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Moving to Spain will make you happier and healthier (but there’s a downside)

The Local Spain
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Moving to Spain will make you happier and healthier (but there’s a downside)
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A new survey reveals what those of us who live here already know: that moving to Spain will make you happier and healthier but will likely see your career prospects take a back seat.


Spain achieves its highest-ever overall ranking in a new global survey of expats, moving up three points to become the fifth best place to live.

Some 64 countries were ranked by 20,259 participants from around the globe in the annual Expat Insider survey by Internations.

The survey looks at the "best and worst places for expats" to live judged on several criteria such as quality of life, ease of settling in, personal finance and work and family life.

Unsurprisingly, 97 percent of respondents in Spain said they enjoyed the climate and weather, and over half (52 percent) rated the quality of medical care very highly.


As usual Spain ranked among the top in the Family Life Index (5th) and in the top 5 for the fourth year in a row in the Quality of Life Index, reaching the number 2 spot just behind Portugal.

Overall 72 percent said moving to Spain has made them happier and with 81 percent of expats in Spain expressed satisfaction with their leisure and socializing activities, 16 percentage points above the global average (65 percent).

Photo: Amoklv/Depositphotos

And when it comes to the quality of healthcare, Spain has swooped up the rankings to take second place with over half of expats (52 percent) reporting that it couldn’t be any better, noticeably above the global average (29 percent). Only Taiwan’s health service was ranked higher.

Even in the Personal Finance Index, Spain ranked highly, moving up sixteen places to 23rd globally.


Over eight in ten expats (81%) are pleased with the cost of living in Spain in general, 34 percentage points above the global average (47%). It comes as no surprise that an Australian expat names the “low cost of living” as one of his favourite things about life in Spain, as over one in three expats (34%) even say the cost of living could not be any better.

But what about making friends and settling into a new country?

While neighbouring France scores badly on the ease of settling in index, ranking 8th from the bottom of 64 countries judged on friendliness, ease of making friends, feeling at home and language, Spain continues to do rather well.

For the last six years of the Expat Insider survey, Spain has ranked in the top ten in the Feeling at Home subcategory but this year gains another two spots to claim third place although learning the language remains essential if you want to make Spanish friends.  

So what’s the downside?

The single area where Spain didn’t rank highly was in category of Career Prospects, hardly a surprise when you consider the crippling unemployment that Spain suffered during the economic crisis.

Nearly three in ten expats (29 percent) are disappointed with their career prospects in Spain (vs. 24 percent globally).

One Canadian expat bemoans that “there is a lack of career opportunities — you can’t do much if you don’t speak the language”.

The shortage of career opportunities could partly be due to the poor Spanish economy; just over half the expats (53 percent) are satisfied with the economy’s current state, compared to 63 percent globally.

That said, most people who do have jobs in Spain rank their work-life balance highly – 69 percent report being happy with this factor.

One Dutch expat appreciates that “work-life balance is excellent, and there is lots of flexibility”.

The findings mirror a recent survey by HSBC which determined Spain wasn’t the place for those seeking career progression, with the country ranking at the bottom of the list in this category.

But even in the sphere of employment, there was some good news. Soain has vastly improved in terms of job security. In 2018 it ranked at 59th out of 68 on that score but this year has climbed an impressive 21 places to rank 38th in the 2019 survey. 



Photo: levranii/Depositphotos




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