With a warmer climate and a generally relaxed, slower pace of life, Spain remains an attractive destination for Brits seeking a new place to call home. Official figures state that, currently, more than 300,000 UK citizens live in Spain, making it the most popular EU country for British expats to live in.
Continue reading for a complete overview of what you should know before moving to Sunny Spain.
Moving to Spain guide
Although EU citizens do not require a visa to enter the country, they will still need to get a Spanish NIE number (Número de Identificación de Extranjero) when they arrive, if they plan on staying for longer than three months. This is the first thing you should organise when you arrive in the country because you cannot do much without it.
The NIE is a tax identification number which is issued by the Police and is a legal requirement for anyone working, opening a bank, taking out utility bills, or buying a property in Spain.
You must obtain one from the Comisaria General de Extranjeria – you can find the address of your local office on the website. Be sure to go to the meeting prepared, guaranteeing you have all the necessary paperwork (scan everything twice to be on the safe side)!
Attaining an NIE should be done in person, but some people choose to hire a representative to do so on their behalf, prior to arriving in the country. Once you have obtained an NIE number, it will be yours indefinitely.
If you are planning on living in Spain for longer than three months, you are required to register as a resident. This can be done in-person at an official immigration office (Oficina de Extranjeros), or, in some cases, a police station, depending on where you are living. You must first make an appointment, which can be booked online on the Spanish public administration website. When attending the appointment, be sure to have all the necessary documentation ready in order to receive your Residence Certificate.
Once you have been a resident of Spain for five years, you are able to apply for a certificate of permanent residence.
Opening a bank account
Unfortunately, UK banks, such as Santander and Barclays, are unaffiliated in Spain, which means you will need to open a separate, Spanish bank account when you move there. If you wish to do this prior to your arrival, you will be classed as a non-resident and will need to obtain a Certificado No Residente under the same procedure, and with the same documents, as the NIE number.
If you decide to do this after you’ve become a resident, you must present your certificate of residency, along with a utility bill with your current name and address on.
Much like the UK, Spain has a national health service which entitles all EU residents to free healthcare. To access it, you must ensure you are properly registered for healthcare, as a resident of the country. If you have a right to work in Spain and are contributing through National Insurance, you are entitled to free healthcare, like Spanish nationals. Temporary visitors can access healthcare by using an EHIC card.
For further information, Health Plan Spain provides useful, in-depth guides for expats in Spain.
As an EU citizen, you are entitled to work in Spain. However, the unemployment rate in the country remains one of the highest in Europe, which means finding a job may be somewhat tricky. In recent times, there has been an increase in job opportunities, especially where there is a skilled worker shortage.
In any case, most jobs will require you to speak Spanish, so bear that in mind. For those who do not have a grasp of the local language, jobs in tourism, teaching English, or seasonal work tend to be more lax.
Buying a house
The process of buying a property in Spain is quite straightforward, but it is important to note that is very different to the process in the UK.
For instance, in Spain, a Will must first exist before buying a house so that it can cover the disposal of your Spanish assets when you die. Another difference is that if the previous owner had any outstanding debts, you might be liable for them when buying the property.
To avoid problems, always ensure that you hire an independent legal advisor who has an excellent command of English and specialises in Spanish Land Law.
Cost of living
One of the biggest perks of relocating to Spain is that the general cost of living is lower than in the UK. Leisure activities, transport and food are all typically cheaper, especially if purchased outside tourist areas.
Of course, the cost of living will greatly vary according to where you choose to move to. For instance, if you choose a Spanish island or rural Southern area, your rental costs will be much lower than if you decided upon Barcelona or Madrid. Nonetheless, both major cities are still cheaper than London!
You will generally find that Spain has an excellent and affordable public transport network. The cost of rail tickets are, on the whole, much cheaper than in the UK, making commutes from towns to major cities far easier on the wallet.
Travel between cities is also affordable, especially if you book in advance. Buses, in particular, are a great way to get around, with bus routes reaching most towns within the country. However, there are many different operators, which can be daunting for the uninitiated, so it can take some time to get used to.
Despite what you’ve heard, Spain is not, in fact, sunny all-year-round. Spain is a large country, which means the climate varies according to region. In the North of Spain, there are typically warm summers and milder winters. In the South, the climate is generally quite hot – probably why the majority of Brits end up there! Central Spain, on the other hand, experiences a mix of hot and cold weather extremes.
If the weather is a primary reason for your move to Spain, think carefully about where you’d be happiest living.
Getting your belongings there
Whichever area you decide to start your new life in Spain, Matthew James has got you covered. Whether you are seeking the sunny climes of the Costa del Sol and require removals to Malaga, or prefer the hustle and bustle of a lively city and require removals to Madrid – we can cover your entire door-to-door move from the UK to Spain.