7 reasons why grandparents in Spain are simply the best

As Spain celebrates Grandparents Day, The Local takes a look at what makes Spanish abuelos so special...

7 reasons why grandparents in Spain are simply the best
Photo: 3dom/Flickr

On July 26th, Spain celebrates Grandparents Day. The day coincides with the feast day of Saints Joaquin and Anne, who are widely believed to have been the parents of the Virgin Mary and thus, the grandparents of Jesus. 

So what makes Spanish grandparents so special?

They are very close to their grandchildren

Photo: hector pastor fernandez/Flickr

An estimated 20 percent of grandparents in Spain live in a “multi-generational” home with their children and grandchildren, which forges strong bonds between the oldest and youngest members of the family. It is less common in Spain to send grandparents to nursing homes, and more usual that they go to live with younger relatives when they find they can no longer live alone. 

They help their families financially

According to a recent study, 62 percent of Spanish grandparents admit to helping out their children financially. Many Spanish families have suffered during the economic crisis and it has often been grandparents who have helped to secure the lives and futures of their grandchildren by offering financial assistance. 

They live a very long time 

Photo: Quedalapalabra/Flickr 

Spaniards have the highest life expectancy in Europe and one of the highest in the world which means, quite simply, that Spanish grandparents are around a lot longer than grandparents in other countries. This is a plus, considering Spanish women are among the oldest first-time mothers in Europe, so they might be waiting around a while to become grandparents. 

They swear a lot 

Spanish is a sweary language and it is not unusual to hear sweet old ladies banding about the C-word as if it is no big deal in towns and villages across the country. Spanish grandparents know how to express themselves and use the most descriptive language at their disposal!

They are unofficial babysitters 

Photo: Mikel Seijas Alonso/Flickr 

Forget nannies, its grandparents who are the main caregivers to children in Spain after their parents. More than half (59 percent) admit to looking after their grandchildren while their children are at work, another way they have helped keep their families going throughout the economic crisis. A recent study found that half of Spanish granparents spent at least six hours a day caring for their grandchildren, often more than the parents themselves.

They are everywhere

You might be forgiven for thinking that in some Western countries, when grandparents reach a certain age they simply disappear; banished to an old people’s home and visited – at most – on a weekly basis by their families. Not so in Spain. Wander round any Spanish town or city and you see multi-generational groups socialising together, enjoying an aperitivo or a Sunday stroll around the local park. Grandparents are the cornerstone of family life in Spain and are – on the most part – cherished, and never viewed as a burden. 

And finally… Sometimes living in Spain makes grandparents do extraordinary things

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In which parts of Spain do people live longest?

Life expectancy in Spain is the second highest in the world but new data from the country’s national statistics institute reveals where exactly in Spain people live the longest, and it isn’t where you might expect. 

In which parts of Spain do people live longest?
Life expectancy in Spain is the highest in the EU. Photo: ANDER GILLENEA/AFP

People in Spain are forecast to have the longest life expectancy in the world by 2040 – with a projected average lifespan of nearly 85.8 years.

It’s hard to fully understand the Spanish secret to a long life, but according to the scientists it’s a combination of their Mediterranean diet, a good healthcare system, plenty of walking, a close-knit society and a helpful serving of hedonism. If they cut down on drinking and smoking, Spaniards could no doubt live even longer.


The current life expectancy in Spain has dropped from 84 down to 82.4 in large part due to the coronavirus pandemic, but new data revealed by Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE) reveals where exactly in Spain people lived the longest in 2018, in normal times before the virus. 

The six municipalities where people live longest in Spain are all in the Madrid region.

The highest life expectancy in the whole country is that of the residents of Pozuelo de Alarcón with an average of 86.2 years. 

Pozuelo is also the wealthiest municipality in the capital and in Spain according to INE stats with average net yearly earnings of €28,326 per inhabitant, which suggests that the higher standard of living is also helping people live longer in Pozuelo.  

The other Madrid region municipalities where people reach 85 years of age or more on average are Majadahonda (85.9 years), Alcorcón (85.4 years), Las Rozas (85.3 years) and Alcobendas (85.3 years), all of which are relatively wealthy residential parts of Madrid, with the exception of Alcorcón. 

In sixth place is another Madrid municipality, San Sebastián de los Reyes (84.8 years), followed by Getxo in Bilbao (84.7), then two more Madrid municipalities – Leganés (84.5) and Getafe (84.4) – followed by Sant Cugat del Vallès, the only Barcelona municipality to make the top ten. 

Table showing the municipalities with the highest and lowest life expectancy in Spain. Source: INE

What exactly is behind people in Madrid living longer than in other parts of Spain? 

The stressful life in the capital, the higher levels of air pollution and reported cuts to public health spending in the region in recent years could all contribute to the assumption that big city life takes its toll on life expectancy. 

In other places around the globe where people live longest, such as Okinawa in Japan and Italy’s Corsica (both islands), an active and social life in less stressful rural settings are thought to contribute to making many locals live past 90. 

But in Spain it seems that adding those extra years to an already long and healthy life could be influenced by income. That’s perfectly evidenced in countries with large rich-poor divides such as the US.

The places with the lowest life expectancy in Spain – which at its very lowest is a very reasonable 79.7 years of age – are mainly lower-income coastal locations with milder climates in the Canary Islands and Andalusia, including cities such as Malaga, Almería, Cádiz, Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (see table above).

So maybe there’s something about the hustle and bustle of the capital that keeps Madrileños enjoying life that little bit longer. According to Spanish fact-checking website, the stats should have included the high death rate in the capital during the pandemic.

Either way, wherever it is in Spain, people tend to live longer than anywhere else in the EU, and by 2040 their life expectancy will be the highest in the world.

It’s certainly a factor to consider if you’re thinking of moving here, España might just keep you alive for longer.