Life in Spain

How I moved to Spain | Spanish Language Assistant Program


I’ve lived in Murcia, Zaragoza and now Alicante Spain and work as an English teaching assistant at public primary/secondary schools. I don’t have any formal teacher training but I’m learning every day as I teach English, Art and Natural Science in years 1-12.


I am an employee of the Ministry of Education (the Spanish Government). I am on a student visa which allows me to work here for the duration of the school year (beginning of October- end of May). I work 12-16 hours per week. I receive health insurance and a monthly salary of 700-1200 euros. Before you gasp at that figure please take into account that the cost to rent a room is 200-400 per month. This is a living wage. I earn extra travel money through my Airbnb and VIPkid (teaching online). If this program sounds appealing to you please read on.

Here is a link to the main information page (U.S. edition):

Program Requirements:  4-year undergraduate degree & native English speaker. No teaching experience/education degree required.


My advice for first time applicants:

  1. Apply for your Visa ASAP the process can take a very long time (months) especially if you don’t happen to live in a city with a Spanish Consulate 
  2. The application process can be tedious. There are confusing translations. Pay close attention to the help guide they provide and it will get you through.

Here’s a video with more advice and a link to alllll the information.

Some Notes about the program…

— Pros
Unlike some other programs (BEDA, Meddeas, etc.), working for the ministry is DIY. The pro in this? Once you can master the paperwork you can do just about anything in life.
The quality of life in Spain is unbeatable.
You’ll have an opportunity to make lifelong friends…
…to learn a new language
…to discover different lifestyles and travel Europe (and beyond)
— Cons
As mentioned about, this is the DIY option. Don’t expect much help beyond the published guides on the ministry website. In my three years (changing regions each year) paperwork has never, ever gone smoothly (and my friends have experienced the same).
Never getting enough sleep! Spaniards eat dinner at 10pm but school still begins at 8:30 or 9 and if you have an hour-long commute mornings are extra tiring. (hidden pro: siesta)
Placement is random. You can get a great school…or a year of distress (my second year I was placed in a high school which was not a good fit, it was a major struggle. My first and current year were both wonderful so.. such is aux life)
— Memories
Through this program I discovered my passion: to teach! That’s pretty incredible considering I hadn’t studied education beforehand. Now I’m in for life.
I have worked at six schools in three years, there were two primary schools that I adored. We filled our days with art projects and the feeling of community at the school was incredible, I’m still in touch years later.
Experiencing street parties and meeting people from all over Europe, my partner, all were made possible due to my participation in the program. I believe accepting that first offer was one of the best and most life-changing decisions I’ve ever made. The hardships grow me and the benefits are countless.
So, if you’ve decided this is right for you and you’ve received your offer email read on!

Before you go:

Save 3 months income before coming ( around $2000) re: late paychecks + fall/holiday travel. You’ll need some seed money to make a deposit on your new place, furnish it (“furnished” places are pretty basic!) and feed and clothe yourself for a couple of months. Also there are many holidays in Spain! The fall is a great time to take advantage of your residence on the European continent and do some traveling!

In the Murcia and Valencia regions it took until the end of November/early December to receive our first paychecks. We were paid in full of course and the checks have been more steady (monthly) since…

I booked my first week’s stay in a hostel (in a private room) in advanced. I ended up staying for two weeks but having a guaranteed roof over my head for those first few days was important. IMG_6480

Most regions/cities have Facebook groups – find others to live with or talk paperwork with here! To find housing during the first two years I used a service. By year three I went DIY using Idealista (something comparable to Craigslist in Spain). Other comparable websites to try: Fotocasa & Uniplaces. This year I used Uniplaces and while they do charge a service fee, I found a good spot and they gave me a discount code for 10% off: UNI82276845

When signing for the apartment you’ll probably need to make a deposit of one month’s rent + pay the first month + provide a copy of your work contract “carta” + this is important: please make sure you have an official contract and that it is signed by both you and the landlord + get copies of the landlord’s ID — you’ll need this for the “empadronamiento” (registering your address with the housing authority) which is a critical step in getting your TIE (foreigner’s ID card).

You’ll need to set up an account at a Bank upon arrival. Get a Spanish SIM card (phone number) first & don’t forget to bring your passport with your visa inside as IDmake sure to have them put the NIE (foreigner’s ID number) on your account.

When you arrive you will need to apply for a resident card (TIE = foreigner’s ID card). You’ll use the NIE provided on your visa to do this. You’ll need to go to the Extranjeria (foreign office). Many offices require appointments which you can find by searching “cita  + extranjería + CITY YOULL LIVE IN”

-First visit: show them your visa they will give you paperwork and a date to come back with that work completed (you’ll also have your fingerprints taken by the police at this second appointment) * note: some offices will provide a list of needed documentation: a tax form, and certificate of empadronamiento are important.

These steps can be super confusing so if you have a helpful tutor at school do take full advantage! 

-The Empadronamiento: you need to bring a copy of your rental agreement and copies of owner’s and tenants’ ID (all tenants must be present). They will provide you with a form to pass on to the Extranjeria.

-There are photo booths around town where you can take passport photos.

-Go onto any bank with the tax form to pay it.

-Your card will be ready for pickup on a third trip to the extranjería a few weeks after the (second) fingerprints appointment.


WiFi can take a while to set up… For my cell phone prepaid plan I use Orange. 5G for 10 euro/month!

Go grocery shopping at Mercadona and Gran Bi Bio (their organic version). El Corte Ingles has more brand variety in case you’re looking for something familiar. Lidl fills in some missing items (like tabasco!) as well.


Join a gym! Or yoga classes or a climbing studio…do your thing and make it an opportunity to make friends and maybe practice Spanish passively?

One of the best things to try in your first few weeks/months is an intercambio. Intercambios (language exchange meet ups- try Tap Room’s) allow you to meet people from all over the world and speak in many different languages.




Step 1: Make an appointment at your local Extranjería (Foreign Office) and print the confirmation OR To Renew TIE in a different region bring the following to the local Registro de Gobierno and have it sent electronically to your new region’s Extranjería OR bring to the post office and have it mailed through “correo administrativo” / administrative mail

➡️ Copy passport (every page)

➡️ Photocopy TIE both sides

➡️ Both cartas (contracts from current/last & future years)

➡️ Renewal form EX-00 

tip: use an address where you want future docs sent (maybe next year’s school) 

➡️ Complete (your info + 1.3 “Prórroga de la autorización de estancia por estudios, movilidad de alumnos, prácticas no laborales o servicios de voluntariado (titular principal y sus familiares“) , print & pay (at a bank or by providing your IBAN at the bottom of the form) 17,15€  tasa 790/052

➡️ Letter of completion (from current/last year’s school)


For your appointment at the Extranjeria re: Regreso (authorization to leave the Shengen for up to 90 days while your renewal is processing) 

➡️ Copy passport (every page)

➡️ Copy TIE both sides 

➡️ Print flight reservations

➡️ 2 copies Ex-13 form

 use your current home address in Spain 

➡️ Tasa modelo 790/012

NOT the policía one

Next, you will need to get a certificado de empadronamiento (registering your address with the city) for your new TIE card (you’ll present this when you do the fingerprints for the new card). For this you’ll need a copy of your contract and copies of your and your landlords + housemates photo IDs. You do one registration per address and all occupants must appear and the empadronamiento appointment together. 

By Grace in the World

I hope that the experiences I record here could be of some use to those looking to travel and I welcome questions/comments/feedback. Thank you for reading my words. Bon voyage!

7 replies on “How I moved to Spain | Spanish Language Assistant Program”

Hi Grace, my daughter was offered a job through Linked In teaching English at a private school in Murcia. Any advice on how we can research that this is not a scam? Thanks


Can I ask the name of the program? I chose to apply through the Spanish government directly specifically to avoid confusion/scamming but do have some friends in Murcia who work in private academies. If the name rings a bell that’s the best way I can help..


Hi Grace! My name is Monica and I’ll be in the Murcia region this upcoming year. I have some questions and wanted to reach out!


ive read in the muruca newspaper that police look for americans who teah english on the side after the regualr job in the school.. and they see it as bad we need to pay taxes on income earned teaching english in a bar.. i know in the states its obligatory.. not a banana republic but in spain whats the deal


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