For many non-EU foreigners, living in Spain legally is debacle numero uno. No easy solution exists, whether it’s finding a company to sponsor you, or a significant other willing to fully commit to ma-ma-ma-marriage. Locating a street in Madrid without obras would be easier.

 

But recently, something very unexpected changed. As rare as the Spanish waiter that happily and eagerly takes your dinner order, a process here just got easier and tremendously more helpful. I’ll let you digest that for a moment, because I know it’s hard to believe.

 

Have you recovered? OK, good. Back to business.

 

The process I’m referring to is that of pareja de hecho. Roughly translated as domestic partnership, acquiring the status originally just meant you got a piece of paper saying “these folks are officially an item” (not terribly unlike that note you wrote your classmate in junior high school). Now, becoming pareja de hecho can actually grant foreigners residency. Crazy, right? And it’s not too good to be true!

 

Here’s a brief rundown of the requirements and steps:

Requirements:

  • Civil status certificate stating you’re single (must be validated for non-EU foreigners)
  • Empadronado(a) with your Spanish significant other for at least one year
  • Two witnesses
  • Three photos (for Comisaría when applying for card)
  • Copy of entire passport

Steps:

  • Empadronamiento with significant other at the Ayuntamiento
  • Obtain civil status certificate (foreigners go to their embassy/small fee required)
  • Non-EU residents must validate civil status certificate at the Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores
  • Become pareja de hecho at the Registro de Comunidad Autónoma de Madrid
  • Pick up certificado de pareja de hecho at the Registro de CAM
  • Apply for residency card at the Comisaría
  • Pick up card at the Comisaría (small fee required)

 

As with most things in Spain, there’s a good chance that funcionario 1 will say something entirely different than funcionario 2, so expect rules and processes to vary.

Now that pigs are flying, maybe the obras will stop and more waiters will become friendly. One can dream.

 

Armishaws are a leading removals companies in the UK who regularly move worldwide to most locations, including Spain, so have given their top ten tips and facts about moving to Madrid:

1) British families who move to Spain with school-age or pre-school children should register at their town hall, who will advise about schools.

2) Spanish families place high priority on giving their children a good education; consequently places at private schools are filled well in advance, and there are waiting lists.

3) Upon successfully completion of four years of secondary education they are awarded their ESO (certificate of secondary education, Educación Secundaria Obligatoria). This may take more than four years since failure to make satisfactory progress can mean repeating the year.

4) Some fiestas are location-specific, based on a local legend or a real historical event. A good example of this is San Sebastian, in the Basque country, which holds a festival each January to celebrate their liberation from French rule by Lord Wellington in 1812.

5) Many aspects of the Spanish lifestyle are extremely easy to get used to: the sunshine, the wine and the sangria, the paella, the tortilla and the tapas, and the uplifting rhythms of the bossa nova and the flamenco as the sun goes down and nightlife begins.

6) Spectacular fireworks are a popular feature at fiestas, and probably the most spectacular of all are the ones that light up the skies at the Summer Solstice, when bonfires are lit to celebrate the longest day. This tradition is especially strong in the south of Spain

7) The Spanish healthcare system works well, and it is often even possible to find English speaking medical staff. However, before moving to Spain you need to be sure that the costs of future medical treatment will be covered.

8) Spanish healthcare is not free, but individuals who are covered by the State system pay only a small contribution towards the cost, depending on their personal circumstances.

9) For those looking to embrace a traditional Spanish lifestyle, inland Spain has plenty of attractive villages where life is not seasonal, property prices are lower, and you will be able to join in local community life.

10) A common pattern is for people to move from the UK initially to their Spanish holiday home, and to relocate to a different part of Spain a few years later after exploring the country in greater depth. There is probably a richer variation in regional cultures in Spain than in any other European country. Each region has its own history and its own traditions, and regions such as Galicia, the Basque country and Catalunya still retain their own languages alongside Spanish.

Madrid’s metro system is one of the largest and best metropolitan rail systems in the world. Built in 1919, the Madrid metro was born out of the necessity to connect its citizens in a rapidly-growing urban environment. The construction of new lines and expanding platforms caused the Chamberí station to close in the 1960s, leaving it mostly abandoned until 2008, when the station was reopened as a museum called Andén Cero, or Platform Zero.

Situated in the Chamberí neighborhood, the museum at Andén Cero offers a short video that outlines the history of Madrid’s underground railway system. After watching the video, visitors can then see the fully-restored lobby and platforms, designed by architect Antonio Palacios, who also designed some of Madrid’s most beautiful attractions, such as the Palacio de Comunicaciones and the Círculo de Bellas Artes.

A quick trip to Chamberí is a journey back in time. With advertisements and metro system maps restored back to their original states, walking through the station feels like a trip to the 1940s. Palacios’ designs are still intact, down to every last detail, with bright tilework adorning every inch of the space. A large plexiglass barrier separates visitors from the train tracks, so you can safely stand on the platform and watch the occasional line 1 train go by.

Andén Cero is free to visit every Tuesday to Friday from 11am to 7pm, and on weekends from 11am to 3pm. Be sure to take metro line 1 from Bilbao to Iglesia so you can see Chamberí station from the train, and then walk down C/ Santa Engracia until you reach the museum entrance in the Plaza de Chamberí.

Shana came to Madrid in 2009 for a brief summer study program and couldn’t stay away for long. Immediately after finishing university, she came back in September 2010 and has since been spending her time navigating the English language with primary school children and constantly rediscovering all of the charms that captured her for the first time.

Going to the doctor in Spanish

December 7th, 2011 | Posted by JLynch in Jamie | Medical - (3 Comments)

Last week, like many other people, I was really sick and completely bedridden for almost an entire week.  After two years in Spain, it was finally time to go to the doctor for the first time.  Luckily for me, Raúl took care of finding the number of the nearest Sanitas doctor. This was great, except for the fact that it did not occur to him that it might make sense for me to see an English speaking doctor. I did not have the strength to undo what was already done nor could I fathom waiting any longer to get treated, so I sucked it up and made the appointment.

While the experience was positive overall, there are a few things I would have done differently to prepare myself if I could do it all over again. Even though my Spanish is strong, I still felt a bit lost. For better or worse, I am not used to discussing flu-like symptoms in Spanish, so those words just were not part of my vocabulary. I tried to tell the doctor that my ears hurt by saying “me duelen las orejas” but apparently that direct translation from English is just not a correct way of describing this symptom in Spanish.  I quickly reverted to hand gestures, and before long the doctor did as well since it was clear to him that I was just not following.  Looking back, my advice would be as follows:

  • As a heads up, when you call to make the appointment, they are going to ask you what type of doctor you want to see. I did not know what to say (a doctor doctor, I was thinking). Try to have this one figured out before you call.  In the end, I needed Medicina General, which makes sense in retrospect, but I have never had to make such a distinction when calling to make a doctor’s appointment back home.
  • Write down a translated list of your key symptoms using an English-Spanish dictionary before you go.  This is especially critical because I have noted there are several “false friends” in the health arena, such as costipada (hint: it has nothing to do with your digestion).
  • Do not hesitate to ask the doctor to repeat himself several times; at the end of the day this is our health we are talking about. I left the doctor thinking that he prescribed me some sort of throat gargle that I needed to mix with hot water twice a day, only to find when I went to the pharmacy that he really prescribed me anti-biotic pills. I still have no idea how I got so mixed up.
  • If you are on any other medications before you go, have the names written down along with that they are and what they do, translated into Spanish. The doctor is clearly going to ask you this, and if you are not sure, for example, what the words for insulin and what it treats are in Spanish, you could be putting yourself at risk.

All in all, this experience was not nearly as scary as it sounds, and I am lucky that I only had a throat infection (I think?) and not something more serious.  The doctor could not be any nicer and more patient, and I am happy to report that the prescribed treatment worked and I feel so much better. Although I am proof positive that this can be done successfully without making these advanced preparations, in the end I think they can help quite a bit.

Some Perks of Working in Spain

November 22nd, 2011 | Posted by JLynch in Jamie | Work and Employment - (2 Comments)

For me, adjusting to corporate life in Spain was not the easiest thing in the world.  The concept of a two hour lunch, strolling in at 10.00 and taking various leisurely coffee and/or smoke breaks was completely foreign to me after having been “raised” in the trenches of Corporate America in New York, where eating a sandwich at my cube with one hand while typing a memo with the other were par for the course.   Now that I have been here for some time, however, I have been able to observe, and even take advantage of, the many benefits that having a permanent contract in Spain have to offer.  A few of the highlights include:

  • -When you get married, you get an extra 15 days of time off.  Fresh off my honeymoon, I can say this one has been the most significant perk for me. Counting down from the day of your wedding, you have 15 days (on top of your vacation time afforded by your Company) to enjoy and take time off. Since it is 15 días naturales, weekends are included in the count, but it is a wonderful treat nonetheless.
  • -If you are moving house, you also get a bonus day off.  I could have used this in NY, where I moved 4 times in 6 years!
  • -Employees are entitled to at least 30 natural days, or 22 business days, of paid time off per year.  That is pretty incredible, especially considering it is a minimum.
  • -Minimum permitted maternity leave is 16 uninterrupted weeks for the mother, and 13 natural days for the father.  On top of this, mothers are also permitted to take time off for breastfeeding. This can be taken in various ways, including 1 hour per day until the baby is 9 months, 2 half hour increments per day until the baby is 9 months, or two extra weeks of maternity leave tacked onto the end of the 16 weeks. Where I work, taking the extra two weeks seems to be the common choice, at least from a practical standpoint.
  •  -Parents have the right to take a jornada reducida, or shortened work day (with a proportional decrease in salary) to take care of their children. This right exists until the youngest child is 8 years old.  It is pretty common where I work for women to start working this shorter day once they have a baby.

Working in Spain is certainly not easy, but knowing there are benefits like these certainly helps to ease the pain.