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So, You Wanna Live in Spain? Here’s How.

Salamanca, Spain

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* 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 Algeciras. :) Basically, the Spanish government gives out a couple thousand English teaching assistantship positions throughout 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.

Study Abroad

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.

¡Buena suerte!


I'm Christine, a native Seattleite and current expatriate in southern Spain. I blog about living abroad, food, travel, and always encourage taking the unconventional path.

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My Spain Bucket List
Travel to Every Region in Spain
Semana Santa in Sevilla
Carnival in Las Canarias
NYE in Madrid
La Tomatina Festival
Hike the Camino de Santiago
Go to a Sidrería in Basque Country
Island-hop the Balearics in Summer
Las Fallas in Valencia
Pamplona Running of the Bulls

My Recent Snapshots

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