In the first article in this series, Katharina described how their family's first amazing visit led them to move from the UK to Ibiza. Click here to read Part 1 of "A Spanish Love Affair: Living on Ibiza."
Back to my earlier question: What is Ibiza like? As it turned out, the clichés were all true but Ibiza was more than just the sum of its parts. I was fascinated by the contrasts that characterized this small island. The clichés were all there. Multimillion pound yachts in the marina of Ibiza town, neatly lined up in order of size, from huge to enormous. Celebrities in skimpy outfits at Las Salinas beach by day and in world famous clubs Pacha and El Divino by night. Small talk featuring topics such as ‘I couldn’t sleep all night, my yacht is too close to El Divino and its just too loud’ and ‘I’ve just spent a few hundred thousand on landscaping my garden, and now the pool pump is broken, honestly, the trouble never ends here’. AAA-listers playground cliché, check. Just a few kilometers down the road, in San Antonio, sixteen year old Brits in Union Jack shorts: loudly singing ‘Rule Britannia’ and vomiting all over the town square. ‘Ibiza Uncovered’ cliché, check. Meanwhile, on Benirras beach in the north of the island: hundreds of hippie bongo-players gathering for full moon parties and writers, artists and other bohemians living a life of quiet reflection in century old fincas around San Carlos in the pine clad hills of Ibiza’s north. ‘Hippie haven’ cliché, check. And yet. For all its commercialism, its unabashed hedonism and its tendency to sell out the very ideals that form the basis of its international fame and appeal (Flower Power is no more and no less than the theme of a monthly club night at Pacha these days), Ibiza still retains a mesmerizing, magnetic quality.
I have traveled to over thirty countries on three continents. The cosmopolitan mix of people from all walks of life, the creative energy, and the unrivalled tolerance and open-mindedness of the Ibizan population give the island a unique feel the like of which I have not encountered anywhere else in the world.
Feeling inspired? Getting to Ibiza is easier than you may think.
EU citizens do not need any visas or permits for travel to Ibiza. In the past, the E111 form has guaranteed medical treatment in EEA countries. This year (2005) it is set to be replaced by the European Health Insurance Card. If you tick the appropriate box on the E111 application form you do not need to apply separately for this, as the details that you have provided will be used to issue you with one automatically later in the year, prior to the expiry of your E111. In order to work in Ibiza or anywhere in Spain EU citizens have to go to their local Spanish police station to register for an NIE (tax number). Go early in the morning (and I do mean early, Charles arrived at 7 a.m. and there were people waiting in line already) with the following: your passport and a copy of your passport (they keep the copy), the official NIE Solicitud (application form – this can be obtained and filled out on the spot) and 2 passport photographs. The NIE takes 2 to 4 weeks to process. Once your application has been approved you will receive a very official looking document with your NIE number printed on it. The NIE number is the equivalent to the National Insurance number in the UK, or the Social Security Number in the US. It is virtually impossible to do anything without it. You need an NIE number for all of the following: employment and self-employment, buying a car, opening a telephone account, getting electricity, opening a bank account, buying a property, and so on. The good news is that the NIE number is very straight forward to obtain for EU citizens and once you have one, you have equal status with the Spanish in just about all areas of life.
American citizens can enter Spain or Andorra visa-free for periods of up to three months. If you are thinking of staying in Spain longer than three months your first step should be to inquire with the Spanish embassy or consulate near your place of residence. American citizens who want to study, live, or work in Spain have to obtain the appropriate visa from the Spanish Embassy or Consulate in their state or country of last residence. Once your visa has been issued, you have three months to apply for the corresponding permit with the Spanish authorities in Spain. Obtaining a residence or work permit is a complicated process and regulations change continually. I suggest writing directly to the Spanish National Police at Calle Moratin, 43, 28014 Madrid for further information. Within Spain, you can call the Ministry of Interior toll-free at 900-15-00-00.
Jobs available in Ibiza include English teaching, bar and club staff (waiters, dancers, etc.), beauty therapist/ hair dresser, diving instructor, and promotional work (for clubs, bars, restaurants). Fluent Spanish speakers can choose from a wider range of jobs. I speak conversational level Spanish, which made everyday life a lot easier. Almost everyone in Ibiza speaks at least some English, but a little Spanish goes a long way. If you are thinking of living permanently on the ‘white island’ you will not get around learning the language. The discovery of a new culture and a different, rewarding way of life will be more than worth the effort.
Excerpted from "A Spanish Love Affair: Living On Ibiza" by Katharina Bishop in Escape From America Magazine, Issue 73.