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ZooutZere's avatar

Living In Spain...Advice sought.

Asked by ZooutZere (68points) February 24th, 2010

Hi guys. My hubby and i are thinking of checking out Spain, perhaps moving there…but definitley up for re-locating from the States. I have an EU passport so no problems with legal requirements for the both of us. Not sure if this would be the right forum but if there is anyone living or recently moved from Spain and would like to throw a few pointers my way i would appreciate it.
Primarily thinking of Barcelona…Also, something to point out is that we are an inter-racial race couple (Black American & White European) we dont know the state of race relations in Spain either..but would like to find out about it…

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21 Answers

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Can you be a little more specific about what kind of advice you’re looking for? Do you speak Catalan or Castillian? Have you been to Spain or Barcelona before? Do you know what kind of job you might be able to do there? Do you know anyone who lives there?

poisonedantidote's avatar

i have been living in spain for 26 years now. here is my advice… RUN!

some areas of spain are ok, barecelona, madrid and the big cities are not too bad. but if you decide to go for a small town, know that you will be in for a life full of inefficiency, laziness, corruption and usually quite a lot of drugs and crime.

they are still very racist here too, if you are black you will be mocked for it quite a bit and treated a little different. its no KKK racism or anything like that, but if you are black they will assume you are a guy who sells watches on the street and it will be some what harder to find work.

i have lived here since i was about a year old, so im kind of accepted as one of the locals now, but most outsiders will be treated differently.

source: living in mallorca for over 20 years

EDIT: its not all doom, there are some very nice people here, its just going to be very different to what you are used to.

ZooutZere's avatar

La Chica Gomela- not sure i understand what you mean to ” run ” do you mean “run away” from Spain or “run to” Spain.

Well actually we dont know anyone, nor do we speak Catalan/Spanish…my husband is into the rockabilly 1950’s scene and wants to open a tiki bar somewhere…somewhere outside of the States, and we thought Spain, because of the high tourist traffic, and pleasant weather in general would be a good place to look into.

We had lived in London for 4 years and while we enjoyed it, could never afford to open a bar due to the prohibitive cost.

I know we first need to visit and have a look around…to get a sense of the vibe, but ofcourse any advice along the way does help.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

La Chica Gomela here, I think you’re getting me confused with other users. I never said “run”.

But after reading your last answer, I have to say my first impression is “sounds like a bad plan”. Moving to a country where you have no connections, know no one, and don’t speak the language just sounds doomed to fail. Castillian is discouraged in Barcelona, and Catalan is quite difficult to learn in the US due to the fact that very few people who speak it fluently live here.

It seems like opening a tiki bar in a touristy part of Mexico or perhaps a cruise port-of-call in another country, Jamaica, the Bahamas, the DR, etc. might be a better option…

AstroChuck's avatar

If you are looking at Barcelona you might want to learn Catal├ín. Also know that Spain’s economy is really suffering right now. They are possibly feeling the recession more than any other E.U. country with the exception of Greece and Iceland.

poisonedantidote's avatar

opening a bar in spain will see you bankrupt withing 6 months unless you are a real proper shark. there is so much competition because of the tourism, and now with the economy how it is there are even less tourists to go around.

and yes, you are getting your users mixed up.

but yes, i agree with @La_chica_gomela… if you can give more info i can give better advice too. buying a house here and others things is quite different to other places.

and to clarify, i was saying run from spain, specially if you dont know any spanish or catalan, they will take you for every penny you have. and you will not be respected much if you cant be seen to be putting in effort to learn the language.

ZooutZere's avatar

sorry for confusing your names there…the main thing for us is the fact that because of the EU passport, we can pack up and live anywhere in Europe..meaning no problems with visa/work permit etc.

Well the idea was to open a tiki/ rockabilly bar…this is a neiche market, and we know there is quite a scene in Spain. Obviousley no where is as easy as America when it comes to opening a buisness…but judjing from the responses so far, it sounds like you really need someone local on your side to even consider doing buisness there.
The other point is precisley because of the economic slow-down, we thought it might be the best time to start a buisness..perhaps cheaper rent/lease etc.
Yes the islands would be an option..but but laying around a beach all day long is not really our cup of tea either…besides like i said, getting the papers in order in non-eu countries wont be easy either.

ZooutZere's avatar

Yes i read about the recession hitting Spain quite hard…i dont know..we really want to leave here..but it seems like its never the right time…always something else going on,on the other side.

Poisonedantidote- What is the health care like in Spain…would you say its a good place to raise a family ? We are in our early 30’s and not rich by any means..but we are ready to move and REALLY settle down somewhere…and the million dollar question i guess is ” where ”?

ZooutZere's avatar

Initially we considered Argentina as well but visa requirements, especially to open a buisness would be quite complicated…plus similar to what you said about being a black in Spain…it seems the same is true for Argentina.

poisonedantidote's avatar

last year i invested 20.000 euros in a share of a bar here, i was lucky to get out with the 10.000 i was able to salvage by selling coffee machines and stuff. the bar lasted all of 9 months, and in my book thats quite a good run. most people here in mallorca are lucky to get 6 months out of a bar.

i would suggest you come to a town in spain, meet the bar owners, get the know them a bit. then come back the next year and see how many of those bars are still owned by the same person.

you will either be a big success or a massive flop. you need to know who you are, what you want and how to get there.

moving to barcelona without knowing any spanish or catalan is just like moving to london without knowing any english.

i cant speak for the main land of spain, but here in mallorca, if you want to open a bar, you best have a ¼ million euros.

60.000 to 150.000 for “traspaso” (a initial fee to get the bar)
1000 to 4000 euros a month rent.
200 to 500 a month for legal fees and “gestoria”
5000 to 10.000 for initial stock (less if not serving food, but less profit too)
200 to 500 a month for phone, sky TV, gas, electricity and general bills

and thats just what i can think off hand.

if you want to go for it, and are up for the challenge then go for it, its the ones who are willing to push hard that normally make something of it, but at the moment, i would say you have an 80% to 90% chance of failing and going home out of pocket.

in the 90’s, a friend of mine came here from germany after his father died, they had loads of money, when i first met them they lived in a 3 story house, they had a big restaurant that sold food and cakes and things. their bar was full every single hour of every single day, they worked their asses off. 2 years later, they moved out of the big house and downgraded to a large 4 bed apartment, they sold the bar and got a smaller place and sold less food and no cakes. now in 2010, my friend is a drug addict living in the back of a car with his mother.

you need to spend every waking hour of every single day planing and working on this if you even stand a chance.

im not trying to put you off or anything, im just trying to help by showing you a bit of the reality. it looks nice on tv shows like ’‘a place in the sun’’ and what not, but thats tv, reality is different.

ZooutZere's avatar

Poisonedantidote- Wow…thanks for that detailed you currently live in Spain ? Have you lived in other places in Europe ? I realize we first have to visit Barcelona and see for ourselves, but the economic reality, and the cost of doing buisness would be very discouraging…you are right, there is no perfect place, but YES at the end of the day, we do know what we want, which is to have a bar that caters to a specific scene which is the rockabilly scene. It seems from your estitamtes that it would be impossible for us to afford a bar in Spain…
By the way what is the health care system like in Spain ? Were you satisfied with it ?

poisonedantidote's avatar

yes i live in spain, on the island mallorca in the med. i have also lived in the UK, essex, london and manchester, i have spent 6 months in madrid also and have visited barcelona a few times. i do know catalan but only cause they teach it in school here, i never actually lived in barcelona.

as for health care here in spain, it is absolutely excellent. the worse i can say about it is i have to wait 1 hour to see a Dr if i want a check up, but in an emergency you will be seen to immediately.

when my brother was younger, just a kid he fell of the balcony 1st story. he was totally fine, but we took him to hospital at the time, as we arrived at sondureta hospital, the security guard radioed in to the hospital and a team of doctors run out of the building in to the parking lot to get him, we had not even parked and got out of the car by the time he was hoisted on to the stretcher. 2 hours later he had had every x-ray and test you can think of, they kept him in over night, assessed him the next day and let him go home. you could not ask for more in that regard.

EDIT: free health care btw, not insurance based. except for dentists that are all private and quite costly. 100 euros average.

ZooutZere's avatar

Poisonedantidote- thanks for all the heads up. We will hopefully plan a visit this summer to Spain and have a look around…its been difficult trying to pick a place in Europe…while it would be easier because of our EU status..we may have to end up looking outside of Europe.
BTW do you know if there is a sizable African-American community in Spain ? Also what is Mallorca like ? Sorry for so many Q’s :))

poisonedantidote's avatar

well, not many african-americans here no. plenty of regular africans and people from other black countries, but i have only ever known 3 people who where americans here. no doubt there probably are quite a few, there are over 40 million people in spain after all, but i have never met any.

we do have a very large german and british communities here, as well as quite a few french and asians. but americans are quite scarce in comparison.

as for mallorca, well its a real strange one. we dont have much industry, its nearly all tourism. and as there is less tourism in the winter (zero in most towns), we have this kind of 6 months on 6 months off system. in the summer you work about 12 maybe 14 or 16 hours a day. and in the winter you dont work at all. in the winter there is only some construction and a couple other jobs, so most people work all they can in the summer to save money for winter.

the good thing is you get 6 months each year where you are totally free all day, the bad thing is you are normally a little hard up for cash, so in the summer you have loads of money and no time and in the winter you have loads of time and no money.

i work from home my self so i get to do the normal 9 to 5 kind of hours, self employed. but the vast majority of people end up working in tourism.

as for what you can and cant afford, you can open a bar here for about 40.000 euros total investment, but its going to be tucked away in some corner and not very big and you are more or less guaranteed to fail. you really need something in a prime location to be able to have any chance, and as soon as you do that prices go way up.

but yea, no problem, ill answer any questions you like if i know the answer or at least have a fairly good opinion on it to give.

i would suggest you dont just take my word though and talk to others, opinions will vary a lot, but there will be some common themes, and thats probably where the truth lies.

mallorca is 88km from point to point, i think in USA you have bigger malls than that hehe, so my main opinion of spain is quite localized and thus maybe a little tainted. for example i think the police here are very corrupt and generally a bad thing. however im sure than in madrid they are more like london cops and thus probably totally ok. so you really need to talk to as many people as you can, and remember the common advices, such as the learning spanish and catalan thing.

ZooutZere's avatar

Hypethetically..If you were to open a bar again in Europe…which places would you consider ? The type of bar we are trying to open is a very niche market…its more of an underground scene than anything its really hard to find anyone who can give us a clear sense of what this scene is like in a particular country lets say…although there is a “rockabilly festival” held in Spain and we hear its a really big event, so planning a trip there around the same time as this festival may give us more insight since people from all over the world would be attending.
Would you consider opening a bar again or were you so discouraged that you would not do it again..

poisonedantidote's avatar

opening a bar. well, i knew this bar would be a bad idea before i even did it, i knew i was going to probably lose all my money.

my opinion is not negative because of the experience i had, just i kind of had to invest for private/emotional reasons that i would be willing to discuss in private but not here.

if i had to, i would do it again but i would still be going in to it knowing its a bad idea.

as for where would i open a bar, well…

why are you so set on opening a bar? thats the question you need to ask your self. what is it that you want out of life?

if this is just strictly business, then i would scrap the bar idea and open up a chain of taxis or ice cream vans or get in to some line of business i dont care about at all just for the money, i would stick with what i know is going to work and try to maximize my income from it. so what are your main priorities?

if you want to live in sunny spain and have money, i say go with something different like a tried and tested business.

if you want to own your own rockabilly themed bar and are chasing a life long dream, and that is more important than the money and the location i would try to see where is the best place to set it up and keep stable.

as for me, if i was going to open a bar because i had to open one, and i needed to chose a country in europe i would probably chose a more exotic location than spain.

spain, places like benidorm and mallorca used to be 20 and 30 years ago, 1 step up from a caravan holiday in the UK. when british people wanted a cheap holiday/vacation in the sun, they would get on a plain and come to mallorca. thats what made this place. but now you have easyjet and cheap flights, people are going further from home to more exotic places such as egypt and dubai. tourism is down at the moment here, has been for 10 years or so and gets a little slower each year.

tourism in spain probably still has a long way to go before it dies, but here in mallorca its almost dead.

as for opening a bar on spanish soil, if i had to do that i would probably go with ibiza. thats where the party is now days, and your theme probably has better chances there than it does here. not because there are many rockabilly fans on ibiza, but mainly because there are loads of wasted and high people walking around with party money to spend. they will really drink anywhere at any time of the day or night, so ibiza would be my first choice on spanish soil. off of spanish soil i cant really say without investigating, but the first thing i would investigate is the south of france and portugal.

ZooutZere's avatar

Your right..its more of a lifestyle thing for husband has been selling vintage 1950s clothes for many years and would like to do something different..while still remaining in the 50’s world. We both love the music of that era and opening a bar that had a small dance floor has been at the back of our heads for many years…basically it would be an extention of what we are already into. True, we never owned a bar before but other than that we have been around the scene for quite some time so yes, we do want to stay true to what we are all about…but its also true that we would ofcourse need to make a decent living at it, otherwise it would be time wasted.

YES Ibiza we have heard about as well…although everyone we spoke to that have been down there talked about $40 drinks that a lot of the clubs charge…So i can imagine it must be expensive to open anything there…although i know you get plenty of Brits/Germans etc. ready to get wasted and spill some cash.

Just Curious about why you may pick Portugal…(besides the obvious pleasant weather that is.)

poisonedantidote's avatar

well, i dont have much experience with buying property in ibiza, but i cant imagine it being much more than here. the expensive drinks is mainly the big clubs that pay DJ’s 500.000 euros for one nights performance and use all the electricity up on lights and music and that. im sure there are quite a few ’‘normal’’ priced places in ibiza. but i cant be too sure, i have been there quite a few times, its only 20 bucks for me to get there on the boat, so makes a good weekend spot, specially when i was younger. it just looks like a smaller but more busy version of mallorca to me.

why i would pick portugal, is because it never was as popular as spain. but now it looks like more and more british people are starting to go there as well as more germans, and its starting to look to me like the next spain so to speak. maybe nothing will come from it, but i do suspect portugal will be having a tourism boom within the next few years.

mattbrowne's avatar

Don’t expect to find an open restaurant which serves dinner at 7 or 8 pm. But when you get your meal around 10 pm it really tastes great.

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