So you aren't an EU citizen but you want to work here.

You would think this might be impossible but its not. There are three ways I know can work.

The first and legal option if you are a Canadian or American citizen is a program through a joint Spanish -North American program. The link for this site is here: http://www.mec.es/sgci/usa/en/programs/us_assistants/default.shtml
The program is simple. You work about 12-16hours a week in a Spanish school, either an elementary or secondary school. You work as an English language assistant and basically are used to expose the children to English. The work isn't that hard, but you do not get to choose your location you select your top 3 choices they inform you and then you decide to go do it. The pay is minimal but enough to support you here, and you can always do private tutoring to supplement your pay. You do not need to have any skills in teaching just apply and find out where you can go.

The second, you may notice the first option was working as an English assistant, is working as an English teacher. Now technically you should have your papers to do this BUT there is so much demand that there are so many English schools and so many companies willing to hire and pay under the table. For this option you will likely need a TEFL or CELTA or some qualification as a teacher for the company to hire you but that is not necessarily the case, at all. The problem of course is pay, as an illegal immigrant (yes, that is what you would be) you have no rights and can't really complain if you don't get paid and all this. I haven't heard of any of these problems but just keep it in mind.

The third is more tricky and involves you needing a very good level of Spanish. I know of a case where you could get hired as a translator this takes some effort and some sleuthing on your part but you could find a way to do it. If you are really curious about this option give me a shout personally.

Those are the three ways I've heard of people surviving here. English teaching is a huge business here, and important for Spanish corporate types trying to move up. Of all the English-speakers I have met here in Madrid, the vast majority teach English. Of course you could move here with your big multinational company, or get a job with a non-profit, or various other options. If you have any crazy ideas contact me, I'll tell you if it will likely work.

Number 1, Getting your NIE.

That's (Nee-eh) not (Nee), that in itself will save you a few minutes. If you have the proper documents to get one of these you should and must. The proper documents basically means an EU passport. If you are Canadian and American and have no dual nationality with a European country you want one of these but you can't get one. (unless you have a Master's in what is considered a skilled discipline -from what I'm told.) Now to get your NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero) involves time. Not a lot of time, but at a particular time that you won't enjoy.
You need to line up at the Oficina de Extranjeros de Madrid (Foreigner Office of Madrid) shown on the map below:

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I had to get there at about 7am and stand in line until the doors open at 9am when you are able to go in and collect your time and date for the meeting where you will actually get your NIE. So this is just a queue for an appointment. Yes, you can call a number to try and book an appointment. It was busy for the whole week I called, and I'm not the only one who found this. Your best bet is to line up here between 6am-7am until 9am to secure your meeting. (You should be out of this office by 10am) This is the fastest way to do it. My meeting was scheduled for two weeks in the future and you need to fill in a form that they have there and bring photocopies of your passport.
When you return they will quickly go through your papers, help you fill in anything you missed, and print off a NIE on green special paper (they used to give you a card life the Spanish have, but they no longer do that), double check it for mistakes before you leave and thats it. Now you have your equivalent to your Social Insurance Number (Canada), Social Security Number (USA) or National Insurance Number (GB).

Background Reasoning

I love to travel, and have done since I was born, and will do until the day I die. I will likely die travelling. That being said travel and moving somewhere different often share similar qualities. Consider is long-term travel. Instead of a week or a month, it's a year or two or...well more.
The difference of course with travelling and moving somewhere is what you invest. Money, of course is always laid down but that really isn't the important part, the important part is the time and energy you invest entering the new culture you have arrived to.
Most places you can be fooled into thinking there is nothing different but that is hardly ever true, the way you do your grocery shopping, the times the stores are open and the way you dress year round are all cultural differences even if you don't want to see them as such.
I chose to move to Spain, a combination of wanting to explore the world a bit more, and also I had a stated goal to improve my Spanish and become fluent (still working on that.)
Moving from Vancouver, Canada to Madrid, Spain it is quite evident there is some cultural acclimatization that must occur, not to mention making yourself understood in a new country and language.
Add to all this the fact that Spain is a highly bureaucratic nation, "Siempre falta un papel" (You are always missing a form.) is a national saying, and you have a lot of things to navigate. This becomes increasingly true if you want to do anything like buy a car, go to the local doctor, or be self-employed.
I have had the pleasure in my relatively short time here to want to accomplish these things and have, by myself. My Spanish is by no means great, it's probably not even good but it improves everyday as does my situation when I go out and do these things. Now, you can go and pay a "gestor" (person you can pay to do your official paperwork for you and just tell you to sign here and here) but I have found that as long as you know what you're doing it isn't that hard, and the information is out there.
The reason I felt like starting this site is simple. There is little to no information on moving and living in Spain for Canadians and Americans. There isn't even much information for European Union citizens wanting to move here, and nothing for young adults. The focus of all this information is tailored to the 20-30 year old bracket, as that is where I am and also because that is where I see the biggest gap of information.