For many global expats, living in Spain is the best life move they have ever made. The proof of how famous the country is for foreigners is in statistics. Although many expatriates live there, one significant community is British expats who total over 300,000. Indeed, for many, but especially retirees, moving to Spain was the fulfilment of an ideal life dream.
At the beginning of 2019, the British consulate in Alicante said over 25% of Brits live in the region, whilst 75% scatter themselves in other well-known destinations like Mallorca, and Costa Del Sol, homes to the famous Malaga province. Other Spanish publications say working expats like living in Madrid and other big cities. Examples include people who plan to teach English for work, and different nationalities like Americans.
When deciding whether to make a move, it is helpful to look at official surveys of which HBSC Expat Explorer is one. They question expats from around the world on their experiences of moving to a new country and then rank the results to find out which foreign country fares better overall. In 2019, they ranked Spain as the fourth best place to live in the world, up to ten spots from number 14 in 2018.
Points the country scored highly on include…
Britannica says quality of life refers to degrees to which a person is happy, comfortable, and healthy. Measures are standards of living and assess topics like financial affairs, ownerships of material items like a car or property, and whether that person has the means and ability to pursue life purposes or hobbies.
Any huge life change affects our mental wellbeing, whether it is welcome and chosen or forced upon us. Likewise, adapting to a different routine and culture is a challenge, but expats in Spain ranked themselves as physically and mentally healthy having made a move.
Being welcomed into a neighbourhood makes the move go smoother and since large expat communities have existed in Spain for many decades, it is easy to see Spanish people make foreigners welcome, and help them make new friends.
Factors affecting how foreigners settle in include legalities, bureaucracy, language barriers, day-to-day tasks, and the attitude of people around us. If there are fewer barriers to navigate, settling in is a lot easier.
For working expats, Spain ranked even though in many businesses, the time-honoured siesta is outdated. Being able to achieve a balance is about stress and free time to pursue a life outside your income generator.
Weather and Climate: We are sun vultures, and the Andalucia region delivers what we want with 320 days of sunshine a year. What does this mean for us? Well, we love the outdoors lifestyle, whether it is going for a walk on the beach, seaside dining or lying on the rooftop terrace reading a book. Compared to the dull UK where lousy weather often means a life indoors, we feel so much better for getting out and about.
Spanish Food: This Mediterranean diet is one of the tastiest in the world. Since Spain has large amounts of coastline, seafood features heavily in their diet, but other national favourites like Tapas, Paella, and the time-honoured jambon are tasty dishes. While there, we can also pursue a healthier diet devoid of fast and frozen food. Having made the lifestyle change, we feel better for it.
Easy to Get There: Year-round flight schedules from many destinations around the world make Spain an easy place to get to, hence air travel stats say over 200 million passengers use the state of art and efficient airports, every year. Add this to short transfers times and travelling need never be a hassle again.
Prepare Before Leaving: Doing as much as possible before you leave will prevent overwhelming emotions and help you settle in quicker. This includes sourcing international schools if you have kids, residency visas, arranging medical insurance cover, and deciding if you want to use a removals company. Don’t forget to organise personal possessions, open a bank account, and notify pension providers.
Get Your Affairs in Order: In our experience, many expats who must return home, do so because their financial expectations were unrealistic, or they did not have their money affairs in order. You should consider, currency rate fluctuations, living costs and if you keep your house in your home country, how to handle two sets of household affairs.
Places to Live: If you want to rent, organise and sign contracts before leaving, otherwise if you plan to buy property in Spain, our portfolio of homes for sale across the country shows what you can get for your money. Contact us for more information about any listing or to arrange a time and date for viewing.
Life in Spain: Living abroad sometimes provokes sudden emotions, feelings and thoughts of homesickness, unfamiliarity, and unacceptance of cultural traditions not inline with our upbringings or beliefs. Often called culture shock, be gentle on yourself during these times, typically occurring within six months to 1 year after moving. To ease the stress of relocating now is an excellent time to learn Spanish.
The following articles will also be of use for anyone looking to move to Spain
Best Place to Retire: We look at six destinations preferred by non-working expats and reasons they stand out. From Glamourous Marbella to famous Alicante to the lower key Javea and Nerja, and Balearic Islands, these places are home to masses of expats living in Spain.
Useful Things to Know: Absorbing the Spanish culture and learning about traditions, makes any move easier to do, so we look at things everyone should know about including siestas, the myth about sangria, popular foods and more.
Area Guide: Our area guide breaks down popular regions like the Costa Blanca into towns and villages where expatriates live. Find out what makes each area stand out and why it appeals to foreign nationalities.