Bilbao is located in the north of Spain. It is the largest city in the Basque Country, with almost 400,000 inhabitants, and the capital of the province of Vizcaya. It is a city big enough to find everything you need, but not too big to feel lonely. With almost one million inhabitants, it is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country.
The city is a mix of old and modern buildings. The river that runs through the city (Nervión) is lined with a promenade that offers gorgeous views. There are numerous public green spaces, parks and pedestrian areas where young and old can enjoy the city.
It is one of the most important seaports in northern Spain and also an important industrial center with a rapidly developing economy. In addition, its location guarantees easy access to other major Spanish cities on the coast and to cities in southern France, especially Toulouse.
As for the climate, Bilbao has a humid oceanic climate, influenced by the Gulf Stream, which guarantees mild temperatures throughout the year. Winters are mild and summers are hot but rainy. In general, the climate is characterized by extreme variations and heavy precipitation, often accompanied by light but persistent rain.
As for cuisine, it must be said that Spain ranks fifth in the world for the number of starred restaurants, and many of them are located in the Basque Country and Bilbao in particular,
Life in Bilbao is more expensive than in other Spanish cities. Especially when it comes to housing costs, which are among the most expensive in all of Spain. On the other hand, the city is very safe, there are few criminal incidents and you feel safe even if you are traveling alone. This is confirmed by the data on the crime rate, which is much lower than that of other major Spanish cities.
Basques, like Spaniards in general, put the family at the center of their lives. Families are very close and people never miss an opportunity to be with their relatives. Immediately after family come friends, and people meet and have a drink with friends at every opportunity. If you learn a little Basque (which is a really difficult language), you can get into people’s hearts and make friends with them. It takes time, but once you make a Basque friend, they are a friend for life.
They are friendly and helpful and do not hesitate to help their fellow man when they need it, but they are also direct and to the point, telling you straight to your face what they think without beating around the bush. They are certainly not known for being talkative or having a strong sense of humor and the city is it is characterized by a great tolerance for people of other cultures, sexual orientation and race.
Basques have a strong cultural identity and are strongly connected to their traditions and roots. Especially in small towns, it is not uncommon for adults and children to speak Basque to each other. Basque is different from Spanish and from all other European languages, and its origins are still unknown.
Bilbao has an excellent cultural offer: museums, international music festivals and theater performances, but there is also no shortage of entertainment: bars, parties, cinemas and sports events (soccer, basketball, etc.) throughout the year.
Outdoor lovers are also spoiled for choice: hiking, beaches, skiing, surfing, cycling, trekking, etc.
As for the economy of the region, the Basque Country is the second richest region in all of Spain.
This is mainly due to its strategic location, which since ancient times has allowed the development of a flourishing trade both with neighboring countries (France) and with the colonies of the Spanish Empire. This has favored the emergence of industries and infrastructures that have driven the economic development of the entire Basque Country. Not to mention that the Basque Country enjoys a favorable tax system that attracts many companies and businesses, including international ones.
The unemployment rate here is the lowest in all of Spain, salaries are the highest, and the economy is based on industry and commerce, so it is not subject to the fluctuations typical of other Spanish regions based mainly on tourism. The social system is well developed and people enjoy greater social protection than in the rest of the country.
The greatest employment opportunities are in IT, engineering, medicine, finance, marketing and commerce, and the port, one of the most important in the country, also creates many jobs. The city is the economic and technological center of northern Spain. Remember that many jobs require knowledge of Basque in addition to Spanish.
If you only speak Spanish and English, you can look for a job in a bar or restaurant.
If you want to know more about how to find work in Spain, I recommend the article: Working in Spain
Living and working in Bilbao, pros and cons
Living and working in Bilbao, pros
- Good employment opportunities and low unemployment rate
- Excellent transportation system
- Good cultural, musical and recreational opportunities
- Very good public services
- Excellent cuisine
Living and working in Bilbao, cons
- Rainy weather
- Expensive accommodation
- People often speak Basque
Living and working in Bilbao, conclusion
Living in Bilbao is undoubtedly an interesting experience. Beautiful landscapes, hospitable people, lots of music and culture. It is a clean city where the services work and the food is the best in Spain. It is also a city with a human face. There is no lack of job opportunities, salaries are higher than in the rest of the country and there are also interesting business opportunities.
Bilbao is not the typical Spanish city that you have in the collective imagination. Forget Madrid or Seville, it is a very different city from the others, but it is perhaps the best city to live in Spain.