Moving to Spain? My experience written for you


malaga, spain

Spain is one of the most visited countries in Europe, especially during the summer holidays and  It is also one of the favourite destinations to move abroad because of obvious reasons such as the wonderful temperatures all year round, its vibrant and lively culture, famous gastronomy, to name a few.

When I moved to Spain from Ecuador I was unaware of all those nice features as I was a young teenager looking for adventure and an easy life. Things were easy for me because I had a blood relative in Spain and I was going to live with her.

Nonetheless, I wish I knew certain things before making the move, only because you can enjoy more the place you have decided to move to, and locals always appreciate the effort you put to integrate yourself with them.

Here a list of 5 things I recommend before you move to Spain:


–          The jargon and different local dialects

When you just have arrived in Spain, whatever the region you are in, there is a lot of jargon to learn, it can be confusing and overwhelming at the beginning because even if your first language is Spanish as it was for me, sometimes I felt I could not understand what others were saying, practice makes masters, with time and patience there will not be jargon that can’t resist you I promise!


In Catalunya, where I was living for almost 2 years, locals speak standard Spanish but mostly Catalan but even when they were talking I did not hear any strange words or particular jargon except for the accent, well I did not know any Catalan word so maybe that is why I could not distinguish jargon from normal words,  hehe  ?.

In contrast, when I moved to Malaga, South of Spain, I found very challenging to understand certain words from the locals for a series of factors:

  • The speed of talking: in Andalucía, people speak quite fast, in a matter of seconds they have said to you several tons but I could only get one or two most of the times, yeah! Even if it sounds weird, and although, my mother tongue was also Spanish, the speed is quite fast but no worries, the more you interact with locals the more your ear masters the art of the “Andaluz talking”
  • Local jargon: everywhere has its own jargon or words and that is what makes Andalucía a wonderful place to live as you realize that a language is beyond learning the basics but understanding how locals talk to each other and to be like a local culture you must learn the “jargon”.
  • At the end of this article, I will post a **list of few words that will help you if you move to Malaga and I found amusing to learn.

–          The wonderful climate ( but I am pretty sure you already know this!)

 When you come from a tropical hot country like me, Ecuador, believe me, that Spain seems to be cold especially the north (Barcelona region), but now that I have lived in England for over 5 years I have realized that I underestimated Spain’s weather

so a big NO is not cold!

Spain is far from cold and even writing this makes me laugh…..!

Obviously, the north will be much colder than the south but in general, terms comparing Spain with the UK, Spain is a warmer country depending on the region you are moving to.


In Malaga, winter temperatures are between **17-18°C, very mild winters and long summers from the end of April until late November. Below you will find a link of the Tourism office of Malaga that has interesting and useful information if you are planning on visit this amazing city.


Who doesn’t want to live in Spain with this fantastic weather???


–          The immigration process and Bureaucracy to be a “legal resident”

 This is the biggest issued that I met when I moved to Spain initially since I was coming from outside the EU and there weren’t any regulations about “how” to become a “legal” Spanish citizen so I did not know what to do.

Finally, after 2 years of living in Spain, the government launched a programme or amnesty to legalize all expats through their current employer.   The employer was held responsible for signing all the necessary paperwork and would issue the employee with a contract.

I was lucky enough to convince my employer,  of doing this and she accepted.

When I got my first permit residence was such a relief!

I was very overwhelmed for this reason and limited to work only in roles not well paid such as babysitting.

Normally to become a Spanish resident is a hard, lengthy process but again I am talking from my experience and perhaps things have become easier for people moving in the last 5 years, it also depends on which country you are coming from.

I can’t advise you more than offering my personal experience. The best place to start is by asking about residence requirements at the National Police offices in Malaga or your consulate before you move there so that you can bring all the necessary documentation with you.


As you can see not all was hunky dory but with effort and patience I got my Spanish citizenship and here I am! moved to the UK 5 years ago due to work opportunities but always missing the marvellous, beautiful city of Malaga

–   The work culture 

Depending on the season and multiple factors you can find roles in the Tourism and Hospitality sector all year round, besides, the work culture is very laid back in Spain, the normal schedule is to work in the mornings until 2 pm and then come back to work at 5.30 if you work in the Hospitality or retail sector.

I used to work in a variety of restaurants in the city centre where I met a lot of interesting people and even could improve my English before coming to the UK, so worth a try to make friends quicker, even if you don’t know Spanish it would be a good start, that’s my advice.

During the time, I was living in Malaga I met lots of foreigners doing freelance work, so they worked in various fields such as IT or translation, personally, I found this sort of work is perfect to live in a city like Malaga as the city doesn’t have a wide variety of Industries, working from your laptop can pay very well if you have skills to do so considering that Malaga is not yet an expensive city to live in.


–           The cultural differences between North and South Spain (openness, food, traditions)

It is well known that the south of Spain is more laid back than the north in everything, the north of Spain is more conservative and not as much as friendly than the south, not that I want to offend anyone from the north though but that was my impression whilst living in a small town near Barcelona.

In Malaga people usually greet you and treat you as a friend from the beginning, and even greet you with kisses on both cheeks, which I found quite sweet and cute!


The food is also unique in both regions, for example a traditional pasta based dish in Catalunya is the “Fideua” while in Malaga to be exact has “Espetos” which are small fishes on a stick grilled outdoors on a boat at the beach. There is a wide range of gastronomy in the south and in the north but they are both very different from each other.


If I were told this before going to Spain, perhaps, I would have chosen to move to the South sooner to be honest and would have appreciated more my experience in the north, but I am glad that I can write about my experience and share it with you all and hope you find it useful and valuable.

Have you ever been to Spain?

What were your most and least likes during your visit?

Do you think you can share your experience with us?

Any Spanish slang words you learnt? Would love to learn more slang so please SHARE!!!


**List of words I still remember and found amusing 🙂 :

– Pecha: a lot of something, for example: I have eaten a lot >pecha

– Quillo/a: Used as a way of saying hello to a friend, normally a person you would know well, don’t say it to your boss or you might get told off!! For example: Hi what’s up quillo? (for a male friend) quilla (for female friends)

– Guarro/a: an insult or to refer to someone when they have not shower or look dirty, you will hear it also among friends as an informal and light way of insult, be careful to not say it to someone you have just met coz it can be very offensive depending on the context.

-Mijilla: a bit of something, normally when eating a meal, Spaniards would say that they want just a bit, for example of rice, or a bit of soup. For example: I want to try your pudding but only *mijilla

-Guarrito: This term is used in situations that is required a tool to fix something that has been broken or needs fixation, so for example, if there is a leaking pipe in the kitchen you may hear “I need the “guarrito”


The photo above: Views of Malaga city, last summer 2016.


** Malaga Turismo has great advice about Malaga



3 thoughts on “Moving to Spain? My experience written for you”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *