Common misconceptions and clichés about life in Spain

Hello everyone,

Old clichés die hard, as the saying goes... and living in Spain can generate lots of misconceptions in the eyes of the people.

What are the most common misconceptions about the expat lifestyle in Spain?

What are the most common clichés about life in Spain in general?

Did you have a biased view of the country before moving there? What is you view now?

Thanks in advance,


I guess the most common misconception is that Spain is hot all the year round.   Although it is comparatively brief, we do indeed have a winter, even in the Balearic Islands. 

Homes in the Mediterranean side of the peninsular are designed mainly to keep you cool, not to keep you warm and dry so they can be cold and often quite damp during the winter months, so if you are considering becoming permanent residents, make sure the home you are looking for has some sort of heating and the doors and windows are draught-proofed.

We often hear people remark, "Spain is a Catholic country" possibly reflecting attitudes from Franco's years.  This is quite correct and during religious festivals it is plainly obvious, but the rest of the time Spanish citizens are relaxed and liberal towards all other religions and none.

Finally, some people believe that the Spanish have a harsh and less compassionate attitude towards animals compared to the British.  I think there was probably some truth in this 20+ years ago but there has been a fundamental change and they are now as loving and caring of their domestic pets as we are.  There is even a growing groundswell against bull fighting and it is possible that in another generation or two it may disappear.

There are so many things to say about Spain.
People are friendly though many times they stay in expectative as a first reaction to see who are they talking with… I cannot speak about the mainland but here, in Tenerife, local seem to be overwhelmed by the huge number of tourists. If you think the tourists number is actually few times bigger than of the locals, well, then you may understand this. But that’s just the first reaction… Soon after they “read” a nice person everything goes well…
As a tourist, you’re welcomed everywhere, no question about that.
And, again, I have to highlight the fact I’m speaking about Tenerife. I have a touching example here. I took for a ride an older friend of mine. She is disabled after a stroke and now is in the wheelchair. The old restaurants, open until the new law regarding the “Minusválida” don’t have special access and toilets or any other facilities… But at the restaurant where we had a coffee, ladies working there just simply took her on their arms to the bathroom… And they did this smiling…
Another specific feature is, like weather, the uneven development of the island. From village to village, from mile to mile, like the weather, you may have good internet connection, disabled people facilities, public services and so on…
I will only mention internet and the use of it.
I have a business in Los Cristianos and before coming here I was hundred percent sure that I will get my business known solely by internet, the common methods: web sites, FB page, email offers, advertising in business directories etc. It was a shock to notice that simply DOESN’T work. Except TripAdvisor for the restaurants, bars, clubs and hotels, it seems that nothing else matters… People is using flyers and outdoor signage like 20 years ago… In huge quantities… The fact is that only lately they start spreading the fiber glass network. Is not what I’m use to have back home where a fiber connection of 1000 Mbps is common and it costs 10E/month.
Whatever the reason might be, don’t count on internet advertising in the manner you have probably done it in your country. Yes, it helps, but in a minor proportion. So, ask and check and doublecheck the internet connection of your home or business.
Have a nice day and good luck to all the newcomers!


I would like to give my humble opinion as a South African "expat" -so to speak- whose parents are Spanish. Ifound these things to be true in my 30 odd years as a foreigner here:

1. Spanish people as a whole are a nice lot.  The complaints by some that they are racist is pure nonsense. Compare this to my native South Africa or some parts of Germany and you will know what a racist is !!!

2. Spanish people are proud of their culture and traditions as are many other cultures and it irritates them the fact that some foreigners come to tell them what is good and bad such as bullfighting !!!  Hey won´t those do-gooders say the same to many nations around the globe which have horrifying records of human and animal torture !!!

3. Politics has changed a lot especially in young people who think things cna be changed only by revolution !!  Hence the fondation and success of POdemos.

4. In general I find it shocking that JOBS are mostly all by recommendation and not by your knowledge and experience.

5. People have become more tolerant of the black market and corruption as their politicians are mostly corrupt.  Spain had a good ranking in Transparency International :in 1995 or thereabouts it was 20th in corruption now it has gone down to nearly the 5oth position.

6.If the country had - this is just my receipe for success as a "guiri" and business person -  good and forward thinking employers as in the Benelux countries or Germany; if it had the transparency and openness of Scandinavia or NZ ; if it had the organisational skills of most Anglosaxon countries and well-prepared and honest politicians it would be perhaps one of the best countries to live in the world.

Juan C Sanz   , el "guiri" :)))  **

jesus. I didn't know that jobs here in spain are by recommendations? No wonder the economy is stagnant.

Hi, I'm coming over to Spain May 2017 with my family incl two older boys. Is it safe? what about medical emergencies are there plenty of places to go to for help? Should we hire a car or take public transport? We are staying for about a month and heading South maybe Xabia then to Seville but touring all over or where ever we feel the need. We don't speak Spanish however our daughter who arrives ahead of us does. Is it expensive there? We will be doing family orientated things, more cooking classes alfresco, horse riding etc. Our daughter is looking to get married on a beach somewhere over there. I've always wanted to visit Spain I don't know why but it's all very exciting. Thanks.

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