Daydreaming about life in Spain usually involves two possible scenarios: shacking up on the beach or wandering medieval stone cities in Old Castille and central regions.
Hannah spent her year teaching abroad in romantic Cáceres, a mid-sized city listed as a UNESCO World Heritage city for its beautiful old town. Apart from historic treasures, the city is comparatively cheap cost of living and not too far from Madrid or Seville.
Name: Hannah Greenwald
City and Comunidad: Cáceres, Extremadura
School: I was placed at two primary schools in villages outside of the capital: Puebla de Obando and La Roca de la Sierra.
Your living situation? A shared apartment with three bedrooms and one bathroom.
How did you find your flat? I found it online through www.milanuncios.com
Rent: 120 euros a month
What did you spend on utilities? I believe the most I ever spent on my electricity bill was 45-ish euros (in the winter months), and 15-20ish in warmer months. We didn’t have central heating.
You cell phone company and plan? My plan is Ballena through Orange. I pay 8.95€ a month for 1G of data plus IVA or tax.
What do you pay for internet? I had Jazztell and paid 12 euros and some change a month. Shared between the three of us, and we also had a landline.
What did you spend on groceries? Probably between 60 and 90 euros a month, but I tend to eat very cheaply and don’t buy or consume a lot of meat—I think an average monthly grocery bill would be a bit higher.
Did you have any other sources of income? Private classes. I charged 8 or 10 an hour, which is on the low end. I also started to do some freelance writing at the end of the school year.
Were you able to save any money? Yes, I was able to save money easily. I couldn’t tell you exactly how much, it depended on how much I traveled in a given month. But, I’ve made more than I’ve spent every month except for January, when I went on a long winter break trip.
Your favorite tapas bar? La Cacharrería!! I usually ordered white wine at 2.30 a glass. I loved all their tapas but the best is the solomillo de cerdo con mermelada y queso at 4.50 euros. Honorable mention to the morros de cerdo con cilantro, also 4.50. This is by no means a ‘cheap’ tapas place, most bars are quite a bit cheaper!
Your breakfast and coffee bars suggestions: Los 7 Jardines was my favorite afternoon coffee hangout. I usually got a café con leche, which costs 1.30€.
Nightlife in Cáceres: Bulevar, which is not exactly a bar de copas, but was the closest thing that I regularly went to! Bottles of beer for 2 or 2.50, shots at 1€, mojitos for 4€. No entrance fee.
How did you get around? The only time I took the bus was to get to the edge of town to meet with the teachers who I commuted with. Bus rides are 1€.
What you loved about living in Cáceres? People are very open and love to teach you things about Spain/Extremadura/Cáceres. The old town is absolutely beautiful and very tranquil (i.e. not overrun by tourists like in other Spanish cities I’ve visited). The food is very good.
Also, the cost of living is low—even without private classes, I could easily survive on what I make through the ministry program. Also, the size was perfect for me. It was big enough that you had everything you needed and there is a sizable student population and fun nightlife options, but also small enough that it felt like a big pueblo—you see friends all the time walking around, people know and recognize you around town, it’s very safe and you can walk anywhere. Finally, WOMAD is incredible.
And your dislikes? It was difficult to move around Spain—to get to most places in Spain you have to pass through Madrid or Seville. Blablacar helps, but it can still be difficult and expensive to travel. And sometimes you can feel there’s a lack of cultural events like live music.
How easy was it to travel around Spain and Europe from Cáceres? I believe the nearest airport is Badajoz, but I never flew out of it nor have I heard of anyone flying from it. For all intents and purposes, the closest airport is Madrid. The most easily accessible cities by bus and train are Badajoz, Sevilla, Madrid, Lisbon, and Salamanca.
Your guilty pleasure purchases: So much clothing from Bershka! Also, lots of chorizo and cheese.
What are the top attractions in Cáceres? The Plaza Mayor, the Casco Antiguo, and WOMAD music festival.
Something you wish someone had told you before moving to Spain: Spain is incredible and you’ll never want to move back to the States!
As a serious answer, I wish someone had warned me about the different behavioral standards for students in the US vs. Spanish schools. There seems to be very little respect for teachers, and talking out of turn/disobeying/standing up when you aren’t supposed to is the norm. It threw me for a loop when I first got here.
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