my friend so I wouldn’t be all alone, also is finding a job hard, I’d get a working visa, and places to rent? Should I have these all set up before I leave, and how much should I have in my savings to go? Thanks Bunches, N

Hola N! Since you’re not an EU resident, legally you can’t live in Spain or the Schengen Union for more than 3 months at a time. Getting a working visa is possible, but certainly not an easy task. For a list of your Spain residency options, check out this link at SpainGuru. 

As for where to start, it really depends on what you are looking for since Spain is such a diverse country. I would recommend a mid-sized city that isn’t so big that it’s overwhelming, but big enough to offer a little of everything. Also, you’ll want to take into account your budget. The south of Spain has a significantly cheaper cost of living than the Basque Country, Madrid, and Barcelona. Como Consulting Spain has an extensive list of the cost of living in various cities in Spain to give you an informed idea of what to budget. Personally, I would go somewhere cheap like Granada, that has an amazing nightlife, and free tapas!

As for work, finding a job teaching English is not hard, they’re a dime a dozen, however finding a company to legally sponsor you will be extremely difficult and time-consuming. I know this sounds discouraging, but if you plan ahead, it is possible to live in Spain, even as a non-EU resident. There are lots of teaching programs in Spain that offer visas to non-EU residents

I do not recommend that you set up everything in advance, with one exception. I’ve partnered with Spot a Home, a website that personally inspects houses and apartments for rent, that have people like you in mind, who prefer to organize their living situation beforehand. The listings offer photos, video tours, floor plans and the option to book directly online. They’re currently in 5 Spanish cities: Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Granada and Valencia. You can search directly from my blog by going to the Accommodation in Spain drop-down menu.

Lastly, for savings, bring enough for the first two months. Will you be staying in a hostel, or will you be renting an apartment? Do you plan to travel around Spain, and how often? How often do you plan to eat meals out? How often do you plan to go out at nights to bars and clubs? All of these expenses add up quickly. I would budget about 1,000 EUR per month to pay for a shared apartment, some meals out, and a bit of travel.

¡Buena Suerte!

Hi Christine! You have an amazing blog! Reading your posts makes me very excited about my upcoming trip to Spain. I was hoping to get some tips on things to check out, where to eat, what to wear, etc. My husband and I will be traveling June 3 – June 15. We’ll be going to Barcelona (4 days), Madrid (2 days) and San Sebastian (3 days). Any advice is much appreciated. Thanks! C

Hola C! 

Sounds like a fun Spain trip you have planned! I’ll try to quickly break down some tips for each city.

Barcelona

See: La Boquería Market, La Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, Gaudi’s masterpieces scattered throughout the city, the waterfront, the Gothic quarter, Parc del Laberint d’Horta, the Picasso Museum.

Do: Explore the city, but also head out to some of the gorgeous seaside towns nearby like Sitges, or to the mountains of Montserrat.

Wear: Light layers, dresses, sandals. June is a perfect time to visit Barcelona because the heat isn’t sweltering yet, but it’s still warm enough to head to the beach.

Madrid

See: The Royal Palace, The Golden Triangle of Art (Prado, Thyssen, Reina Sofía), Retiro Park, rooftop bars, Plaza Mayor, Plaza de Cibeles, Mercado San Miguel, Palacio de Cristal, Plaza de la Villa, Templo de Debod.

Do: Madrid Food Tour

Wear: Clothes for warm weather. June is usually hot and dry – rain could strike, though it’s pretty safe to say it won’t. Temps are usually in the high 70’s and low 80’s.

San Sebastián

See: The beaches: La Concha, Ondarreta, Zuriola, Mount Urgull for sweeping views of the city, Peine de l Viento at the end of Ondarreta, Mount Igueldo for more beautiful views, the gardens of Miramar Palace, the Gros neighborhood, Mercado la Bretxa.

Do: Pintxos in la Parte Vieja, dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant (Mugaritz, Akelarre, Arzak, Martín Berasategui), sunbathe on the beach, walk through the “Romantic Area” of the city for Belle Epoque architecture.

Wear: Since this is the Basque Country, the weather could go either way. You may be blessed with hot, gorgeous sunshine, or be stuck in downpours, so prepare for both! Since you’ll bring clothes for warm weather in Madrid and Barcelona, be sure to also bring some jeans, a pair of rain boots, and a jacket for northern Spain. 

Hope you have a wonderful time in Spain! ¡Buen viaje!

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