What do you think about living in Andorra for a season? Are you passionate about winter work and would like to work in this area? If you said yes, then stay and read the following interview.
Living in Andorra as an Argentine
- Basic facts: My name is María Luján Narciso, I am 34 years old and I am Argentinian.
- Current place of residence and why do you live there: In 2018 I obtained a temporary visa, a Work and Holiday to live a little time in Denmark and when my visa was about to expire, I didn’t know very well what to do so I heard about Andorra. Andorra is a very small country between France and Spain, is a Principality and doesn’t belong to the EU or the Schengen area but Europeans have free access and movement through Andorra.
- I really like my country, but the truth is that life there was being really hard for me. I am a music therapist but I had 3 jobs and I was having a hard time to pay the rent and other expenses, so I decided to emigrate also to see a little bit part of the world and to see if other possibilities arose.
- How long have you been living in Andorra? I have been here for three winter seasons.
How is seasonal work in Andorra?
If you want to work here you have to come in winter: Andorra is a country that lives mostly of tourism and related winter sports as skiing. I suggest you to come in September and from there start looking for a job.
Did you need to apply for a visa to live in Andorra?
Argentines actually don’t need a visa to enter the country as tourists.
Residence and work permit in Andorra
The government gives you the work permit, which is called green card, when you get a job. Your employer manages your papers and there they will ask you for a number of requirements such as criminal record, a copy of your passport, a copy of yor ID, the employment contract and this year, because of the theme of the pandemic, we were also asked to show the return flight ticket to our place of residence. All of that plus a series of paperworks that the employer manages for you when you get the contract. Then the immigration office checks it all and if it is all right, in 2 days or so, they give you the green card.
Seasonal work in Andorra: the green card
I’m talking about seasonal work which is what I’ve always done, so the green card ranges from the day of your contract to the end of the season which is usually April 30. Once the card expires you have between 8 and 10 days to leave the country. After having worked as a temporary worker, we must spend at least 180 days outside Andorra to re-enter as a tourist.
Living in Andorra: what is it like?
Andorra is a very small country surrounded by mountains. I have the feeling that the enclosed places between mountains are a little more closed than the open places that have port or sea, it seems to me that this influences the way the inhabitants behave.
What are Andorrans like?
I have to say that I never had problems with Andorrans, I think they are a little similar to Catalans, but when I worked seasonally I have had more contact with compatriots and other Latinos than with them. There are also many Portuguese, French and Spanish people who have their residence here, so it’s like a mix.
What language do you need to speak to work and live in Andorra?
In Andorra the official language is Catalan but in the closest part to Spain, which includes the capital (Andorra La Vella), people speak both Catalan and Spanish, while in the part that borders France, which is where I am, they speak French, Catalan and Spanish. Speaking Catalan is a plus and French too (in the area that borders France), especially because most tourists are French.
Living in Andorra v. living in Argentina
I miss my family and close friends a lot, I miss this thing of getting together that Latinos have in general because I feel that Europeans are a bit more closed than Latinos, they are not so much into reunions because they are often very secretive. I miss the variety of the landscapes of Argentina, the gastronomy, the climate and the fact that you can work in your country and not begging for visas with all its paperwork thing.
Work and life in Andorra
Speaking about work, the difference between Andorra and Argentina is basically the salary. In Andorra the average salary is between 800 and 1300€ (doing overtime) while in Argentina it should be like 300€. Another thing is that the job offer is focused on tourism (reception work or jobs for ski trainers) and language knowledge, especially French, is greatly valued. What the green card allows you is to stay here and move freely around the EU without having to seal your passport, have health coverage (your employer pays the Caz) and every time you have to go to the doctor, which I must say is not so cheap, then you get back 70% of what you paid for the doctor’s appointment.
The good thing about living abroad
Life changed for me: I met a lot of people, I could visit other parts of the world and I did all kinds of work, cleaning, reception, dishwasher, waitress, Spanish class (I am also a certified Spanish tutor). Since I don’t live here permanently, it always comes a time of year when you have to start over again. That takes you out of the routine but also doesn’t allow you to have a static place.
How and where to look for seasonal work in Andorra?
My recommendation is to come here to look for a job. I did so, I came here from Denmark to look for work delivering CVs like crazy. I also sent my CV through Facebook groups as Latinos in Andorra and Argentinians in Andorra to some hotels but the truth is that I didn’t get any answer online. Instead I got a job knocking on doors.
The truth is that when I came in 2018–2019 it was high season and there was a lot of work so I got a job really quickly: in fact I wasn’t very comfortable with my first job so I left it and got another job immediately, therefore in high season there is work. This season was terrible and right now Andorra is already a very appreciated and known destination, so things got very complicated. I’d recommend to wait another year to see if next season gets better.
Prices and seasonal rental expenses in Andorra
There are many hotels that give you accommodation or some discount. I think the rents are around 500€.
It always depends but I would say that being careful 150€ are enough to cover the month expenses .
Quality of life in Andorra
Generally speaking the quality of life in Andorra is good, you can easily save due to the exchange rates difference. Prices aren’t very different from Spain; there are some cheaper thing like alcohol and tobacco. That’s why many French people come to do shopping here (sometimes they even spend the night here and then they go back).
Adaptation to the mountain climate
Being a country surrounded mountain, the weather is very cold. Where I live is the coldest point in the country: it’s called the Pas de la Casa, but it’s a dry cold, then it’s kind of bearable. Here in summer I don’t think it’s past 25 degrees. There are many mountains, many routes for hiking lovers and of course it is the ideal place for those who practice winter sports. There are many lakes and forests. The capital is more indigenous and then the rest are towns, some larger and some smaller, distributed throughout the country.
Pros and cons of living in Andorra
The bad thing for me about living in Andorra is the cold. Besides, I’m a city person, even if I really like nature. Living away from home means missing family and friends. I also don’t like the issue of non-belonging to a place, of always be careful with the visa thing, etc.
The good thing about living in Andorra: I recommend this country to anyone who really likes the mountain, towns, quiet places and hiking.
Recommendations to venture to Andorra
Warm clothing, speaking Catalan, is not exclusive but it is a plus (like French) and helps a lot when you’re looking for a job.
Also I’d recommend you to come with an open mind and looking forward to work. You also have to be very patient as sometimes it’s not easy to get the ideal apartment or job.
In short, I would advise you to come with a coat and a desire for adventure.
Projects and upcoming destinations
The truth is that at the moment we cannot plan in such a long term, which is what the pandemic has taught us.
However I would definitely like to go visit my loved ones and then look for other job opportunities in countries like Malta or Croatia.
Then if you are looking for a seasonal job while enjoying a unique landscape, then Andorra is your country.
Interview conducted in April 2021 with @nowherewomanmaria
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