OFW Guide to Living and Working in Spain

History tells us that Philippines was conquered by Spain for more than 300 years. Since then, there’s always a special relationship between the two countries, which lure people to come and visit. By visit, this also means getting a job.

Did you know that despite the “conflict” in Catalonia, Spain is among the favorite destination of expats too compared to France and United Kingdom?

So, what can you see in Spain anyway? Should you decide to give it a try, what are the things you need to know and expect while you’re there?

Read this post to find out.

General Facts

The largest country in Southern Europe, Spain is a secular parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy with separate Heads of State and Government. Its neighboring countries include Portugal, Morocco, and France, as well as near the Mediterranean Sea.

Spain is also strategically located in the Iberian peninsula, which also explains its diversity in flora and fauna. Believe it or not, this diversity is also among the reasons why travelers frequent the country every year.


Spanish, one of the widely spoken language in the world, is the official language in Spain. If you are still struggling, then don’t worry. English is still widely spoken, although it won’t hurt if you take some time to learn Spanish.  There are classes offered in Spain, which you might want to take advantage of. This will make it easier for you to converse and interact with the people. At the same time, you give yourself an edge because you can add another language under your belt.

Nonetheless, it would be different if you will work in Catalonia (yes, where Barcelona is). Catalan is their official language, as evidenced by public signs, public notices, and the language spoken in schools.


This varies per region. Anadalusia in Catalonia is popular for its sandy beaches and warm climate, which makes it easier for you to adjust. Nonetheless, summer is cooler in Spain than in the Philippines, so better bring a jacket.

Work Permit

Apparently, working in Spain, or at least getting a work visa is not as easy as it seems. Your foreign employer should request a work permit on your behalf so that you can legally work there starting with Authorization to Work. There is a higher chance of getting approved if the job you applied for is listed as a Shortage Occupation or there is no one qualified from Spain or anyone from the European Union countries to do the job.

As soon as you are cleared and authorized to work, you can now apply for a work permit along with residence permit. Nonetheless, your employer needs to inform the Ministry of Labor about your employment.

Take note that work permit is good for one year and renewable thereafter.

Identity Card 

This is important. As soon as you arrive in Spain, you must apply for Foreigner’s Identity Card (TIE/NIE) either through local Foreigner’s Office (Oficina den Extranjeros) or local police where you are located. This must be done within 30 days from arrival in Spain. This will allow you to open a bank account, register for social services, pay taxes, and get paid for employment among others.

Spain’s healthcare system is among the best in the world and if you want to get access to that, then make sure you register so you can get your identity card.

Cost of Living 

Believe it or not, Spain is relatively cheaper compared to other EU countries, at least in terms of cost of living. Accommodation, transportation, food, and utilities are more affordable, which means you could be able to send more back home (but don’t give everything to them). Still, it is best to share expenses with someone so you don’t have to carry all the burden.


Working in Spain allows you to immerse in their rich culture and architecture, especially if you will be based in Barcelona. Nonetheless, be prepared to go sightseeing during your off days, indulge in authentic Spanish food such as tapas and paella, visit museums, or watch a concert. Make time to visit festivals since Spain is known for that. After all, you also deserve a break.

Apparently, Spanish take siesta seriously, with some establishments even closing their stores. This is important for them because work-life balance is something Spanish people are proud of. This could mean downtime too, so make sure you make the most out of your time by, say getting a sideline.

Are your bags packed and ready to go?

Leave a Reply

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