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Things You Need To Know About Moving To Spain

Posted Country Guides / May 7, 2020

Moving to Spain from the USA sounds like an adventure, right? Just think about all the different things you could do there. Did you know that the nation is known by the name Bull Skin? This gives you a clue about entertainment options that vary from bulls to tomato fights. The country has loads of different fun and exciting things to offer you.

But if you are not only moving to Spain from the US to have fun, you’ll be happy to hear that the job market is developing, and it offers many opportunities for career advancement. That, combined with low costs of living and affordable housing, makes this nation a rather popular place to live in. So, if you’re wondering, Can I just move to Spain? don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you from experiencing one of the friendliest and most exciting places in Europe.

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Is Moving to Spain a Good Idea?

Located in southwestern Europe, this country that occupies about 85 percent of the Iberian Peninsula. It is the EU’s second-largest nation for its size and fifth for population numbers (almost 47 million). It’s one of the favored travel and relocation destinations worldwide. Although divided into 19 autonomous areas, most people live in the cities along the Costa Brava in Catalonia.

Thanks to its sophisticated cities and cultural diversity, it’s an appealing place for all ages. The capital, Madrid, and its greater area can boast 6.5 million inhabitants, while 5.5 million reside in the greater area of Barcelona. According to some research, España has the second-highest life expectancy of all the 36 states that belong to the OECD Forum (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) – the average lifespan of Spanish people is impressive 83 years. In addition to excellent healthcare and well-rounded educational options, the nation takes pride in 47 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Only China and Italy have more – 55.

So, if you’re looking for a new life adventure (read: once-in-a-lifetime experience), there’s no better place than this one, which will offer you its magical landscapes, castles, great food, and a laid-back atmosphere.

The Spanish Weather is so Diverse There Are Quotes About It

Depending on the region you’re relocating to, you can expect different weather conditions and seasons. That being said, northern territory experiences rain all year round, along with temperate weather. The southern part of the country has hot summers and mild winters, while the central area features warm summers and cold winters. But if you prefer milder temperatures, choose the eastern region, where it generally rains in spring and fall. Summer and winter months, though, stay dry.

Simply put, the weather here is the most diverse in Europe due to the country’s size, massive mountain ranges, and coasts. Still, España is best-known for its Mediterranean holiday resorts, filled with sunshine between May to October. For example, Tenerife is famous as the “Island of Eternal Spring” thanks to its warm climate. The same goes for the Canary Islands, where the sun is present during the summer and winter months. But keep in mind that the sun and beaches are not the only things that come to mind when you think of España. Ski holidays are trendy in the mountainous regions – Pyrenees, for example.

All in all, the nation and its surrounding regions boast a wide range of different climates. Those who relocate here highlight the weather as one of the major advantages of staying for good. Spaniards are very aware of this fact, so much that they incorporate numerous idiomatic weather-related phrases in their everyday communication. These are so popular that other expats use them as quotes while learning Spanish. Besides, they are similar to several English ones, such as: “It’s raining cats and dogs” (“Llueve a mares”), “It’s so cold, it burns” (“Hace un frío que pela”), or “Spring alters blood” (“La primavera, la sangre altera”).

Getting a Visa and Becoming a Citizen

Since you are traveling from a non-EU country, one of the most important documents needed to travel abroad is a visa. If you want to apply for a long-term visa, do it before you move. If you want to become a permanent resident, you have to work and live there for five years. But you can qualify for permanent residence if you:

  • Retire, but you have worked in the country for the last year
  • Stop working after no longer being able to work
  • Stop working because of a work-related injury

After ten years of being a permanent resident, you can apply for citizenship. As a Spanish resident, you’ll have the same rights as other citizens, including the right to vote.

Moving With Pets to Sunny Spain

Are you relocating with pets overseas? When relocating to a nation that is an EU member, your pets should have identification documents. You’ll need papers like the European Pet Passport or a Health Certificate and Declaration of the Owner. Also, make sure that your furry friend has a microchip. Your pet should be vaccinated against rabies, and you are not allowed to bring more than five animals with you. Moving with cats or with a dog should not be complicated if you meet these requirements.

If you want to bring animals like fish, reptiles, or rodents to España, they need to have a veterinary certificate. When you relocate, it will be quite easy to find food, vet clinics, or canine residences.

Know the Cost of Living in Spain Before the Move

Well, it’s only reasonable for you to plan a budget and think about saving money on your international moving services. So, if España is your next destination, don’t forget that living there comes with many perks, meaning the cost of living in Spain is affordable, including food, clothes, utilities, transportation, etc.  

According to comparemymove.com and myspanishresidency.com,  the average costs per month range from $1,070 to $1,800, and they include rent, utilities, food, and drink.

For groceries, you will need around $450 per month, and $190 for utilities (electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage, and internet). For sports and leisure, you should put aside about $70, based on Numbeo.

And if you still haven’t decided on a city to move to, you should know that among the most expensive ones are Ibiza, Barcelona, Palma, and Madrid, while the most affordable ones are Malaga, Santiago de Compostela, and Logrono.

How Much Money Do You Need to Move to Spain?

Keep in mind that it’s recommended to have some savings before the final trip due to pre-moving costs which are not low. We’ve narrowed down the list of most common expenses for the first month or two after your relocation:

  • Moving company expenses
  • Deposit and first month’s rent for your new apartment
  • AirBnB or other accommodation if you’re still house hunting
  • Plane travel expenses (for you if you’re moving abroad alone or for your spouse and kids if you’re relocating with a family)
  • Your nest egg should cover three-months living expenses at least

Choose the Best Place

Choosing a good home when relocating overseas is essential, especially if you’re relocating across the world, and adjusting to a new country is your priority. If you think that España is home to some of the best cities to live in Europe, you’re not wrong. You get to choose from a wide range of cities, experience life near the coast or in more continental parts. Barcelona is the right city for you if you enjoy an artsy vibe, alternative culture, and diverse food scene. It offers not only a diverse population but lovely scenery as well. For those who choose the capital, you’ll get to visit sophisticated bars and restaurants and impressive buildings and a cosmopolitan atmosphere. However, if you opt for Bilbao, you will get a seafront location with mountains and a slow pace of life.

Buying VS. Renting

After you have picked out a trustworthy company to handle your international move, it’s time to start thinking about a place that will be your new home. Go online. Many sites can help you solve your housing problems. If you don’t trust the internet, contact a local real estate agent, and ask them for help.

Prices of rentals vary depending on where you choose to live. Suppose you’re aiming for a big city, like Barcelona or Madrid. In that case, you’ll need around $1,000 for a one-bedroom apartment, while in Alicante, Malaga, and Seville these prices are significantly lower – from $470 to $630, according to comparemymove.com.

If you want to become a homeowner, there are no restrictions on property ownership. If you buy a property worth over $590,000, you will be granted a Golden Visa that allows you to spend time in the country indefinitely.

If you’re thinking about buying real estate, house prices are similar to those in the States. But one of the best financial tips is to check different regions since costs can vary from one place to another. But if you want to rent a house, it’s cheaper to do it overseas.

Getting Around With Different Types of Transportation

Whether you are relocating to the capital city or some smaller place, you should think about your daily commute. Public transportation ranges from modern metros to speed rails. Prices of transportation are affordable. They can vary by region, but in general, the bus will cost you around $1.78, while a single metro ticket is $2.37. Using trains is one of the cheapest ways to travel.

Shipping a Car Across the World

When you’re traveling across the world, you should consider taking your precious vehicle with you. You will make use of your car for getting to work or just getting around the area. If you are considering overseas vehicle shipping, exchange your license for a valid national permit. The one you have will be valid for six months, and you can exchange it at any Provincial Traffic Department.

Finding the Best Paying Jobs – Is It Possible Here?

Before you relocate to this beautiful European country, you may need to lower your expectations when it comes to job opportunities. The Spanish unemployment rate is over 27%, and work options are both limited and much lower paid than in the US.

If you’re relocating to the Iberian Peninsula and looking for employment, then getting the answer to the question Can I move to Spain without a job? should be your priority. Yes, you can, but with some basic knowledge of the language. Still, even if you’re fluent in the language, most jobs are given to locals. But, that doesn’t mean you should give up on your relocation. Instead, look for English speaking jobs, such as:

  • Bar jobs
  • Construction and building works
  • Sales occupations
  • Professions in the travel and tourist sector
  • English teacher

However, there are some areas which are the best ones to find jobs for executives and professionals. These are major cities, such as Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, and to a certain extent Valencia, where you will find multinational companies and the possibility for career advancement in IT sectors.

Opening a Bank Account in Spain

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a resident or non-resident – you can open a Spanish bank account in both cases. You must be over 18 years old and should bring your necessary paperwork and valid documents:

  • A valid proof of identity document. A photograph is required
  • Proof of your activity and professional status (employment contract, student card, payslips, etc.)
  • Proof of address issued within the last three months (it can be a utility bill)
  • A certificado de non residenca can be obtained from a local police station, but this is not always necessary. For example, residents should bring an NIE (Número de Identificatión de Extranjeros) in place of this document.

For more useful information, visit the propertyguides.com website and find more about opening and using a national bank account.

Education and Healthcare

Are you relocating with your family and kids? Maybe you are moving abroad alone because you are looking for ways to acquire higher education? In both cases, learning about the education system in a new environment is essential. Education is state-funded, and schools have a more casual feel than those in the States. If you wish, you can enroll your kids in some private and international schools that hold classes in English.

Thinking about health services when you relocate is something you should not avoid. You can choose between private and national healthcare. Visit Health Plan Spain and get all the information about healthcare services.

Vaccinations and Health Requirements in Spain

The vaccination requirements for relocating to España are the most standard ones. You should check to see if you are up to date on routine childhood vaccines, but also adult ones. There are no strict vaccination policies that you need to follow to move.

Think About School and the Cost of Tuition

When calculating how much money you should put aside for education, know that international schools can be more expensive than regular ones. The average tuition price varies by region, and it can go from a monthly fee of $600 to $900. There is no doubt that this nation is among the top destinations for foreign students. Education follows the traditional system of degrees. Tuitions, just like in international schools, vary. But in general, students pay low fees in public schools, while private universities are pricier.

La Vida Loca as the Popular Way of Living in Spain

Experiencing the la Vida Loca lifestyle is something you will have to get used to when you relocate. There are many cultural attractions to keep you busy while getting familiar with the new surroundings, from museums and art galleries to beaches. If you are somebody who appreciates dance, you can see a flamenco show. They are a traditional form of folk music, and the best shows are in Seville or Madrid. If you are an architecture fan, you can walk around La Sagrada Família and Parc Güell and see the work of Antoni Gaudi. When it comes to art, you will never get bored, as various cities offer all kinds of attractions. There are museums where you can see the works of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.

Exciting Things to Do

When your next home is a place with a colorful and vibrant culture, there are many things you can do to have fun and enjoy your life there to the fullest. Spaniards love a good fiesta. Every area has its own authentic celebrations. From runs with bulls in Pamplona to tomato fights in Bunol, you can find fun things to do all year round. If you are up for some exploration, relocating to Barcelona will offer you an escape from the noisy city. You will get to walk around the Waikiki Beach – yes, it shares the name with the famous and popular Hawaii beach.

Explore the Rich Nightlife

When you relocate, you will have to get used to being a night owl. People rarely eat dinner before 9 pm, and you can sit in bars for a long time since most of them don’t close until 4 am. If you are relocating to Madrid, know that it has a diverse selection of bars, restaurants, clubs, and an LGBT scene. And if that is not the type of fun you seek, go to Valencia, since it has a more laid-back environment. Spaniards have a broad and friendly style when it comes to social skills. This is where you can find great clubs for dancing, restaurants, or bars, but most importantly, you will find people of all ages and backgrounds loving each other’s company. So stoke up the BBQ and invite your new neighbors over for a meetup!

Living in Spain Means Enjoying Spanish Cuisine

Are you a big foodie? Do you enjoy tasty meals with many different spices? Experiencing the cuisine here will be an exciting adventure since it’s a mix of flavors and regional ingredients. It covers everything from fresh seafood to tortillas. And you can wash it all down with some good cerveza (beer). You will get to pick a different restaurant whenever you want to experience food from a different region. If you are in a bar with friends, you will likely get to try tapas, a small snack.

Pros and Cons of Living in Spain

Each nation has its advantages and drawbacks, so prepare yourself for lots of surprises when moving to Spain from the US. Although known as a friendly nation with excellent weather, mouth-watering food, and breathtaking attractions, there are plenty of situations, habits, or traditions that might look a bit strange to you. Be ready to deal with more obstacles than overcoming the language barrier or being relaxed during numerous kooky festivals held all year round. Meet España, the place where nudity is legal, and the mouse Ratocinto Perez took on the role of the famous tooth fairy.

Weigh the Pros and Cons: Living in the Iberian Peninsula Requires Certain Adjustments, but It’s Rewarding

Food Is Seasonal and Delicious, but After a While, It Becomes a Little Boring

When it comes to groceries, there is a huge variety of products, fruits, and vegetables here. They are fresh, tasty, and affordable. Since there are not many foreign products, seasonal food might become tedious, especially if you’re an Asian-food aficionado and realize that coconut curry is quite pricey. Also, Spaniards like to prepare and consume spicy food, so if you have a sensitive stomach, this could be a problem for you.

España Is Brimming With Plants and Exotic Gardens

The palms, banana trees, jasmine bushes, you name it. Seville is packed with exotic gardens and gorgeous plants. People usually have real tropical gardens behind their houses where spend time enjoying the sunset and sipping their drink.

People Are Friendly, but Can Often Be Really Loud

Spaniards know how to party, meet new people, and make great friends. Sometimes, however, they get carried away listening to music until 1 in the morning or talking very loudly in front of houses or apartment buildings late in the evening.

Spaniards Are Super Animal-Friendly, Sometimes Too Friendly

There are many pet-friendly places here, which is excellent if you wish to relocate with your dog. Unfortunately, not all of them are well-trained, so you can expect to hear barking at any time of the day or night. Also, Spaniards have chickens and roosters, even in residential areas. And roosters often crow during nights and especially at dawn. So, say goodbye to your rest and sleep.

Some Cities Are Spotless, While Others Don’t Care About The Environment at All

One of the cleanest cities is definitely Seville – it boasts exotic gardens, clean streets, and fantastic architecture. Some other places, such as Barcelona, are jammed with dog poop, dirt, and ugly, poorly-maintained playgrounds. And there’s nothing you can do about it.

Relocation Tips When Moving to Spain from the US

Moving to Spain from the USA means long-distance relocation that requires shipping your belongings. Before you hire professional movers, you should be familiar with some helpful tips to make your relocation go smoothly. It’s recommended to consult an international removal company about necessary documentation and possible regulations to move overseas. Before you do that, we’ve provided the most common paperwork you should prepare for a stress-free relocation:

  • Passport
  • NIE
  • Residence certificate
  • Letter from your employer and confirmation you have a job
  • Proof that you’re retired (if you are)
  • Application for duty-free import
  • Rental contract or house deeds for your new home
  • A full inventory of goods (in Spanish)

Keep in mind that Spanish authorities restrict and prohibit bringing with you some items when entering borders. For example, works of art or antiques will be the main culprits for duty charges except if they are a century old and shipped as personal belongings. If you have sports guns, make sure to obtain the appropriate license and permission from Spanish authorities. Also, tobacco and alcohol are not allowed to bring over your personal limits. Since every plant relocation overseas takes certain risks, your vegetation must have a Phytosanitary Certificate.

Of course, this is not a complete list of prohibited and restricted items. Only your removal company can give you a relevant answer to what you are allowed to transport overseas. Find out everything about these items and prevent possible duty taxes and bans on your shipment ahead of time.

Eva Johnson

Digital nomad born in New York but currently living online, Eva knows everything there is to know about packing and moving.

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