Moving to Spain from the US: An overview

Moving to Spain from the US

Moving to Spain from the US can be a daunting task. It is not without its challenges, but it is also full of rewards. If you are thinking about making this move, we have written this article to help you learn some things about the move and your new home country.

Why do people move to Spain from the USA?

There are many reasons why people choose to move from America to Spain. As a general rule, expatriates moving to Spain tend to be young, well-educated professionals who have the great desire of seeing the world and experiencing different cultures first hand.

Another group that often wants to move to Spain from America are people that want to retire in Spain. They often want to move for the culture, weather, language, and type of property they can afford in Spain.

Benefits of living in Spain as opposed to living in the USA

The main reasons why US citizens move to Spain are the cost of living, Spanish culture, Sunny weather, rich culture, and Spanish food. Below we go through the top reasons why many people are moving to Spain from US.

Cost of living in Spain

The cost of living is lower in Spain. When renting, the monthly fee for an apartment will be between 500 and 1000 Dollars per month. However, this depends also on the area. It can vary greatly depending on where someone chooses to live, but it is possible to get a lovely house with a garden for 150,000 Dollars or less.

Food in Spain is also very reasonably priced, and in general, there are much more reasonable prices. A decent meal out can be purchased for 20 Euros. A bottle of wine costs around 3 Euros, and you can get a week groceries for approximately 60 Euros.

You will find around a 40% discount on most products and services compared to the USA.

US citizens enjoy Spanish Culture

Spanish culture

Spain and the USA have very different cultures and social life. People are generally calmer, and the pace of life is slower. In general, Americans will find it to be a much more peaceful society compared to their own country while at the same time having many things in common with them.

Another considerable difference between the Spanish and American cultures is that Spain is less money-focused. As a result, there is less pressure to work and earn money.

While Americans tend to be very career-oriented, the Spanish spend more time with family, friends and social life. There are fewer demands on people in terms of work hours or working days. There is also a great emphasis on community life, so new expatriates will often find themselves adopted by Spain quickly.

Sunny weather

The weather in Spain is another huge reason why people move to this sunny country. The main benefit of the Spanish climate is that there are long, warm summers and short winters so that you can enjoy the outdoors for most of the year. People who want to escape the cold winter months will significantly appreciate living in Spain, where they can enjoy sunshine throughout December.

Rich history

Spain is rich in traditions and history, with many ancient monuments to visit. Many fascinating Spanish historical sites will impress even the most demanding travellers. There is history from the Roman, medieval, Moorish times and even Greek times in Spain.

Spain is home to some of the most important historical monuments from Europe, such as The Alhambra Palace in Granada or The Real Alcazar in Seville.

Of course, there are also many modern cities that you can enjoy visiting and living in. Cities like Madrid or Barcelona have a vibrant, urban life that will provide countless opportunities to the ex-pats who move to Spain. Next to this, visit the many Spanish festivals, and you will learn more about the country.

Spanish food

Spanish food is very diverse, as you can find food from many different regions. The different cultures and history of Spain have formed a unique and mouthwatering cuisine that will never disappoint. Spanish gastronomy boasts the freshest ingredients prepared by talented chefs who often use recipes handed down through generations.

The cuisine in Spain is known for having very healthy choices, and there are plenty of vegetarian options as well. It is also good news that many ex-pats will find that their taste buds will change to prefer Spanish food over what they ate back home.

Spain is a country filled with contrasts and diversity, even when it comes to food. Famous dishes include tapas and paella, which you eat in casual settings with drinks and friends.

There is also a great wine culture throughout the country where you will find hundreds of different wines from all over Spain. Such as the famous Rioja wine from the La Rioja region, Sherry, and many others such as Cava, Priorat, and Albariño. Sangria is also another trendy Spanish drink that you will enjoy.

There is not much fast food in Spain, and the leading chains such as McDonald’s and Burger King are not as prevalent. If you love to eat out, you will find a very diverse choice of cuisines (Italian, Chinese, Japanese and many more) and no shortage of great restaurants where you can enjoy food at reasonable prices.

Spanish Visa for moving to Spain by US citizens

How can a US citizen move to Spain?

When you are moving to Spain, you will need to obtain a Spanish visa. You can apply for several visas, but the most common are the Employment Visa, Non-lucrative Visa, and the Golden Visa. The main requirement for these visas is that you have the financial resources to support yourself and proof of health insurance. It’s also essential to show that you won’t burden the Spanish social security system and that your stay in the country will be temporary.

If you want to get permanent residency in Spain, you must show that you have been living in the country for a certain number of years with temporary residence. The legal process is also very complicated, and it can take several years.

Employment visa

A Spanish work visa is an excellent option for Americans who wish to move to Spain and work there. The employment visa is also called the work visa. You can get this residence visa if you are a higher educated person. To start with, you will need to get a job offer from a company in Spain that can help you apply for this type of visa. The employer will need to provide proof of the Spanish payroll in place.

Non-lucrative visa

If you already have enough financial resources to support yourself and do not need a job offer in Spain, then you can apply for a non-lucrative visa. The non-lucrative visa allows US citizens to live in Spain without working there. Non-lucrative visas are also called retirement visas.

Golden visa

In Spain, you can also get an investor visa after buying Spanish property. This visa is called the Golden Visa. This option is prevalent among wealthier people who want to invest in Spain. It allows them to live in Spain very quickly.

You can get the Spanish Golden Visa for real estate if you invest in Spanish property worth more than 500,000 Euros. There are also other ways to get a Golden Visa, such as investing in a company, starting a business, or buying bonds.

Entrepreneur visa

You can apply for an entrepreneur visa when you bring a business idea that benefits the Spanish economy. Getting the entrepreneur visa is a complex process requiring many documents and paperwork (such as a business plan and financial statements). People that want to get this type of visa should contact a corporate and immigration lawyer to increase the successful application.

How to get Spanish citizenship

In general, people from abroad, such as the USA, can get Spanish citizenship in two ways: through naturalization or marriage. The process of acquiring Spanish citizenship through naturalization takes place after you have lived in Spain for about ten years.

After this period, you can apply for Spanish citizenship. The requirements to become a Spaniard are very strict, and there are many documents required. You will need to get certified translations of your diplomas, birth certificates and marriage certificates.

The Spanish government does not let USA citizens get a dual nationality in the country. Once you become a Spanish citizen, your USA citizenship has to be given up.

If you marry a Spaniard or your spouse is from Spain, you should apply for Spanish citizenship after only two years of living in the country. There are not many documents needed in this case, and no translations of official documents will be necessary.

Alternatively to Spanish Citizenship, one can also get permanent residency. Permanent residency means that you are not a Spaniard, but you have the right to work and live in Spain without any restrictions. You can get permanent residency after five years of work or residence in Spain.

Costs for moving to Spain from US

Below we talk about the costs of moving from the US to Spain. There are many different costs involved when you move from one country to another, and these costs depend on your situation.

The cost of moving depends on a lot of factors, such as the type of services you need, how much stuff you bring with you, whether or not you use a moving company, how many people are moving, the distance between your city and Spain, and whether you’re going to live in a big city or a small town.

Property prices

The property price will depend on what you want. The most popular areas for ex-pats are Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona. Prices vary greatly depending on the location, but usually, you will find two-bedroom properties between 250.000-350 000 Dollars in these cities.

Rural areas are much cheaper. For example, in the town of Pinoso (Alicante), you can find prices at around 80.000-170.000 Dollars. It is, therefore, an attractive option for people with a lower budget.

If you are looking for a villa in Spain, you can go as far as you want in luxury and price. The more luxury you want in a mansion, the higher the cost, but there are excellent prices for less luxurious properties from 500.000-1.00.000 Dollars. But if you are looking for modern luxury in Marbella, very close to the beach, a villa with a swimming pool will be available for around 1.500.000-6.000.000 Dollars.

When buying a property in Spain, you should calculate around 10-15% on top of the property’s sale price. These costs are for stamp duty, taxes, legal fee’s, notary fee’s, agent fee’s, and other extra expenses when buying property.

Renting a property

When renting a property in Spain, you won’t have to deal with these costs, but you will have to pay for the rent. If you are looking in Madrid or Barcelona, an average rent monthly costs around 800-1500 Dollars. If you live in a rural area like Pinoso, your monthly rent can be around 350-700 Dollars.

Taxes in Spain

Taxes in Spain

When you are staying in Spain, you will need to get a NIE number (Número de Identificación de Extranjeros). This number is your foreign identification number, and it is similar to the social security number in the USA. The NIE number is needed for paying taxes and opening bank accounts, renting property, and buying property, among other things.

In Spain, there are two different statuses you can have when staying. These are tax residency and tax non-residency. Depending on your residential situation, you will need to pay taxes on your worldwide income and assets or not. If you are a tax resident, you will need to start paying taxes over your worldwide income and assets in Spain. You will become a tax resident when you stay in Spain for more than 183 days in a calendar year.

Spain has income taxes, property taxes, inheritance taxes, wealth taxes, capital gain taxes, and municipal taxes. Our accountants in Spain can also help you with your tax returns, so you don’t have to worry about it.

Health insurance in Spain

When you are moving to Spain from us, you will probably want to know how the health insurance in Spain works. When you are living in Spain, it is mandatory to have health insurance. The Spanish healthcare system has a state-funded part and a private part. Citizens or residents who live in Spain must take out private health insurance for the medical costs that the public system does not cover.

The public system covers preventive healthcare, emergency healthcare and primary healthcare, and the costs of these treatments are low. The state-funded part of the public system is good. It covers surgeries, prescriptions and emergency transportation by ambulance to a Spanish hospital.

Where to live as a US citizen

The place where you want to live also depends on what you want to do in Spain. Many US citizens often reside in Spanish cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Alicante, Marbella, Tenerife, Ibiza, Torrevieja, and Benidorm. If you are looking for a more quiet and authentic site, it is better to look towards rural areas like Pinoso, but if you are looking for beautiful beaches, then coastal areas like Alicante or Marbella can be excellent.

Southern coast in Spain

The southern coast in Spain is close to the Costa del Sol, one of the most popular places for many ex-pats and holidaymakers. The coastline is flat and clean with many resorts, which are the best places to live. The main draws are the sun, beach and sea as you would expect, but there is also an extensive range of bars and restaurants in great locations with views out to sea.

Major cities in Spain

The Spanish capital Madrid is a great city with lots to do and see. Barcelona is also an excellent city for visiting and living in because it has beautiful beaches and bars, making it ideal for tourists who want an authentic experience. Barcelona is also a great city for nightlife. Other cities in Spain are Valencia, Zaragoza, Pamplona, Seville, Bilbao, Vigo and Málaga.

Moving to Spain from the USA

Differences between USA and Spain

When you are thinking of moving to Spain, you must know the differences between USA and Spain. Although many things in life are similar, there are also some differences that you will need to get used to if you want to live in this beautiful country. The most notable difference is the fact that Spaniards speak Spanish and not much English.

Language barrier

The language barrier is perhaps the most significant difference between USA and Spain. It can be one of the hardest things to get used to as a US citizen, but learning some Spanish before you go will make it easier for you when living there. You should know how to speak Spanish and learn about Spanish culture and customs so that you can fit in and not feel left out.

Spanish economy

Another notable difference between USA and Spain is that America has a more robust and more advanced economy than Spain. It is easier to get around and find jobs in America than in Spain. However, some vacancies have English as a requirement, making it easier to find work. As long as you speak Spanish and English, you should be able to find a job that suits your skills and qualifications.

Salary rates

Salary rates in Spain are very different from the USA. While depending on the field that you operate in, when working in Spain your salary will be often lower. Spain has a high unemployment rate, and the average salary in Spain is below that of the USA. but taxes are also lower. This means that you will have more disposable income after paying taxes.

Spanish bureaucracy

While the USA is infamous for long lines at the DMV, Spain has another kind of bureaucracy. The work permit application process can take a long time because Spanish authorities are very demanding about details and paperwork.

Because of this, you must read all the information provided carefully on your application documents. This is the same for other things such as buying property, visiting your local tax office, and contacting your local town hall.

While you can choose to do your dealings with the Spanish government yourself, it is common among Spanish citizens to get a lawyer to help you with the big stuff like property purchase and getting a work permit. These tasks will add up, but they are necessary if you want to do live or do business in the country.

Our office works with US citizens to help them move to Spain from the US. We can take care of many tasks for you and make the transition smoother and more manageable.

Moving your belongings overseas

You will need to make sure that you move everything correctly and safely when moving your belongings overseas, especially if they are expensive items. You can hire a professional mover or transport company to ensure that your things arrive at your new home in Spain. We suggest searching online, to move your stuff to Spain should cost 5 euro per kilo max.

Choose to send your belongings by aeroplane, and it will take around seven days for them to arrive. There are multiple shipping companies that you can choose to use for this. Such as Eurosender, and Parcel ABC.

Sending your belongings with sea freight can take up to 30 days for it to arrive, and you can send as much as you like. This should cost around 0.50 euro per kilo. You can put your stuff on a container ship. Some of the top shipping companies for this include Eres Relocations, and IContainers.

Frequently asked questions

Is Spain a good place for Americans to move

Yes, Spain is excellent for Americans. The low cost of living and beautiful weather makes it an ideal destination.

Can I live in Spain without speaking Spanish?

Although most people would recommend that you learn some Spanish before moving to Spain from the USA, it is entirely possible to live there even if you do not know the language at first. Spaniards are patient and kind with tourists that are making an effort to speak their language. It is also possible for you to find work without speaking any Spanish, although it will be more challenging.

Can a United States citizen move to Spain?

Yes, they can. The process is slightly different in Spain, but it is still possible for US citizens to move there. We work with many people that have decided to do just that and live their dream life in this beautiful country full of history and culture. The easiest way to get a visa is to buy a property worth more than 500.000 euro’s in Spain; this will qualify you for the Golden Visa. Other great options are applying for a non-lucrative visa and work permit. However, these hold more requirements.

Can I move to Spain without a job?

Yes, it is possible to move to Spain without a job. However, you will need to prove that you can financially support yourself here.

How much money do you need to move to Spain from the USA?

When you are getting a work permit, you won’t need a lot of money. However, when you don’t, you will need to have approximately 25.000 dollars per year that you are staying.


There are many reasons you might want to move to Spain, whether it is for work, vacations, or just because you love the country and its people. We suggest you save money before moving to Spain and be sure to check with a Spanish immigration lawyer about any legal requirements that you might be missing. This can help you avoid future hardship or complications.

If you are moving to Spain, our company can help you with taxes and legal issues. Our English speaking accountants and lawyers are experienced in assisting people in moving from the USA to Spain. For example, we can assist you with starting a company, buying property, and Spanish taxes. Contact us today, and we will help you get started on your journey to living in Spain from the USA!