By Danielle E., Auxiliar de Conversación in Madrid 18/19.
If you are reading this, you are most likely considering living as a Language Assistant in the region of Murcia and trying to make a decision. To help you decide whether living in Murcia is for you, I have compiled the pros and cons. I believe these are the most important to consider based on my opinions and other expats I have met. Rather than telling you things that apply to Spain as a country, these factors are specifically about this region.
Pros of Living in the region of Murcia
Situated in the southeast of Spain, Murcia has a Mediterranean climate which makes it heaven on Earth. Especially, when compared to my home country, rainy, miserable England. With more than 300 days of sun a year and an average temperature of 19 degrees which can reach up to 34 degrees in the summer, the weather is a clear benefit here in Murcia.
Cost of Living
Even within the center of Murcia’s Capital, rent is very much affordable. You can find somewhere comfortable to call home from €150 to €350 a month If you live with others. If you prefer to live alone, around €500, but it is common to share a flat in this program. The bus tickets cost €1.10 and return train tickets in the region cost up to €14. I feel it is worth mentioning, there are other affordable ways to travel in Spain, aside from public transport. You can take advantage of Bla Bla Car (a carpooling website) to save even more. Cervezas cost around €1.50 for a quinta (200ml) and a café con leche is usually little more than a euro.
For those who find the most happiness in nature, there is an abundance of picturesque places to explore. If you fancy bathing in the sun and the sea, La Manga is blessed with miles of beaches. As well as La Manga there are plenty of undisturbed beach havens hidden along the coast. For those who prefer tranquility such as Cabo Cope, La Llana, and Calnegre. You can hike through the Sierra Espuña Regional Park or raft through the Almadenes Canyon. Exploring caves and bathing in the sea on the Costa Cálida, is another option. These are just a few examples of ways you can take in your surroundings and embrace what Murcia offers.
Variety of Things to do in Murcia
In the Region of Murcia, there is something for everyone. You can spend time shopping in the city center, Nueva Condomina or La Noria outlet. There are also museums here, my favorite of which is the Museo de Bellas Artes which is free to visit. You can relax in one of the many beautiful squares and terraces enjoying typical Murcian tapas. Another option is admiring the impressive Gothic and baroque pieces of architecture such as the cathedral. Then complete the day going for a stroll along the Paseo de Malecόn enjoying the gardens and the river.
Culture and History
Aficionados of history and architecture are spoilt for choice in this region. Cartagena city allows you to transport through time and visit the Roman theatre or the remains of Punic wall. You will find the Fortress of the Sun in Lorca, another city with influences from the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque. Caravaca de la Cruz is a holy city with a castle commissioned by the Knights Templar, located at the north-west. El Camino de Vera Cruz (900km) can be a great challenge for those who enjoy truly long walks or pilgrimages.
There are three words that encapsulate the local attitude which you will hear frequently. Murcians are generally warm, welcoming and friendly people, at least from my experience and that of other foreigners. The three words I refer to are “no pasa nada,” meaning “don’t worry about it,” and in its essence very similar to the Lion King’s ‘Hakuna Matata.’ It gives a sense of reassurance and understanding that is very comforting when adjusting to a new country and language.
Cons of Living as a Language Assistant in Murcia
Availability of Certain Products
One thing I struggled with at first, was very hard to obtain certain things I had taken for granted home or they were a bit pricey. Genuinely, spicy peppers to cook with and products for afro-hair types proved near impossible to find at first. Coconut-based products, peanut butter, and cheddar cheese all just seemed a little more expensive than they should be. Going to another country does mean you should be open to trying new things. However, I still consider this is a ‘con’, as in larger cities there are more import shops with these products. If there are a couple of things you can’t do without from back home, I recommend bringing some with you. Otherwise, be ready to look on Amazon, pay more or make your own. Nonetheless, the fusion with other cultures is growing, my neighborhood has started hosting a market celebrating different cultures called Mixtura.
Learning the Language
The next con I feel the need to mention depends only on your decisions and the effort you put in to truly adapt. If you are living in Murcia or Cartagena, it is not hard to come across people who speak English. You will encounter expats and Spanish people (usually the younger generation) are keen to practice their English and help. Not interacting with locals and not speaking much Spanish, makes it easy to not learn the language. You will benefit greatly if you practice Spanish daily, but there are plenty of choices for Spanish lessons with reasonable prices
All in All
There you have some pros and cons of living in the region of Murcia. For me, although moving here was an impulsive decision, it has been one of the best I have ever made. I am completely enamored by the landscapes, the culture, and the weather. So far the pros far outweigh the cons. You can improve your experience here by being open-minded, ready to learn and to love new things. For some people, this may not be their ideal place to live, which is fair enough. But I can say in all honesty that there is nothing to the region that would make the experience unbearable. I hope this has helped you to make a decision, whatever that may be.