From gaining a residency to understanding the healthcare system, this guide will take you through all the essentials of moving to Spain.
It will come as no shock to hear that Spain is one of the world’s most popular expat destinations. With its sensational weather, Mediterranean coastline, tasty food and stunning architecture, Spain ticks all the boxes for expat heaven.
It offers a lower cost of living and cheaper house prices than much of Europe’s most popular nations too.
So, if you’re interested in moving to Spain, you’re in the right place. Read our guide below for all the info you’ll need to settle in España.
Residency in Spain
Before you can embrace the joys of life in sunny Spain, you’ll need to secure a visa. Fortunately for citizens of EU and EEA countries, you won’t need a visa to live, work or study in Spain. The same can’t be said for nationals outside this bracket.
The UK leaving the EU means Brits will need a visa and, most likely, a work permit to live in Spain. Although this has created some hurdles for British soon-to-be expats, moving to Spain after Brexit is still very possible.
The two visa avenues you can use to get into Spain are short-stay or long-term visas.
The short-stay visa grants you access to Spain for 90 days in a 180-day period. You can’t work in Spain with this visa but living and studying is permitted. Nationals from the UK, US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand don’t need short-stay visas to live in Spain.
If you’re planning to stay in Spain for more than 90 days, you’ll need a long-term visa. There are plenty of long-term visas available, granting you permission to live, work and study in Spain. UK citizens can find out more about long-term visas and how to apply through the Spanish Consulate in London website and the BLS website.
Once you’ve lived in Spain for five uninterrupted years, you can apply for permanent Spanish residency. After 10 years of residence in Spain, you can acquire official Spanish nationality.
Healthcare in Spain
Spain has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. Like the UK, Spanish citizens can receive public or private healthcare, should they wish to pay. Whether you’re a non-resident of Spain, a UK resident of Spain, or even a Spanish resident, you will have to register to access healthcare.
Not everyone is granted the same access to public healthcare. It depends on several factors — the most important being whether you are employed and whether you are a Spanish resident.
If you’re working or are self-employed in Spain, you are entitled to the same healthcare as Spanish citizens — so are your children and dependents.
Non-working Spanish residents can join Spain’s public health insurance scheme. Named the Convenio Especial, this scheme gives you access to Spanish healthcare, but it comes with a monthly cost.
If you’re a Spanish resident and receiving a UK State Pension, you’ll take advantage of an S1 form. This means you are entitled to Spanish healthcare that is paid for by the UK government.
Best places to live in Spain
One of the major challenges of moving to Spain is choosing where to live. You can take the road to paradise and set yourself up on the tropical Mediterranean coast; engross yourself in the city life with some of Spain’s busy, culture-rich cities; or enjoy the peaceful, idyllic landscape of the Spanish countryside.
Whichever direction you choose to go, you’ll never be short on choice.
If the city life is your style, then look no further than Madrid and Barcelona. Both cities host a roaring nightlife and great weather — the summers are hot and the winters mild. Their skylines are soaked in marvellous architecture and the cost of living is cheaper than other popular European cities.
For a coastal dreamland, look to Marbella, Majorca and Alicante. Lined with golden beaches, bars and restaurants, these Mediterranean destinations are particularly popular among families and retirees. They’re more affordable places to live than Madrid and Barcelona and offer a mix of city environments as well as quieter rural resorts.
If you’re eyeing up a location that’s affordable and less well-known among tourists and expats, see what Valencia and Bilbao have to offer. Both destinations have a considerably cheaper cost of living than Spain’s other major mainland cities. They’re also fantastic places for food and drink; Valencia has staked its claim as the home of paella and Bilbao is Spain’s wine capital.
Property in Spain
Large parts of the Spanish economy were hit hard during the global financial crises 10 or so years ago. But the property market suffered particularly badly. In some areas, house prices dropped by as much as 30%.
Over the last few years, Spain’s housing market has become far more stable, with house prices seeing a steady rise. Prices have accelerated at a staggering pace in popular locations like Ibiza. The huge demand for luxury real estate has made buying property in Ibiza a great opportunity for investors as well as offering plenty for expats seeking a second home.
Along with the obvious benefits of buying in Spain: year-round good weather and a relaxed atmosphere – the Spanish property market also entices expats, especially retirees. It has a lower average property price and smaller living costs than other European countries, meaning pensions and savings go further.
To buy property in Spain as a non-citizen, you’ll need a Tax Identification Number (NIE). You won’t be able to buy Spanish real estate without one, nor will you be able to open a bank account or start paying for utilities.
Acquiring your NIE is relatively simple, but it can take anywhere between one day to six weeks. If you’re using an estate agent, they’ll usually help you. The estate agent should take you to the immigration or tax office and make sure you have the right documents.
Once you’ve sorted your NIE, you’ll then make a reservation agreement to take the property off the market. This is followed by a deposit contract, meaning you are committed to buying the property and the seller is committed to selling the property to you. Finally, you’ll sign the sale contract to complete the sale of the property.
Send money to Spain
Whatever your reason for moving to Spain, if there’s one thing you can’t leave behind, it’s your money. If you’re in the market to buy property, you’ll have to exchange large quantities of currency. This can be a stressful procedure, but we can help.
At Privalgo, our personal service will support you with any questions about your exchange and keep you in the loop with regular updates. We’ll also help you get more for your money with our market-leading exchange rates.
As well as offering support and top exchange rates, we provide a variety of solutions to protect your money from market fluctuation.
If you’re in need of exchanging your pounds for euros, book a meeting with a Privalgo Currency Specialist today (it’s completely free).Book a chat with a Currency Specialist