Friday, January 8, 2016

Visit to Spain: Better than Expected

Hi Fernando,
My two older kids mid 20s spent 2 weeks in Spain in December.
Their report was so positive. They saw so few homeless people and they loved Spain.
Why does Spain have so few homeless?
The only reason I think is that the States have so many Veterans who have PTSD and other conditions from "endless" war
What do you think?
ps they loved Spain!
Hello Mary, I’m glad to hear they had a good time over here.
Spain still has a long way to recover since the economic crisis and is currently struggling with a political one.
Having said that there’s also a few things to keep in mind when looking into Spain.
First, the economy is not as bad as it once (recently) was. Unemployment is still high, but walking down the streets you do find people hiring and when talking with folks the word is that there’s a bit more work. Some of those scary 20% or 25% unemployment figures don’t really account for those that WANT to be unemployed because they get paid the “paro” which is about 80% of their previous salary without having to actually work. The abuse of this safety net bleeds the country and its estimated that at the very least half of the unemployment is from people in this situation. The “paro” and other social care structures are the reason why you don’t really see that much people living on the streets in spite of the crisis, at least not as much as you’d expect.
Spain has a struggling economy but then again it has certain key advantages as well, which is why a lot of people including myself consider it a good place to live in. First, its without a doubt and by any given standard one of the safest places to live in. Sure you have “bad” parts of town in some cities but in average it’s just very safe.
Another key aspect of Spain is its world class medical care, both private and public. I’ve always paid for private medical because I consider it an essential aspect of quality of life, but even public medical care which everyone can get treatment in is among the best in the world. This means that people with drug abuse problems or mental problems aren’t just left wandering the streets but actually get taken care of. This kind of topic usually provokes a knee jerk reaction about socialists and commies, but I believe health and education are fundamental life aspects that say a lot about a country. In UK for example, public medical care is also free but it borders on negligence. People with suspicious lumps are told to wait it out, only to be told a year later that its too late to do anything about it so just wait until you die. This may seem like an exaggeration but there’s actually thousands of such cases. Spain has much better medical care, both public and private and that gives you so much more peace of mind.
Spaniards have somewhat of a laid back reputation, thinking more about fiesta than working, borderline lazy. In reality is just a different mentality that takes a bit of getting used to. At first I felt like punching people in their faces when they took forever to get things done even for simple tasks. Eventually you understand that things aren’t as rushed here. A way of putting it would be that people here work to live rather than live to work and maybe that’s healthier than always being stressed, rushing and wanting everything done right that minute. This way of life combined with great weather, food and tourist locations its understandable that people enjoy their visits here.
I’m glad your kids had a good time in Spain!
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.

1 comment:

dreaming in maine said...

Fernando, living in Australia has similar advantages in the health care and safety factors...and the "take it easy" mentality is also the same (work to live, not live to work). There's a real emphasis on leisure time and a much slower pace to everything - like you experience, it can take a long time for some services to be done - a plumbing issue, for example, could see you waiting a week or more for a plumber since they get paid by the hour and see no particular reason to rush their work or stress out for any reason.

You learn to work around the pace and keep your tongue behind your teeth when the customer service can be lacking, but the pay off is that you are also not expected to rush or stress. You don't get chastised for taking a long vacation with your family, and taking a sickie also goes by without the same kind of badgering we saw back when we lived in the states.

Pros and cons of every place you go, as you often say on your blog :)