As an avid skier I’m usually on the slopes at least once a year – more if I can find the time and money to get over to France and enjoy my favourite pastime. However, one thing I regularly find is that I have to explain why I choose to go skiing when I get a break, particularly over holidays in the sun. While my friends are all heading out to Spain or Cyprus and spending their time sunbathing or at the beach, I’m turning down the chance to join them in favour of another trip to the slopes.
But it seems no matter how much I try and convince some of my friends, they have these misconceptions about ski holidays that are hard to break. So to help convince some other sun-seekers of the benefits of a ski break, here are 5 of the most common misconceptions I hear about skiing:
- It’s too expensive
This is easily the argument I hear the most from friends and family – that skiing is simply too expensive. While it’s true that buying the latest Oakley goggles or getting custom made skis can cost quite a bit, you can easily hire all of this equipment, and there are a wealth of budget-friendly resorts available all over Europe, particularly in places like France. Skiing can be expensive, but so can any type of holiday if you’re booking five star and first class – shop around, book in advance and spend your money wisely and you can easily get a great deal on a fantastic ski trip.
- Sun is better than snow
The other one I hear all the time is people asking ‘why would you swap the sun for snow?’ I’m not sure why people think the slopes can’t be sunny, but if you go in spring you’ll get snow on the ground and beautiful sun in the sky – it really is the best of both worlds!
- There’s nothing to do if you don’t want to ski
People always try and argue that there’s nothing to do on a ski trip if you don’t fancy hitting the slopes, and it couldn’t be further from the truth. For a start, there are a ton of other activities, from ice-skating to swimming, and if you don’t fancy the exercise, any half-decent resort will boast shopping, spas, restaurants, bars, cafes and lots of entertainment options. Ski holidays don’t have to be all about skiing!
- I can’t relax on a ski holiday
For some reason people think of ski holidays as being adrenaline-filled, all-action affairs, but there’s so much more to them than that. I’ve already mentioned the spas and pools on offer, and the sun in many cases (meaning you can sunbathe), but you’re also in one of the most beautiful spots and will be surrounded by scenic walks, yoga, bike trails and usually a huge health and wellness scene.
- I’m going to spend the whole time falling over
OK, if you’re not an experienced skier then there might be some truth to this one, but it’s not like it sounds. Falling over rarely hurts and it’s always a lot of fun, and once you start to make some progress you won’t be able to stop getting back up for another go.
Posted in Activities Tagged with: Cyprus, France, OK, Spain
If you’re thinking of living the ex-pat life out in Spain, you may be wondering how different your life will be compared to your current one. Of course, there may be more good weather and perhaps a better lifestyle, but are taxes any different to what you’re used to? Are you going to need a Visa? How is the education system and what about healthcare? There are all questions which might have your mind racing. So, here a few pointers to help clarify a few things about living in Spain. Of course, you’ll need to do a lot more research before deciding to make the move, but this guide may help you start!
Healthcare in Spain
The Spanish healthcare system is funded by social security contributions. It combines public and private healthcare and people who pay their social security will automatically have the right to use the healthcare system for free or at a low cost. To benefit from the Spanish National Healthcare system, you will need to enrol with the General Social Security Fund. If you are thinking of retiring in Spain, this useful Telegraph article has some valuable information on healthcare.
Social Security Numbers
Every resident is issued with a social security number even if they are self-employed. This entitles that person to healthcare services, sickness benefits, unemployment benefits, and a pension. You have a social security number in Spain, it is valid for life.
There are various criteria you need to meet to become liable for paying income tax. These are listed here on the Angloinfo.com website. On this page you’ll find key information regarding the Spanish income tax rates.
Other taxes such as VAT are charged from 4 to 18% throughout Spain.
Citizens of EU member states that belong to the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) or the European Economic Area (EEA) are allowed to travel to Spain without obtaining a visa first. When it comes to non-EU members, you can stay for no more than 90 days in a period of 180 days with a short-stay visa. This visa does not grant permission for the holder to work.
You will need to apply for a working visa, a student visa, or a working holiday visa. There are no visa restrictions for those people wishing to work in Spain on a voluntary basis.
Buying a car
If you want to buy a car in Spain, you will need to either have an official residency card (Tarjeta de Residencia) or proof that you are a Spanish home owner. You may also need to have documentation that proves you are a registered member of the local community, “certificado de empadronamiento” (available from the Town Hall) or have an NIE/NIF number (Foreigner’s Identification Number.) The site above links to Angloinfo.com, which provides a whole host of services to help you move to Spain with as smooth a transition as possible! Buying a car is just one aspect you’ll want to sort out asap.
You may want to buy a property before you move to Spain or while you are renting in Spain. There are many ways to search for properties: typically you could go to an estate agents or look online. Some will also offer an English speaking service. You can also find a number of short or long term rentals in Spain.
Posted in Tips Tagged with: Spain, Spanish National Healthcare, Town Hall, VAT