Archive | Money

Managing money in Spain

Posted on 08 May 2012 by American expat!

Banking in Spain

Don’t stress about banking in Spain, it’s the one thing I can say they are very efficient at. Unlike in the US, there are no wait times on deposits nor transfers – they are instantaneous. The most popular bank in Catalunya is Caixa Catalunya, after which is probably La Caxia. All you need is a passport to open an account if you are a foreigner. You’ll pay a service fee of 5 Euro a month. If you have a NIE, the fee is waived. Online banking is great, though not necessarily well translated if you choose their English version, but easy enough to navigate and again, transfers to others or to pay bills are instant-no waiting.

Cheap method to transfer money between the US and Spain

If you don’t have an income in Spain, or need to occasionally transfer money to your Spanish account, transferring money from your US bank account to your new Spanish account will cost you about 40-45 dollars a pop. That’s because you have to buy a bank wire. There are not too many alternatives that cost any less, however I DID find one way that takes a lot longer but is far cheaper. If you plan ahead this will work for you.

You will need two Paypal accounts. To open a Paypal account you need a unique email, so use your current email and link it to your US account, and then just create a new gmail/yahoo/hotmail account to set up another Paypal account linked to your Spanish bank account. Once you get them validated, you can gift yourself money from your US Paypal to your Spanish Paypal.

Be sure to mark the transfer as a GIFT, otherwise you will pay Paypal’s high commission rates.

This works, I did it for over a year. Paypal will contact you once you reach 2500 dollars in transfers to make sure you are not laundering money. You will have to prove you own both accounts and have an address in both places. Don’t worry they won’t close your account. They want the money. I still use this method on occasion and it works just fine.

EDIT: As of November 2014, I have stopped using Paypal for my transfers because of their conversion fees. I now recommend TransferWise.  The cost to send from US banks is a flat $15 for amounts over $1500. Read more about it here.

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Working in Spain

Posted on 05 April 2012 by American expat!

 Working in Spain as an American citizen is harder than you think

On the other hand, it’s also easier than you think.

What do I mean by that? First, if you plan on coming here and finding a company that will sponsor you with a work visa, you can forget it. Unless you are already working for a company in the US that has an office in Spain, you won’t get a work visa. Even if such an unlikely thing were to happen, you would have to return to the US and wait 8 months to one year to process said visa, since they must be issued in the country of the citizen and not in the country offering the job. The reason why you won’t get a work visa is that there are plenty of native English speakers with the same skills you have who are EU citizens and can legally work in Spain already – the British.

On the other hand, if you are planning to teach English, there are a mountain of jobs waiting for you. Based on what I hear from others, many language schools are happy to pay you under the table. If you are uncomfortable with that sort of arrangement, you can always go freelance and give private or group lessons on your own. This such a common practice because so many people here do not speak English and the globalization of business is making it an extremely desirable skill. So most teachers will take on private students of their own at one time or another, whether the teacher has a NIE (equivalent to a SSN) or not- Though you really do want to get yourself a NIE, because you need it for nearly everything.

Another option that will allow you to work is through a student visa. You can work legally on a student visa for 20 hours.  If you are planning to learn Spanish anyway, this will be your best bet.  There are no fewer than 20 Spanish language schools of varying in prices with a variety of classes, schedules and course lengths (note: you generally get what you pay for with Spanish language schools) and all of them will help you get a student visa.

Note that you have to apply for the visa  at the closest Spanish embassy to you while you are in the US after you have paid the school and have the paperwork. Plan at least four months and many trips to the Spanish embassy to receive it.  Once you get to Spain you’ll want to talk to a employment lawyer to see exactly which steps you need to take for authorization to work on a student visa. But don’t worry, there are plenty and they aren’t too expensive.

Also note that there is no way to expedite anything in Spain. (See my many posts regarding work and work ethics here, and do not miss this youtube short about a freelancer doing battle with the system!).

You can always come here on tourist visa –which is for three months and you automatically have one if you have a US passport–to check things out while you figure out what to do. I’m not advocating overstaying your visa, but I will say that I know more than one American that has lived here without any sort of residency for over five years and only leaves the country maybe once a year.

Once you have figured out your strategy, there are plenty of places to look for jobs.

  • As a rule, always check, kind of the local version of Craiglist, first. You will use this site to look for everything from jobs, to apartments, to vehicles to – well just about anything. There is an English version and you can search for any term in the job listing category you want.
  • Check out the job page for this site.
  • Look at the job listings under the Barcelona Professionals Group on LinkedIn (you have to join first, both LinkedIn and the BCN Professionals Group to see the job listings).

Otherwise, get to know people and meet their friends and colleges. You will find that others will be happy to introduce you to others and most socializing takes place in public rather than in private homes, so before you know it, you will have a circle of like minded people to network with.


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