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FAQ - Serving as a Need Greater in Bilbao, Spain English Congregation

Where is Bilbao?

Bilbao is a beautiful city on the Northern coast of Spain, in the Basque region. (City population 356, 000 with entire metropolitan area population of 1 million) It is surrounded by green mountains on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other.

The Basque region is very different than other parts of Spain – in both landscape and culture. Spanish, as well as the local Basque language, is spoken in this area.

Bilbao has an international airport with flights to the USA. Plus very inexpensive airlines fly to many cities in Europe. The Madrid airport is a 4 hour drive. Barcelona is a 6 hour drive. The border of France is 2 hours east.

Bilbao has excellent public transportation including a tram and a metro. The metro provides an easy connection to several beaches. The city is very safe and very clean.

In recent years the city has undergone a complete makeover, so it is often underrated by guidebooks. You will be in for a nice surprise. The region is famous for: The Guggenheim Museum, modern architecture and design, beach, surfing, hiking, Rioja wine, Michelin star restaurants and more.

How big is the English congregation?

The English congregation has approximately 60 Publishers with 16 pioneers. The publishers are from Nigeria and Spain. There is one brother from England and 1 sister from the USA.

Of these 60 Publishers approximately 15 publishers (4 pioneers) are assigned to the English group in Durango.

Where is Durango?

Durango is a small city (population 28,000) 30 minutes by car southeast of Bilbao. It can easily be reached by train or bus from Bilbao. The cost is 5euro round trip. Durango is a very pretty, upscale city with wealthy residents and many immigrants.

How can I help?

The main need for extra help is in the Durango group, so it can progress to become a congregation, and to reach the large unworked English territory outside the city. The territory for this group includes many other towns within a 1 hour drive in each direction that have immigrant populations and have not yet been worked.

What is currently being done in Durango?

The public talk/WT study is held in Durango every week on Saturday at 5pm. Recently there have been 30-40 in attendance. A service group from Bilbao meets in Durango every Saturday at 10am and preaches there all day until the meeting (with a stop for lunch). The few publishers who live in Durango preach there midweek but they are looking for more support in this area. The midweek meeting is held in Bilbao only.

What is the English territory?

The main population they preach to are Nigerian immigrants. They also find many from Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines and other nations that were formerly English colonies. There are very few British or American expats/retirees in this area. This makes the English territory in this area different than other areas of Spain.

Why are there so many immigrants?

The Basque region of Spain has a better welfare system than other areas of Spain and this attracts many immigrants. Usually they do not work, so they have plenty of time to study. And it means they do not move often in search of better circumstances, as is true in other immigrant areas.

What is service like?

There is very little door to door. They meet people on the streets or by referrals. There is a lot of walking done as they search the territory. They approach people and ask them if they speak English. If they show interest they ask for their phone numbers. It is easy to find Bible studies and most publishers have several studies.

What time is service?

Service groups meet at 10:15 and 4:30pm most days. Publishers normally go out in groups of two. Many make arrangements with service partners at the midweek meetings. In Spain the main meal is lunch. So most people stop for lunch/siesta between 2-4pm. Most shops are closed during this time too. Life in Spain starts later in the mornings and ends later at night than you may be used to in your own country.

Do I need a car?

Technically no, you do not need a car. The public transportation by bus/train is very good. The Bilbao Kingdom Hall is a short walk from the San Ignacio Metro station. And parking inside the city center of Bilbao is difficult. There is free parking near the Kingdom Hall (as this is outside the main center area.)

Most publishers in Durango do not have a car and the Kingdom Hall is a short walk from the downtown. But there are many towns that have not been preached to in English that are easier reached by car. So a car gives you more flexibility and freedom in service and it would be very helpful if you can afford the cost. (Note: some have found it to be cheaper to fly in and out of Madrid and rent a car from there during a short trip.)

Can I use my phone?

You will need an unlocked phone that allows you to change the SIM card. Some visitors have purchased an unlocked iPhone on eBay before their trip. They recommend buying a SIM card from Lycamobile. This is the carrier that our territory prefers as it allows free Lyca to Lyca calls. It is also very popular to communicate via text using “WhatsApp”.Wifi is widely available.

Is it safe?

Yes, this area is very safe. It is very common to see people walking alone in the evenings without any concern for their safety. While care should always be taken, most visitors say that this area feels safer to them than where they are from. Single sisters feel very safe here.

In Bilbao, the area called “San Francisco” is an area of a few streets that should generally be avoided at night. This is south of the “Old Town”.  Street names to avoid are Calle San Francisco and Calle Cortes.

Where is the Kingdom Hall?

Bilbao:OñatikoUnibertsitarearenKalea, 18, bajo 2 D 48015 BILBAO (GPS Coordinates: 43.281564 -2.959359)

Durango:ArtzetaunganaKalea, 8, bajo 1 D48200 DURANGO (GPS Coordinates: 43.170705 -2.625470)

When are the meetings?

Currently the times are:

Bilbao: Friday 7:45pm

Bilbao: Sunday 1:00pm

Durango: Saturday 5:00pm

Check for current times

What is the weather like?

It never gets extremely hot or extremely cold in this area, but it is wet. It rains a lot. The climate is probably similar to Seattle or parts of England/Ireland. And the weather can change quickly.  This is a disadvantage…but remember, places with perfect weather already have enough help in the ministry. On the positive side,  the rain makes it very green and beautiful and cleans the air. And there is plenty of time for coffee breaks. And within a few hours drive you can be in a hot, dry area.

What should I bring?

It is important to have sturdy comfortable walking shoes. Grocery stores and department stores are huge and will provide almost everything you would be able to buy at home.

What is the cost of living?

The cost of living in this region is higher than other regions of Spain. (This is why they have a bigger need for needgreaters.)

Rent: Plan to pay approx. $700 for an apartment. (More or less depending on your needs)

Internet: $40 a month includes a landline and 1 mobile line

Food: Food is cheaper than the USA. There are plenty of vegetable/farmers markets. Items that are considered essential to Spanish people, such as wine and coffee are very cheap. You can have a nice glass of wine at a restaurant for $1.50 and an espresso for $1.

Medical care/Insurance:Spain has high quality medical care. The costs likely depend on what type of treatment/insurance you choose and what type of insurance you need in your home country. (see helpful info for USA)

One single brother serving as a needgreater there said:

Depending on accommodation 300 - 700€
Public Transport 40 -50 €
Food and shopping 80 - 100€
I pay 7€ - 10€ for my mobile but that's with WiFi at home.
And other expenses personal expenses could be €50 if you eat out and socialise
I think a tight budget would be €450 a month. But you can live comfortably with €700 but only if you share a flat (apartment)
For foreigners, we need to save for trips home too.

For a married couple I would say €850-900 a month (for a really tight budget) and then you can of course go upwards as much as you want/can.

Currency conversion link

Where can I look at apartment costs?

To get an idea of prices….

For short terms rentals look at

For longer term rentals look at  and

What are the main pros/cons?

Cons: High cost of living, rainy weather.

Pros: Excellent congregation with a big need in the English field. Beautiful, safe, clean area with many attractions.

Who can live in Spain?

You should look up the legal requirements for your country. It is much easier for someone with an EU passport to live in Spain. Some Americans have been able to get a European passport if their parents or grandparents immigrated to the USA. It can be difficult, but not impossible, for Americans to stay in Spain longer than 90 days without special circumstances (business visas etc…). Retirees with a guaranteed income have an easier time. Do your research and contact the embassy. Helpful info here and here.

Who should I contact for more information about being a need greater in Bilbao/Durango, Spain?

Send me an email through this site or and I will get you in touch with the brother there. Of course, you will want to follow the proper channels and write a letter to the branch etc... but this is a place to start to give you ideas.