Moving to Spain: 3 lessons learned from living abroad

moving to Spain

Moving to a foreign country is a significant and life-changing experience. It provides an opportunity to learn about new cultures, make new friends, and broaden one’s perspective. However, it can also be a challenging experience, with numerous hurdles and obstacles to overcome. In this article, we will discuss three critical lessons learned from living abroad in Spain. In addition, you will find some tips to keep in mind before moving to this spectacular EU country.

Here is what you will learn after moving to Spain

Lesson 1: It is important to embrace the culture

One of the most significant benefits of moving to a foreign country is the opportunity to experience a new culture. Embracing the culture can be a bit challenging, but it’s crucial to have a fulfilling experience. To embrace the culture in Spain, one should try learning the language, attending local events, and trying the local cuisine. It’s also essential to be open-minded and respectful of the local customs and traditions.

Learn the Language

Learning the Spanish language before moving to Spain is vital to help integrate into Spanish society. Although it may seem challenging at first, speaking the language can help one communicate better and make new friends. There are numerous ways to learn Spanish, such as attending a language school, hiring a tutor, or using language apps.

Attend Local Events

Attending local events is an excellent way to immerse oneself in Spanish culture. Spain has numerous cultural events throughout the year, such as the La Tomatina festival in Buñol or the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. Attending these events will help one understand the local culture and meet new people.

Try the Local Cuisine

Spanish cuisine is renowned worldwide for its flavorful dishes and fresh ingredients. Trying the local cuisine is an excellent way to appreciate the Spanish culture. Spain has numerous traditional dishes, such as paella, gazpacho, and tortilla española. It’s also essential to try the local wines and tapas, which are a staple of Spanish cuisine.

Lesson 2: Be Open-Minded

Living in a foreign country can be a bit challenging, especially when one is unfamiliar with the local customs and traditions. Being open-minded is vital to have a positive experience when living abroad in Spain. One should be willing to adapt to the local way of life and be respectful of the local customs and traditions.

Moving to Spain

Learn about the Local Customs

Spain has numerous customs and traditions that are unique to the country. For example, the Spanish siesta, where businesses and shops close for a few hours in the afternoon, is a part of Spanish culture. It’s essential to learn about these customs and traditions before moving to Spain to avoid any cultural misunderstandings.

Embrace Change

Living in a foreign country can be a bit challenging, and it’s essential to embrace change. One should be willing to step out of their comfort zone and try new things. For example, one should be willing to try new foods, make new friends, and explore new places.

Stay Positive

Moving to a foreign country can be a bit overwhelming, and it’s essential to stay positive. Focus on the positive aspects of living abroad. Think about how lucky you are to be exploring such a beautiful country.

Lesson 3: Stay Connected

Living abroad can be a bit isolating, especially when one is far away from friends and family. Staying connected with loved ones is crucial to have a positive experience when living abroad in Spain.

Use Technology to Stay Connected

Technology has made it easier than ever to stay connected with friends and family back home. One can use social media, video calls, and messaging apps to keep in touch with loved ones.

Join Local Groups

Joining local groups is an excellent way to make new friends and stay connected. Spain has numerous expat groups, language exchange groups, and social clubs. Joining these groups can help one connect with like-minded individuals and create a support system.

Explore New Connections

Living abroad provides an opportunity to meet new people from different backgrounds. One should be willing to explore new connections and build relationships with locals. Building relationships with locals can help one understand the Spanish culture better and provide a more authentic experience.

The essential checklist for moving to Spain

Spanish Visa

Are you considering relocating to Spain? If so, it is essential to research and learn about the various visa possibilities available. As a member of the European Union (EU), Spain follows a dual-tier immigration structure. For citizens belonging to the European Union or EEA, the Freedom of Movement Act allows them to effortlessly live and work within Spanish borders. Unfortunately, this privilege is not available for UK nationals due to the Brexit decision in 2020.

On the other hand, if you do not hold citizenship from a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) country, Spanish authorities require foreigners to obtain a visa for residing, working, or entering Spain. The specific visa regulations and visa requirements for you will vary based on factors such as your nationality, individual circumstances, the purpose of your trip to Spain, and the duration of your intended stay. Generally speaking, if your plans involve remaining in Spain for a period exceeding 90 days, Spanish authorities state that you need to have a Spanish residence permit or Spanish visa.

Health insurance

Securing proper health coverage for yourself and your family members is a vital step to take before moving to Spain. The country boasts both public and private healthcare systems, with the vast majority of Spanish nationals relying on the public sector for their medical needs. A foreign self-employed person -or foreign workers in Spain, generally speaking- has the opportunity to access this extensive public healthcare network, which includes hospitals, and specialized medical professionals at any local health center.

Despite the availability of public healthcare, numerous travelers opt for private health insurance before they move to Spain. The good news is that Spain is home to a variety of international health insurance providers that cater to the diverse requirements of expatriates. By arranging health coverage ahead of time, you and your family members can enjoy a sense of security and peace of mind from the moment you arrive in this beautiful country.

Job hunting

If you are a self-employed person or you are among the fortunate individuals who secure employment before moving to Spain, the transition to the Spanish job market will be relatively smooth. However, many expatriates must actively seek employment options upon their arrival in the EU country. To better prepare yourself for this scenario, it is advisable to conduct thorough research on Spain’s job market before departing from your home country. Also, the Spanish government states that every foreign worker needs to have a work permit. Familiarize yourself with the necessities of working in Spain, such as obtaining your Spanish NIE number (Número de Identificación de Extranjero). It is a foreigner identification number, registering with the social security system, and opening a Spanish bank account. These preparatory steps will facilitate a smoother transition into the Spanish job market.

The employment landscape in Spain varies greatly depending on the geographical region. In metropolitan areas such as Madrid, Barcelona, and Bilbao, there is a higher concentration of international corporations, offering increased opportunities for English-speaking job seekers. These cities often have more diverse industries, including tech, finance, and media, providing a broader array of employment options.

In contrast, the economy in other regions, particularly along the coastline and in the Canary and Balearic Islands, is predominantly driven by the tourism industry. In these areas, job opportunities mainly revolve around hospitality, catering, and other tourism-related services. Bilingual skills, particularly English-Spanish proficiency, can prove advantageous in these sectors.

Moving to Spain

Plan your finances

Moving to Spain -or to any other foreign country- requires you to carefully monitor your financial situation throughout the entire transition process. Maintaining thorough control of your finances and bank account is crucial for managing unexpected expenses that may arise during your move – and rest assured, there will be some.

Experienced expatriates often emphasize the inevitability of unanticipated costs that may not have been initially considered. Fortunately, Spain is known for its relatively lower cost of living compared to certain other EU countries or other countries. However, staying financially flexible remains essential while relocating to your new country.

One practical approach to economize during your international move is by utilizing digital money transfer platforms. These online services offer a cost-effective way of transferring your funds to Spain by helping you circumvent traditional banking fees. Several of these platforms also provide the option of multi-currency accounts, which can act as a financial cushion until you receive your crucial first paycheck in your new destination. In addition, if you are a self-employed person, you will be able to work from Spain all over the world!

Decide where to live

Regardless of your ideal residence under the warm and sunny Iberian skies, it is highly likely that you will require temporary lodging during, at the very least, your initial week living in Spain. This type of accommodation is generally easier to secure, especially when attempting to finalize arrangements via online platforms from outside the country.

A short-term rental contract can serve as an excellent starting point in your new Spanish abode, allowing you ample opportunity to become acquainted with the area and its offerings. In certain locations, you may discover that serviced apartments are readily available, making them an attractive option for your initial months.

On the other hand, if your plan is to immediately secure a long-term rental when moving to Spain, it is highly recommended that you begin exploring local housing portals well before your relocation. This proactive approach can streamline your transition, providing you with increased options and a more comprehensive understanding of the market.

International Driving Permit

As long as you are above the age of 18 and possess a valid driving license, you will be allowed to drive a vehicle in Spain for a duration of up to six months from your arrival date. It is crucial, however, to ensure that you have adequate car insurance coverage during this period. If your driving license has been issued by a country within the EU or the EEA, you can continue to utilize your existing photocard license up until its expiration date. Nevertheless, acquiring a Spanish license to drive may be a more convenient option in the long run.

According to Spanish authorities, non-EU nationals who have a driver’s license from a non-EU/EEA country need to exchange it for a Spanish license within the initial six months of their stay in the country. The specific requirements for this process may vary depending on the country of origin of your driving license. In some cases, it is advisable to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) to supplement your current license. An IDP serves as a translation of your local driver’s license and will enable you to legally drive within Spain. It is essential, however, to remember that an IDP does not replace your original driving license; instead, it must be used in tandem with your national license.

A word from SpainDesk

Moving to Spain is a life-changing experience that can provide numerous benefits, such as learning about a new culture, making new friends, and broadening one’s perspective. However, living abroad can also be challenging, with numerous obstacles to overcome. Therefore, it is advisable to have time to prepare for your trip.

Keep in mind all the important topics discussed in this article before moving to Spain and you will surely feel much more comfortable when making your first steps into your new life.

By embracing the culture, being open-minded, and staying connected, one can have a positive experience when living abroad in Spain. Good luck!

Disclaimer: Information on this page may be incomplete or outdated. Under no circumstances should the information listed be considered professional legal advice. We highly recommended seeking guidance from a legal expert if you lack extensive knowledge or experience dealing with any of the procedures outlined in these articles.