Almeria is a beautiful place in the south of Spain, further round the coast of Andalucia than the more popular resorts of Marbella and Malaga. While lesser known and much less populated than some other parts of southern Spain, it’s still popular with some English speaking retirees, and also as a more quiet holiday spot as well.
But could you move to Almeria and be OK speaking only English? Can you live there without speaking any Spanish?
Whilst it would be possible to live in Almeria speaking only English, it is recommended to learn some Spanish to open up more opportunities and also make daily life easier, particularly dealing the with the bureaucratic Spanish system. Some people speak English there along the coast and in the main city, but it’s not universal, so being able to speak Spanish will be advantageous if living there long term.
In other words, you could move there as an expat and get along only speaking English, but you’d find yourself very limited and restricted over time, whereas you’d find certain aspects of life much easier if you did learn some Spanish.
How Widely Spoken Is English In Almeria?
Almeria as a whole only has a population of around 200,000, but out of that population, not many can actually speak English. It does receive some tourists, especially around the coastal areas, where English is fairly widely spoken in bars and restaurants. But in more inland and remote areas, English will not be very commonly spoken.
This follow the general pattern of Spain as a whole, which doesn’t have massive levels of English proficiency overall, but does have it in the main tourist areas where it’s needed.
For people who actually want to use English, the main Almeria city is great, with English widely spoken. Also staying around the coastal towns of Roquetas and Costa de la Luz is a good bet, as there are always English bars with English food and TV on. Plus you’ll often bump into some fellow British expats – some people do retire there, but nowhere near as many as places like Marbella further up the coast. Almeria is more where people go for a quiet life, rather than the hustle and bustle of the Costa del Sol resorts.
If you actually want to avoid using English, and go to more “purely Spanish” places, then you need to either head east from Almeria airport, or go inland to more remote countryside areas. Here you’ll rarely find anyone who speaks English, plus you’ll lose all the English food/TV influences that you get around the coast – everything will be more classically Spanish.
Can You Live In Almeria Only Speaking English? (No Spanish)
You could theoretically retire to Almeria and get by just using English and not speaking any Spanish. English is spoken in enough of the places you’ll go that you can eat out, do shopping and go to bars in the main areas and not really need Spanish at all.
And you’ll easily network with other British/American expats there, so you can build a social circle that’s entirely English speaking and does not require you to use any Spanish.
However, if you ever want to branch out and explore some more remote parts of Almeria, make Spanish friends, work there, or effectively deal with any day-to-day problems that come up living there, it’ll be a lot easier if you know some basic Spanish.
I found a nice anecdotal account of an expat who moved to Almeria that captures this issue well – he could get by for a while not speaking Spanish, but eventually he had to and was better off for it:
“The first few years I didn’t speak Spanish. It was a struggle and when I started working for myself I really had to learn Spanish fast. I feel it is one of or the most important things you can do when moving to Spain. It opens so many doors once you learn the language”.
David Wright – expat living in Almeria – see here.
Also, if you do move to Almeria more permanently, sooner or later you’re going to bump into daily “stuff” that you have to deal with no matter where you live, where you need to interact with people who likely won’t speak English.
- Opening up bank accounts
- Possibly getting loans, mortgages, credit cards (contracts likely only in Spanish)
- Setting up mobile phone/internet contracts (only in Spanish)
- Setting up utilities contracts (gas/electric/water).
- Getting your car fixed if you drive
- Getting broken AC fixed (especially in summer)
- Dealing with residence visas/permits if applicable
- Buying property
- Signing long term rental agreements
- Opening up businesses
- Dealing with customer and suppliers once you’ve opened up a business.
For all these things, being able to speak Spanish is a huge advantage, and will allow you to get things sorted much more easily than if you can only speak English.
Can You Work In Almeria Only Speaking Spanish?
When it comes to the issue of work, unless you’ve specifically got a job lined up in Almeria with a company that only requires English and not Spanish, you’re going to need to speak at least some Spanish to work there.
There aren’t many multi-national companies based in Almeria that could offer such jobs – for this, you’re better off checking out the more international cities like Madrid or Barcelona. Working for any Spanish company there, you’ll need to know Spanish.
Similarly, even when you’re self employed when living there, it will still often come in handy to learn Spanish, for dealing with customers/contractors/legal issues/taxes etc. Perhaps if you’ve got a business dealing solely with other English speaking expats, you could get by largely without Spanish. But anything else, you’ll need the local language to make things feasable.
Learning Some Basic Spanish Phrases
Learning at least some Spanish is recommended in almost all cases of moving to Spain, especially more remote places like Almeria.
See the table and video below for a very basic starter sample of everyday phrases that can come in handy when you first go there, although getting truly fluent in Spanish isn’t easy and will take a bit of time.
|See you later||Nos vemos||Nos vemos|
|Good morning||Buenos dias||Bwenos dee-ass|
|Good afternoon||Buenos tardes||Bwenos tar-dez|
|Good night||Buenos noches||Bwenos notch-ez|
|See you tomorrow||Hasta mañana||Asta man-yana|
|What is your name?||Cuál es tu nombre?||Kwall es too nombrey?|
|My name is.....||Mi nombre es||Me nombrey es........|
|How are you?||¿Cómo estás?||Co-mo estas?|
|Nice to meet you||Encantado de conocerle||Encan-tardo deh cono-therley
|Please||Por favor||Poor favoor|
|You're welcome||De nada||deh naa da|
|Sorry||Lo siento||Loh see en-toh|
|Sorry? (didn't hear something)||Perdon?||Per-dohn?|
|Excuse me, do you speak English?||Perdon, yo sólo hablo Inglés?||Per-dohn, yo solo hab-low in-glaze?|
|Menu of the day||Menu del dia||Menu del dee-a|
|How much is it?||Cuánto es?||Kwanto es?|
|Where is the bathroom?||¿dónde está el baño?||Don-day estah el banyo|
|I don't understand||No lo comprendo||Noh loh comprendo|
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Useful Resources For People Living in Almeria
Here are links to some other resources to help with common daily life issues living as an expat/worker in Almeria or Spain in general:
- Vlog channels – Specifically for living along that general Costa del Sol/Andalucian stretch of coastline, The Spainiacs YouTube channel is a good vlog, since he lives in that general area and produces some good useful content on daily life and issues in the area. The Spain Speaks channel is also a good vlog on the daily life and pro’s/cons of being an expat living long term in Spain.
- Schools/Kids – Far less choice that other places like Barcelona or Madrid, but The British School of Almeria is your main option.
- Banking – If you’re using a foreign bank card to draw out euros at an ATM in Spain, you’re likely to get stung with high fees. See our guide on some good multi-currency card options to spend in euros for free, and also withdraw money from ATMs cheaply in Euro-using countries.
- Phones/SIM Cards – Many phones are locked and won’t accept foreign SIM cards. For getting a working local SIM card and number in Spain without spending loads of money, see this article.