Spain is a world famous destination for tourists seeking sun, good food and culture. But there’s room for more than sunburned tourists wearing flipflops and socks. Are you a remote worker considering your next move? If so, then I strongly recommend putting Spain at the top of your list. Why? Here are five reasons:
Spain’s hangover from the good ol’ days have left Spaniards with crippling public debt and a high unemployment rate (although it’s been decreasing over the past few years). But it has also left them with some of the best infrastructure on the entire continent.
Spain’s 4 main airports (Madrid, Barcelona, Palma, Malaga) have direct flights to virtually everywhere in the world, and more than 230 million travelers pass through these airports every year. If you prefer trains, Spain is home to the 4th fastest train in the world. The AVE, whose highest speed reaches 310 km/h, runs from Madrid to Barcelona (659km) in just two hours and thirty minutes. And if you drive, you can get from Barcelona to the southernmost point in Spain (about 1,100km away) in just 11 hours. Beware of the toll roads in Catalonia, though!
2- Workforce availability
Are you looking to set up shop in Spain? If so, then this paragraph is tailor-made for you. As we mentioned before, the economic crisis Spain suffered over the past few years, has left them with a lot of people (many of them, highly skilled workers) with nothing to do but send out resumes and look for one-way flights out of the country.
Some of them never left though. Instead, they either entered a loophole of endless unpaid internships or are working at jobs which they are way overqualified for. As you can imagine, there’s a huge pool of potential candidates at your doorstep. Do not forget about those who left to work abroad and are dying to go back to their homeland. These people also come with an extra bonus – their work experience in much more dynamic economies.
3- Cost of living
In comparison, Spain is much more affordable than their western European peers. Even with the vast amount of tourists, prices haven’t reached the levels of Paris or London, except for some extremely touristy places like Ibiza.
Let’s throw some numbers out there. According to Expatistan, both Madrid and Barcelona are 31% cheaper than Paris, 42% cheaper than London and 26% cheaper than Amsterdam. Now, if you get out of the main cities and move to places like Sevilla (43%,52% and 39% cheaper respectively), Malaga (45%, 54% and 41%) or Tenerife (41%, 51%, 37%) your costs will go down significantly, while your quality of life goes up exponentially.
A glass of wine at a restaurant costs less than an individual bottle of water. You can easily find a caña glass of beer for 1 EUR, and there are some places where you can even get a glass of tap beer for 0.5 EUR! Seriously, who can beat that?
Digital Nomads usually claim that south east Asia is the best place for remote workers, but there’s one big problem they all find: timezone issues. If your team or customers are located in Europe or North/South America, it’s very likely you’ll have to work or have calls at weird times.
While in Spain, you share the same timezone with the rest of Europe, and are 5-6 hours away from US Eastern time. But also, if you happen to do business with Asia, you will also share a small part of their business hours.
Example: While my team is located in Singapore, most of the customers and partners I talk to are based in the US and Canada. When I am in Spain, I can talk to my Singapore-based team from 8-11am as they are wrapping up with their work day, and then talk to my US customers after 3 pm.
Working remotely from Spain also has its advantages in terms of schedule: If you work on a (similar to) 9-5 schedule and you move to Spain, your days will get significantly longer. Let me explain:
Except for breakfast, Spaniards eat every meal of the day significantly later than their European peers. This is how a typical Spanish day looks like:
7~8am – Breakfast
~12pm (noon) – Aperitivo(snack)/2nd breakfast
~2-3pm – Lunch
~6-7pm – Merienda (snack)
~9-10pm – Dinner
And don’t forget about the siesta, when pretty much every store/bank/institution is closed from roughly 2-5pm before they open again. That means that if you finish work by 5, your day is basically just getting started! There’s still so much to do.
Also keep in mind that since Spain doesn’t use its actual timezone (it should share UK & Portugal’s timezone) it has one more hour of daylight, which means that sunset happens later in the day = longer days. Forget about commuting back and forth from your coworking space in the dark during wintertime!
5- Culture, sights and food
There’s a saying in Spain that goes “In many countries, people live to work, but in Spain we work to live.”
Life is not all about work, and Spaniards know that. Spain’s climate, rich culture and sights make it an incredibly famous tourist destination. Spain is the third most visited country in the world after the US and France, with more than 75 million international tourists coming every year.
Spanish cuisine is world-famous, and the home of paella, Spanish tortilla (tortilla de patatas), Iberian ham and fried fish to name a few. To be fully honest, you won’t find much variety of international food in Spain unless you are in a big city, but don’t worry: Spanish chefs got your stomach covered.
Spain is more than Barcelona, Madrid and Ibiza, yet 95% of the travelers I’ve met around the world have only visited one (maybe two) of these places. Cordoba, Granada, Toledo or Santiago to name a few. Want to dig deeper? Albarracin, Ronda, Vejer de la Frontera, Morella, Santillana, Mijas.
And don’t forget about the sun! Spain enjoys well over 2,500 hours of sunshine per year, significantly more than their neighbors in Italy or France.