Sandy beaches, tapas and sangria sound tempting and enough of a reason to work in Spain, but this stunning country is much more than that; its impressive architecture, lively environment, amazingly friendly people, relaxed lifestyle and neighbourhood feeling are part of its charm and what makes it an attractive place to live and work.
In the last four years, the country has been recovering from an economic crisis, particularly the Catalan region which has been the centre of a political crisis following the “yes” vote to declare independence in 2017. Investment on the other hand, has transformed cities like Madrid and Barcelona into hubs for technology.
Madrid, the capital, is the most populated city with almost 7 million inhabitants, followed by Barcelona with half this number. Although Spain is a very international and open country, Spanish citizenship is clearly predominant with 86% of the total population holding a Spanish passport; the other 14% are foreigners, mostly Moroccans, Romanians, Ecuadorians, Colombians and British.
The working culture in Spain is still very formal. Hierarchies are respected and although team meetings are popular, the decisions are usually made by the managers.
When attending business meetings, the etiquette is to shake hands with everyone and exchange business cards. Business cards with the Spanish translation on the back create a very good impression. Appearance is important, both men and women usually wear suits.
During a meeting, it is common to share personal information and it is not uncommon to be interrupted while speaking; this just means the other person is interested in what you are saying. If a request is made, negative answers are not appreciated, meaning negotiations could take a while and patience is key. When attending a business dinner, you would usually enjoy the food and the company first and talk about business after coffee.
The working hours are traditionally from 9.00 or 10.00 am until 8.00 pm with a lunch break of two or three hours in between to go home and spend time with families. In some international organisations, this is starting to change, allowing people to finish work earlier in the afternoon.
Work permit and Visas
Citizens from the EU/EEA and Switzerland do not require a work permit, with the exception of Croatians who will require a permit until June 2020.
Citizens from a non-EU country require a work visa to live and work in Spain. If you have a higher education qualification or a minimum of five years’ professional experience at the same level, applying for a EU Blue Card is a good option. Either way, the request must be made by the employer and once authorised, it is possible to apply for a visa.
To gain a work permit authorisation, the company will need to prove there were no other candidates available in Spain or in the EU. This process can take up to eight months, which is why companies prefer to hire people who live locally.
Additionally to the work permit, you must apply for a Foreigner’s Identity Card/Number. This is required for all financial and administrative procedures.
Taxes and getting paid
The process of opening a bank account depends on your nationality and whether you are a resident or not. You would usually require your Passport or ID, as well as either a resident card or a certificate issued by the police confirming your nationality.
The income tax in Spain ranges between 29% and 36% depending on the salary and the geographical region. Tax is calculated according to a progressive scale and includes benefits such as the jobseekers allowance. As a resident, you are subject to Spanish tax on your worldwide income and you are able to get tax credit depending on your marital status and number of children.
If you have spent less than 183 days in Spain, (sporadic trips abroad count as being in the country) you classify as either a non-resident or as a foreigner working on assignment, depending on your terms of contract. In these cases, you would only get taxed on Spanish income, usually at a flat rate of 24% up to €60,000 and up to 45% above this amount.
Whether you are a resident or a non-resident, tax will be taken directly from your income before you get paid, however, you will need to apply for your own tax return every year. Spanish regulations do not recognise partial-year residence status, meaning the full year will be taken in consideration.
If you are a Spanish resident, you can calculate your taxes here .
Salaries and daily rates
Salaries in Spain are low in comparison to other countries such as Germany or the United Kingdom. However, as an SAP consultant your salary will be relatively high in relation to the cost of living. You should be able to enjoy a great lifestyle.
Spain’s local currency is the Euro.
Food and services are usually cheaper than in other European countries (17% lower on average than in the United Kingdom), fashion is part of the local culture, hence clothing is also very affordable and seasonal sales are popular.
Rent in Spain is usually 25% lower than in the United Kingdom. The process of finding a home to rent in the big cities is nearly as competitive as in London or Amsterdam. Daily commute from nearby towns is therefore a common practice.
For more information, check the guide to the cost of living .
The healthcare system is considered one of the best in Europe, and the Spanish National Health System (SNS) is available for free for all employees in Spain and EU citizens. If you are not registered as a resident, you are also able to use the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) to get medical service from public GPs and hospitals. The EHIC is not accepted in private institutions.
With one of the best and most affordable train and bus networks in Europe, travelling between cities and daily commuting is easy and inexpensive.
Whilst Madrid has the country’s most extensive metro network, Barcelona has the best and most modern designed systems. Other provincial capitals such as Valencia, Zaragoza, Bilbao and Seville also have reasonable transport networks, with single tickets costing between €1 and €2.
Driving licences from EU countries are valid in Spain for up to two years of arriving to the country.
The main language is Castilian (it is not really called Spanish). Different provinces have local languages such as Catalan, Galician or Basque, which are also used to conduct business.
English is rarely used but it is developing, especially in tourism and technology industries. Most of the jobs for SAP consultants however, still require fluent Spanish speakers.
Rest and Recreation
The unique architectural style across the country is a mixture of surreal modernism, Moorish influence and European styles, a result of thousands of years of Spanish history. Walking along the alleyways and ramblas (pedestrian high streets), having dinner in a terrace or exploring the beach bars – locally known as chiringuitos – is part of daily life.
Festivals are part of the Spanish heritage and are often hosted during bank holidays. Celebrations include parades, dances, fireworks and traditional costumes. There are 12 to 14 bank holidays depending on the province.
An advantage of having great weather, is the huge range of outdoor activities and sports available such as basketball, tennis, cycling, handball and water sports, to mention a few. Internationally, the country is also known for two of their big football teams: Real Madrid and Barça.
As well as enjoying the lively culture, another benefit of working as an SAP consultant in Spain is the opportunity to enjoy its wining and dining, which are a huge part of their traditions.
As the third largest producer of wine, the locals get to try the best wines, being Rioja, Tempranillo and Albariño some of the most popular grapes. They also have their own wine-based summer drinks such as Sangría and Tinto de Verano.
In regards to food, you will find tapas and Spanish tortillas in many towns a cities, however, each region has its own culinary specialities: the seafood paella is a must in Barcelona and the coastal area, whilst in Madrid, a visit to the Ham Museum or the Churros factory is the food experience to go for. Spanish cuisine is a rainbow of regional and international flavours and wherever you go, you will have an out-of-this-world dining experience.
Have a 360° view of the marina in Barcelona!