Family really does come first in Spain. That is one of reasons being an expat in Spain is great for kids. Even in today’s modern world, it is not unusual for several generations of the same family to live under the same roof. It is also not uncommon for “children” to stay living in the family home well into their 30’s.
Times are changing of course, and the economic climate is causing these traditions to change. If you read the news, you will know that younger Spaniards nowadays are opting to move overseas at an earlier age in search of higher wages, better job prospects and their fortune. Most of them, however, would be home in a flash if they had the opportunity. Memories of their childhood in Spain are full of family, love, friends and fun.
So, why do I say being an expat in Spain is great for kids?
Please note that I am not comparing Spain in contrast to any other country. I am merely sharing personal opinions and observations about living as an expat in Spain.
Living as an Expat in Spain with Kids
1. A longer childhood: I cannot say exactly why, but it is widely agreed that children are children for longer in Spain. There is less social pressure on them to grow up and act like adults. Age is not a barrier. It is not frowned upon for a teenager to cuddle and coo over a baby or to play with a toddler.
2. Safety: It is wonderful to have strangers in the street come up to your children, to talk to them, embrace them, even to take your baby out of your arms. (I can imagine some parents cringing at this very thought). Spain has a relatively low crime rate. Parents do not live in fear for the safety of their children. This is an important reason being an expat in Spain is great for kids.
3. Outdoor lifestyle: Thanks to the weather, in most parts of Spain and particularly in the South, more time is spent outdoors than indoors. Sports facilities are in abundance in all villages and towns. Playing on the beach, or in the open countryside, in clean fresh air, is a normal occurrence rather than a rare holiday treat. Living as an expat in Spain kids are outside, and that is great!
4. Family first: The family unit in Spain is generally very tight. Children grow up with great respect for family members and appreciating the family unit. They develop a special pride in their family. Respect for elders is inherent.”Woe betide the niño who does not instantly give up his seat for an Abuelita” Even though expat children who move to Spain may not see relatives as often as if they lived in the same country, when they do meet up they enjoy quality time together.
5. Great food: In Spain, cooking is a passion. The best dishes are often simple recipes that have been passed down through the generations. Quality ingredients are more important that fancy presentation. Comida casera rules! Read about some of my children’s favourite Spanish dishes. “Children’s meals” are not typical in most Spanish restaurants, as in the UK. It is more typical for families in Spain to share plates of food. Meal times are often family times. Fast food is yet to impact Spanish eating habits. How often have you seen people walking down the street eating their lunch in Spain?
6. Holidays: Spain is famous for its ferias and festivos. They are another reason Spain living as an expat in Spain is great for kids. There is often any excuse for a holiday in Spain. Although it may be more challenging for some parents, based on their work schedule, for those of us who work for ourselves and have flexible working conditions, regular holidays are part of the routine. What child doesn’t enjoy a holiday? Whether it’s a week at home with more trips to the beach or fun family days out, the children enjoy more family time.
7. Children are welcome everywhere: There may be some exceptions, but, in general, you will not need to worry if your children will be welcomed in most establishments in Spain. No matter what the time or location, your children will be not only welcomed but welcomed with open, loving arms.
So there you have just seven of many reasons why I think being an expat in Spain is great for kids. I’d love to hear about any other reasons you think I should add.
This post is part of our new series Global Learning for Kids. Each month we will feature a country and host a link party to collect posts about teaching kids about that country–crafts, books, lessons, recipes, etc. It will create a one-stop place full of information about the country.