Moving to the Balearic Islands
The Balearic Islands are particularly special to me as it was the first place I travelled to alone and I lived there for four summers. I met some of my best friends there and it’s where I’d say I first really caught the travel bug. I’ve now travelled to over 50 countries and lived in 3 different continents but the Balearic Islands still feel like my spiritual home and I’ve returned to visit every year since. So this post is going to be a step by step guide on how to make that big move abroad either short or long term to one of the Balearic islands. I promise that it‘s much less scary than you think.
Step 1: Book the flight. Seriously just do it, it makes it so much more real. It will probably cost you less than 50 quid (from the UK) so what’s the worst that can happen? It stops you from overthinking the pros and cons and small details because it's booked and you can work out the rest later. Over the years, being a travel agent and just being a person who is obsessed with leaving London as much as possible, I have done a lot of research into when to book the cheapest flights and my personal opinion is that almost exactly 3 months before seems to work best, it’s nerve racking waiting it out but it usually does ust seem to drop at this time, I don't think anyone really knows why! If you are set on a specific flight time, or you a travelling at a busy time like school or bank holidays, this may not always work out. January and Black Friday sales are also a good time to look at flights but again I wouldn’t rely on it! Save yourself the stress, book it now and then don’t check to see if they’ve gone down!
Step 2: Packing
This part may seem impossible depending on how long you plan on staying. If you are just going over for the summer or for less than half a year I’d say you can easily make it work with just one big suitcase. As with any long trip, simple and plain clothes that you can mix and match work best. I spent most of my time in bikinis so bring a good selection of those, a hoodie for colder nights and something waterproof just in case. Anything you forget you can buy when you get there. In the city you will easily find favourite brands like H&M and Zara. Apartments almost always come furnished so you don’t have to worry about shipping furniture etc.
Step 3: Travel insurance
Make sure you travel with your EHIC card if you’re from the UK (pre brexit) and have some decent insurance. You need to get a different type of insurance than you may have used before so make sure you are covered for long term travel. The one I used was Staysure and although thankfully I never had to use it and so can’t comment on their service, they seemed to have really good reviews from people that did have to make that unfortunate phone call.
Step 4: Find somewhere to live
This is a tricky one as you need to decide whether to find somewhere before you go or have a look round when you get there. After being ripped off for 800 euros to arrive to a villa in Mallorca that did not exist, I would suggest the latter.
The internet is full of scam artists so if something looks too good to be true it usually is. Never agree to send money in advance via international money transfer as they are basically untraceable. If you are sure about a place and need to send a deposit, at least do it by direct bank transfer with your usual bank so the payment can at least be disputed if needed. My advice would be to book the first few days in a hotel and then visit a rental office when you get there, or even ask around in bars, restaurants and shops to see if anyone knows of any local apartments, to avoid agency fees. Another tip based on my own unfortunate experience is to never give your passport as a deposit to save money, but that’s a story for another day. Just don’t do it ok?
Step 5: Have a holiday
Moving abroad is a big step and you don’t need to have everything sorted within the first couple of days so don’t stress, try and have some savings to start off with so that you can take some time to explore the area and really get to know the place you will be living in for the foreseeable future. Explore the island's gorgeous beaches and landscape, find out what there is to see nearby and maybe take a day trip to the other side of the island. You may not have the time or the energy to do that when you start working so make the most of it while you can. The Balearic Islands are full of castles, forts, lighthouses, fantastic hikes and bike trails and of course take the time to sample as much local food and sangria as you possibly can!
Step 6: Apply for a NIE number
I remember this being the hardest part of my move abroad because it usually involves getting up before 9am. You need to book an appointment online and head to the local police station, bring along your documents and get yourself an NIE number. You can also do this before you go if you are super keen by visiting your closest Spanish consulate. An NIE is basically your tax number and although it isn’t essential for all jobs, it makes you much more employable. You will also need this to open a Spanish bank account which I would also recommend. Employers may decide to pay you in cash which is fine but depositing some of this into an account makes it much easier (and safer) to save money while you are away.
Step 7: Find a job
This is the hardest one to advise on as obviously there are tonnes of options and each will have a different process. I am going to keep it general and talk more basic jobs eg. bar work, restaurants, coffee shops, retail etc. A few people i knew would bring a CV with them, some even translated it in to spanish which I am sure is needed in some situations but I never found this to be the case. Usually the place will ask you do a trial shift (probably unpaid) and then decide whether or not to give you the job. So the best thing to do is to first think about what kind of place you want to work and then just pop in and ask. There may be a jobs board up in a local shop but in my experience not all places will advertise. So do your best in the trial shift and then you can negotiate a wage. Make sure to ask all the questions you need to at this point and don't agree to anything too crazy just to secure the job make sure you are happy with the conditions before accepting.
Step 8: Make friends
This one will hopefully tie in easily with step 7 as I made most of my friends through work. It's a really important one. You can be in the most beautiful white sand, blue sea destinations but if you have noone to share it with, the novelty wears off a lot quicker. It can be quite daunting moving to a new country especially when you don't speak the language so just be bold. Ask someone if they want to go for a drink after work, ask them to show you where the nearest supermarket is, or just say: ‘Hey! I am on my own can we hang out?’ The worst that can happen is they say no and then just ask someone else. Bonus points if your new friend is a local as it will really help you out in step 9!
Step 9: Learn Spanish
This one is harder than you might think, although the Balaeric islands are Spanish speaking, most people living there, Mallorca in particular and especially in the tourist areas, will speak English. Even when you try to speak to them in Spanish they will still reply in English which is frustrating. My advice for this is to persevere, even if it means asking someone to help you practice. There are plenty of apps and books to get you started before you make the move but immersing yourself in a country is always the best way. Try to watch Spanish movies and tv shows (which are great by the way) reading magazines or online articles in Spanish while you are living there will really help you to get more used to it and you will pick it up much faster. I used to visit the same coffee shop each morning and the barista knew I was trying to practice and would help me out by asking me different questions or starting a new topic each day. It can sometimes feel a bit silly or like a forced conversation (did he really want to know how many pets my cousin had?) but it definitely made a difference.
Step 10: Cliche but... enjoy it! Make the most of these beautiful islands take day trips to other parts of the island, take the ferry or short flight to one of the other Balearics. As with any big change there will be ups and downs but you will be living in one of the most beautiful destinations on earth and if it all goes to shit you can go always fly home but just give it a try!
If not now, then when?
This post is part of a paid campaign to promote the Balearic and Canary Islands, as part of their #SpanishIslands Campaign. Although all views are my own and I have not been instructed what to include.