While most new language assistants flock to cities and choose to commute to their jobs, some intrepid auxiliares delve into local life in a pueblo. Heather is starting her second year living in Noia, a town just 20 miles from bustling Santiago de Compostela. Her cost of living is lower than you’d imagine!
Name: Heather Long
City and Comunidad: Noia (A Coruña), Galicia
School: This year I will be teaching in IES Virxe do Mar high school in Noia.
Your living situation? I live in a shared apartment in Noia that has 2 rooms and 1 bathroom and I live with my Galician boyfriend.
How did you find your flat? We found the flat using idealista.com and milanuncios.com.
Rent: The rent is 275 euros/month (in total) for both of us.
What did you spend on utilities? We pay around 30-90 euros a month in total for gas, electricity, and water. The bills come every 3 months.
You cell phone company and plan? I use Orange’s tarifa de prepago (prepaid plan) called Ballena, where I pay 8.95 euros/month for 1GB of data. This summer they have given me an extra 1GB each month for free!
What do you pay for internet? We have unlimited internet through Orange which costs 30 euros/month.
What did you spend on groceries? I think I spend on average about 25-35 euros a week, and frequently go to Gadis or Mercadona.
Did you have any other sources of income? I teach around 8-10 hours a week of private English classes. I charge 10 euros/hour for one student, and an additional 5 euros per additional student. (An hour with 2 students cost 15 euros).
Were you able to save any money? Yes, I saved a lot! This last year I think I spent no more than 350 euros/month, so I saved around $2,500.
Your favorite tapas bar? I like going to a bar called Senra because it has really delicious seafood. Here we never order tapas – those come free with every drink – but we order raciones. My favorite is navallas (navajas in Spanish) or razor clams, which are a long, thin shellfish.
Your breakfast and coffee bars suggestions: I love going to Babilonia for an afternoon coffee. I usually order a café americano which is 1 euro or a café helado during the summer, which is like a coffee frosty for 2 euros.
Nightlife in Noia: One of the best bars in town is Lele which has been open and family-owned since 1925. It is the cheapest bar I have ever been to in all of Spain. Any copa is 3.50 euros, beers are 1.50, and café licor (Galician coffee licor made locally) is 1.50 a glass.
How did you get around? You can walk anywhere you need to go in Noia since it’s a small pueblo of 15,000 people.
What you loved about living in Noia? I love the people here! Everyone knows everyone and are very friendly. My boyfriend and I have friends here who are in their 20s and friends who are in their 60s. Everyone goes out to socialize and tomar una copa juntos!
Also, Noia is right on the coast so I can see the sea from my apartment! It never stops being gorgeous!
And your dislikes? The weather can get pretty bad in the winter and less people go out so town can be empty and a little boring.
How easy was it to travel around Spain and Europe from Noia? It is very easy since Noia is only 20 miles from Santiago de Compostela, which has a decent sized airport that has Ryanair flights. There is a bus almost every hour to and from Santiago. [read about the Cost of Living in Santiago here].
Your guilty pleasure purchases: Since Galicians are crazy about costume parties and have dozens throughout the year, my boyfriend and I will splurge on costumes, boas, hats, and wigs. We love to dress up and party!
What are the top attractions in Noia? Noia has a historic part in the center of the city that people come to visit. The town’s gothic architecture dates back to the fifteenth century, the most famous of all being the renaissance Church of San Martiño right in the heart of town. The architectural style gives Noia a very quaint and cute look. It’s especially fun during the Medieval Fair, where the whole town dresses in clothes from that era and have a big party!
Something you wish someone had told you before moving to Spain: I had lived in the south of Spain before when I studied abroad so nothing really surprised me before coming this year. But I do wish someone had told me sooner that Galicia is the best region of Spain! Sure it rains, but you eventually even fall in love with the weather. Galicia is magical.
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