To say, it is easy to live in Spain as a foreigner, depends on the individual situation. Spain is renowned for its 8000 km of stunning beaches and draws in tourists from all corners of the world and those aspiring to start a new life here. The legal process for acquiring your residence permit can be daunting – but have no fear. This blog post provides detailed advice on how to immigrate to Spain easily. From accessing healthcare and navigating cultural differences to finding housing and discovering job opportunities – learn about how simple or difficult (or both!) living in Spain can be for foreigners.
Is it easy to go live in Spain?
As said previously, the “difficulty” level of living in Spain will depend on your circumstances and where you come from. Although it is easy to move to Spain for EU nationals, or people with permanent residency in an EU member country, those outside the European Union need not be discouraged. There are still many options and opportunities for non-EU citizens wanting to live in Spain.
Choosing where to live in Spain
Spain is home to 17 autonomous regions and a variety of beautiful coastlines. It’s important to consider where you would like to live when you move to Spain, as this could impact the type of residence permit required and the documentation needed for your visa application.
Understand your rights and responsibilities
Once you have received the appropriate visa, it is crucial to understand your rights and responsibilities as an expat living in Spain. This includes understanding the country’s taxation system, registering with the relevant tax authority, and familiarising yourself with social security contributions.
Buying and Renting property in Spain
Buying Spanish property can be an attractive option for those who wish to stay long-term. When purchasing property, it is important to understand the local laws, taxes, and fees that may apply. It is generally recommended to seek professional advice from a Spanish consulate before entering into any legal proceedings.
For those who wish to stay in Spain for a shorter period of time, renting is generally the best option. When selecting your preferred property, it is essential to ensure that you understand the terms and conditions of your rental agreement.
Cost of living in Spain
Spain offers a lower cost of living compared to the UK and other Western European countries, although wages may be slightly lower too. According to Numbeo – an online resource for the cost of living comparison- dining out for two people at the beginning of 2023 in Spain was only £44 (in contrast to £55 in the UK), while monthly utilities were just a fraction at £112 compared to the hefty price tag of £187 within Britain.
It is important to note that Spanish culture may differ greatly from your native country. It may be beneficial to familiarise yourself with the norms of Spanish society to ensure a smooth transition. Additionally, learning the language can benefit communication and integration within your new home country.
Visas and residency for British nationals post-Brexit
A valid passport and healthcare insurance are necessary to enter Spain. Additionally, a visa may also be required depending on the length of your stay in Spain. For those wishing to stay longer than six months, you should apply for a long-term visa or residency permit.
Applicants must have been verified by the state’s official registration system and have sufficient financial means to support themselves. Other documents, such as birth and marriage certificates, may also be necessary, depending on your family situation.
The main visas/residence permits are as follows:
- “Visado de trabajo y residencia”, a combined residence and work visa that allows you to work and live in Spain
- “Visado de estudios”, a student visa that is valid for the duration of a permitted educational course
- “Visado de residencia”, a visa for family retirement
Driving in Spain
If you wish to drive in Spain, you must obtain a Spanish license or an international driving permit. This is quite straightforward, however, the process may vary depending on your nationality and place of residence. If you are a foreigner from the UK, you have 12 months from your arrival in Spain to apply for a license. Similarly, if you are from another EU country, you have six months to obtain a Spanish license. Notice that if you live in Spain or the UK for at least six months without changing your British license to Spanish, you won’t be able to travel on a UK license.
Education in Spain
Education is compulsory up to the age of 16 in Spain, and international students can attend local public schools. Additionally, many private international schools offer a good standard of education. These may be more expensive than public schools; however, they usually provide more specialization and language options for those wishing to study Spanish as a second language.
Healthcare and insurance
The Spanish healthcare system is one of the most advanced in Europe and offers citizens free access to a range of services. If you are not a citizen, you must have private health insurance to use the public system. Additionally, it is advisable to purchase additional private insurance for emergencies or specialist care.
Opening a Spanish Bank Account
If you are not a Spanish citizen, open a bank account in Spain when moving to the country. This will make transferring money, paying bills, and purchasing goods and services easier. EU bank accounts can be opened without a Spanish residence permit, however, non-EU nationals may need one to open a bank account.
Most Spanish banks also offer the option to open an international bank account, which allows customers to access funds from their home country. This can benefit those who frequently travel or have family and friends in different countries. When selecting your preferred bank, research and compare different bank accounts to find the best one for you.
Taxes & Pensions
Taxes in Spain work differently than they do in the UK and other Western European countries. Residents in Spain must pay taxes on their income, whether from employment or investments, and non-residents must also pay taxes on any Spanish-sourced income. UK nationals and British expats who move to Spain must pay taxes like Spanish citizens. We recommend seeking professional advice when it comes to your taxes to ensure you are compliant with the Spanish authorities.
Please note that Pensions are also taxed differently in Spain than in the UK. As a resident of Spain, you are generally liable for tax on your pension income from any source, either within Spain or abroad. Non-residents are generally not liable for Spanish tax on pension income from outside Spain.
Frequent questions about moving to Spain
Can I move to Spain with no job?
Relocating to Spain without a job offer can complicate certain aspects of your move, such as getting a bank account and residence permit. As noted earlier, receiving a work permit (which requires an employer to make an offer) is one of the best ways to obtain residency status.
Is it easy to get a job in Spain?
Jobs in Spain for foreigners are hard to come by, unlike Spanish citizens. A foreigner in Spain is only hired if the occupation is listed on the shortage occupation list. The list is published quarterly by the Public Employment Service and lists the high-demand jobs.
Spanish employers prefer to hire locals over foreigners for a variety of reasons, including language barriers and complex residency paperwork. It is important to be aware of the job market before moving to Spain. Learning about the types of jobs available will also be useful. You should also consider the availability of other options, such as working remotely or becoming a freelancer.
Do I Need a Visa to Move to Spain?
If you are a foreigner who wished to move to Spain you will need a visa. Depending on the length of your stay and your citizenship, different types of visas are available.
Any British citizen who wants to move to Spain must apply for a visado nacional (long-term visa) to stay for over 90 days. This includes British citizens with second homes in Spain, but no Spanish citizenship.
You will also need a Spanish visa if you wish to work or study, as well as for business purposes and family reunification.
A foreigner can move to Spain legally through the following routes:
- Spain post-Brexit: UK citizens can generally remain in Spain for up to three months without a visa. If you wish to stay longer than this, you must apply for an appropriate visa.
- As a student: International students can stay in Spain for up to six months on a student visa.
- As a self-employed person: Self-employed individuals can move to Spain to set up a business. You will generally need a residence permit, proof of sufficient financial means, professional advice, a business plan, and all the relevant documents. You have at least £2,000 a month coming into your bank account.
- As a family member: A Family member who is a Spanish resident or EU citizens can generally enter Spain without a visa. However, they must apply for a residence permit and register at their local town hall within 30 days of arrival. If you wish to move to Spain as a worker and your family will join you, you must meet additional financial requirements. You will need to show that you have an extra £500 per month for each family member.
- As a UK citizen: British citizens who wish to move to Spain have generally been able to do so up until the end of the transition period.
A word from SpainDesk
Living in Spain as a foreigner is easy as long as you have the necessary paperwork and documents. The country is filled with culture and diversity and offers a variety of experiences for its inhabitants. Adjusting from home life to Spanish life might take some time; however, it is possible with the proper resources and research. The Spanish people are welcoming and friendly towards foreign citizens, making adapting to their customs and lifestyles a bit easier.