When I came to Spain 4 years ago, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, I just found myself really enjoying life here. I had had fun my first year here, but wasn’t 100% sure of my long-term plans.
Eventually, the questions start to pour in from friends and family.
What are you doing next year?
Are you going to stay again?
How long are you going to stay over there?
Do you think I’ve forgotten about the 100 bucks you owe me?
Eventually, you have to make a decision on whether or not you’re going to stay and for how long. Some people are perfectly OK with their one year in Spain. They saw the places, had fun, got paid, and are ready to go back home. Some need another year to see and do everything they want to see.
But what if you fall into that more long-term category? 3, 4, maybe even 5 years or more?
Below is a list of things that were crucial to making my decision.
1) Ask Yourself if You Really Want to Stay
Moving is always a huge task. Moving to a different country is even a bigger task. Staying in said country is a just a different story. It’s important that you ask yourself many times if staying is something you’re ready to do. How you go about reaching that decision is different for everyone: talking to your best friend, talking with your family, taking moments of solitude, or staring in the mirror repeatedly asking yourself the question. Whatever method suits you is the method you need to use to make sure you’re ready to stay.
Whichever way you lean, make sure you’re 100% sure about it!
2) Have you done the empadronamiento process?
If you’re asking yourself “what does that mean” then you definitely haven’t taken this step. Empadronamiento is officially registering where you live. Think of it like the address on your identity card in your home country. It’s an easy process; all you need is your signed rental contract along with your NIE or passport. You can find the respective office depending on where you live. The appointment itself takes about 5 minutes.
Follow the link here.
Ask Yourself Again if this is Something You Want to Do
Still yes? Good.
Keep Working on your Spanish
This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s crucial to keep trying to master the language of your current host country. Keep learning the off-the-wall phrases, reading the newspaper, watching TV series, and or whatever you do. I started keeping a small “dictionary” on my phone of random phrases or words that would make me sound more like a native. Your push to fluency will only make any matters in Spanish easier to deal with. Speaking of which…
Prepare Yourself for the Legal Journey
If you’ve been in Spain on any kind of visa, you know how unorganized, crazy, and downright insane the legal process can be. Going through the legal process is like stuffing yourself in a child’s seat in the backseat of a 2-door sedan: you can do it but it’s going to be super difficult, uncomfortable, and you may lose some of your sanity.
Getting a work visa takes a lot of work (no pun intended), that of which I won’t outline here, but you can find plenty of guides by scrolling through the Facebook group.
Have a Plan
The easiest path to staying long-term in Spain is through English teaching. But you need to ask yourself if teaching is what you see yourself doing. Becoming an official teacher is a difficult, long process but staying as an auxiliar may not be your dream. What else would you like to do? Maybe you want to keep teaching in an academy, move to translating, or something different. Just remember the unemployment rate in Spain is still quite high and breaking into the perfect job is much easier said than done. Make sure you do your research and figuring out what you want to do! Good luck!
CoverPage: M. Amparo (slideshare.net)