Living La Vida Loca - Making a living in Mallorca #
How to juggle jobs and find happiness in your work, here in Spanish paradise
‘Find a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life’
Upping sticks and settling down abroad appeals to many of us, yet just a small minority choose to make the big move. Golden sands and still blue waters may get your heart pumping with excitement, yet learning a new language and understanding another culture could have your palms sweating at the same time! However, those of us who have made the leap, and integrated ourselves into Spanish society, can safely say it’s the best decision we’ve ever made; even if there are a few bumps in the road along the way...
Legalities of moving to Mallorca #
Registering to work in Spain is relatively straightforward. First of all, you have to apply for residency in Spain, the formalities to be observed being slightly different for EU citizens and non-EU citizens (coming soon!). Once you hold your residency card in hands, you can attend the job centre and begin your search for work (if you are not arriving to the country with secure employment.) As well as holding a valid residencia, you must also apply for a social security number. This number will be used in reference to your taxes, whereby a tax return must be completed every year between May and June, unless you earn under 6,000 € per annum.
If you are a business owner, or work on a self-employed basis you must register as Autónomo. You will be responsible for managing your own taxes each month, unless you pay a gestoría a fee to manage your accounts for you. If you are employed, you will either be on a contrato indefinido or contrato temporada. An indefinite contract relates to a full or part time position within a company, and a temporary contract may be seasonal or in relation to completion of specific work or projects. In these cases, you should receive monthly pay slips (nóminas) that show your salary, with deductions for your social security and state taxes (IRPF). Whether you are self-employed or employed has no bearing on whether you complete a tax return or not, as anyone who has been legally working in the country, for 182 days, is obliged to complete the tax return regardless.
Job Hunting #
Job hunting in Spain is like heading into the abyss. With hundreds of websites and social media pages promising golden opportunities, it’s hard to know where to begin! For many of us the risk of moving, without securing work, can seem incredibly daunting (and a little mad!). However, this is sometimes the best bet, in terms of finding what’s out there.
I came abroad at the age of 18 (and I never left!) and like many others, I found myself working within the travel industry. In the following years most of my jobs have found me, through talking to people and networking I’ve dabbled in performing, teaching and writing- it’s been fabulous! Although I’ve been very lucky, the constant career changes can make the future appear uncertain, and sometimes leaves you feeling envious of those who have the 9-5 lifestyle.
The reality is that in Spain, a 9-5 lifestyle is almost non-existent. The demands and needs of the country are different to those of the UK or America. Finance and business are not the main means of earning income; travel, tourism, property, and yachting account for a large percentage of employment. The nature of these industries means that hours are varied and positions are changeable, so working in Spain is all about flexibility.
There are websites out there, that can offer some guidance and support when it comes to working in Spain. Large job listing sites like Glassdoor allow you to run specific searches based on your location and interests. The site also holds background information and employee reviews of each company, so you can make an informed decision before you apply for anything.
Travel and Tourism #
No matter where you go in Spain, you can guarantee that there will be tourists! Whether you fancy the year-round sunshine of the Costa del Sol, or the orange groves of Seville, there will be globetrotters a plenty soaking up everything that Spain has to offer.
The wonderful world of travel and tourism provides fabulous job opportunities in a variety of different forms. From tour guides, to bar owners, singers to sellers- when we go on holiday, we like to see the best of the best! This sector is a great place to start when hunting for jobs in Spain, as it is less reliant on the need to speak the local language, and can play to your strengths- depending on your skill set.
Your location in Spain will determine your target audience, so it’s important to research each area and the kinds of tourists that it attracts. For example, it’s no good heading to Benidorm if you don’t speak English, as there’s more Brits than locals! However, your Spanish skills may come in handy at a boutique hotel in Valencia- it’s all about making things work for you! The season length will also vary, depending on your location, so make sure you factor this in as well, as this will impact your potential earnings.
Real Estate #
Across the world people are hunting for their perfect property, and that certainly rings true here in Spain. Whether it be starting a new life, finding a holiday home in the sun or looking to retire in a peaceful location - Spain has captured the hearts of many people. Working in real estate allows you to become a real-life Fairy Godmother, helping people on their quest to find their dream home!
When you put it like that, the job sounds idyllic, but it’s not without its trials and tribulations. To successfully work within this field, a minimum of two languages (English and Spanish or German and Spanish) are required, and any additional languages are advantageous. This job is not just about working with the customer, it’s about creating a harmonious relationship with the property owner, too. Your local knowledge of the area must be impeccable, and you will certainly need to be able to drive and have access to a car.
Real estate positions will allow you to find work all year round, although your hours will be long and varied, and you may be expected to work weekends. However, this job is particularly sociable, and you will get to travel around and meet many different people, allowing for networking opportunities and blossoming friendships. The ability to travel means that you will really see the true beauty of Spain, and you’ll continue to discover and unveil some of its best kept secrets.
Language Teaching #
When you first arrive in Spain, and your Spanish is still in its fledgling stages, language teaching can offer a perfect solution. By exchanging your skills as a native speaker of another language, in return for daily exposure to Spanish- you’ll be amazed how quickly you learn! Both English and German are of equal importance here in Spain, due to the large influx of tourists that the country receives each year. Within mainland Spain, and the neighbouring Balearic Islands, you will find an abundance of Language academies offering a range of TEFL, CELTA and TESOL based courses in English, Spanish and German.
Unlike teaching in the UK, you must be prepared to work long hours, as many adults and children attend these language classes outside of work or school time, so days begin relatively early and end rather late. Although this opportunity won’t bring home an awful lot of money, it does allow you to meet some rather exceptional people, from many walks of life; as well as incredibly studious and dedicated children. Children are encouraged to speak a second or third language from as young as three years old, and with the incredible diversity of various cultures here in Spain, many children are already raised in bilingual homes- it’s rather fabulous!
As a stepping stone to get where you need to be, or for those of you who have a passion for sharing knowledge and enriching the minds of others- this could be the job for you!
The ability to work where you want, and when, certainly has a large appeal to it! Freelancing allows you to work with international clients, from whichever base you choose, and why wouldn’t you choose Spain!
Co-working spaces are becoming increasingly popular across the country, and they allow you to work in an office style environment, but with people from hundreds of different companies. This fresh and diverse approach to office life, removes the constraints and dullness of working in the same place with the same people each day. Many co-working spaces offer a variety of options at different monthly costs, to ensure you can tailor your working experience to suit you. Whether it be shared working, just spending a few days a week in the space, or hiring a private office- they’ve got you covered!
Freelancing doesn’t suit every job, but for those of you who work digitally it can be the perfect option. Whether you choose to work from the comfort of your home, or the little bar on the corner that serves brilliant tapas (although you’re just there for the wifi, aren’t you?) working in Spain is a brilliant choice!
Becoming A Business Owner in Mallorca #
No matter where you choose to start your business, it’s a brave decision that is not without risks! However, if the risks pay off then you could have a dream job in a dream location, and that is certainly worth it!
Spain relies on tourism for many things, and so a bar or restaurant is often the first thought that springs to people’s minds. The growth of all-inclusive holidays has killed off many businesses over the last few years, however Spanish governments are trying to reduce the number of all-inclusive hotels in different areas, and encourage tourists to experience local life!
With any business it is about knowing your location, ensuring that you are somewhere that is easily accessible and visible to tourists. Businesses that are tucked away in side streets will struggle, as only a few tourists will veer from the main walkways and hot spots. You must also ensure that there is a gap in the market for your venture. Research your area and see what it’s missing, what nationalities are drawn to this area, and what would they like. If your target audience are local residents, then ensure you speak the language- conversation and word of mouth is key!
Marketing and social media are also essential when establishing yourself. A poor online presence will mean that you sit under the radar; if people can’t instagram their food and tag your restaurant in their post- do you even exist?! The importance of being online is essential, and it also opens up a wealth of international clients. Maybe they will see your product or business premises and place and order or pay you a visit! As with any job, networking is the magic word!
The cost of leasing property, and hiring staff must also be factored in. Spain recently raised their minimum wage, meaning that employees on 12-months contracts must earn a minimum of 1,050 € per month. The law stipulates that no employee can work over nine hours in row, and they must have a minimum of twelve hours rest between working days. Of course, your business must be registered, and you must set yourself up as Autónomo in order to file your tax returns. If you offer food and drink services, there are also other regulations in terms of safety and hygiene that you must abide by… A lot to think about!
Making Money in Mallorca #
In order to make money here in Mallorca, you must arrive to the island with an open mind, and be prepared to act as a ‘Jack of all trades’. Mallorca offers a variety of job opportunities, primarily, but not limited to, travel and tourism. Holidaying in Mallorca comes in many forms, from cruising to hotel breaks and self-catering apartments. Each one of these sectors relies on linguists, sales specialists, managers, drivers, waiting staff… the list is endless! Although this industry is incredibly prevalent here on the island, the majority of these positions are seasonal, so you must be prepared to either save up your money or find alternative work in the winter.
The winter season here on the island is spectacularly beautiful but incredibly quiet, so it can be difficult to find job opportunities. This is where your ability to ‘turn your hand’ to anything will come in handy! The winter in Mallorca is all about renovations and reformations, so if you’re handy with a paintbrush or a chisel the building and construction industry may be calling your name!
Although bars and restaurants may be locked up for a well-deserved winter break, people still need housing! The real estate industry never stops here in Mallorca. With properties constantly being built and renovated, estate agents are busy marketing and selling across the island. Of course, this kind of work attracts international clients, so those of you who are multilingual should be seriously considering a career in this field!
As a business owner here on the island it's all about location and ensuring you have a secure target market for your business venture. If you are based in a location that will have no tourist trade during the winter months (most coastal resorts) then you need to ensure you can make enough money throughout your six months of trade. However, if you intend on running your business all year then you need to guarantee that your services will be required, even when the island gets quiet.
It would be fair to say that very few people make their millions here in Spain, as salaries are comparatively lower than in other countries. They vary depending on your line of work, and it is difficult to provide an estimate of average earnings across the country.
The majority of people within the tourism industry, or education industry will earn between 1,050-1,500 € per month, although there may be the opportunity to earn commissions or tips, or to hold private classes, which would add to your income.
Business owners' income too will vary depending on their segment, and with freelancers the work can be very much all or nothing, and salaries will be dependent on what you can charge for your services.
The most guaranteed salary would be in real estate, where your basic earning will be around 1,500-1,700 € per month. On top of your basic salary there will be the opportunity to make additional money through sales commissions, but this is not guaranteed.
Despite the salaries not reaching huge heights, the cost of living is far cheaper than in many other European countries, or the United States. Property prices are considerably lower with rentals, in certain areas of Spain, costing as little as 450 € per month. Purchasing prices differ depending on location, but properties are available for under 100,000 € in particular towns and villages- significantly lower than in other countries.
Costs of food and drink are also far lower, an average food shop for one costs around 35 € per week, 150 € per month. In comparison to London, where one person can expect to spend around 45 £ per week, this is a saving of around 60 € per month.
We also have the benefit of far more free activities on our doorstep! A trip to the beach, or a hike through the mountains costs nothing! Fiestas occur all year long, and they are free for all to enjoy - the standard of living outweighs the rat race of so many other countries.
So, move to Spain, take that risk, and let your dreams become reality!
DISCLAIMER: All information contained in this article is based on personal experience and opinion and may change due to changing laws and regulations and/or based on where in Spain you are.
By Delia Paul
30 January, 2019