Finding Expat Jobs in Spain

30 April 2019

There are many options for expats to work in Spain, from freelancing to traditional employment, each with its associated legal procedures.

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Many people decide to relocate to a new country to enjoy a lower cost of living (and great weather) in retirement, but others will need to look at expat jobs in Spain in order to support themselves. There are many options for expats to work in Spain, from freelancing to traditional employment, each with its associated legal procedures.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that the unemployment rate in Spain remains around 14%, higher than many other European countries. Because of this, you may have to think outside the box or consider working in a different industry with more job vacancies and opportunities. Some of the best fields for English-speaking expat jobs include tourism and hospitality, services catering toward English-speaking clients in areas with a large expat population, IT, and mid- to high-skilled professions on Spain’s list of shortage occupations. But if you already have a job offer from a Spanish company, you should get legal advice from our expatriation and visa support team, so you can relocate without having to worry about any of the multiple legal procedures. 

Freelancing jobs in Spain

Freelancing is an increasingly popular option among Spaniards and expats alike. The possibilities are practically limitless, but you have to know your market and find a niche if you want to be competitive. Being a freelancer in Spain requires you to register as an autónomo, and you will have to pay both the employee and the employer contribution to social security (in addition to VAT tax and quarterly income tax). Because of this, it can be tough for freelancers to bring in a profit, but this hasn’t stopped the number of autónomos from increasing dramatically since the global financial crisis.

Create expat jobs in Spain: starting a business

A step beyond working as a freelancer is starting a business in Spain. This process is legally complex, with many steps that need to be followed, and it can be very prone to setbacks and delays if you aren’t careful. In this case, it’s best to rely on your attorney for help. Obviously, like freelancing, this requires plenty of market research in order to launch a viable business.

Expat jobs in Madrid, Spain

Opportunities for more traditional expat jobs in Spain will generally be highest in the major cities. For example, professionals and executives will find many multi-national corporations headquartered in Madrid, and there are also opportunities in hospitality and tourism. Finding a job (and living here in general) will be tough if you don’t speak Spanish, though.

Expat jobs in Barcelona, Spain

It’s a similar story for expat jobs in Barcelona, Spain. As the country’s second largest city, there is a high concentration of job vacancies here compared to less metropolitan regions. Importantly, the Costa Brava region is one of the most popular tourism and expat destinations in Spain, so finding expat jobs that don’t require a high level of Spanish could be easier here. One complication, however, is that Catalunya has Catalan as a co-official language; some areas use it as a primary language, and some positions (especially in the public sector) require a certain level of Catalan for employees.

Expat jobs in Valencia, Spain

Valencia is Spain’s third largest city and is popular with tourists, if less so than Barcelona. As such, expat jobs in Valencia, Spain are similar to those of other major cities. If you are willing to look a bit beyond Valencia, though, there are large expat communities off the coast in the Balearic Islands, and in the Costa Blanca region to the south. These areas are especially good choices for people in the tourism, restaurant or hospitality industry, entertainment, and marine jobs.

Do I need a work permit in Spain?

This is an important legal aspect of working in Spain. Citizens of countries outside the EU/EEA need a work permit and residence visa, which must be applied for in your home country. Once you have a job offer, the prospective employer will apply for the work permit, which will then allow you to apply for the work residency visa.