Ex-Pats and Spain

By Laurence Lemoine

Translated by Nesh  Brzeska

Spain in the top 10 most enjoyable countries to live in for expats!

According to InterNations, Spain features as one of the top 10 countries in the world offering the best quality of life for expats.  It moved up to number 4 from being ranked 14 in 2016.

Such was the end result of the annual survey ‘Expat Insider’ organized by InterNations, where nearly 13,000 expats living and working abroad participated in the poll.  The survey examined 65 countries and looked at factors such as quality of life, personal expenses, employment, family life and the ease of integration.

Placed higher than Spain, which occupies 10th place in this ranking, we find Bahrein in the first position, followed by Costa Rica, Mexico, Taiwan, Portugal, New Zealand, Malta, Columbia and Singapore. Looking at all countries, the survey demonstrates that the main motivation for families to move abroad is work related, but also to join a spouse living abroad:  29% of people taking part in the survey indicated that they are moving permanently.

One of the main reasons the expat community enjoys living in Spain is the weather and the low cost of living.  82% of those interviewed are not only satisfied with the prices in Spain in general, but also find them quite low in comparison to their country of origin.  In regard to the first criterion being the quality of life, Spain is classified 3rd in the general ranking. This high position is due to the high number of leisure activities available to the expat community.  Within the same category, Spain ranks 6th in personal happiness, 12th in the transportation and health department, but only 25th in regard to security.

In addition, they emphasise the quality of family life in Spain:  91% of parents are attracted by the Spanish view on family values and their approach to children.

What foreign families appreciate the most is the accessibility to education and its cost, as well as baby sitting services.  Spain ranks in the top 10 countries in the world in this domain.

Social integration:

Over half of the expat community arriving in Spain (52%) state that it was easy to create friendships with the local population.  Spain is in 6th place in terms of welcoming expats and 17th in terms of friendliness.  Over ¾ of those who answered the survey said that it’s easy to settle down here and even state that they feel at home (77%).

Areas to improve in:

Spain however does have some room for improvement, according to the poll.  The main problem for the expat community is the job market and the economic situation. Once settled, almost 4 people out of 10 (39%) see the economic situation as negative. Therefore, Spain’s ranking plunges when it comes to the professional life, placed 52nd and 47th in terms of employment possibilities. Spain ranks 36th when looking into professional and quality of life criteria combined, and 51st when talking solely about career opportunities. The expat community regrets not having job offers and professional opportunities, quite elevated unemployment rates and low salaries.  These issues lead the expat community to worry about their reduced pension prospects.

For these reasons, Spain is placed in the worst 15 destinations.  It’s the fourth consecutive year that Spain occupies one of the lowest ranking positions in terms of employment and job opportunities.

3 out of 10 people (32%) hesitate to pursue their career in Spain, and 28% worry about their employment.

It’s important to note, that the majority of foreigners settling down in Spain choose to do so after their professional careers are over, as according to the report, 24% of the expat community in Spain is retired.

It is also important to note that the term ‘expat’ has changed its meaning compared to the former definition of the word, where the expat status provided certain economic advantages.  Nowadays, the majority of foreigners living here work for themselves, have online businesses and travel.  We call them ROAMERS, which comes from the word roaming, being a nomad, and it’s not sure that this new generation of expats will choose Spain as their retirement country, as there are many tempting possibilities elsewhere.


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