Moving to Spain: Guide to a Life Abroad in the Sun

6 mins read

If you are considering moving to Spain, we wholeheartedly encourage the idea. Deciding to live overseas permanently, and set up a new home where the culture, traditions, history, and cuisine is different can be challenging but at the same time rewarding. Relocation to Spain means to indulge in the typical Mediterranean lifestyle. Get ready for a new life, of gorgeous weather, the afternoon siesta, delicious cuisine and of course, making new friends with Spanish people.

However, when relocating, be prepared because living abroad does throw out stressful hurdles that need dealing with. Examples include visas and residency, what to do with your belongings, legal paperwork, the cost-of-living, opening a bank account, taxation, renting and settling in as a foreigner. The list goes on and one, so what can you do to make your international move is stress-free?

Moving to Spain: Checklist, Tips and Advice

Finances and Bank Accounts

One big expat life mistake is to neglect to handle your finances with precision and care. When moving abroad to a country, budgeting and forecasting are necessary for expats who receive a pension or income in a different currency. Spain uses the Euro, and currency exchange rates can fluctuate at any given time depending on market conditions. Therefore, introduce a buffer zone into your monthly budget, so you don’t run short. Additionally, if you still plan to keep your house in your home country, you will need two sets of budgets. When opening a bank account, choose between resident and non-resident and current, savings and deposit accounts. Documentation varies depending on your status, but you must have a passport, address, and an NIE number.

Residency, Work and Study Visas

European Union nationalities or those from Switzerland, don’t need permits to live, work or study in Spain. Obviously, though, the whole process has changed for the average British expat. As of January 31, 2020, the United Kingdom ceased to belong to the European Union. So, from July 2020, a separate process was put in place for these citizens to reside in the country legally. This procedure is part of Article 18.4 of the Withdrawal Agreement of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union. The General Directorate of Migration and the Police General Directorate who oversee permits can give further information.

Spanish property

Until the last day of 2020, UK nationals enjoyed free movement rights. Those who exercised their residency or work permit before that date, and who continue to do so subsequently, will continue to have the same rights as the people who did so before Brexit. Besides, during the transitional period, UK nationals, their family members, and other people residing in Spain following the Withdrawal Agreement’s conditions should not apply for new resident status if they already had it previously. Thus, they will only have to collect a new residence document during the transitional period.

For UK and Northern Ireland citizens, The official website says…..

What will my situation be if I arrive in Spain after January 1 2021? What foreign legislation applies to me? Unless   covered by the Withdrawal Agreement’s subjective scope, United Kingdom nationals entering  Spain    after  1  January  2021  shall be considered third-country nationals. Therefore, the general immigration regime will apply unless a future mobility scheme is negotiated within the framework being negotiated between the UK and the EU.

Note – If you don’t register for residency, you can only use your home for 90 days out of 180 days.

Register on the Padron

Every foreigner must register with the local Padron Municipal who keeps a list of people residing within that town. This includes whether you only rent or live with someone else. Additionally, residency is a separate process. Processes vary from region to region, but general guidelines are to request an appointment and submit your application online according to that Padrons website. Documents needed are your NIE (numero de identidad de extranjero) rental contract or title deeds, a recent bill or receipt of tax payments. Once approved, you will receive a certificate confirming your registration. This process is vital to register for local healthcare or enrol children into school.

Can I Work in Spain?

EU citizens can work; otherwise, employers will need to apply for a work permit. Many working foreigners enter the tourism industry or teach English but bear in mind that knowing Spanish and adapting to the Spanish work culture will significantly benefit you. Currently, the minimum wage is 1000 Euros before tax so take this into account when budgeting.

The Best Place to Live

When moving overseas, many people already know the town or village they want to live in. However, if you are still to decide where to move to, there are general trends. Most expatriates gravitate to southern Spain, where the climate is warmer, and there is the collection of Costas, otherwise known as the gorgeous stretches of beaches and coastline. Life by the sea is what most expats hamper after.

moving to spain

The Costa Del Sol is one such example. Belonging to the Valencia region, many expatriate communities live a good life there. Heading further North up the coastline, there are places like Madrid and Catalan, and if considering the latter, get to know the culture and traditions. The one exception to these trends is that many expats who want to work abroad head to the larger cities like Madrid. Find out more in our article about the best place to retire in Spain.

Buying Property

Some expats choose to rent while others buy property. The decision is personal and mostly based on finances and long-term future plans. If you want to invest in the housing market, the good news is that it still hasn’t recovered from the 2008 crash and prices are extremely affordable in some areas, especially those seeing mass investment by local councils.

To get an idea of what is on the market, browse our portfolio of apartments and villas for sale in many areas of Spain. Each listing includes everything to know including price, location, photos, home features and an enquiry form to find out more or arrange a viewing. As an estate agent specialising in Spanish property, we walk all buyers through the home buying process so contact us if you have any questions.

Schooling for Expat Families

Schooling is compulsory for children between the age of 6 to 16. Deciding to send your child to a public or international school with throw out pros and cons for each option, so take your time to weigh up, which is the best course of action. Public schools in Spain follow a set curriculum and will be good for your children to learn the language. International schools will teach in your native language and have smaller class sizes, but the downside is the lack of interaction with Spanish children.

Learning the Language

Many expats in Spain don’t speak Spanish. More so if they live in a typical touristic town, where locals speak English, German, Russian and other languages. Becoming bilingual gets more challenging when we get older, but we wholeheartedly recommend trying to learn as much as possible to improve your quality of life. Suggestions are to learn one word a day, start with shopping lists, days of the week, numbers, and household items.

Living in Spain

Many people think moving to a new country is the most challenging part, but settling in takes the most adjustment. Experts say that successful expats’ characteristics are open-minded, cultural awareness, curiosity, flexibility, and patience. Keep an eye out for expat syndrome. Yes, it is a real thing, and one significant cause is too much free time, so now is an ideal situation to take up that hobby you have always dreamed of doing.

Also Read

Regions of Spain: Whether you are planning a holiday, want to buy a property, or your interest is just out of curiosity, learning about the regions of Spain is an exciting journey into a diverse and famous country. Each autonomous community shines through with individuality and collectively, their interesting quirks and facts promote Spain to an international audience.

About Us: We are Spot Blue, an international real estate agent specialising in many regions of Spain either for investment or relocation. Our local knowledge and expertise have helped thousands of buyers enjoy a Spanish lifestyle, so get in touch if you want to know more about moving to Spain.


About Natalie

Natalie is a dedicated real estate professional currently working at Spot Blue International Property. With over a decade of experience in the industry, she has acquired a wealth of knowledge and expertise regarding global properties.