Spain, one of the best places in the world to live.
Its one of best places in the world to move too, officially!!
HSBC bank has been doing a survey for 12 years entitled the Expat survey where they assess various places, under different headings and interview people who have moved there to find the best countries in the world to live in.
You ́d expect Singapore, Switzerland and New Zealand to continue to do well but this year, in at number 4 is Spain!
That puts it ahead of the UK, France, the US and 28 other countries to live, work and raise a family!
It would surely have been number 1 except for the fact that it scored rock bottom of the list in terms of corporate culture. You can’t move to Spain to climb some imaginary corporate ladder it appears and a giant bank really knocked us down the rating for that factor. (the very reason many of us are here is to not climb a corporate ladder!!)
Spain hit the top three in regards to;
- Best places to live.
- Best places for kids to learn.
- Best places for kids to make friends.
- Easy of setting in.
- Work life balance.
- Mental wellbeing.
Is it time you made a move to Spain?
Spain is one of the most popular countries in Europe to visit.
We all know how popular this beautiful country really is. It’s Europe’s most visited country and only matched by the USA in terms of yearly tourist numbers.
Every year the HSBC, banking giant, run a massive survey of expatriates. They are trying to find the best and worst countries in the world to live in.
Top of the heap are: Singapore, New Zealand and Switzerland. All top three countries are again featured in the overall list of best places to be.
Coming fourth, a surprise its not higher, in best places to live in the world is: Spain.
Where to start while promoting life in Spain?
Around 80 million holiday-makers visit Spain each year. We brag about 320 days of sunshine, the long white sandy beaches, ease of getting here, political stability (even though we do not currently have two political parties who are speaking to each other), safety and a feeling of wellness. Expats in Spain report feeling better in both body and mind. HSBC say that expats in Spain are the most likely out of any country in the world to say their mental wellbeing has improved because they moved there.
Spain doesn’t receive the same plaudits from HSBC for career progression as London or Paris but it more than makes up for it when you factor the relaxed pace of life here, sunshine and lack of stress.
Expats living in Spain are officially happier. They as well as this, are mentally and physically healthier. The surroundings are quite nice too; the air is clean, the water is good, the food is tasty and good for you. People live longer when they are in this sort of environment!
Here is a comparison of some of the areas measured by this mammoth survey:
Quality of life:
Aspects that contribute to make the quality of life so sought after in Spain include the culture, the people and the welcome you receive. The Spanish enjoy mingling and interacting with the expats, especially the ones who try to integrate in their society. They will maybe never quite understand the Irish pub or Fish and Chip restaurant phenomenon but they do like to see us enjoy their music, fiestas and even their football.
If you come to Spain wanting a Spanish feel- it’s here for you to enjoy. Switzerland ranks top dog in Europe as the best place to move to but on this particular aspect they are way below the Spanish.
Cultural, open and welcoming communities
Where Spain allegedly “falls behind”.
HSBC said that the lack of national, Governmental and corporate jobs in Spain is a negative and means so many expats go into business for themselves. We love this fact. It does not suit those surveyed though. (Its a bank, they like corporate structures!)
If you are looking for a career in an accountancy office or the local council, Spain is not the place to be. However, so many people coming to Spain are not here to progress up the ladder in the bank, or climb the office hierarchy. We help our buyers and clients to open small and medium sized businesses in Spain. On the Costa Blanca since 2005 we have probably opened 500 businesses- Hairdressers, wine/leather/gift exporters, estate agents, Spanish rental agents, mechanics, accountants, painters, builders, plumbers, tech specialist, bloggers, designers, teachers, bars and restaurants, shops and stores and so much more. These people could perhaps earn more by staying at home, working at the coalface for the best years of their lives, but at what cost? Most have chosen a different life in Spain- a life of balance!
We often tell people: Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. I think maybe it applies here!! Who wants to win “worker of the year”?
This is where we want to be , bottom of the stupid game list!!
What if you are not looking for a career?
According to the bank, work life balance quickly improves for those that move to the Costa Blanca and other hotspots (pun intended) in Spain.
Time can be saved in so many ways, if you are not competing with the neighbours. This found time can be spent in different ways. With extra time, you can go to the beach, practice yoga and play golf instead.
Ireland for example is way ahead in terms of income yet only two places ahead regarding disposable income. That means you can work hard in Ireland, earn very good wages, yet at the end of the year after tax and living expenses, you are pretty much the same financially as if you lived in Spain. The big difference is in the health, mental health and family life people experience in Spain.
HSBC also left out fun aspects of living in Spain from the survey- beaches, golf, outdoor living etc as it just wouldn’t be fair to compare Spain to smokey China.
These are the rankings of Spain versus a few other sampled countries in this vital aspect.
Work life balance.
What about moving to Spain and accommodation?
Accommodation in Spain.
A huge negative in a city like Dublin or New York is the lack of affordable housing.
After years of being in the real estate doldrums, Spain’s property market is recovering, quite dramatically. While it is still possible to get a two bedroom apartment on the Costa Blanca for 100,000 euro, that situation may soon change. There are still plenty of apartments and houses available at low price, but the stock is reducing. Expats traditionally prefer to buy property in Spain, rather than rent.
If you are of that way of thinking and want to buy a property in Spain, just like us, HSBC advise you:
- to do your research
- get the help of a reputable lawyer (Thanks HSBC, we agree!)
- and use a competent building surveyor. Spanish Solutions work with Antonio Martinez Rosique, Technical architect, from Pilar De la Horadada.
The purchase process itself in Spain is quick and easy once you have a team like Spanish Solutions on your side.
We help you open your bank accounts, (usually not in HSBC, sorry!), make sure the house is habitable, get the bills in your name etc. Here is a ranking of a few countries on ease of settling in:
Ease of settling in:
For the kids in Spain;
Some people with young families that we know have come to Spain and integrated immediately. Education is excellent, free and compulsory for children aged between 6 and 16. The school year runs from the middle of September to the end of June. Although the summer camps in school cover most of the weeks in July and in some places August. Often subsidised by the town halls, kids play, sing, learn and develop while not even being in a classroom.
Spain’s public schools have a very good standard and are generally free for expats. There is a wide range of semi-private, private and international schools too in most areas.
There is a good choice of international schools in particular around the Costa Blanca due to the high number of foreigners here. Most of these schools like Castelar in San Pedro del Pinatar follow the British curriculum. Also, there are some that follow the American curriculum and the International Baccalaureate, closer to army bases and in the larger cities. (like Valencia) Fees in these schools are usually high and perhaps the children miss out on some of the Spanish culture by attending here? Clients of ours who have gone through the Spanish system have easily found third level places back in the UK and their own home countries.
Where does Spain rank in terms of actual learning?
That’s not all though in terms of “education” for the children of expats in Spain. Sports play a very important role in Spain. Many sporting activities are subsidised by the government due to their importance in Spanish life. The sporting standards on the Costa Blanca (where our children live) are high- not just the standard of play, but the coaching and facilities are better than in most European countries.
The sports are very encompassing and varied. This helps children to find a sport they are good at and one that helps them to settle into Spain with new friends. Comparing this we find that friendship is a big success for the children in Spain.
Making little friends;
United States 28th
Conclusion of the HSBC survey.
British, Scandinavian, Belgian, French and Irish expats are moving to Spain in greater numbers and reaping the rewards!
For new residents of Spain, seeking an improvement to their quality of life, they are winning. Foreigners in Spain report improvements to both physical and mental wellbeing. They play more sports, do more exercise and feel better internally while looking better externally.
Those who work in Spain enjoy later start times and leisurely, (sometimes quite refreshing) lunch breaks. This can get annoying if you are in line at the bank when they suddenly pull the shutters down, but you get used to it. (or better still just ask the girls in Spanish Solutions to deal with the banks for you!!)
Feel good factor is higher in Spain, I think this is the biggest takeaway from the HSBC survey.
Here is where Spain ranks in the area of wellbeing.
Physical & mental wellbeing
We think that we can sacrifice a few home comforts and a 70 hour week, to enjoy living here in Spain!!
Please check out the full HSBC survey here.
Thanks to the people there for doing this every year and helping our clients to decide that Spain is the place for them.
We are confident that if someone is thinking of moving abroad for a new adventure, Spain is the place to be. If you make that decision , we the law office they you to talk to is: Spanish Solutions!