Exciting news for the auxiliares in the 2016-2017 year! Previously, there were certain regions of Spain that were not participating in the language and cultural assistants program. This year, however, marks new beginnings! All regions will be open to the North Americans! As you may (or may not) know, when applying to the auxiliaries program, you have to choose your top three regions in which you’d like to be assigned. You do not have the option of picking a specific city. That being said, if you haven’t visited Spain before, you may be wondering what each region is like and curious as to which regions you should list in your application. So let’s take a look at each region and break it down!
All of the regions have opened up, starting in 2016-2017 school year!
Galicia is located in the north-western most part of Spain. It is often referred to as the “Scotland of Spain” because of how green everything is! There are plenty of spots available in Galicia. It can be a tad far away from the rest of Spain, so a lot of auxiliares get placed here as a last resort. That being said, most people seem to really enjoy their time here! The two most common cities to end up in are Santiago de Compostela or Vigo. The program is efficient, people are paid on time, and the scenery is beautiful! If you end up in Galicia, you won’t be disappointed.
Average Rent in Santiago de Compostela: €175 (in shared piso) + €40 utilities
Average Rent in Vigo: €195 (in shared piso) + €35 utilities
Asturias is also on the coast, neighboring Galicia. Like Galicia, Asturias is also very green. Because the region is smaller and there are fewer cities that participate, this region is pretty competitive. You will most likely end up in either Oviedo or Gijón. Mostly 2nd years in the auxiliares program are placed here.
Average Rent in Oviedo: €220 (in shared piso) + €45 utilities
Average Rent in Gijón: €215 (in shared piso) + €45 utilities
Cantabria is located on the northern most area of Spain. It’s another overlooked area, but it truly is beautiful! There are gorgeous mountains, forests, and of course a beautiful sea line. The cities here can be a bit smaller, but the region itself is beautiful. Most auxiliares in Cantabria end up in Santander.
Average Rent in Santander: €230 (in shared piso) + €50 utilities
Update: Cantabria pulled out of the program in late May 2016… No word yet as to why, but rumors seem to think it’s due to a lack of funding… Auxiliares assigned to this region were switched to other regions.
- País Vasco
País Vasco borders the east of Cantabria. País Vasco is the heart of Basque Country, an autonomous region of Northern Spain. Basque has it’s own language too, but have no fear! Spanish is still spoken in País Vasco as well. It’s a beautiful area, with the sea and France located not too far away. This area actually has the highest earning per capita out of all of Spain, so it can be a bit more pricey to live here! One of the major cities, San Sebastián, is located here, making País Vasco a popular choice for many auxiliares.
Average Rent of San Sebastián: €415 (in shared piso) + €50 utilities
Navarra is located just south of France and hosts the annual Running of the Bulls in it’s city of Pamplona during the San Fermín Festival. Over 1,000,000 people come to participate in this festival! Navarra is a bit modern and has a lot of automobile manufacturing. It’s largest city, Pamplona, is also home to two universities, so you can be sure there is a good bit of night life and fun to be had here!
Average Rent of Pamplona: €275 (in shared piso) + €50 utilities
Aragón is a larger, landlocked region of Spain, located just south of France. This region can be more competitive for auxiliares because they only accept a small amount of individuals. More than half of Aragón’s population lives in the large city of Zaragoza. The only other city in Aragón that has a population of over 50,000 is Huesca. Through the trains, you can get to Barcelona and Madrid fairly easily, as well as the rest of Europe with the Zaragoza airport. It’s not quite as touristy as other large cities in Spain, so if you live here, you’ll have an authentic Spanish year abroad!
Average Rent in Zaragoza: €210 (in shared piso) + €65 utilities
Cataluña is one of the regions that will be newly participating as of 2016 for auxiliares. Cataluña is home to Barcelona, the second largest city in Spain, located on the coast. Unlike the majority of Spain, most people in this region speak Catalán rather than Spanish. They’ll still understand you (most likely) if you speak Spanish, but many prefer to speak Catalán. This could make your experience in Spain a bit different than if you choose an area where Spanish is mainly spoken, but there’s no doubt that Cataluña is a beautiful region.
Average Rent in Barcelona: €405 (in shared piso) + €45 utilities
- Castilla Y León
Castilla Y León is a large region located east of Portugal. Much of the region consists of a large, central plateau – the Meseta. Río Duero is a large river that flows through the region. The weather here tends to be cold in winter and warm and dry in the summer. Salamanca is a large university town and capital of this region. Salamanca attracts thousands of international students, generating a diverse environment! Salamanca is located about 12o miles (200 kilos) west of Madrid, making an easy commute to the country’s capital city. El Camino de Santiago also runs through this region in the north.
Average Rent in Salamanca: €200 (in shared piso) + €50 utilities
- La Rioja
La Rioja is a small, landlocked region of northern Spain. Its capital is Logroño, a popular area for auxiliares to end up. The region is well known for its wines under the brand Denominación de Origen Calificada Rioja. This area is relatively cheap compared to other areas of Spain, and the food in Northern Spain is supposed to be delicious! If you end up here, you’ll have a blast!
Average Rent in Logroño: €250 (in shared piso) + €50 utilities
The country’s capital, Madrid! Madrid is a region as well as a city, so note that if you select Madrid as your preference, you are selecting the region, not the capital city. Madrid, the city, is one of the largest in the world, with about 3.2 million people living there. In the EU, it is the third largest city, behind London and Berlin. As such, there is a huge amount of auxiliares who get placed in Madrid. If you’ve selected Madrid as your #1 region and you have an inscrita number below 1,200, you’re most likely ending up in this region. The cost of living is a bit higher here than the rest of Spain. You do work 16 hours (instead of 12) and make €1,000/month (instead of the usual €700). You also work until the end of June in Madrid instead of the end of May. Móstoles and Alcalá de Henares are the next two largest cities in this region, with just over 200,000 people in each. Because the capital city is so huge for tourism, you do run the risk of having Spaniards want to practice their English with you, which can make an “authentic Spain experience” more difficult. Commuting is also fairly common for people in this region.
Average Rent in Madrid: €440 (in shared piso) + €50 utilities
Average Rent in Alcalá de Henares: €300 (in shared piso) + €50 utilities
- Castilla La Mancha
Castilla La Mancha is located just east of Madrid. Historically, this region is very significant to Spain. The historical battles between Christian crusaders and Muslim forces during the period from 1000 to the 13th century occurred in Castilla La Mancha. It is also the land of Don Quixote and windmills! Albacete is the largest and most populous city here, and its capital city is Toledo (a beautiful city in Spain, worth visiting while you’re here!).
Average Rent in Albacete: €215 (in shared piso) + €45 utilities
Average Rent in Toledo: €300 (in shared piso) + €50 utilities
Like Madrid, Valencia is also a city as well as a region of Spain. This year will be the first that Valencia is participating again, much like Cataluña. Valencia is the third largest city in Spain, after Madrid and Barcelona. Here, they speak Spanish as well as Valencian, a variety of Catalán. Before the region was cut some years ago, it was very popular amongst students! Mainly 2nd years were placed here because of the competitiveness. It will be interesting to see how this region plays out in the years moving forward!
Average Rent in Valencia: €250 (in shared piso) + €35 utilities
Extremadura is located east of Portugal and west of Madrid. This region is important for the wildlife of Spain. Wild Black Iberian pigs roam in the area and consume acorns from oak groves here! The human population density is relatively low compared to the rest of Spain in Extremadura. This can make cities in Extremadura much cheaper compared to the rest of Spain! Some of the possible cities you could get placed in here are Badajoz, Cáceres, or Mérida.
Average Rent in Badajoz: €150 (in shared piso) + €45 utilities
Average Rent in Cáceres: €160 (in shared piso) + €50 utilities
Andalucía is located in the southern most part of Spain. A lot of auxiliares end up here. It’s thought of as “traditional Spain” which can be great for a year abroad. Here, you will find beautiful flamenco dancing and wonderful Spanish music. Seville, Granada, Córdoba, Málaga, Almería, and Huelva are some major cities in Andalucía in which you may be placed. Semana Santa or Holy Week is especially festive in Andalucía! There is an incredibly heavy Spanish accent in the south, which can make it difficult to understand the locals (a lot of it sounds slurred together, heave ssssth sounds for c and z), so that’s something to be aware of! Also, this region is the hottest of mainland Spain, so take that into considerations when finding a piso to live in!
Average Rent in Seville: €285 (in shared piso) + €35 utilities
Average Rent in Granada: €200 (in shared piso) + €45 utilities
Average Rent in Córdoba: €240 (in shared piso) + €35 utilities
Murcia is located to the east of Andalucía and south of Valencia. It is also a region as well as a city. Like Andalucía, the traditional Spain setting is found, with big cathedrals and a lot of history. There also exists the heavy southern Spanish accent here, which again makes it difficult to understand the natives. It is a beautiful region, but has had a lot of problems with auxiliares in the past. This area seems to be the most notorious for paying auxiliares late (sometimes even a few months late) which can make your Spain experience quite tainted. The city of Murcia is the most common location auxiliares get placed in this region.
Average Rent in Murcia: €215 (in shared piso) + €40 utilities
- Las Islas Baleares
Las Islas Baleares or the Balearic Islands is a region located east of Valencia in the Mediterranean Sea. The four largest islands are Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera. Only a small amount of auxiliares are placed here. They speak both Spanish and Catalán here. The cost of living is a bit higher here than the rest of Spain because the islands are quite touristy! There are plenty of flights going on and off the islands, however, so your opportunities for traveling around Europe are great!
Average Rent in Palma de Mallorca: €280 (in shared piso) + €50 utilities
Average Rent in Ibiza: €460 (in shared piso) + €30 utilities
- Las Islas Canarias
Las Islas Canarias or the Canary Islands is a region very far south of Spain, located west of Morocco and Western Sahara in Africa! The main islands are (from largest to smallest) Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. This region is hugely popular for travel and tourism. Because they’re located so far away from Spain, it can make travel around the rest of Europe a bit time consuming and pricey. Spanish is the main language on the islands, but because they’re so popular for tourism, you can often find English, German, and Italian speakers with relative ease! The climate here is subtropical and the average high is about 75ºF (24ºC) while the low averages 64ºF (18ºC). So yeah, this is an ideal vacation spot, especially during winter months!
Average Rent in Tenerife: €220 (in shared piso) + €30 utilities
Average Rent in Gran Canaria: €200 (in shared piso) + €25 utilities
(Note: Pricing information on rent is based on a 3 bedroom shared piso in the city center. Pricing may change dramatically if you choose to live alone or outside of the city center! I used information from www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/ to get these numbers. It’s always a good idea to talk to current auxiliares and see what they’re paying, too!)
There you have it! A quick guide to the different regions of Spain and the average rent price for a few of their major cities. Hopefully that was helpful and you have a little bit of a clearer understanding of what each region of Spain is like! Good luck in selecting your regions, future auxiliares!