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Is it worth to work in Spain?

Lately, the company I work with has opened some opportunities in Europe for Brazilian folks… and since I’m work in Spain for almost two years now, questions around living abroad starting to pop.

In short: yes, it worth.

In details, however, is important to take a lot of factors into account. I’ll break them down based on the most common questions I received. Obviously, the comparison here will be Spain and Brazil, so it’s important to take this into account. Besides, I live in Valencia and I lived in Sorocaba, a city near São Paulo, so most my comparisons will be using these two cities when I need to be more specific.

How’s life quality?

This question is tricky… so I always answer with another question (completely annoying, I know): “what do you consider life quality?”. That’s the kind of question we always hear about when talking about living abroad, but once you’re talking about it for real, you want details, not only the vanilla-undefined-life-quality people like to talk about. So… breaking the ice, I dig into details of what I consider “life quality”.

Safety

Mozos de Escuadra – Spanish Cops

Hands down, ages better. I’m not saying there’s no crime, but there’s no much fear of crime. People here love being outside: in a restaurant, a bar, having some ‘tapas’ (similar to sandwiches), or walking around with the dogs. There’s people walking, running, cycling, 24h a day. Out there, in the streets. Yes, that place ruled by cars in Brazil that gives no space to peasants. Here’s a pleasure to walk around.

Transportation services

Renfe – Red Nacional de Ferrocarriles Españoles

Goes aligned with the safety: way better. You can go anywhere walking (if it’s a place near, anytime you want) or you can pick a bus or a metro. Local people complain a lot that there’s no metro here in Valencia from midnight till early morning (other bigger cities have metros 24×7) but I don’t consider this as a big deal. If I want to go home and there’s no metro, you can pick a taxi.

In Brazil, the dependency on the car is very high. I believe it goes beyond using a car as a tool – in Brazil, we almost worship cars (as any other good). Here, cars are used as tools: it’s rare to find a car without a single scratch. There are some traffic accidents, but people don’t freak out when something happens. If it’s just a scratch, people just keep their lives.

Can you have a car? Yes, of course. But garages are usually expensive, especially in downtown. So, having a car is an option, unless you live far from downtown and far from any metro station.

Rental costs

It depends on the city you live, but in Valencia (as of 2015) the rental of an apartment with 3 bedrooms with furniture in downtown or near a metro station is around EUR 600. In Barcelona or Madrid, you’ll have to add up one or two hundred Euros.

Market costs

Mercadona – one of the biggest Market Chains in Spain

Costs are similar to Brazil, with the difference that there’s almost no inflation. A bottle of milk is EUR 0,65 since 2013.

Food

Here you’ll see a lot of difference, for good and for bad. For good, because there’s a lot of healthy habits here, like the ‘mediterranean diet’. People is used to eat 5 times a day: Café, almuerzo, comida, merienda, cena.

  • The ‘breakfast’ is the morning coffee we’re used to take at home, before leaving for work.
  • The ‘almuerzo’ is a kind of breakfast, usually between 10 and 11 AM.
  • The ‘comida’ is the actual lunch: it takes place not before 2 PM, and is usually composed of two dishes. You chose ‘the first’ and ‘the second’. Once you finish the first, you’ll receive the second.
  • The ‘merienda’ is a kind of quick breakfast at around 5 or 6 PM.
  • The ‘cena’ is the proper dinner, not taken before 9 PM.

You’ll have a lot of fish and pork, but forget about good meat – unless you pay expensive prices, and taking into account that the meal cut here is not the same as in Brazil – a big problem for the ‘asado lovers’. You’ll have to go to specialized markets to have good meat.

Health care system

Most people uses the public health care system, and is fairly acceptable. It’s not as good as a private health care plan in Brazil, of course, but good. Medicine here is strongly subsidized by government, so a medicine that would cost almost BRL 60 costs EUR 2 here. Yes, I’m not missing zeroes – it’s two Euros for a sixty Reais medicine. You can only buy medicine like this with a proper prescription of your medic, and here’s another difference – once you’re part of the sanitary system, you’ll have a specific doctor nominated for you, and any appointment will be with him (unless it’s an emergency). Same applies for pregnant women – you’ll have the same obstetrician the whole pregnancy.

Education

People complain a lot about education system here, so it strongly depends on what you consider a good education system. What is a fact is that the education starts early on – at the age of 3, toddlers are already being evaluated, with periodic results of achievements being shared with parents. The structure is broke down into education levels.

  • First level is from 3 to 5 years
  • Second level is from 6 to 13 years
  • Third level (pre university) from 14 to 15
  • University from 16 to 19

As education is strongly dependent on the tutor your child has, it’s hard to share opinions – what is a fact is that my kid’s teacher is incredible – she not only taught her 20+ 3 years old kids how to respect and obey her but has also taught my wife and myself how to be better parents. We’re blessed having her teaching our kiddo.

Hospitality

It also boils down to the people you’ll be dealing with. In general, Brazilian folks are more friendly while Spanish are more honest. It hurts a bit to this level of honesty, but in the long term, it’s better.

Besides, as any place in Europe, you’ll see people from everywhere in all spheres – in your kid’s school, in your work, in the market. Sometimes you may notice polarized communities of Spanish and non-Spanish people, but you get used to it.

And moving abroad with family?

It’s not as simple as it’d be if you’d come alone It’s not painful, either. The two most complicated parts are 1) your child adaptation (idiom, school and food) and 2) your wife / husband missing the family. It’s usually easier for guys to live far from family, but based on some concrete cases, it’s very hard for women to stay far from family.

And what are the peaks?

Ryanair – one amonsts the low cost travel companies operating in Europe

Well, you’ll be able to go anywhere in Europe for around 20 bucks with low-price air companies… which by itself is a huge advantage if you like to meet new places. If you plan to work in Europe to make some cash, I’d think twice: you’ll earn ok, but your partner won’t be allowed to work (unless he or she finds another company that afford all documentation costs), so it doesn’t pay off if you’re here just for the money. On the other hand, it’s likely that Europe (in despite of all turmoil around Euro) will be more stable than Brazil.

But above all these advantages, you’ll be adding up into your bag a lifetime experience that’ll add value to you as a person. So, don’t be afraid of the destiny and go ahead!

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