4 things I hate about Spain – opinion of a US expat

October 28, 2018

You’re gonna hate this article.

But that’s okay. I can take it.

See, a couple of years ago, I wrote an article about all the things I love about Spain, my adopted home country.

It’s here: 32 reasons why I love Spain.

It went viral, which was great…

But what most people didn’t understand is that it was a response to those humorless folks whose kneejerk reaction to anyone saying anything is “If you hate Spain so much you should just go home!”

I’d said something in another article about how Spanish flats tended to be small, or Spanish breakfasts unconvincing, or something equally trivial and boy howdy! Did I get yelled at by a ton of Spaniards on social. So I wrote the article as a love letter to Spain as a tongue in cheek response, even though I totally meant it. I do love Spain.

And of course, Spanish people love to complain about their corrupt politicians, the terrible economy, waiting more than 5 minutes for free medical care, stuff like that.

But apparently, they expect all us guiris to write nothing but gushing articles about how EVERYTHING IN SPAIN IS SO FUN ALL THE TIME OMG!

And if we don’t, we receive the full brunt of their pathetic Facebook wrath.

reasons why i hate spain
Parc Güell, in Barcelona, also known as the 2nd touristiest place on earth. (The first is Sagrada Familia.)

It doesn’t seem to matter if you say dozens of positive things about their country in the same article – it’s that one negative thing that makes them lose it and scream “Yankee Go Home”.

(“Don’t consider paella to be one of humanity’s great accomplishments? Go back to your country, asshole!” Such is the level of discourse.)

Oh well…

As my girl Miley says, approximately, “Only God can judge ya, so forget the haters and keep on twerking!”

And so I shall…

The 4 big things I hate about Spain

Incidentally, before we begin, I’ve talked with several friends about this, and we all love Spain.

In fact, we all basically agree that Spain is 95% pure awesome… After that, there are just a few things we don’t like.

Note, for example, the fact that my love letter has 32 positives, whereas this article has 4 things I hate about Spain.

Only four… And that’s after thinking about it pretty hard, talking to my friends, and more than 17 years living in Madrid and (later) Barcelona.

Pretty good ratio, I’d say.

Okay, you ready?

Prepare to be outraged…

Terrible salaries and terrible work schedules

Working in Spain kind of sucks.

And Spanish people complain about this one all the time. Working from 9AM to 7PM with an obligatory 2-hour lunch break…

The culture of presentismo that values showing up and staying late – apparently it doesn’t much matter what you actually do… Your boss will be impressed if you clock long hours.

And the terrible salaries – in many cases not even breaking four figures.

Of course, I’ve been around for a long time. So I remember when people would complain about their 1200€ a month salaries.

Being a mileurista – by which I mean earning a bit more than 1000€ a month – used to be the most terrible fate that could befall someone back around 2005.

Then the crisis happened and earning even a thousand euros a month became a luxury.

Want something even worse?

Check out the 10 poorest places in Spain. That shit’s heartbreaking to read.

It’s starts with a story about a woman who’s watering down the milk she gives her kids before school. They live in an occupied house, which is more typical than you’d think. At the time of writing, according to that article, more than a million andaluces are living on less than 332€ a month.

Sorry, Spain. But you need to get your act together.

abandoned buildings in Madrid
Calle Bravo Murillo, in Madrid. Lots of abandoned buildings.

Anyway, my experience with Spanish work culture was always as an English teacher, so I’ve never worked in an office. However, my salary wasn’t anything to brag about, and neither were the work conditions.

Long days taking the bus out to some class in the suburbs, terrible pay, bosses who treat you like you’ve fallen off the lowest branch of the tree of life. (In fairness, at least some of the staff at the language school probably had. But I guess that’s a story for another article.)

Moving on…

Non-existent customer service

You know those times where you go to a bar and the hostile white haired waiters spend 20 minutes ignoring you?

Then, when they finally do look your way, they act like they’re doing you a big favor.

You know when shop assistants do their best to avoid eye contact with customers, and basically refuse to do anything resembling service?

They’re busy taking a personal call… how could they possibly be expected to do their jobs on a weekday at 11AM?

It’s happened to all of us.

Enough that I have two articles about it: check out You’ve been Spained  and Adventures with Customer Service for more.

I think that the larger problem is that for the most part, Spanish marketing is stuck in the 1940s – by which I mean it doesn’t exist.

The older businesses are firmly entrenched in the mentality that all they have to do is open the door, and someone will walk in and spend money.

I guess that system worked pretty well in times of postwar food rationing, but hey…

It’s the 21st century.

And a complete lack of marketing and innovation is part of what’s killing the old man bars, the local markets, and the independent shops.

People complain (myself included) about the ridiculous gastro fad, but the fact is, those places are doing something right.

If you haven’t changed anything about your business in 40 years, and you don’t believe in marketing or customer service, then good luck to you.

But I’m not going to cry myself to sleep about that big bully gentrification when I see your shop shuttered and up for rent.

gentrification in tetuán madrid
Closing up shop in Madrid. Is Gentrification the problem?

Also, there’s this one…

All the noise, noise, noise, noise

The garbage trucks rumbling and crashing down your street long after midnight.

The kids leaving the disco at 5AM, shouting, singing and smashing bottles on the sidewalk.

The jackhammer that starts pounding on the pavement, right outside your window, at 8 AM sharp.

The restaurant with a tiny dining room packed to the gills with people of all ages talking at the same time, shouting at the top of their lungs to be heard.

Your neighbor passing a leisurely Saturday afternoon listening to “Despacito” on repeat.

The old emphyzemic coughing his (or her) smoker’s lungs out on the other side of a paperthin wall… while upstairs (on the other side of a paperthin ceiling) your other neighbors are loudly having intercourse

Madrid is noisy. And so is Barcelona.

And either you learn to shout back, or you spend your quiet anglosaxon life frustrated and alone, with waiters ignoring you and dates thinking you’re way too timid to be relationship – or even violent intercourse – material.

Estación de Francia, in Barcelona. 

More than once, while travelling, I’ve had problems with friends for being “way too loud” in their city. Take your Metro de Madrid voice onto the London Underground and people take notice – not always in a good way.

So my excuse is: that’s just how we talk in Spain.

Sue me.

We have to be loud, to cut through all the other noise.

And finally…

Spanish politics is a joke – and not a very funny one

From the ponytailed class warriors in million dollar homes on the far left to the actual walking undead who were fairly recently running the country from the right, Spanish politics is just one bad joke.

(And don’t get me started on our current President, Pedro Sanchez.)

Anyway, I remember a bucolic afternoon several years ago, when I was somewhere on vacation.

During lunch, the story broke on TV that (then) Prime Minister Rajoy had been texting Luis Bárcenas – the ex-treasurer of the party who was – and still is –  in prison for funnelling money out of the country, and apparently handing envelopes full of cash to party members.

“Be strong, Luis. We’re pulling for you. Hugs and kisses.” – Mariano.

(That’s not an exact quote, but close.)

Publicly, the Popular Party had fired and disowned Bárcenas long before. “Those are his Swiss bank accounts and we know nothing about them,” was the official story.

But now the Prime Minister himself was telling him to stay strong during the trial. Looks pretty bad, doesn’t it?

Surely, I told my (then) girlfriend, he’s gonna resign.

I spent a large part of that afternoon refreshing El País on my phone, waiting for Rajoy to step down so that a new, less-corrupt government could form.

That was several years ago. It took several more years for corruption to finally catch up with Rajoy. Only in 2018 was he finally forced out of office.

All that actually happened back then, when the text messages were first reported, was that I lost my enthusiasm for Spanish politics.

Presumably, people from all parties were rolling in the dough during the big real estate boom of the early 2000s. It seems like there have been big investigations going on for my whole time here. Occasionally someone goes to prison. But most don’t. There’s no apparent incentive not to be corrupt – or at least there wasn’t, back in the day.

Anyway, tax fraud is practically the national sport.

The government, of course, isn’t doing much to stop it… ‘Cause they’re the first ones who’d have to pay the fines.

On the other hand, we have the leftists who promise big things, but mostly just end up raising their own salaries and then splitting their parties into ever-smaller segments. And the Catalan separatists who spend most of their time trolling, refuse to go to meetings with the central government, and occasionally riot and set fire to things in my neighborhood.

Anyway, I’m sure other countries have problems…

But damn, Spain.

(Update, 2022: I wrote this a few years ago, and the aforementioned pony-tailed class warrior has since retired – and cut off his pony tail. But rest assured, Spanish politics is still a joke. Now a lot of people are hating on the President of the Madrid Community, Isabel Díaz Ayuso. And politics moves so fast that anything I put in here will seem quaintly dated by the time you probably read it. So just trust me.)

In conclusion, I don’t really hate Spain…

There might be more.

I could talk about the slowness of Spanish bureaucracy, for example. Then again, I’ve never heard anyone talk about the efficiency of bureaucracy in any other country. So that’s probably a universal. The recent coronavirus lockdowns haven’t been fun, either, but a lot of countries have done worse.

Anyway, as I’ve made abundantly clear here and elsewhere, I love Spain… Despite its problems and annoyances.

No country is perfect.

Spain still has a lot of things going for it, and there are literally hundreds of guiri bloggers who will make lists of their favorite rooftop bars and tell you how fun everything is…

However, in the interest of creating some meaningful dialogue, I wanted to put this out there.

I know not everyone’s going to like it…

But to paraphrase my business guru Dan Kennedy, “If you haven’t pissed somebody off by noon every day, you need to work harder.”

So, here’s to being polarizing…


Mr Chorizo.

P.S. I hope you enjoyed the things I hate about Spain. What are yours? Hit me up, right here in the comments.

P.P.S. I know, I know… if I hate Spain so much I should just leave. But here’s the thing: I got used to the whole “love it or leave it” speech when I was back in Arizona and questioning the ridiculous logic of ultra-conservative America. In other words, I’ve been doing this forever. So go ahead and troll me. I can take it. 

P.P.P.S. Of course, I’m not saying the US is perfect either. And if you want to know more about that, I’ve also got some articles on here about cultural differences between the US and Spain. Check it out… 4 things I’ve learned about American culture living in Spain, and part 2: 4 more cultural differences. They’re sort of long, but people tend to like them. Enjoy!

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About the Author Daniel

How did I end up in Spain? Why am I still here almost 20 years later? Excellent questions. With no good answer... Anyway, at some point I became a blogger, bestselling author and contributor to Lonely Planet. So there's that. Drop me a line, I'm happy to hear from you.

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  1. Although I´m a Spaniard I fully agree in your list, but I miss one that most American friends noticed as soon as they arrived in Spain: Most bar floors are dirty. People (and bartenders) throw the leftovers of tapas, napkins, toothpicks, etc on the floor. They sweep from time to time but the image is disgusting. On top of that you will have toilets, which are mostly disgusting, specially if they are night clubs.

    I was (happily) surprised how clean were toilets in bars in the US. Jeez! Most of them were so clean and well decorated that I thought I was in a casa rural.

    1. Estoy completamente de acuerdo con el artículo a pesar de ser española, pero criadaen UK. Espero poder volver allí pronto y tratar a los españoles allí como me han tratado a mí aquí.

  2. Gentryfication ruinning old shops cause they don’t adapt? Well, maybe, but it may happen because new inhabitants prefer supermarkets and luxury firms.

    Aside, I wonder how much time did you worked in USA, cause you came here very young, so that you could compare work culture. Anyway, I agree working here is awful.

    1. Yeah, true, I only worked about 5 years in the US. Not very long, I guess. Probably it depends on the company a lot in both places. Thanks for commenting!

  3. I love Spain, so I’ll put up with the only thing I hate about Spain: nobody 🚶 walking is courteous enough to make way for others to pass by! You are walking towards each other on a narrow sidewalk, and that Spaniard ain’t thinking about which side of the walk he should shift to, and you feel like a trainwreck is about to happen, because 10 meters ahead, the American or the Brit is already in deep planning mode about how the approaching strangers will negotiate to pass each other with the least amount of body contact, while the blissful couple coming toward you shows no body language that they intend to move whatsoever until a meter in front of you they MIGHT wobble carelessly to one side. If not, you’re left to plow through, squeeze against a wall, or throw yourself into the street just to get past them. But my biggest pet peeve is what I call the Great Spanish Wall. This is when a group of Spaniards walk shoulder to shoulder 👭👫 on the sidewalk enjoying the entire width of the pavement as they leisurely walk in conversation. Do they really not see that some people are behind them needing some space to get past them? So you’re forced again to elbow through or wait with frustration to see if they will notice you AND be kind enough to make way,

    1. Hahahaha, this made me laugh so much. It’s true, the Brit for sure is planning the manoeuvre and the locals just don’t care at all! 🤣 I’ve actually sustained some bruises and scratches because I didn’t evaporate into thin air and consequently got whacked, by a bag, or an elbow with a rock attached!

      I love living in Spain but actually my one small ‘hate’ is just unreliability and tardiness. Friends turn up late, dates turn up late, or forget to cancel when they can’t make it, everyone to my notaria appointment was at least two hours late, my builders were 7 weeks late finishing the job and when they left they hadn’t actually finished the job(!), all the companies I have an ongoing problem with didn’t resolve it over weeks and weeks. When I receive a delivery they don’t give a 2-3 hour time slot, the last delivery was promised on Tuesday and arrived Friday, with no warning or explanation.

      And if you bother to mention anything to a Spaniard (as I did to my neighbour) all you get in response is “poco a poco” …because the problem is really YOU! 😂😂

  4. Oh how this made me smile – particularly for mentioning the flack that you knew would come. We Brits get it too (I wrote a similar article some time ago).

    I am with you on the work stuff and the politics! My other pet hates – ooh how long have you got? Okay okay… I’ll (try to) keep it short.

    1. Brits who moan from the safety of their walled compound on the Costas… where you’re unlikely to hear a Spanish word spoken… playing their bowls and bingo in the shadow of their mahoosive satallite dishes (can’t possibly miss Emmerdale and Corrie)… extolling the virtues of a restaurant that has “real” Heinz ketchup and HP sauce next to the serviettes – but then voted for Brexit because of those damn “furriners”. But of course that’s not unique to Spain.

    2. Morcilla. Yes I know I’m going to get shot down for this. But why is eating a blood clot a good thing? Bleurgh! No I’m not a veggie – I just can’t eat that stuff. I’ve tried… several times… and am actually feeling queasy just typing about it.

    Have a great week Daniel!

    Elle xx

      1. Hey Álvaro, I’ve had haggis up in Scotland, and morcilla here in Spain. I think they’re pretty similar, but I guess I can’t be sure until I try. Have fun!

        1. Black pudding is basically the same as morcilla, it’s sausage made from blood and commonly eaten in English breakfast, hence Alvaro’s comment. Haggis is not the same.

          As for Spanish peeves, I’ve lived in Spain (Barcelona and Seville) and Argentina as well as France and other countries so have varied cultural experiences. I am fluent so am well placed to judge.

          I think for an Anglo-Saxon, surprisingly our culture is somewhat better suited to Latin America culture than the Spanish.

          I found Argentinians and LATAM generally much more polite and welcoming to people they don’t know. Spaniards can often be what Anglos would describe as cold, rude and unhelpful in customer service/facing roles.

          This is frustrating when faced on a daily basis whereas in LATAM I did not suffer this same daily grind of bad attitudes and hostility.

          On the other hand if you get to know Spanish people on a personal level they are generally warm and welcoming.

  5. Spanish bureaucracy! My boyfriend lost his NIE a while back. A quick phone call to order a replacement, to be received in the post a couple of days later? What naïve and hopeful guiris we were! 17 trips to the NIE office, 128 phone calls, 87 photocopies and one small forest of red tape hacked through later, we are now one of the red-tape war veterans guiris. Never go to any Administrative/Gov office unarmed in Spain, pack all your documents, from identification to school reports. Photocopy them all 3 times and hope for the best! Brilliant article by the way, all rang so true! Also love Spain, came to Barcelona for a weekend 6 years ago and counting! But the laid-back, sunny and “no pasa nada” lifestyle does come at a price!

  6. Well, I must say that I am not surprised by your article. I lived in Spain when I was much younger, and I guess I was able to tolerate things better. I recently went to Spain for over one month thinking of a possible move to Madrid. I had also checked out Malaga, since I have family there as well. Malaga seemed too small and provincial for me. Madrid, well, I noticed that the noise bothered me, even though I am from New York City (right in the middle of Manhattan too!) I am also a bit skeptical about moving to Madrid because of all the horrible things I am reading about the rental laws not protecting tenants, and the noise levels that other tenants can make, and one cannot do anything about it.

    I would like to know your opinion on these two especially: tenant rights and noise levels in residences, and if one can do something about it, if it occurs. You did mention noise in your article.

    And the smoking!!!! Everyone seems to smoke. And it gets to me that they say it is their right to smoke. What about my right not to get a puff of smoke in my face? They sit in an outdoor café with their arm extended so as not to get smoke in their face, but instead throw it in someone else´s face. I always tell them as nicely as I can to put the smoke in their face not mine. Most times they comply.

    That you live there for so many years must mean that deep down inside you love Spain (or at least like it). Spain draws me because of my family, background and love of many things in Spain. But, my fear of moving as well is making me hesitant. I am hoping to get a cleared picture with your blog. Thanks.

  7. Ha yes exactly right, i was 12yrs in Spain and recognize everything you said! I am now in Malta and it is 100% worse, you should come here – only i can think of a lot more than 4 faults!

    The ‘Go back to your own country’ is the same mantra too if you dare give rise to any complaint! It is now a standing joke on all the facebook and media sites.

  8. Thanks a lot Daniel for your article! This is the proof that I am not crazy.
    Living in Spain since 2+ years and I am suffering so much the same things!
    I thought only Valencia area it’s like that, instead I see that basically everywhere in Spain people are like that.
    I would recap everything into a single word: RESPECT. It’s clear that this word is 100% missing in the Spanish culture. I never ever met such disrespectful and rude people as Spaniards are.
    When you walk and everybody constantly crashes on you on the sidewalk,
    When you are sleeping and you are woken up by dumb Spaniards yelling at 4 am in the streets, or drivers using the horn of the car as if it is 5 pm,
    When you are home and neighbors talk loud, slamming doors or chairs or tables at 1 am or playing the guitar till dawn,
    When you park your car and you find daily scratches and damages on both front and read bumpers,
    When you are at the supermarket and at least once per week someone tries to kick you out of line when you are waiting to pay,
    When you are at a bar/caffe and you must wait 20 minutes (I repeat, 20 minutes) to get a coffe,
    When Spaniards happily stop in the middle of the sidewalk to talk and, seeing you coming over, they do not move a single feet to free a bit the way and let you pass……

    All over the world, this is called lack of respect and education, and in Spain it’s just normal. The list would be endless…
    So, I am sorry to read that other expats suffered these same issues but happy that I am not the only one to report this things as problems of this culture.
    In any case I already planned to leave this county in the next few months and finally go back to civilization.

    1. Totally agree…!
      This country suffers from a total lack of education across the board… Also happy to find that I am not the only one 🙂

      1. Well imo, what u guys called lack of education or not behaving correctly, I will say that is what in other parts of the world is called an abusive behavior towards anyone that isnt a spaniard (them vs you vs me).

        Also, the spanish behavior (abusive) has its roots in their sociocultural historical events: their history. Nationalism and the dictatorship really reshaped their socio cultural identity. Eg the spanish dictator moved the spanish time zone to match that of the nazi germany (during WWII) to please the german nazi regime. PRoblem is once the war ended and the spanish dictator wasnt alive any more, no one EVER wanted to fix that. As a result Galicia that is above Portugal (that shares the same time zone as the UK) is in the wrong time zone, forcing their citizens to live in a continuous hell.

        That brings me to the next issue, their identity problems and how they (spaniards) fix their problems in a dysfunctional way (Dysfunctional Attitude Behavior), that speaks as well on how toxic their political debate is and has been forever. There are also many more issues all related to psychological and sociocultural problems like they need to see themselves through the eyes of others. That has been a driving force behind the scenes leading to many sociological analysis on how their mental balance as a society is when compared to other european societies (social repression vs happiness).

        When people speak about stereotypes they arent only expressing their own feelings if not their own perception on how a certain sociocultural context is.

        There are so many awkward and antediluvian things in spain, but probably that is the secret of its success? People come to spain looking for an exotic paradise, stuck in ancient times, that is what probably spain is. A place that is stuck in the past, and never evolved.

  9. Pretty much 2 and 4 are the reasons I ultimately abandoned my wish to live there… though I still feel quite drawn to Malaga and Granada all the same… and you never know.

    Great article all around!

  10. I agree with you in all of these. I’ve been in Spain for 10 years and regarding Bureaucracy, I’m still a stranger to them – so much that I have to start all over again my Residence permit, as if I just got here. Outrageous.

    But the one I hate the most is the noise. It makes me so angry, I hate every Spaniard talking loud in bars, restaurants and streets and i wish I could live in Sweden and have some peace and quiet.
    Also working 9 to 19 shifts don’t make any sense to me. Any at all, I just get mad sitting at the office after 18 h.

    Im waiting to marry my German boyfriend so we move to his country and leave this nonsense for good – Spain is better than my country only in the geographical location of the country and that it isn’t as dangerous as mine, but I can leave this for a better place up north any time with no regrets.

  11. I absolutely agree with the article and comments about a lack of respect, and all of the examples outlined I see and experience on a daily basis whilst living in Madrid! Nobody yet has mentioned all of the dog poo left on pavements my disrespectful dog owners, or neighbours who leave their dogs to bark day and night. People simply do not care about communal environments, or people outside of their own front doors. I have also concluded, having lived here for several years, that a different type of logic applies here …… an example of this is how Spanish drivers approach roundabouts!

    The machismo attitude is still very much alive and well in many males, and a high number of females are highly strung and ready to flip at the drop of a hat! Smoking is overbearing and it seems like everyone smokes. Seeing a woman of mature years wearing a fur coat accessorised with a fag hanging from her mouth with a trail of cigarette smoke blowing through her recently bouffanted hair is not an uncommon site.

    On the subject of hair, it is almost impossible to find a competent hairdresser and I have experienced and seen the most shocking of hair cuts here. The 80’s perm is also alive and well.

    My original plan when initially coming to Spain was to settle here permanently, but having witnessed first hand the systematic lack of respect, and common courtesy, I have come to the conclusion that this is not the place I want to be longer term and will be off like a shot when my contract ends!

  12. Como ya ha comentado Jim, el problema es la falta de respeto porque el español es un niño inmaduro que nunca crece. No le importa las consecuencias de sus actos: ensuciar, hacer ruido,… Al ser niños, tampoco pueden tener una visión de futuro. El futuro no existe en sus mentes, lo importante es el “ahora”, aunque mañana no tengan para pagar los libros de la escuela de sus hijos.

    Yo soy española, tengo la familia en España a la que visito a menudo, pero emigré, no por problemas económicos, sino porque no soportaba la corrupción, la ignorancia, la mediocridad, la superficialidad… Fue la mejor decisión de mi vida. Mis hijos ahora hablan varios idiomas, viajan por el mundo: tienen una mente abierta y crítica. En España es imposible hablar de política o de religión, no es una país democrático, si no, intentad hablar de la independencia en Cataluña.

    Mucha suerte en España.

    1. Estoy COMPLETAMENTE de acuerdo.

      El español, como no viaja ni aprende idiomas, no se da cuenta de lo mediocre y lo terrible que es! Es individualista y necio, y cualquier concepto de una comunidad o de las necesidades del otro, vamos, le resbala. Yo sólo hace poco llegué a comprender, dada mi excelente educación, que muchos españoles están orgullosísimos de ensuciar, hacer ruido, molestar… Trabajan activamente en ello!

      Creo que sólo a través de críticas muy rotundas como estas llegaremos a concienciar a algunas personas de que España tiene que cambiar. Si es que los límites a los que hemos llegado son de lo más chocantes…! Yo soy un autor publicado y pensaba escribir un libro sobre este tema, aportando ideas constructivas, pero desistí: demasiado deprimente la tarea…

  13. Although I am Spanish by birth, I have lived in many countries other than my homeland for most of my life. I regret to say that all the superficial analyses made by happy foreigners leave me cold. 2019 SPAIN IS A DISGRACE!!!!! Ignorance, poor manners, bastardly intentions… I much rather deal with people from the north of Europe, Russia, and most Asian countries. Try to criticize Spain when talking to Spanish people…! The most close-minded nation on Earth. And the higher you get, socially speaking, the worse it is. We are the antithesis of the ideal society! In the 80s and the 90s it was radically different, in a positive sense. Such a pity.

    WAKE UP, SPAIN!!!!!!!!!

  14. Im Spanish and I agree with what you say (though not with many comments of other people). Im also tired of it. Guess things will change but slowly.

  15. Spain is great if one is DRUNK. Or if it one is near the Surf zones, and ya get lucky that there is actually surf to ride. Otherwise, Spain’s urban side is quite annoying. I especially love all the clothing people wear with English “sayings” on them. Some of which are comically ridiculous. Yet, the attitude can be so intense, if one does not do EXACTLY what a Spaniard expects. Having said that, Spain is amazing, beautiful, creative and special. Still too much drinking, and smoking tobacco, for my taste.

  16. I agree with you 100%….and then some. I’m a Catalan. And your disclaimers at the beginning of the article are right on. The “love it or leave it” crowd is very prominent is Spain. I can only roll my eyes and ignore them. It gets really, really old. I used to love Spain. It was my home. Until about 18 months ago. Nuff said.

  17. I agree with everything you said and would add a few myself such as open racism (no it’s not affectionate to say “paki, chinito or negrito”), and the current obsession with putting foie gras on everything and the one I’ve been thinking about recently:
    That shitty little key they give you in bars so you can go to bathroom! Why do some places keep the toilets locked up like they contain something precious inside? Is having a non-paying customer go for a wee really such a terrible thing that you have to actually lock them out? You have to stand around waiting for the waiter to come back and hand you the key and then fiddle around with the lock only to get in and find there really was nothing worth stealing in there anyway! – Most of them don’t even have toilet paper!
    And then of course you sit there doing your business contemplating just how many people have had that nasty little key in their hands while defecating and proceed to rapidly wash your hands as best you can with the tools available (usually no soap or anything to dry them with) before realising that it was all for nothing as you have to take a hold of the manky key and try and lock the whole thing up again on the way out. Yuk!
    Last year after promising to purchase something if the girl let me use the bathroom, I came out and told her I refused to buy anything. When she asked why I told her, that if the only place she was able to use the bathroom had no paper, no soap, no hand towels, had not been cleaned in months and did not even have a working light-bulb, then I did not think it sanitary that she be serving food. – I am now barred from the bar next to the train station in Vilanova i la Geltrù 🙂

  18. I’m glad I’ve found this article. I’ve been in Madrid a week and have found people blunt, rude and impatient, although I’ve tried my best to be friendly and use as much of the language as I know. I’ve even seen tour staff shove people into line. Coming from Australia I’m used to being greeted with a big smile and friendly banter. I see that not every country is the same, and I shouldn’t expect it to be, but I appreciate even more the friendliness Australians exhibit.

    1. Blunt? That is certainly weird. Just keep your eyes and ears open.
      It´s all about experience, though. Unlike the US, where open debate is commonplace, Australia is a very cynical place- you should also know that Australians might be friendly to you but they are definitely NOT nice to foreigners. Australia is probably one of the most racist countries on Earth, in spite of being an immigrants country. Good luck!

  19. Hello, Daniel,

    I read your article (and other articles on the same topic) very attentively and I`m somehow disappointed to
    realise that Spain is strikingly and not really interestingly similar to Romania. And maybe to a dozen other countries. I thought it was at least slightly better than Romania like, let`s say Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, but now I realise it`s quite the same. It`s like you copy-pasted Romania to a climate with more warmer months. I meet and greet the same shit here everyday: stupid customer service (to the point you wish to be your own waiter and cook when you see those guys and girls like sluts with legs apart in front of you, with an “You shithead ain`t got the money to make me smile” attitude – and you may have that money, but surely not for them), people who are unable to think and do their job properly – most of them (the guys installing TV cables etc. who haste you on your own money and are unable to wait for your instructions IN YOUR OWN HOUSE), corruption, noise and shouts in traffic and on the street, the only difference would be kids here do not necessarily break bottles on the street, but they shout and smoke inside their blocks, on the stairs, as a Romanian I would add aggression and passivity all around you. We allegedly have police here and no dictator anymore (we slaughtered him 30 years ago) but most people behave as if any shit on the streets could be the next dictator anytime. Believe me, beside sex and hiking places there is nothing great or consistent about living in Romania. Anyhow, I wish you goo luck in Spain and a nice stay!

  20. Been here for about 3 years and Ive had it. Sure, great good and drinks and nature but putting up on daily basis with the night noise from the garbage trucks, with the idiotic shouting by drunkards, with the lousy mentality at work(lets add mediocrity too), the loud talking and shouting at the dinner table and many more…. close minded folks…i can go on and on.. Dont want to brag but Im a highly regarded professional in my field…but still. i cannot see one reason to stay in this society. Sadly…
    Cannot wait to pack and go.

  21. I have to disagree with you with some points or may see it differently. I moved to Spain last year after 16 years of living in the US. Originally, I am from Slovakia. Now, I live in Granada. And I love Spain, I feel alive and happy. I have so many friends, and I am enjoying life every day which I couldn’t do in the US because everybody is hustling all the time. I hated empty streets and seeing only cars, lack of human interaction, and the constant loneliness in the States. No wonder, the depression in the US is #1.
    On the other hand, Spaniards are always socializing; therefore, they do not have such a problem. I like the directness from Spaniards, I hated fake American smiles and the superficiality. I didn’t have any meaningful relationship in the States because everything was all about money nothing more. Here nobody is even asking what I do or giving me a stupid sales pitch, all the time. I found this refreshing in Spain. I like Spain because is more traditional and less capitalistic. At least here in Granada. My daughter has finally a teacher who cares about her and her emotions. In the States, the school only ask for fundraising and was all about rules and competition. I could go on and on how many things were much worse in the US. I kinda regret living there for so long. It depends on mentality and attitude. The noise, lack of personal space doesn’t bother me. Actually, is much more human than living in the US hyper-individualistic society where kids in the elementary school can even touch each other because of personal space. Finally, I feel I am alive…..Not even one day is boring…

    1. So you lived in which State? And now you know how it is in ALL of The US? Let me remind you that The USA is about the same size as Europe. For reference, California is about the same size as Sweden where I am currently living and Texas dwarfs England. The US is a republic that is actually made up of many smaller republics that can be so different culturally that you will think you’re in a different country. As someone who has lived and traveled extensively through North America, South America, The Caribbean, and Europe, I can attest to the fact that one state in the USA can be very different from another and your experiences from Florida to New York to Louisiana to Montana to California to Hawaii to Alaska will be VASTLY different and often times will result in quite the culture shock. Don’t assume you know what it’s like to be American just because you’ve lived in ONE state. It just doesn’t work like that.

  22. I am agree with Livia Dabrowaki,

    I live more than 20 years in MonTana, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Phoenix and new Mexico. What she said about Superficial. We are more materialistic in USA than most people in Europe

  23. I have lived in Spain around 7 years now. Barcelona, Tenerife and now Cadiz.

    To be quite honest I’m sick of it.

    The majority of Spanish people don’t give a f**k….or maybe only for their beloved families. This shines through with EVERYTHING. Work(crap contracts, dodging tax) Customer Service (try to overprice foreigners, slow and half arsed service, dirty establishments) Socially (parents letting their children run and scream around like feral animals in restaurants etc, littering, walking into you, coughing and sneezing all over you, loud neighbours, dog shit everywhere, loud everywhere basically) Property (scam you, lie, illegal activities, hard to find yearly rentals thanks to holiday lets) Public Health centres treat you like crap, dont offer full services. The education system sucks here, incredibly dated and not productive. If you live in a smaller town the transport is sporadic.

    The only things I can praise in Spain are the hospitals, weather and landscape.

    I probably will be moving out of Spain. Have done my time. My patience and tolerance has been worn thin.

  24. Buen artículo Daniel,

    Creo que has sido bastante comedido yo habría añadido más cosas que odio de España pero sobre todo la mentalidad “picaresca” de los españoles, siempre dando vueltas a su cabeza para encontrar la manera de obtener el mejor beneficio, negociar la mejor ganga, cómo sacar partido de algo…y por supuesto después PRESUMIR DE ELLO con los amigos. Es una pena que la picaresca haga tanta gracia en España.

  25. I agree with the article, and the comments about RESPECT. I would also like to add that I particularly hate how nasty SOME people seem to be here.

    In catalunya, I have seen people peeing in the street, woman hiding her toddler’s poop in the sand.. literally cover it up like it was no biggy, a guy masturbating in plain sight on a bench by the road, fights breaking out at 4am and screams like people are dying …like wtf is going on!!

    Also, kids and women nude at thr beach 😑.. not hygenic at all. In today’s world you have so many good looking bathing suits to choose from, whyy nude your kid all day and expose him to pedophiles and people photographing them! 😱

    I just think it’s a problem of plain hygene that people seem to lack off here (NOT EVERYONE!)
    Now, Im aware there are places on the planet that this is much worse, Im a traveler, so i know this happens in other countries… but when you think of Spain, you think the country is so beautiful that it never crosses your mind to think that people are gonna treat it like shet and act so disgustingly.

    Overall, I think Spain is beyond pretty and beautiful but to be honest I dont think people here appreciate it much.

  26. Omg how much I dislike these lazy arrogant people. Their bureacracy and working culture… pls you need to add that they make mistakes every time and Oh boy do they hate accepting responsibility..
    Just because they have sea they think they are gods…
    For a person with strong work ethics and someone who is used to great customer service this country is a joke!!
    Oh and they are racists, sexists and shovinists.
    I work for an international company (would never work for local pirate) and I want nothing to do with Spanish because after 5 years I’m sick and tired of their horrible horrible culture.
    Siesta anyone???

  27. As an Italian I actually feel that Spain is overrated compared with other Southern European destinations…I’ve lived in the UK and very close to the Republic of Ireland and Spain seemed to be by far the most popular destination with locals…more generally, British, Irish and German speaking European people are huge fans of the country, but I personally think it’s overrated compared with both my country and France. True, the latter two are on average definitely more expensive than your favorite destination when it comes to food (as you rightly pointed out) and to many other things..that’s one of the factors that still makes Spain so attractive.

  28. I just traveled from Madrid, Spain. I was supposed to be there for 3 months but hated it! The capital city was a let down. It had everything American just wrapped in a different package. No culture, no identity. The buildings are covered in graffiti, trash is everywhere, the people are rude. As well, for a capital city, they did not cater to many travelers from all over. It sucked! So, I came home before I ran out of money!

  29. I can´t stop laughing at this post, although I completely agree with you about the Spanairds. Can´t say I have experienced a culture like it, noise, noise, noise and that´s inside your apartment. I have resorted to wearing earplugs indoors, but unfortunately it does not drown out their voices, bins, dogs, kids, or the national sport of dragging furniture. It’s a living hell for most Europeans. They have 0 sense of personal space and literally scream at you from 2 feet away! I read that deafness is a huge problem here, not surprising really! They like basic manners and awarness, poor souls no wonder they struggle in the job market!

    1. Hey Audrey, yeah, it really depends on the neighbors and the orientation of the flat. Our current place in Barcelona is pretty good, because we’re off the street. Except that our next-door neighbor has his toilet about 12 inches from where our heads are when we’re sleeping. Apart from listening to him pee at 4 AM every day, it’s pretty quiet 🙂

      Thanks for reading!

  30. Couldn’t agree more with your four points, specially with the one related to how jobs and salaries suck here, as well as the one related to how screwed and dysfunctional their politicians and overall political system are.

    A few more items to add to the list:

    – Spaniards blatantly discriminate against non-Spaniards, and they don’t even try to hide it.

    – Spaniard companies discriminate against age when posting job offers.

    – Classism is engrained in Spaniards’ DNA. Everybody is a snob competing against the rest to show who’s more classy.

    – Spaniards are cold and inaccessible. It’s extremely hard to make meaningful friendships as an adult.

    – Education system is draconian and abusive. Having a kid of my own that attends school here has shown me how backwards and stuck to the past their education system is, teaching things that are senseless and useless in this age and time, while neglecting subjects that are more in line with the current times and that can actually be of use in the kid’s professional future. This is aside from the insane amount of homework given to the kids everyday, which doesn’t even allow them any time to be a kid and do the things they like.

    – Spaniards subtly segregate themselves from what they believe is a different and lower race: the gypsies. They avoid mingling with them in any way, and make an effort to avoid their kids from attending schools that have gypsies.

    – People live in tiny tuna fish cans of apartments, without any space other than for the basic stuff, and are doomed to experience a neighbour’s noisy reno every few months.

    – Spaniards are awful at driving, compared to places like the Germany or the US. No respect for road signs or speed limits, no courtesy towards other drivers, and don’t even get me going about motorcycles, which apparently are above all laws here. Also, the awful urbanism job that the city does is not helpful, with roads that have 3 or even 4 lanes suddenly changing to just 1 lane. How crazy is that?!

    – Everything is old and crammed.

    – If you like nature, it is basically non-existent here, aside from the north of the country. Everything else is either concrete, or a desert.

    – Lots of business close from 2 pm to 5 pm, making people’s lives more difficult, as you basically can’t do the errands you need to do during that period of time.

    – Their beloved “state of the art” health system is really subpar compared to the ones in first world countries that I’ve been at. Old and dirty buildings with underprepared staff and unprofessional doctors is what I’ve experienced here.

    There are many more things I don’t like about Spain, but these are the main ones. It’s a very dysfunctional society with lots of issues to deal with. They brag a lot about having great quality of life here, but I have yet to see it, so I believe they are just masters at distorting reality with the intention of making a lie become truth. Two lost years of both me and my kid’s lives that we won’t get back. Packing my suitcase to leave this dump as I write this.

  31. I’m American but grew up in Spain. Totally agree on the terrible salaries and in my opinion made even more insufferable by the loads of tourists. Think about it. Getting crap wages to deal with rude tourists.

    Oddly, when I left Spain one of the things I missed was the noise and the way the voices eco in the streets.

    I couldn’t relate to the lack of customer service. I’ve never had that problem. One thing to consider is that Spaniards announce loudly something when entering a store or bar: Buenas,ponme un cortado or something. You can’t be shy when entering otherwise, yes, you will probably be ignored. Even if the employees are busy, say something, just interrupt. You can’t be a wall flower.

  32. Here’s my short list:

    -Okupas (squatters), how they can take over your home in the middle of the night, refuse to leave and the police can’t do anything…speechless!
    -Selfish drivers but I’m not clueless, I’ve been to other countries where it can be much worse.
    -Funcionarios and what it implies: a society that doesn’t reward entrepreneurship and makes everyone strive for ‘stability’ and the most regular jobs to ever exist. There’s no “reach for the stars kid,” mentality.
    -‘Papeleo,’ (paperwork), for everything, not just the funcionarios.
    -Passing their dumb driving exams even if you’ve been driving for 20 plus years in your own country.
    -An education system that values memorizing 💩 and then repeating it like a parrot. There’s no practical, hands-on learning. Bravo Finland 👏🏽
    -Tons of unfinished buildings and construction. This can be blamed on so many parties: corrupt developers, town hall, etc. It’s just an awful eyesore.
    -Stray dogs and cats and how some people are so awful to these poor animals. Like what animal would hang a greyhound (a galgo), for fun?

    I’ve got like 30 more, but these are the ones that really irk me.😝

  33. OK here’s one – the carelessness, by which I mean the very low value of attention to detail. Example. We had concertina security gates fitted on two different occasions and by two different companies. BOTH TIMES the gate arrived with lock on the wrong side and as a result they had to bin the whole thing – which was made to measure – and start over again. It must have cost them hundreds of euros each time. No apology, just a shrug of the shoulders, got back in the van and off they went.

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