What, no Spanish siesta?

Posted on 21 December 2016

Spain looks likely to move its time zone to align with Portugal and the UK. No problem there. More controversially, there are moves afoot to end the siesta. What will this mean for property buyers?

 The introduction of a “European style” working day – ending the long Spanish lunch break/siesta and meaning that workers knock off at 6pm – will be a profound change in the country so many of us love. 

There has long been a discussion in Spain about the split working day, which usually starts at between 9 and 10am, stops at 1 or 2pm, resumes at around 5pm and continues until as late as 9pm (or even later depending on the region). That all sounds eminently reasonable for those who enjoy a long lunch, but it means a lot of commuting, quite a lot of stopping and starting, plus late evening working.

 It seems likely that the Spanish will adopt a French rather than a British model of the working day, still with a nice long, civilised lunch!

Following a statement by the Spanish Labour Minister, the gradual change already happening will be speeded up and given more official backing. It seems likely that the Spanish will adopt a French rather than a British model of the working day, still with a nice long, civilised lunch. While in Britain we tend to start at 9, grab a few minutes for a sandwich sitting at our desk for lunch then finish at 5 or 5.30pm, the French day usually starts at 9, gets a two-hour lunch spent in a proper restaurant eating proper food off a plate, and ends at 6pm. 

In a recent poll earlier in the year, 80% of respondents supported the proposal, although there were regional differences, with Madrileños supporting the change but most Valencians wanted to keep their long afternoon snooze. The poll also found that, despite the long working day, 77% of Spaniards believe they enjoy a better lifestyle than people in most countries.

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For property buyers and holiday home owners, what are the upsides and downsides?

“Normal” hours! For many Brits, the whole opening and closing, coming and going thing is a bit of a malarkey. Worst of all is when you go out for dinner at 10pm and still find you’re early. Then after a couple of hours sleep you’re expected back at work! On the other hand, those long relaxing afternoons are part of the Spanish appeal.

Late shopping. Isn’t it lovely when the shops are still open at 8pm, unlike the UK where all the shops shut as soon as you get out of the office? (Who is able to go clothes shopping at 10 o’clock on a Tuesday morning anyway?) 

Warm Spanish evenings. The siesta came about because the midday and afternoon sun is too hot to work in. For those working outdoors – including the people building the homes we want to buy – working 9 to 5 in summer won’t be much fun. On the plus side, it will mean we have free time in the relative cool and light of the early evening, plenty of time for that warm evening swim.

Football, of course! With Spain on a similar working day to other European countries,  football fans will be home in time to watch matches live on TV. Trust us, that is a big deal to the Spanish!

Whatever the Spanish decide to do, the warmth and splendour of this wonderful country will keep us buying affordable property in the sunshine. For a new, updated guide to buying a home in Spain, click here.  

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