Living and working in Spain is something that many people dream of but at the end of the day, a reoccurring theme always pops up.
I don’t really want to teach English… I’d rather be working a “real job”.
Whether you’re just starting the research process on moving to Spain or you’ve already been here for a few years, odds are, you’ll want to transition into a different job, ideally working with a Spanish or International company.
Many think that for Americans, this is just a pipe dream that can only come true if you marry a European but I’m happy to tell you it’s not true. Granted, it might take a bit more time and effort, but it will be worth it in the end.
When I first moved back to Spain in 2014, I had a goal in mind to stay long term and eventually transition out of teaching to either become a freelancer or to be hired by a company, on my own terms. Fast forward three years later and I’ve done just that. Now, it’s time to share the wealth.
We’re going to go over 5 key factors when thinking about moving to Spain for the long run and getting the job you’ve always dreamed of.
Be Patient With The Process
I’ll be completely honest with you. Majority of the time, your mindset will be one of your biggest assets. It’s important to realize that the odds of you moving to Spain and getting hired isn’t going to happen in your first few months or the first year and despite popular belief, it’s for the best.
Most likely, you’ll move to Spain teaching English through one of these programs even though it’s not what you went to college for or what you were doing before you decided to take the leap but understand that it is okay.
You moved to Spain because you wanted to live more, to experience new cultures, to learn different languages and to creating a fulfilling life. Teaching English is your way to do that and to live a sustainable life.
We live in a time where we’re used to instant gratification and getting what we want, when we want it but if you’re serious about staying long term, you’ll come to terms with teaching for a few years and put in the work during that time to getting where you want to be down the road.
Learn The Legal Business
Here’s the thing. More often than not, there is a 3 year turnaround time living in Spain before you’ll be considered as a potential hire for International and Spanish companies because you need to get your visa situation sorted out.
Most English teachers come over on a student visa and get a TIE upon arrival that is renewable each year with your new contract. But here’s the thing. If you’re thinking long term, there are a lot of other things you’ll need to keep in mind for when you’re ready to make the professional switch down the line.
You’ll need to get empadronado as soon as you can, make sure you keep legal papers and receipts, not travel out of the Schengen Zone for more than 120 days in the three years (if you're applying for cuenta ajena arraigo social).
Seems like a lot right?
Well, I assure you, it’s not that overwhelming if you do your research from the beginning.
Spain Guru is an amazing starting point if you want to learn more about what types of visas are available for Americans, how to modify your current visa and how to work with your current situation to legally stay in Spain long term.
Immerse Yourself in the Culture
You want to stay in Spain long term; the best way to make roots is by actually immersing yourself in your local community and the Spanish culture. When arriving at Murcia, Spain three years ago, I had two options.
I could have said, where the hell am I? This is not what I signed up for. Or this is an amazing new experience and I’m going to make the most of where I’m at.
Due to the fact that I am still here and happy as a clam, I’m sure you can guess which option I took. You see, going back to mindset. When settling down in your new city, make a conscious effort to get to know the locals, the customs and really become a part of the community where you’re at.
Not only will that allow you to get a better sense of this country you’re trying to call home, but it will also allow for you to learn about how you can best contribute as someone who comes from a different place with different perspectives and points of view.
During your downtime, make the most of your surroundings and it will make you even that much more of a professional asset because you’ll be able to cross-cultures and knowledge.
Be Intentional With Your Passion Projects
Living in Spain does not, I repeat it does not, need to be thought of as a transition period or what you do before going back to the States to start “real life”.
Instead, your first few years abroad can be capitalized by diving into all of the projects, ideas or passions that you’ve always had but never had the time or energy to actually do.
Working in Spain will give you a lot more free time than what you’re used to and that can go one of two ways but I urge you to make the most of it!
Use your time to do meaningful work and grow in different ways. You’ll see how it pays off while still only having to commit 12-16 hours a week to make a sustainable salary.
Getting LMDES off the ground during my first few months here in Spain has changed my trajectory in ways that I could have never imagined. It’s opened up endless doors, relationships and other professional opportunities and it’s because I chose to make the most of my down time.
If you use your years teaching English to work on other things you love, you’ll be walking through life with a sense of purpose and stability.
Making Meaningful Relationships
Remember back in the day the argument about what was more important, who you know or what you know? Well, I’m here to be honest with you and say that the answer is both.
It’s about who you know, that knows, what you know.
Tongue twister, right? But really…
Connections and meaningful relationships are more important than ever these days. The job offer that I got didn’t come from an online forum or international posting but it came from someone who knows me and the work that I do personally. And here’s the kicker… I wasn’t even searching.
But that’s what happens when you make meaningful relationships with those around you and you invest in others.
Living abroad, it’s easy for many people to only hang out with other expats or spend a lot of energy in situationships that they aren’t really invested in, but when you make the choice to meet like-minded people and invest in those relationships (without wanting anything from them) it can open up doors that you would have never imagined.
So, these are five things to start thinking about when creating your life plan in Spain and figuring out how to transition into that job you truly want. I’d love to hear about your situation below!
Just got to Spain and want to make sure you have all your legal business in order? Our Admin guide has everything you need to know!
Sienna Brown is the founder of Las Morenas de España. From New York to Murcia, Spain, she is constantly on a journey to inspire and be inspired while engaging in different methods of creation. Her passion for learning about others leads her towards constant exploration and practicing the art of listening as much as she can. See more of her work here and follow her adventures on instagram.