I Cover My Costs in Spain Working Only 12 Hours a Week

When I came upon the opportunity to live in Ibiza, Spain, with the only obligation being to work 12 hours a week, it didn’t take me long to make up my mind…

One of Spain’s four Balearic Islands, Ibiza is 220 square miles of end-of-the-world cliffs, remote valleys, and crescent-shaped callas tucked below rows of pines and junipers. Around 100 miles east of mainland Spain, Ibiza displays the architectural splendor of some of the world’s greatest civilizations—the Phoenicians, the Romans, and the Moors—while, today, as a popular tourist destination, contemporary culture flourishes.

The island is well known by electronic music enthusiasts. And from May to October the clubbing scene transforms the Pityusic Islands (Ibiza and its smaller neighbor Formentera). However, that doesn’t mean that there is plenty more to do on the island if you prefer a quieter pace of life. Ibiza is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts, foodies, and history buffs, and even those living on a budget.

Working 12 hours a week as a language assistant, I take home a monthly salary of €700 ($825), tax free, and have top-quality health and dental insurance. While this alone is enough to pay rent if, like me, you decide to house share—a typical room in the capital Ibiza Town averages €200 to €300 ($240 to $360) per month in winter, and groceries are around €50 ($60) per week)—most language assistants also teach private English classes, charging between $12 to $24 per hour.

Even while earning less than $1,200 a month, the slow pace of life and relative affordability on Ibiza make it possible to live comfortably.

While many of the clubs, restaurants, and hotels remain dormant during the off-season, the island revives its sense of community through weekly festivals and cultural initiatives, such as the annual spring tapas festival, La Pinxta Sant Antoni, and the two-month autumn gastronomy festival, Ibiza Sabor. These, along with other classic winter activities, like hiking through almond blossoms in Santa Agnes and local government-organized street parties, are either free or come at a low cost.

For the frequent travelers, more airlines than ever offer regular flights to cities across Europe in the off-season, facilitating travel and eliminating the typical stopover in Barcelona or Madrid. I have traveled to the mainland several times through Ryanair budget flights, costing $60 to $180 roundtrip.

Either during the high season or in the off-season, smaller towns such as Santa Agnes, Sant Mateu, or San Joan are great places to find local produce and sometimes, prices that are a bit more forgiving than higher volume areas such as Ibiza Town or San Antonio. They all have starting points for day-long hikes, but if that’s not your thing, you’ll find joy simply admiring the whitewashed buildings and sipping coffee in the shade.

Because of this opportunity to work as an English assistant on Ibiza, I can live an affordable life in Europe, and experience a culture that very few North Americans get to immerse themselves in.

In my spare time I run along various beaches or browse my favorite bookstore in Ibiza Town, Librería Hipérbole. Having so much free time also allows me to complete my online TEFL certification, which opens up more teaching opportunities.

My weekends consist of treading through the island’s fragrant pine forests and across bucolic pastures filled with goats and fig trees. My friends and I bring picnics to beaches like Cala Salada and Ses Salinas. I speak Spanish, learn Catalan, and meet other residents from all over the world.

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