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1 year phone in Spain/temporary in other countries

I am going to be living in Spain for a year as an Au Pair, and need advice about getting a phone there. I will be traveling to other countries when I get the chance, so preferably best across Europe.

Any information would be greatly appreciated. Buying a phone online vs buying one there, prepaid vs phone plan, data vs minutes (I hear that everyone pretty much uses whatsapp to communicate?)

Posted by
5362 posts

I would bug family members or friends and see if they have a phone that is off contract (If they recently upgraded) and see if it is a GSM phone. Otherwise your best option is to buy a used phone online. Other than That I have no specific advice on a SIM card, other than with a Spanish SIM, you may face additional charges in other countries. Most SIMS work as prepaid, then top up as needed.

Question that you did not ask is about your work visa, I assume some agency you are going through is taking care of that? You can not just show up and stay for a year and can not work at all unless you have the proper visa.

Posted by
2 posts

I am waiting for a reply from the consulate on the best type of visa to go for, because some have a visa specifically for Au Pairing, but Boston does not. If I need a work visa, I have a contract with the family and they will get the rest of the documents I need from authorities.

Posted by
2575 posts

Just make sure the paperwork is indeed arranged BEFORE you travel, otherwise, best case scenario you can stay for 90 days as a tourist and then you have to leave, or become an illegal immigrant. Worst case?, you're not allowed in upon landing. Our restrictions in Europe -for legal stays that is- are tougher than yours in the US :))

As per which phone contract, that I'm afraid is still not looking good for someone willing to use the same SIM across several countries. The European Commission is pushing very hard the telecom operators to harmonize their services for European use rather than national use as it's now. However, the directive won't enter info effect until 2017 or 2018 (I believe), thus at present, no company offers a "convenient offer" for a SIM that can be used at reasonable rates in several European countries. If you get Spanish SIM card, when travelling say to France you'll be roaming, thus calls will be as expensive as if you were calling abroad from Spain itself. There are some companies that supposedly offer a SIM card 'that you don't have to change when crossing borders'... but the cost of the calls is far more expensive than if you get a SIM card for each country you visit -if you're going to stay several days that is, otherwise it's not worth the hassle.

Having said all that... assuming that, like me, when travelling abroad your phone is simply to get calls in case of emergency, then you don't need any further SIM card, just use the one you buy in Spain (but avoid using it for chit chat or for browsing the Internet!)