Adjusting to Life as a Spaniard in the UK

06.06.17
4 minute read
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The number of Spaniards immigrating to the U.K. has risen by 117% over the past four years.

That brings the total number to an estimated 137,000, according to a recent report by the Migration Observatory.

The two countries share a number of similarities, from friendly attitudes to love of football. Yet they can also be two different worlds when it comes to social customs, shopping habits, food and, gulp, the weather.

We asked a few Spanish expats in the UK to share how they have learned to survive, and thrive:


Fun online resources

web resources

So many Spaniards have relocated to London that there are guides for Spanish expats - Trucos Londres is one great example.

There are numerous resources created for Spaniards throughout the country, from active Facebook groups even in smaller towns to a slew of Spanish speaking and meeting events on InterNations and Meetup.com.


Stand corrected

english language

Are you pronouncing or using an English word incorrectly?

Even in the UK, several expat years may drift by before you realise it. The Brits are too polite and won’t tell their Spanish friends if they have made a mistake.

Conversely, ask them for input and they will most likely be happy to help out.


Everything on sale

shop interior

Whereas there might be a big blowout shopping sale twice a year in Spain, there is one nearly every day in the UK.

Yes, the cost of living is higher, but you may not realise it when buying an item that is 50 per cent off, marked down an additional 20 per cent, at one of the many chain stores like Poundland, Lidl, or Aldi.

Come winter (or mid-August) check out Mountain Warehouse for a comfy fleece sweater or jacket.


Drinking Life a Fish

restuarant interior

There’s little doubt that the Spanish appreciate their alcohol.

But they usually wine and dine at a slower pace than the Brits.

“The pub is the center of social life here. And if you go, the expectation is to get very drunk.”

said Gisela, a Spanish expat in Glasgow.


Giving a hand

handshake

In Spain two kisses hello, and two kisses goodbye on the cheek may be the norm, even with your new boss.

Try this in the U.K. and you might receive a frightened look. Be prepared to extend your hand for the same greeting, especially in formal situations.


We should (not) get lunch

restuarant

It's true that many Brits are welcoming and open people.

Yet when they proclaim that “We should meet for a coffee sometime!” they don't necessarily mean it as more than a friendly cordiality. Don't be offended if you don't hear from the person again.

“In the U.K., it’s just a sentence but in Spain we actually mean it,”

said Nuria, who lived as an expat in Scotland for two years.


That’s fantastic

london good

Don’t be surprised if, when telling your boss that you will be back from lunch in a half hour, she proclaims “OK fantastic!”

No, your newfound speedy eating habits are not a stellar accomplishment in her eyes. Rather Brits are accustomed to saying “Great!” or “Fantastic!” as a means of confirmation.

However, the seemingly positive phrase “That’s interesting” can be a subtle way of saying, “I’m not fully convinced” in Brit-speak.


Life dictated by the weather

raining in the uk

Back in sunny Spain, much of social life revolves being outdoors.

People end up spontaneously interacting -- a change from the U.K.:

“The lack of interaction here comes from the lack of communal spaces outdoors,”

says Carlos, an expat who has lived in London. But, he adds, people’s moods visibly shift, and parks fill to the brim, on those rare occasions with nice weather.


Finding a flat

London flat

Especially in a city like London, finding a decently priced room can feel a bit like trying to locate the Loch Ness Monster.

But not all hope is lost. Gumtree is a comprehensive -- and free -- starting point. Yet, although they require a subscription, Easy Roomate and SpareRoom can yield quicker results, expats tell us.

And looking to buy or rent your own place? Try Rightmove.co.uk.


Opening a bank account

bank account

While it used to be a tedious process to open a bank account in the UK, nowadays you just need to present a proof of identity and proof of address.

Several banks allow you to open an account before you even arrive in the U.K.

Check out this guide on how to open a bank account in the UK for more.


Don't get stung sending money to Spain

You've bagged a great job in the UK, but you still have bills or a mortgage to pay at home.
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TransferWise is the fast, fair new way - this is how it works:

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