10 Things You Miss When You Don’t Live In Spain

I published this article this morning on the Spanish Property Network and the reaction was so good that I thought you might want to read it here too in case you don’t know about the SPN yet. What are ten of the things that make living in Spain different? What do people miss when they leave or look forward to when they are thinking of buying in Spain? Take a look.

Sometimes we don’t know what we are missing until we are not living in a place and we get as the Spanish say “Nostalgia” otherwise known as Homesickness. However here are some of the things you can look forward to when you are coming to live in Spain or just buying a holiday home over here. Take a look and tell us what you think.

1) Jamón – Spanish Ham is one of the great joys of living in Spain. It is a part of the daily ritual, the most common tapa or bocadillo, and part of the fiestas (You have not arrived in Spain until your boss, company or a member of the family gets you a Jamón at Xmas along with the Cava.

2) Persianas – Argh the beauty of sleep! You may have noticed it gets very sunny and bright in Spain and at times that can mean it getting light early in the morning when you desperately need some sleep after a night on the tiles. Persianas were born for this, blinds for the uninitiated. Not for the Spanish the slight inconvenience of the sun coming up, if you want total blackout conditions so that you wake up at 2 in the afternoon and you think it is still early morning then the persianas on the windows are the best thing ever invented. Especially useful for students and shift workers who would otherwise never be able to sleep.

10 Things You May Miss From Spain
10 Things You May Miss From Spain: 3 Not Having To Drive

3) Not Having To Drive – I have said it before and I will say it again, if the average Spaniard could they would live above their work and have a fireman’s pole to their desk, they would have a bar, a tobacconists and a supermarket on their block and they would never leave that block except in cases of dire emergency. This means that Spanish cities have been built up and are therefore very compact. Valencia, a city of 1 million people can be crossed on foot in about an hour and bikes, the bus and metro system and the local trains mean that if you live in the city you do not need a car. And really that is a good job because finding a parking place can be like the proverbial needle in a haystack and buying or renting a parking space can considerably increase your debt levels.

4) Coffee – I have never understood the existence of Starbucks in Spain. Go to any greasy spoon cafe in any one horse town in Spain and you will get a better cup of coffee at a third of the price of the sugar and cream fest masquerading as coffee in that horrible place (OK they have free wifi I know) However you have it, cortado, Americano or even a relaxing cup of cafe con leche in the Plaza Mayor in Madrid it is infinitely better than in Starbucks (Just be careful of the Torrefacto muck) Click the coffee cups below to learn how to order coffee in Spain.

Types of Coffee In Spain
Types of Coffee In Spain

5) Pipas – When I first came to Spain I couldn’t find a Mars Bar anywhere and I was distraught. I just saw people everywhere eating birdseed. How wrong I was. Sunflower seeds in their shell are not only sustenance but also a Spanish way of life. Go to any football match and instead of nails being bitten there are thousands of fans around you sitting eating their Pipas and spitting the husks onto the floor. As i once said the difference between a park bench in the UK and Spain are the piles of Pipa shells on the floor in Spain.

6) Timings – Getting up later, eating lunch in mid afternoon, waiting until bedtime before even venturing out for an evening meal and making sure to fit a siesta in at some stage during the day and finding all of the shops closed for three hours during the day before going to bed at some indeterminant stage in the wee small hours, that is the Spanish timing of life and if we add into this the lack of timekeeping, if you arrange to meet at one you best tell the other person to be there at 12.30 if you want them to arrive before 2, then you will understand that Spain is different.

7) Being Outside – Sitting on a terrace bar having a coffee, a vermut, a pincho, a clara or a GinTonic is the most normal thing on Earth. Why use the six coffee machines you have at home when you can support the local economy by going to your local bar and have a shouting match with a friend or six over the noise of a “maquina Tragaperras” in the corner (Fruit machine for the uninitiated)?

8) Where’s the Ñ on my computer? – Once you are outside of Spain the Ñ disappears from everywhere. You sort of miss it because it embodies España of course. Well let me give you a tip, on the iPhone and iPad you just press and hold the N to get the option and I believe it is “Alt-164” or something like that on a PC.

10 Things you may miss about Spain
10 Things you may miss about Spain: Number 9 Light

9) Light – You can wear shades all day without looking affected in Spain, in fact it is a necessity if you don’t want to spend all day squinting and increasing your wrinkle count when you get a bit older. And of course the light means less depression, no seasonal affective disorder in most of Spain, more “Alegría” and more of an outdoor lifestyle.

10) La Sobremesa – The period after a meal when you don’t just get up and go if out or get up and do the dishes if at home, the sobremesa is when you discuss, business, school with the kids, holidays, plans, gossip and more and it can go on for hours… and you know the best thing it usually includes wine, brandy, coffees, chocolates, cakes and a whole host of other wondrous things, in fact it can often last into the next meal if done correctly.

So there are our ten. What other things would you include in your things that you would miss about Spain if you weren’t here? Or if you are not here what is it about the Spanish lifestyle you are looking forward to?

Salvador Dalí Enjoying a Coffee
Salvador Dalí Enjoying a Coffee
Photo by Milton Gendel for Vanity Fair