The Ten Most Annoying Things About Living in Spain

Because of course there always have to be ten in a listicle. Now as you know we always tell you the great things to look forward to on moving to Valencia and Spain but you should also know about those little things that will annoy you when you get here, or shall we say may annoy you because not all of these things will be relevant to everyone and also there may be other things that annoy you specifically even more. Nevertheless we thought it was time to tell you about all of those things that make life in Valencia and Spain less ideal, the sub-optimal things about living here. Are you ready?


1) Neighbour Noise

Our new neighbour loves flamenco. I on the other hand have a long standing and now growing dislike... nay hate of it. Clapping, wailing and guitar doesn't really do it for me and it's a bit of a problem living in Spain as it's quite popular here. Now we are not talking Seville or general Andalucia levels of spotty dresses and white horse flamenco here in Valencia but you do hear it and more and more, and more pertinently... I hear it blasting out from behind the thin walls that provide "insulation" between houses in Spain. I should fight back with some AC/DC, some Muse, a bit of Screamo or just general high volume family arguments but I'm just too nice. Until that point when I'm not and I set up the speaker directly against the wall.

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But we are not here to talk about my neighbour and their musical taste (sic) we are here to talk about that thing that you may always find living in apartments, noise from upstairs, noise from the side and noise from below. Sound insulation is not a big thing here and party walls are not too thick. Neighbour noise can be a thing here wherever you live so when you ask that question on a visit to a property, "Is it noisy?" we can never know the answer because you might have Paco de Lucia's biggest fan living next door or someone with a high heel fetish upstairs. Worst of all though is living next to (Or with) teenage children because not only do you get the arguments at full volume you also get Bad Bunny.


2) Personal Space

You may find yourself feeling as if you constantly need to take a step back when talking to somebody face to face and this is not a bad garlic breath or fear of covid thing it's just that face to face conversations are much closer in Spain than many other countries and eye contact that close is uncomfortable for people from those countries. And apparently this is a cultural thing not just a feeling.

In the US and the UK we know it as invading our personal space... that concept doesn't really exist in conversations in Spain so you may start off by getting backed into a corner. Don't worry though, it only took me about twenty years to get used to it and then just as I was finally used to it and could cope with it at least to a certain extent then Covid arrived and made it relevant again!

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3) Volume

Oh yes, the Spanish are also loud... and in common spaces like cafes, bars and restaurants they are very loud because they need to be loud to make themselves heard over the noise of everyone else talking loudly to make themselves heard over everyone else who are talking loudly to make themselves heard... you get the idea.

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Fireworks, motorbikes without silencers, the aforementiomned flamenco and... see number 8 below are common here but the loudest thing you can hear is a group of 7 or 8 teenagers sharing their 100 Montaditos experience with the whole neighbourhood or even 6 or 7 tight (Too small) blue shirt wearing bankers smoking outside the local steakhouse while pretending to be a relevant part of Wall Street (They aren't and never will be but they do believe that greed is good in all of its aspects). The Spanish like noise and eventually so will you. Yippee! Or rather, you'll get used to it. Or you won't. And that's when it can become a problem.

Oh yeah, one more thing... kids. Seen and not heard? Nah. That idea doesn't exist in Spain.


4) Bureaucracy

I recently had to sign papers for a company so I was called round to my Gestor's (Accountant) to make sure everything was done correctly. By the end I had writers' cramp and I had only signed my name. However I did have to sign my name on thirteen different forms... on every page of each form... in duplicate... and in three cases in triplicate which is sort of apt.

Spain likes paperwork.

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In the late nineties with the advent of home computing and the like we were promised the paperless office (I remember seeing it on Tomorrow's World). Well, Spain didn't get the memo. The labyrinthine bureaucracy of Francoism survives in a modified form and paperwork is a big thing even for something as simple as joining a gym. Expect it and you will be OK. Get irritated by it and it will soon become the bane of your life. And just one more thing... it is never as fast as in the gif.


5) Getting Things Done

As a result of number 4 getting things done can be so time consuming. Asa an example, we have to change over electric, gas and water contracts after a sale. The water changeover can be a task that you can add to those undertaken by Hercules and I'd suggest it was a task that equalled or surpassed bringing back the Golden Apples from the World's End or bringing the three-headed dog Cerberus up from the underworld.

Getting a bored Aqualia employee* to accept your reading of the meter, your authorization to change both the name on the contract and the bank account the payments come from, your details for further communications, your signature!!! and then to actually put the changes into place so you don't get an annoyed call from the ex-owner three months later complaining that they have been charged once again by Aqualia is, let's say, the 13th Herculean task. In comparison the electrics and gas changeovers are merely Squid Game levels of work.

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*Someone who should be a bored Aqualia employee in the gif, not a Prime Minister at any stage


6) Unexpected Costs and Taxes

We recently repainted the front of our house. This was six months after wanting to do it (see number 4 for why) In order to do it we had to pay four different local taxes that came in four different notifications. If the painter had just hung down from the roof and painted it would have only been two but occupation of both the pavement and a bit of the road by a cherry picker to help him out are apparently two different things.

Now property taxes in Spain are low, our annual council property tax is 450 euros but we get a 50% discount on that for five years because of the installation of solar panels, so 225 euros per year. However I think that these little extra taxes and costs are charged because of this. The front of our house cost just 120 euros in taxes and fees, the four different payments, plus the cost of the painter of course but that maybe because the council only get that 225 euros per year off us for property taxes.

I mentioned joining a gym above and you may see a great deal at 29 Euros per month for example. However beware of the "Matricula" which is the most insidious and cheaty extra payment you get for gyms, academies, schooling for your kids and more and it's always asterisked or in the small print on ads. Many places will charge you anything between 30 and 200 Euros for signing you up, essentially for writing your name down or putting it into the computer then printing out a paper for you to sign, again see number 4. Why do they do this? Because they always have done. Not because it suits any purpose.

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7) Littering and Dog Crap

Let's just say that not all young people in Spain are Greta Thunberg types. Throwing litter, cigarette ends and papers and empty cans or plastic bottles out without using a bin is much too common. Fly tipping is a blight and the lack of a serious response to this can make places unsightly. Truth is that most towns do a lot to make sure they are clean and tidy, especially just before elections, but when you get to the edge of the towns and even into the countryside and you can find an annoying amount of litter even in the hills and mountains.

Equally, despite fines and more conscientiousness there are too many people who allow their dogs to do their business on buildings, lamposts and in the middle of the pavement without carrying round a water bottle and poop sac to clean up after them. Dogs can't read or learn this of course but their ignorant owners can. It's getting better but it's a slow process to change the way people behave.

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8) Music Blaring Out of Car Windows

The people with the worst taste have their windows open the widest and their music the loudest. There is seriously no need to advertise your bad taste in music by making me suffer it while innocently minding my own business walking along the pavement in relative peace and quiet (However see number 3 above and potentially number 7)

It seems to have become more common in the last few years for people (No, not people, under 30s) to not only do this but also to carry around a speaker with them even on bikes with seriously badly chosen music blaring out of them. Ask yourself a question. Have you ever heard good music loudly coming out of the open windows of a car or from someone carrying a speaker around? At least back in the day when Ghetto Blasters existed some of the stuff was good. I'll go with a theme again here, Bad Bunny, Reggaeton in general and Flamenco are the number one choices. They are bad choices in life (In my opinion). Below is a good choice ;-)

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9) Being Head of the Community

If you live in an apartment or a house with shared facilities then you may find that one year it becomes your turn to become head of the community. Some communities are clever and have passed off this job to an administrator. Some administrators are even more clever and have thrown back all of the paperwork to the previous head of the community and run a mile because of the amount of work required for a small payment and having to put up with the insane nutter who lives on the third floor of the block and goes against the community on every single thing just because... He's an example of number 10 by the way.

So when it is your turn, you can choose to pass and pay an administrator, you can feign ignorance of community norms, rules and probably best of the Spanish language, (even though all of your neighbours know you speak Spanish fluently Graham... ahem), or you can just suck it up and get on with it and bring all of those annoyances back home to discuss with Dave (;-) I'm looking at you Vero).

We have written about getting to know the community before here. Take a look.


10) Nosiness

The Spanish like to know what is going on at all times, to everyone, everywhere and in all aspects of their life. The nutter on the third floor in your community will want to know more about you than you actually know yourself and it will be stored away for the next community meeting in case they ever need to use it against you. However here we are talking nosiness in general not in a community sense.

Expect to be asked a lot more personal questions in Spain than elsewhere. It could be seen to be something to do with those personal space issues or it could be seen as being something to do with people actually being interested in who you are, what you like, what you do and stuff. Your choice but expect more personal questions. Also Spanish people are blunt, not as blunt as the Dutch for example but they do like to get to the point. F*ck your feelings. Don't stress about it, expect it, that's what they do.

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So there you have it, a compilation of little and maybe not so little annoyances that you are bound to find out more about when you move to Valencia and Spain. Just to bring you up to date though, while writing this I put a message in the community whatsapp group (Yes we have those too) to please turn the Flamenco either down or preferably off as my daughter had an exam today in the house that luckily (sic) I was invigilating. In five minutes, that not at all passive aggressive message ;-) worked. So thanks to my flamenco loving neighbour for being a good neighbour at least in the sense of understanding what a community whatsapp group is for... passive aggressive oblique references to anti-social behaviour being that thing of course. I will say she knows which way her bread is buttered though as I do tend to be her almost daily Amazon parcel collector.


Suggestions

On Friday I mentioned on our socials that we were going to be publishing this today and asked for suggestions as to what people would include. Pete Ray said...

"Well apart from the usual… Noisy neighbours, lack of sound or thermal insulation, red tape etc.. (Yep, mentioned them above - GH) how about pavement etiquette?

As someone who walks in this city a lot, and loves it. What is it with people walking four a-breast at a pace little faster than sloth, and nobody making the slightest effort to deviate from their fixed trajectory even when approached head on? If approaching from behind whilst pedestrians zig-zag in a drunken fashion with no spacial awareness, it may be a good idea to install an air-horn app on your phone, to notify them of approaching traffic.

Also you can find them standing in a group, for a chat, immediately outside the restaurant they have just left, unflinching as you have to throw yourself in front of the number 93 bus to Av. del Cid, to circumnavigate them.

I’ll leave for another time, the rant about queues in shops, where people want to have a very long chat with the cashier, or return 10 items, whilst both staff and customer pretend to be completely oblivious of the ever growing line forming behind them..

Still, a great place to live, and these small challenges are not enough to make one want to pack up and leave. ?"

And the ever reliable Graham Tyner from Settle Easy suggested the following and he is right on the money with number 3:

Others were more concise:


Property of the Week

We've been busy listing as people returned to work this week and we have listed a lot. To try and find a favourite is difficult but my choice is the following. Nevertheless it is one that requires a visit because the photos are truly awful.

Famously described by our colleague Gavin as the best area in Valencia, Benimaclet is a village within Valencia near to the Universities and with a vibe all of its own, think hippy, boho, studenty, anticapitalist, anarchist coffee shop chic and you're somewhere near.

For many years we have been wanting to list more properties in Benimaclet and the problem is that because it is like a small village, there are village houses and very few come up for sale and when they do they are snapped up quickly.

This is the top floor of one of those two floor village houses, currently lived in by the sister of the owner. Visits can be made and it's a good job because the photos we have are pretty dreadful. Now the flat is totally liveable but... yes but... you would want to do a reform here to bring it up to modern standards. However the base you are working with is excellent. 103m2 with three bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen and living room and then the thing you have all been waiting for and wondering about since you saw the initial photo... a large private roof terrace above with nice rooftop views.

The property is on a semi pedestrianised road in the village part of Benimaclet just a short walk to the metro and 10-15 minutes away from Valencia's riverbed park. Easy access and a quiet lifestyle in the centre of this village within a city. Something different worth looking at for sure... but the photos are awful. We'll try to get some better ones soon.


News From Valencia

Valencia has got its usual share of mentions in all of those "What to do in 2024?" articles including being listed by the New York Times as being one of the places to visit this year, being named as Spain's next tourism hotspot (We sure hope it isn't) and lots of publicity about it being the new European Green Capital for 2024, read more about that on the official Valencia tourism website here.

On the downside masking is back in place in hospitals and health centres due to the pretty steep rise in Covid and Flu cases. For all residents here you can get your free flu or Covid jab at the local health centres without appointment now. Just walk in and wait in the queue (But remember to take a mask with you)


If You Liked This...

Then make sure to click on the images below to be taken to some of our previous posts about annoyances and what we love about living in Valencia.





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