Working in Galicia

If you’ve been reading through this site wondering where the catch with Galicia is, you’re now at the right place!

Finding paid work as an immigrant to Galicia is extremely difficult.

For any form of employment that requires you to communicate with other people (other than English teaching) you will need to speak Spanish to an extremely high level and quite possible Gallego too.


In theory professional qualifications valid in one EU country are also valid in another but in practice most professions in Spain are quite extensively protected both against entry into the profession by anyone without Spanish qualifications (unless the profession is in short supply in Spain) and against non-qualified people trying to provide the services that the profession provides (for example, in the UK a planning application can be submitted by anyone who can do the required drawings and calculations, but in Galicia the signature of a Galician registered architect is needed).

Most professions that offer services to the public in any way require membership of some professional body and obtaining this via recognition of a foreign qualification is by all accounts a tortuous and lengthy (ie. several years) process that may require taking exams to prove certain levels of knowledge.

Even should you succeed in this you will then find that doing the job probably requires knowledge of the relevant sections of Spanish/Galician bureaucracy, the lack of which may effectively make you unemployable.

Whilst it isn’t impossible to come to Galicia as a foreign professional and find work in your field extensive research before you make the move is highly recommended and ideally you should get a job first and only then move over here and buy property, especially in this current period of few jobs and many properties for sale.

Public sector

Public sector positions in Spain are very sought after as they come with a high degree of job security and much better conditions (pension, holidays, etc.) than most private sector jobs, and thus there is intense competition for all public sector jobs.

On top of this public sector positions require you to have passed courses and exams called oposiciones, which are specific to Spain (and only in Spanish) and can take many years of study.

Basically, unless you know for sure that you can work in a particular public sector job, assume that this sector is closed to you.

English teaching

Stereotypically the default position of the under-researched arriving from the UK in Galicia is to have in mind that they can always find some English teaching work.

There is work in teaching English, indeed it’s a boom industry in the current economic climate, but typically only during the evenings and weekends as the main client base is schoolchildren (private extra lessons paid for by parents to get their children through end of year exams) and a scattering of working professionals.

Cities and larger towns have language academies that you may be able to find employment with, but often the academy owner(s) are also teachers and therefore they tend to only hire others to do the less pleasant  / less constant / requiring lots of (unpaid) travel work.

Offering private lessons is viable for generating some income but you will normally struggle to earn a living wage doing this. On top of this the English teaching market is often quite competitive and if you plan on doing this in a black market but also publicly visible (ie. advertising) way you are very vulnerable to being denounced by a competitor.

Denouncing (denuncia) someone is easily done at either the Policia Local or the Guardia Civil, is anonymous to the denounced person and in no way requires the denouncer to have their own legality checked.

Typical fines (2013) for being caught offering services for which you are not employed or registered autonomo are around the 3000-5000€ mark.
If you want to be fully legal then you will need to register as self employed (autonomo), but with this status you need to make social security contributions of around 3000€ per year regardless of whether you actually earn any money doing whatever you do (although these contributions do provide medical cover for you and all dependents, and pension rights upon reaching state retirement age with a minimum of 15 years of contributions).

Working abroad based in Galicia

The best type of work for sustainable living in Galicia is using some speciality to work remotely for clients in your home country or some sort of lucrative contract work that allows you to cover your living costs (which are lower than the EU norm) in Galicia with just a few months work back in your home country or job location per year.

In the long term you will, of course, need to work out your Spanish tax position and health cover if living this way.

In summary

In general the hard truth is that there are usually only three types of immigrants who can make ends meet long term in Galicia:

  • EU pensioners (pension paid by home country, lifelong state healthcare paid by home country) or people with sufficient independent means.
  • Professional people who have a (private sector) job arranged before even arriving in Galicia
  • People who have stable, long term work prospects that are either not location specific (eg. working over the internet) or involve leaving Galicia for short term contract work that pays enough to cover annual Galician living costs.

If you fall into one of these three categories then you can benefit from the great quality of life, cheaper housing costs, cheaper cost of living and generally quite low (by EU standards) taxes that Galicia offers.
If you don’t then it’s worth thinking long and hard before moving to Galicia, and it may also be best to avoid making financially binding commitments such as purchasing property until you’ve spent some time living in Galicia and better understand your prospects here.