Madrid

Spain is on the west side of Europe and one of the most popular travel destinations. Since the currency of Spain is the euro, it can be used not only in Spain but also in European countries, and if you are an EU member country, you can easily travel to other countries.

Since Spain is close to Africa, the weather in summer is a chilly heat, and you may find it surprising because the sun does not set at about 10 pm.

The official language of Spain is Spanish, but Spain is a multilingual country where 70% of people speak Spanish and 20% of people speak Catalan. English can be understood in famous tourist destinations,but you may face difficulties in daily lives without a command of Spanish as its relatively low penetration rate of English in the country.

Transportation

Spain has about three times as much land as Japan and most of the land is continuous, so there are various means of transportation within Spain.

The main means of transportation is

  • Airplane
  • Train
  • Bus
  • Ship

① Airplane

Most of Spain’s land is continuous, but there are some places where you can only go by airplane or boat; the Canary Islands.

You can take a boat to get to the Canary Islands but it takes much time, so many people fly to the Canary Islands.

It approximately takes

・3 hours from Madrid to the Canary Islands

・3 hours 30 minutes from Barcelona to the Canary Islands

However, it takes some time to/from the airport. Many Spanish airports are located in the suburbs and you need to take a taxi or bus for about 30 minutes from the city center to the airport. 

② Train

Railways are one of the essential means of transportation for daily life and travel.

The Spanish railway network has developed mainly between major cities such as Madrid-Barcelona and Madrid-Valencia. Therefore, it has been the easiest and the most useful way to get around for people who live in a major city in Spain.

It takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes from Madrid to move to major cities such as Barcelona.

Another good point of Spanish trains is that they are punctual. In particular, trains that run between major cities such as the Spanish version of the Shinkansen AVE and ALVIA depart and arrive almost on time. However, trains that run in small towns are often delayed, so it is advisable to act in good time.

③ Bus

スペイン情報 | 二階建て観光バスに乗ってみよう

Spain is a bus powerhouse.

Buses run between major cities as well as small towns and villages.They also run at midnight like the night bus in Japan. When you get on the bus at midnight, you can spend the daytime going around your destination.

Furthermore, when traveling by bus in Spain, there are also routes with a very large number of buses per day depending on the route used which is good as there are more choices for departure times.

However, be careful because moving a bus is likely to cause damage such as pickpockets.

Be especially careful when using a midnight bus when the bus is stopped due to a toilet break, etc. as valuables such as wallets and passports may be stolen. Be sure to carry valuables with you all the time.

④ Ship

You only have to board the boat in Spain from the Iberian Peninsula to Canary Islands or the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea, or to CEUTA or MELILLA.

It certainly takes time, but if you have time, then a leisurely boat trip isn’t a bad option.

You will definitely have a better life in Spain if you know the transportation that suits you best!

Medical system

Life in a different country isn’t that easy and sometimes makes you feel sick. What is of concern here is the medical situation in Spain.

Here is the information on Spanish health insurance system and hospital circumstances. The medical situation in Spain is slightly different from Japan, and which hospital you should go to depends on the type of insurance you have.

I) Spanish medical insurance

There are two types of health insurance in Spain.

Whenever you go to a hospital in Spain, you will need to show which insurance you have at the reception.

As mentioned earlier, which hospitals you go to depends on what kind of health insurance you have.

Sistema Naccional de Saludo de España

This is what is called public insurance in Japan.

In order to have public insurance in Spain, you need to pay the Seguridad Social which means international students studying in Spain cannot take out this public insurance.

This is because many people who basically work in some company in Spain or work as self-employed in Spain pay social insurance premiums to the Spanish state, and therefore the public insurance system is available.

Those who have enrolled in the Segridad Social have a health certificate, Tarjeta Sanitaria.

Your family doctor’s name is written on the backside of the card. When you get sick, you need to see the family doctor first.

In Spain, there is a public hospital like the Japanese public health center called Centro de Saludo. People with Tarheta Sanitaria go to the Centro de Saludo, near their home, to see their family doctor. After you get a prescription from Centro des Saludos, the system with a prescription, go to a nearby pharmacy to receive the medicine.

・Privado

This is private medical insurance provided by a private insurance company.

International students who do not pay the social security (Segridad Social) take out private medical insurance.

The procedure is easy if you bring your bank passbook, Spanish ID card, and passport to the insurance company’s agent.

However, it is necessary to consider how much coverage is provided by the insurance.. 

The famous Spanish insurance company are

  • Mutua Madrileña
  • Sanitas
  • Asisa

II) Medical expenses in Spain

In the case of treatment using Tarjeta Sanitaria, the medical expenses such as hospitalization fee are basically free, but the patient pays part of the medicine fee.

It is said that the cost of medicines for patients is up to 40% of the total, so it is not really high.

And what is unthinkable in Japan is that if you are hospitalized using Tarjeta Sanitaria, all of your daily necessities such as pajamas and toothbrushes will be provided by the hospital.  

Therefore Centro de Saludo is always crowded like no wonder, as people with Tarheta Sanitaria receive medical treatment almost free of charge.

Cost of living

In the days when the currency was Petase, Spain was known as a country with low prices.

However, after the introduction of the euro, prices are similar to those in Japan.

Of course it depends on the location: e.g. the south is cheaper than the north and the countryside is cheaper than the city!

Let’s take a look at rent, utility costs, and food expenses.

① Rent

Spanish rents considerably vary from place to place.

Take a look at the average rent in the city of Barcelona and the countryside of Tarragona.

  • Barcelona city apartment (2LDK): €750-€1,000 (about ¥95,000-130,000 )/month
  • Countryside apartment (2LDK) in Darragona: €350-€450 (about ¥44,000-57,000 yen)/month

(*Prices shown are as of August 13, 2020.)

You can see that the rent of Barcelona is twice higher than that of Tarragona.

Higher city rents are common to all countries, but if there is a double difference, it may be more economical to live in the suburbs and commute to the city.

② Utility bill

In Spain, many households are all electrified, and the utility bill is basically electricity and water.

For example,

  • Electricity cost: Approx. €70-€150 (Approx.¥8,800-19,000)
  • Water bill: Approximately €20 to €30 (Approximately ¥2,500 to ¥3,800)

 In some areas, there are places where you can live at a slightly lower utility cost.

③ Food expenses

Food is generally cheap in Spain, but it can be expensive depending on where and what you buy.

Spain doesn’t have convenience stores like Japan, so when it comes to eating out, eating at restaurants is common.

The cost of eating out is around ¥3,000 to 4,000 per person, so it feels a little higher than in Japan. Also, Spain has a 10% tax on dining out, which is a little higher for everything else.

School

In Spain, there are language schools where you can learn Spanish and English. In addition to learning languages, many people are studying abroad to study sports such as soccer.

Spain is still a minor English language study destination since its relatively low English penetration rate compared to other European countries..

However, the number of people learning Spanish has been increasing in recent years since speaking Spanish is a great advantage as Spanish is the second most used language in the world after English.

In Spain you can study Spanish not only in private language schools but also in courses for foreigners that may be attached to the university.

In addition, the guideline for the cost of studying abroad in Spain is

  • Language school (1 month): ¥100,000 yen-150,000
  • Public University (1 year): ¥150,000 to 300,000 
  • Private university (1 year): ¥700,000-2,000,000

If you study abroad at a university, public universities are inexpensive.

Sightseeing

Spain has many structures that represent a mixed history of Roman, Islamic and Catholic cultures. There are many other attractions such as fun events and delicious food.

① Sagrada Familia

スペインのサグラダファミリアは2026年に完成予定!行くなら今?|エアトリ

The “Sagrada Familia” is an unfinished World Heritage Site. It is an exceptional world heritage site that is still under construction more than 100 years after the construction started.

Since the whole picture of the Sagrada Familia was only in the designer Gaudi’s head, it is said that only one sketch can be relied upon for building.

② San Fermin Festival

水もワインも雨あられ。ヘミングウェイも描いた牛追い「サン ...

One of the three major festivals in Spain is the “San Fermin Festival”. The “San Fermin Festival” is held in July every year, and is famous for herd cattle thrown into the city and humans running to the bullring in the city. This is a festival in honor of St. Fermin, the patron saint.

③ San Miguel Market

Located in the center of Madrid, this market attracts more than 10 million tourists annually. You can enjoy Spanish and Mediterranean specialties such as Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine.

Although it has many tourists, it is a market representative of Madrid, which is visited by many locals.