Spain is well known, among other things, for its excellent quality of life, the open-minded character of its people and the wealth of opportunities on offer, both in the fields of education and culture and in the worlds of sport and leisure.
Spain has a wide range of public and private hospitals and a buoyant housing market. All of which, when combined with the assurance provided by a system of law enforcement that works, make Spain an ideal country in which to live and work.
It comes as no surprise that Spain has been ranked among the top world list of tourist destinations, not only in terms of visitor numbers but also in terms of revenues generated.
A brief description of these aspects follows in this chapter, along with description of other aspects of interest for foreigners relocating to Spain.
Education is compulsory up to the age of 16 and English is the most widely studied foreign language at schools and institutes.
There are a total of 30,048 primary and secondary schools in Spain (of which 9,513 are privately-run), and a considerable number of bilingual schools of different nationalities. This allows for the integration of foreign students in Spain, as reflected by the fact that there are currently 87.28 foreign students enrolled for every 1,000 Spanish students. ( See figures in this report in Spanish:
For further information on bilingual schools, click here, and search for “Centro Docente Privado Extranjero en España”
In addition, there are 50 public and 32 private universities, offering a broad range of disciplines. There has been a notable increase in the number of foreign students enrolled in official masters. What is more, some of Europe’s leading business schools are based in Spain: Instituto de Empresa, IESE Business School and the ESADE Business School, to mention but a few. These schools have placed in the top ten in Europe according to the rankings drawn up by the Financial Times.
Spanish healthcare and hospitals, both public and private, are of a very high standard, with many excellent medical centers. Spanish citizens are well served by the Spanish National Health Service. Every neighborhood has a healthcare center (outpatients clinic) where patients are assigned a doctor (family general practitioner), or a pediatrician in the case of children. Patients must make an appointment to see a doctor, and the family GP is in charge of referrals to specialist physicians.
Emergency healthcare services in Spain are excellent, and the leading specialists in the country enjoy a world-class reputation.
In addition, there are many private centers that offer all kinds of private medical services to workers on assignment and to their families at a modest annual cost.
Spain has certain bilateral social security agreements with other countries that regulate the impact of periods in which social security contributions are paid in other states on the Spanish welfare system. Moreover, EU social security legislation is applicable to Spain, ensuring that workers assigned from one Member State to another (including Switzerland in this case) will not be affected by such assignment.
To find English-speaking doctors in Spain, click here
To find an English-language database of hospitals by province, click here
For further information on the Spanish social security system, click here
• Law and order
Generally speaking, Spain is one of the safest and most politically stable countries in Europe. The 2014 reported crime rate was 44.8 offenses per 1,000 inhabitants, 17 points below the European Union average.
Spain stands out for being one of the politically stable countries and with good international relations.
Spain occupies an area of 504,782 square kilometres in the southwest of Europe. The territory covers the most part of the Iberian Peninsula, which shares with Portugal; it also includes the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, the North African cities Ceuta y Melilla and several islands and islets.
The average minimum annual temperatures range from 2ºC in January to 18ºC in August, while maximum temperatures range from 13ºC in January to 27ºC in July and August. In the Canary Islands, temperatures range from a minimum of 17ºC to a maximum of 25ºC.
With over 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, Spain is one of the warmest countries in Europe.
This agreeable climate makes Spain a highly attractive tourist destination, as well as an ideal location for buying a second home, particularly for retired people. Moreover, Spain’s favorable climes are highly rated by foreign investors, particularly when it comes to deciding on a location for their factories or other workplaces.
There is a wide range of rented accommodation on offer in Spain, in addition to a large new and second-hand residential market for homebuyers.
For more information see the Ministry of Public Works website:
• Driver’s license
Driver licenses can be obtained from age 18 onwards, after passing the relevant theory and practical tests. Foreigners holding a license issued in an EU country do not need to sit an additional test.
In the case of licenses issued by non-EU countries, foreign drivers need to check if there are any bilateral agreements which recognize their foreign license. If not, they need to obtain a Spanish driver’s license once they have become resident in Spain.
For further information, please go to www.dgt.es (website only available in Spanish).
Apart from the Spanish banks, many of which are ranked among the foremost banks in Europe (Banco Santander and BBVA), major international institutions operate out of Spain (e.g. Deutsche Bank, Barclays Bank, UBS, etc.), as do large investment banks.
• Language and religion
Castilian Spanish is the official language of the Spanish State. There are other Spanish languages that are also official in the respective Autonomous Communities, according to their Charters of Autonomy.
Catholicism is the main religion, but it is worth highlighting that Spain is a constitutionally secular State in which other religions peacefully coexist.
Spain is the 3rd most popular tourist destination in number of tourists and the second in terms of earnings worldwide. With almost 8,000 kilometers of coastline, it boasts a wide range of sporting facilities and a large variety of social events, all crowned by the diversity of its cultural heritage.
The Spanish coast obtained 681 Blue Flags in 2014, another year, the world’s highest number of this ecological distinction. The Blue Flag is an ecological distinction given to more than 4,023 beaches and seascapes in 48 countries of 5 continents.
Spain has a broad spectrum of leisure and entertainment activities to cater for all ages (zoos, safaris, natural routes, etc.). Numerous theme parks have opened in the pasts decades, such as Terra Mítica in Benidorm, Port Aventura in Tarragona, Isla Mágica in Seville and Warner Bros Park in Madrid and there is plenty of children’s entertainment on offer, mainly focused on introducing them to science and the environment.
Spain has a vast network of libraries and museums around the whole country. Stands out the National Library, with more than 20 million volumes, the Prado Museum, the Reina Sofía Museum and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, to mention but a few.
Spain’s highly diverse cultural heritage has, in turn, produced its world-renowned cuisine.
For further information and recommended places of interest, visit the official tourism of Spain website.
Last updated: 22|06|2015