Moving to Santander, Spain

Hi all,

Thank you for your warm welcome. I am in desperate need of any help/advice you can offer around moving a family to Spain. Myself and my husband are hard-working, we have 3 wonderful children and as such we lead busy lives. Like most people i suppose. However we want it all to change, even temporarily. So have decided on moving to Santander, Spain.

I have many concerns but am determined to go ahead, My main concerns are employment and schooling. I am a second level maths teacher with 13 years experience. Recently i started a TEFL course and hope to get some working teaching English. My husband is a hairdresser and excellent at his job but does not have any Spanish. Will there be any demand for English speaking hairdressers? I dont think Santander has a large English-speaking population so dont imagine so.

I have looked into a bilingual school, Jardin de Africa. Does anyone know anything about this school? What proportion of the school day will be conducted through English? My 6 year old is quite worried about going to a different school. Are there any fees to be paid in state schools?

Could anyone recommend an area in Santander in which to base ourselves. I would like to be central if possible, close to the children's school and a pool with a swim club. Am i asking too much?

Like i said earlier, if you have any advice i would gladly take it.

Hi hsheridan,

Welcome to :)

A new discussion was created as from your post on the Spain forum to broaden your chances of having some replies from members living in Spain.

Thank you and best of luck,


Hi HSheridan,
I live in Santander and have 3 school-going children here. My kids go to a standard Spanish school as my husband is Spanish so I can't help you too much on the bilingual schools here. That said, I know of the school you mentioned and think you should contact them directly re your concerns. I'm not sure what percentage is taught in English but it may be less than 50% but I'm sure they'll be able to answer that. You shouldn't have to pay any fees - but double check with them.

Regarding work - there is hardly any expat community here so I think your husband would have a tough time getting work as a hairdresser if he doesn't have Spanish. I'd recommend he start learning some asap. Your chances as an English/Maths teacher are better - although you should contact a number of the English academies/language schools directly to check that out and be realistic about your earnings. You may find after a few months that you will be in demand to give private English tuition to your children's friends and friends of friends etc - but you'll need something to get you through the first few months.

Regarding accommodation and swim club - there are a number of public and private sports centres/gyms with pools - that will be the easiest of your tasks. I'd base it on your own sources of employment and the schools. I think the school you mentioned is technically outside the city of Santander but I think it runs buses - that's another question for them - I think - unless you want to run a car here or be getting two buses to school each day. There are a lot of nice modern apartment blocks on that side of the city (near a large park and not too far from the beach) so that's probably where I'd base myself.

And in case this sounds very negative, it's a great place for raising a family - just make sure the financials stack up.
Hope this helps

Hello Sheridan,

Did you make the move to Santander? I have many friends here and can ask some questions for you or get you in touch with some of them and my best friend's girlfriend works at that bilingual school.

Would love to meet you and your husband. I also do not speak any Spanish. My wife speaks English. I am from the United States and have been here about 8 years and have many friends here. Some from United States, some from England and some Spanish...all who speak English and love meeting new people.

I started an English conversation group (no fees!) when I first came and it is still going although I have been a little busy of late to attend. They currently meet each Tuesday night. If you are interested I will send you the contact information so you can make arraignments to meet them. They currently meet close to the Sardinero (beach area).

I live in the center near Numancia/Plaza de Cerveza.

You are welcome to join our Facebook group as well: … on?fref=ts

Take care and we will meet up soon.

Steve Finley

I am living in malaga can you be able to help me to get Job in santander area?

So sorry but "NO" you must already know the job market in Spain is terrible. I am not aware of any jobs or places hiring. Best of luck to you.

thanks a lot

Good morning hsheridan, sfinley and Pamela Cahill,

I have read your comments and I would like to know if you still live in Santander.

I am Spanish living in Santander since last year and raising bilingual (EN/SP) my 20-month son. As I am new in this city, I am trying to find some English-speaking parents to meet up with children. I have not been successful so far and wonder if you know people in Santander who may be interested in this kind of meetups or you.

Thank you in advance for you help.


Hello Pilar,

I sent you a private message. Hope it helps. Take care.

Hi there Steve!

Would you know if there is any English speaking families (with children) in Santander that meet up on a regular basis? We're planning to move there next summer and would love our daughter to have the chance to speak/play with other English speaking kids from time to time.

Thank you,

We try to do an assortment of things like bbq's for example. Get a hold of me when you come or just prior so we can get something organized. Sent you a private message. See you next summer!

Hello Steve,

I have just answered you back.

Thank you for your e-mail!

Hello I am looking for an English speaking hair dresser in Santander Spain. Thank you

Hello All,
I know this post is quite old now. I just moved to Santander a couple of months ago and wold love to meet any English speakers. I am from UK originally but lived in several different countries. I have a Panamanian wife and 10 year old son who will be moving here soon, so also looking for bilingual schools, other families with your kids etc. My son actually speaks better Spanish than English so should not be a problem for him. I am trying to improve my Spanish - which is  a necessity here as I have found very few people who speak English, so it has been frustrating at times trying to get things done. I would appreciate any connections or advice.
Thanks in advance.

James, I do not have children but several friends that do. There are MANY English-speaking people here. I have lived in Santander for almost 11 years and I know very little Spanish because ALL my friends speak or want to speak English. Most of my doctors speak English as well. Send me a message if you want me to get you into contact with some my friends. Let me the area in which you live. I know several natives from England, United States (me) and many that have lived in England for a number of years and love practicing English. I could do the inter-cambio route but I am lazy for learning the language, Might be great for you. What kind of work do you do? I am one of Jehovah's Witness and we even have a English-only group...No shortage of English speakers here so do not worry. There is also a school teacher here from Philidelphia if you want to meet her and many opportunities to teach English if you want but I have no desire for that. I just meet up occasionaly with a few friends for beer etc and have English conversation fee, just as friends.

Steve Finley

Moderated by Chris 6 years ago
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Hello Steve,
Thanks for your reply. I have sent you a message.
Yes, would love to meet up for a chat sometime.
I am living in El Alisal, so close to the city.




Are there any expat events ever in Santander?



This is directed at respondent S. Finley. I don't know whether you're still living in Santander, but I'm an African-American retiree interested in relocating there. What has been your experience there, specifically of racism? (I'm sorry if I've misunderstood things but it's my impression that you're African American, as well). Also, have you found it expensive there? Since I live in California, it's pretty pricey here. I'm considering it because I'd like to live in Europe, in a (relatively) inexpensive area where I also can readily travel to the UK and cities in Europe, for an example, Madrid or Paris (I speak French and am learning Spanish). It would be very kind if you could reply, if possible, and share your impressions. With gratitude, Phyllis Brown


Yes, I am African American from Kansas City. Never went to Calif but very aware of the prices that regard you will be fine in 99% of Spain. I live in the very northern part...Santander. Lots of beaches if that is what you like. Pop 250,000 more or less. For me coming from KC I found this particular city expensive compared to what I was used too. I've never been rich or poor but this place made me feel poor but you do get used to it. I found a butcher shop with meat from Kansas!!! you will not find the selection in the grocery stores that you are accustomed to plus it all cost more. But the higher prices of things overall is related to free heath care and it is FANTASTIC. the hospital her is incredible in my city. But I have private insurance and it's even better (hahaha). You need to take the time to visit the city you wish to live in. Don't do the tourist stuff, Look at apartments, shops, grocery stores, check into doctors, hospitals. Customs has gotten horrible in the last few years, so don't except to get many care pkgs from home. I use Amazon primarily for everything but depending on your size you will find it difficult for clothing. I am a xl to xxl in US...Here XL is like "medium" for us. I made several trips prior to moving. I used a shipping container co to move the goods I wanted to bring. Speak to me privately about that. Apartments are cheap right now. I will tell you more privately and send example pictures if you like of my place and what I paid and how to work the deal with most people.  My wife is a lawyer so all the paperwork you will have to deal with concerning EVERYTHING is no problem for me. No, I am not rich. I have been here 12 years...I do not speak Spanish. I meet too many people that speak English. My wife speaks English. I can only tell you about my city. I have primarily only lived here and I do not travel but in my city the ferry to the UK and France, CHEAP flights to all of EU. $20 most times. Don't bring a car...too many different regulations and American cars are too big for Spain. There is NO racism at all. Everybody is nice to me because I don't speak the language I think. You will find all ages are nice if you are nice. People say my city is stuffy but I have not seen that. I love it here. No crime to speak of and people walk everywhere anytime of day/night even alone. My city is great if you like seafood. Coming from Kansas I don't and I never go to the beach. FYI: Good bacon is REALLY DIFFICULT to find. I racism. Act like you have some manners and ALL people will respect you. If you are single don't worry, Spanish men will be intrigued by you. I also bacon, no sausages, no cake mix, nothing food-wise that you are used to. Fair warning.

Oh my god I am so grateful that I was able to find you and that you've been so kind to answer me in such detail! I am not well to do, either, but I own a home outright in Sacramento. While it's not a San Francisco-type house worth $3 million, selling it will give me enough to purchase a home/apartment/flat there, I'm hoping. I picked Santander, where you live, for some of the reasons you mention. The proximity to different cities in Europe where I could travel occasionally, including the UK, since I'm retired. I also love museums, and would love to be (relatively) close to Bilbao and the Prado. I also picked it because I love to garden, and want a home where I can plant flowers and gaze at them in my old age (not long now!). Sacramento is very hot, and we're experiencing the effects of global warming already. It's in the 100s here in summer for months -- not good for my flowers! It seems that it's quite rainy where you live, like where I used to live in Seattle. Here, we've had water rationing because of the drought. But even more than that, while I live in a multi-racial area of California which is great, I'm tired of the constant murders, the mass shootings, and I hope you won't disagree: Trump is just too much for me. Everyone acts like it's normal to have people killing each other all the time, especially young black men. We had a police shooting of Stephon Clark that got a lot of attention recently. And, even though I love my neighborhood and neighbors, I'm always concerned about break ins and assaults. The income inequality in Northern California is particularly evident. Living close to Silicon Valley, you see rafts of homeless people -- they're everywhere all of the time -- begging. It's heartbreaking, but housing costs still are rising dramatically. Regular people can't afford to rent apartments here. At the same time there are people driving around in $100,000 Teslas. And there are more and more people who are addicted to prescription pain killers and heroin. Where I used to live in Seattle is being destroyed by drug addiction. Sorry to complain so much, but I just think there might be a better way of life, more peaceful and simple. Regarding having a car, is there good public transportation in Santander? I would like to buy a car, though I know I would need to get an international driver's license. Funny you mention fish, too, because being from California I love seafood! That would be wonderful. And, I'm a cook-it-from-scratch person. I always shop at farmer's markets here in California. Anyway, I do go on. If you would be so kind as to contact me directly, please let me know how. Thank you again for being so generous to respond to my post. It was just a shot in the dark, but I guess it worked out!

Hasnaa wrote:

A new discussion was created as from your post on the Spain forum to broaden your chances of having some replies from members living in Spain.

It is great to have such a wonderful place for the personal experience of expats! I didn't think to find anything similar while looking for the best city in Spain when I moved here. Anyway, I was lucky to get assistance from the professionals … torrevieja and to be sure of my happy life in the new country. As it happened to me.

@pilarin5 hi Pilar. This post is quite old so I don't know if this will get you... I am raising bilingual children in Cantabria too and I am looking for other families to share some English playtime together. My kids are 4 and 6.