Boasting 4.5 million foreign born residents, what is it about Spain that makes it a no-questions-necessary destination to migrate to? With its varying landscape – from the picturesque beaches of the south to the fairy-tale mountains of the north – the sun, sea and sangria are not the only joys of Spanish life that the country has to offer.
Nobody can argue against the delights of freshly prepared paella or a siesta on the porch, but an attractive quality of Spanish life (particularly for families) are the strong familial ties. For the majority of Spanish families, celebrations such as Dia de los Reyes Magos (Three Kings Day) and Nochevieja (New Year’s Eve) are started with customary family dinners that evolve into parties throughout the evening. Sunday is also highly regarded as a family day and a meal will be prepared and enjoyed round a table. Many expats in Spain, despite professional success at work and other accolades, regard their greatest achievement as their family.
A favoured cliché in life is that it’s the little things that count and no country lives truer to this motto than Spain. Spanish natives revel in the joy of their first sip of coffee in the mornings and are naturally inclined to greet everybody they encounter during their days. The simple pleasures of life are truly enjoyed in Spain and this simplistic happiness has trickled into the veins of expats, enabling them, even in the hustle and bustle of capital Madrid, to take a step back and appreciate the sun on their face.
As if the relaxed nature of Spain as a country, teamed with a fresh Mediterranean diet and a strong sense of family weren’t enough, Spain plays host to a universal healthcare system. According to a Eurostat study published in 2015, Spain holds the top spot for life expectancy in Europe.
Expats in Spain often find themselves ditching their planners and calendars and approach their new lives with less regimented structure. Most evenings friends meet up to tomar algo (have a drink) after dinner and it is much less about the drink itself and more about connecting with those you love. Spain has a sense of friendliness and there is little divide between expats and locals, often merging together to enjoy long lunches or simple walks.
A real cultural clincher for families with children is that in Spain, life doesn’t end after 40. More often than not, terraces and patios of bars with be adorned with senior citizens to babies in prams. Life becomes less about the dirty plates in the sink or the bills that need paying and transpires into days of enjoying food, family and friends.