Moving to Spain. Really? The HONEST Truth from Real People (Expats) Living in Spain..

So many websites about moving to Spain are dry, boring and too factual.

The more you read, the more you realise they are trying to portray moving and living in Spain in 2020 as some sort of paradise where life is completely perfect (most likely because they are trying to earn a commission from selling you a property in Spain).

Well in many ways Spain IS a paradise but it does also host a number of criminals, parasites and downright low-life’s.

You just have to be careful! Life’s problems do not instantly disappear the moment you land in Alicante (Costa Blanca), Malaga (Costa del Sol), Madrid or Barcelona.

beach in SpainAs well as my story of why I moved to Spain, below you will find plenty of other personal tales both positive and negative.

These are REAL stories from REAL people who have already moved and relocated to Spain and they will help you to make up your own mind whether a move to Spain is right for you. We also have real expats telling you where they think the best places to live in Spain are.

We would also love you to write your own story and have it posted here for the benefit of others who are thinking of living in spain. Just email it to us and we will publish it.

It is natural to have doubts and to think if you really should move to Spain. It is a big decision, especially if you have young children. Perhaps you should read our article on international schools or find out more about the Spanish school system.

If you are a British citizen the decision has now been made even harder by Brexit. Obviously you have to consider what effects will Brexit have on you if you move to Spain. Indeed we have received many questions such as: Will I be able to move to Spain to live after Brexit?

So why do so many people want move to Spain?

Spain offers a great lifestyle and climate and if you are retired and get a pension then we certainly can recommend moving to Spain. However the younger you are the more uncertain the possible move to Spain. Much depends on your career and job prospects, your personal skills, character and ability to speak Spanish. The decision to relocate is yours alone.

We have all sorts of useful advice and tips for people moving to Spain such as removals advice, schools in Spain, getting a job and finding work in Spain.

We also have practical advice on where to get started with the basic services you will need to set up such as tax advice, legal advice, utilities such as electricity and setting up your telephone and Internet, making friends, banking, healthcare, compare insurance, post, registering as a resident, learning Spanish, social security and benefits advice, advice on property in Spain, where best to move to in Spain – and lots and lots more!!!

We aim to make settling in and living in Spain, as easy as it can possibly be – there will always be teething problems but hopefully not anything too drastic.

I know many people are asking us – should we move to Spain now? Obviously economic times are bad but many people successfully live and work in Spain so clearly it is possible – just harder than it was before when everybody seemed to be moving out there in the period from 2004 to 2008.

spain-beachOur expat interviews will also help you in deciding many common questions we get such as:

  • Which is the best coast in Spain to live in?
  • Where are the best jobs in Spain?
  • How to meet other expats living in Spain?
  • What is it like to live in Spain?
  • Where should I live in Spain?
  • How do expats move money back to the United Kingdom?
  • What do English people miss in Spain?
  • What is Spain like for entrepreneurs?
  • Is the Costa del Sol really full of criminals?
  • Please can you give me moving to Spain advice?

Here is one answer from Colette:

Where Do You Live in Spain?

Costa Blanca south

Why do you like/dislike it?

Too many English.

“It is almost impossible  to integrate with Spanish people in this area. I speak Spanish to A level standard and hoped to improve but it seems only English is spoken here! I assumed that the Spanish people who work in shops, hospitality industry would prefer to speak in their language but no, I speak Spanish, they answer in Spanish. The British people here are often quite dodgy. I have a few close friends but in the main they are rather catty, love drama and arguments. The houses usually have no proper insulation and can be freezing in January and February even with heating. The wine is cheap, I hear tobacco is too. Food is about the same price as the uk. The furniture is dearer. I recently bought a nest of 3 glass tables for 340€, you can buy similar in Argos for £50. There are some lovely places to visit and if you drive inland you feel you are in Spain and not Costa del Yorkshire. Think carefully before moving to the Costas.”



Expatriate Interviews – Brits Now Living in Spain

We profile Jan who runs the La Marina forum and who runs a guesthouse in Spain. We find out why she chose to move to La Marina, Costa Blanca.

The real story and diary from Steve and Judith as they buy a bed and breakfast accommodation business in rural Spain – follow their progress…

Here we have some advice and tips from expats living in Spain.

Peter Lavelle works from Pure FX and has moved to Madrid, read his experiences of moving to Spain.

If you are thinking of moving to Estepona, then Celeste Alonso of The Property Agent has the inside story.

Reader article from Jasmine in Marbella who tells us she loves Spain and why.

If you are thinking of moving to Marbella, then you must read our interview by El Chorrito Rural Real Estate.

If you are considering moving to Benalmádena, then you HAVE TO read our expat interview with Daniel Martinez of Property Benalmadena.

Article submitted by Kate who decided to move back to England from Spain with the things she liked and disliked about Spain and a follow-up interview to see how she is adapting back in the UK.

Interview with Lee Hartopp of CB Property Brokers who helps people buy businesses on the Costa Blanca as well as helping people sell their business on the Costa Blanca.

We talk to Val Parker who moved to Spain, principally about her work with the Costa Blanca Samaritans and the issues people face in Spain.

Expat interview with Julie Colcutt of Alta Villas which looks at her move to the town of Javea on Spain’s Costa Blanca coast.

Following on from the previous interview, we find out how Julie is getting on with life in Javea, two years on from our original interview.

Many retirees choose to retire to Spain mainly due to the excellent climate but before you move, do consider these subjects as covered in our article on the best places to retire to in Spain.

We examine why moving and relocating to Spain goes wrong for most people. We list the reasons most people fail to settle in Spain and end up moving back to their home country.

If you have ever thought about moving to Spain and starting a bed and breakfast (B&B) then read this interview with expatriate Neil McLeland who runs a bed and breakfast in Spain.

Tips and advice including things I learned the hard way about moving to Spain from expatriate Barry Ibbotson who lives at the Alenda golf course in Monforte del Cid, about 20 km north west of Alicante.

Expat Nick Anders has grown to hate living in Spain. This article is certainly a bit strong and we can’t agree with everything he says but it does at least point out some of the downsides and disadvantages to living in Spain. This article also covers some positive suggestions if you are asking yourself where should I move to in Spain?

This article on why expats struggle in Spain is seriously priceless. It is the brutal and honest truth from Steve Hall, an expert on helping people adjust to their new life in Spain. Is a move to Spain the right thing for you? This article shows you what you will need to succeed.

Expats Beryl Allen and her husband Len initially bought a holiday home in the town of Moraira on the Costa Blanca in Spain and then subsequently they moved permanently to Moraira.

Expats Shirley Crago and her husband Len initially searched much of Spain looking to buy a holiday home with a view to eventually moving to Spain permanently. Shirley shares their story of their move to Ontinyent in Spain.

Laetitia is 60 and she moved to the Albaida Valley and lives in the campo close to a village of around 2,500 souls, roughly 30 minutes driving inland from Gandia (on Spain’s Costa Azahar).

If you are thinking of moving to Benidorm, then you HAVE TO read our expat interview with Maria Marchenko of Mediterranean Properties.

Part one of the interview with Nick Snelling, a larger than life character who lives with his wife and two children in the mountains near Valencia. Nick is an author and writer who has written three books about Spain.

Part two of the interview with Spanish property expert Nick Snelling covering the Spanish property market, the credit crunch in Spain and the state of the Spanish economy – interview with Nick Snelling part two.

In this latest Spanish expat interview I talk to Paul & Karen about their new business venture in Spain, running a florist shop, Cream and Browns Florist, located in Javea’s Port on the Costa Blanca coast of Spain.

What is it like to live abroad in Spain as a single woman? We talk to expatriate Jane Wilson to find out about her move to Spain. Jane moved to Spain six years ago with her 12 year-old son when she was 50.

Find out all about meeting people in Spain and what it is like being single in Spain as we interview Chris Hawkins, an expat who runs a very successful online Spanish dating website. We also find out about relationships in Spain and why so many people end up getting divorced in Spain.

In another of our great series of expat interviews we talk to dynamic entrepreneur Steve Forber, who started his business in the Playa Flamenca area of Spain.

Opening a shop/retail outlet in Spain – A great interview with Karl, a young entrepreneur in his 20’s who runs his own business in Spain. Many people moving to Spain will have ideas of retailing unique items to sell by opening a shop. With large expat populations there are certainly many products from ‘home’ that people miss and wish to buy in Spain.

Here is an explanation and opinion about crime in Spain:

Moving to Spain from the UK: A Simple Guide 

Did you know that Spain is ranked the second most popular destination in the world for British expats? According to official data, around 370,000 British expats are currently living permanently in Spain, excluding temporary stays in holiday homes or tourist rentals. Even Brexit has had no impact on this steady growth of British population in Spain, causing a notable 10% surge as Britons make their Spanish residency official. 

It is no surprise why these figures continue to grow. According to Maria Soledad Sala, a Tejada Solicitors specialized immigration lawyer, the main attractions for British expats to move to Spain include:

  • Good weather 
  • Enriched Culture 
  • Quality of food and wine 
  • International schools 
  • Excellent communications 
  • Great healthcare system 
  • Low cost of living 

In her experience, the most popular areas to reside are found on the Costa del Sol; Marbella, Malaga, Mija, Nerja and Fuengirola amongst many others. 

If you, like thousands of others, are interested in residing permanently in Spain from the UK, the following guide is perfect in covering the bases for everything you need to know for your exciting move. 

Table of Contents:

  1. The necessities checklist
  2. Buying a property in Spain 
  3. Renting a property in Spain 
  4. Post-Brexit: what will change? 

THE NECESSITIES CHECKLIST

This checklist highlights all of the steps that are absolutely necessary in order to move to Spain, regardless of whether it is for pleasure or otherwise. There are several steps which must be taken either before or at the very beginning of your arrival in Spain. These make up the initial and transitional phase of your move to Spain, during which you are subject to legal and tax obligations in both the UK and Spain, as an official British citizen. This can be tricky, and so it is often recommended to seek professional advice to aid you. 

The necessities checklist has been specially devised by the Tejada Solicitors team to help you complete these necessary steps in order to make your move to Spain as smooth as possible. 

  • Your NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjería) – Your NIE is the Spanish identification for foreigners. It is recommended that this should be completed before you travel to Spain to ensure your process is as easy as possible. In order to register for an NIE, you must:
    1. Download the application form EX-15 
    2. Fill out the form 
    3. Submit it through your nearest Spanish consulate 

If you are unable to apply beforehand, you can also apply for it when you are in Spain, where it is processed through your immigration office or police station. 

  • Civil residence – Once you have applied for an NIE, you must also apply for civil residency in Spain. These are two separate processes and so you must ensure both are completed. You must apply for tax residency within the first 3 months of your arrival in Spain, in order to be considered a legal resident. You can apply for your Spanish residency at your immigration office or police station. Once you have been approved of this, you must visit the Foreigner’s Office or Police Station nearest to your place of residence in order to obtain your TIE (Tarjeta de Identificación de Extranjero) to accredit your status as a resident in Spain. 

 

  • Tax residence – As you will be residing permanently in Spain, you will need to pay your tax as a Spanish tax resident – this is essential in order to obtain your TIE. Article 9 of the Personal Tax Income Law states that if an individual resides in Spain territory for more than 183 days, or whose primary financial interests are located in Spain, they must become a tax resident in Spain. In order to do this, you must ensure that you comply with the following tax obligations: 
      1. Personal Income Tax (IRPF) – Model 100: Your worldwide income will be taxed in Spain. In order to avoid double taxation, you must ensure that a double- taxation agreement is signed between Spain and your country of origin. 
  • Declaration of Assets – Form 720: All individuals and legal entities must complete a 720 form in order to declare overseas assets outside of Spain that exceed €50,000. This is needed in order to ensure you are not accused of tax evasion. 

 

  • Informing the British healthcare system – When temporarily visiting Spain, your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will cover your healthcare. However, when choosing to permanently move to Spain, you are no longer entitled to UK medical treatment. You must inform your GP practise of your move so that you can be removed from the NHS register. However, in becoming a resident in Spain, you will be able to access the free healthcare system like any other Spanish citizen, as long as you meet the following requirements:
    1. If you are a pensioner and receive a pension from your country of origin (State or Government Pension), you will be able to access Spanish healthcare by submitting the S-1 Form issued by your country of origin
    2. If you are either self-employed or employed, you and your family members are entitled to the free public healthcare offered by Spain
    3. If you do not apply to any of the above, you can apply to join the Convenio Especial – a monthly-fee scheme which gives you access to the Spanish health system (other rules apply), or you can take out private health insurance 
  • Ensure validity of your passport and driving licence – When applying for the more specific legalities, it is often easy to forget the most basic ones. There are many reasons to ensure both your passport and driving licence are valid (some more obvious than others!), including whether you want to continue to use your same car in Spain. For this specific reason, you must apply for a Spanish driving licence, which can often take up to 6 months. Once you have received your census certificate (certificado de empadronamiento), it is highly recommended you then complete this procedure as soon as possible. 


  • Register your new Spanish address – Once you have arrived in Spain, and you have secured a Spanish property, we recommend that you immediately go to your local Town Hall Office to notify of your new address. This process is known as the ‘padrón’ – once registered to this, you start to earn certain rights in Spain, even if you haven’t yet received full Spanish nationality. 


  • Set up a bank account – Depending on the bank you choose, the documentation required to open a Spanish bank account will vary. However, the following are the basic documents that are required: 
  • Passport 
  • Personal and financial information; P60, Personal Income Tax or pension certificate
    1. Your Spanish NIE number

 

BUYING A PROPERTY IN SPAIN 

Buying your new home in Spain is inarguably one of the most important and exciting steps in achieving permanent residence in Spain. Because of this, we aim to ensure that this step is as efficient and as smooth as possible, by establishing regular communication between you and our Law Firm. 

Our team of experts in property conveyancing will advise you from the very beginning of the procedure, ensuring that we cover every aspect of the conveyancing process. Our team and solicitors will cover all relevant paperwork and safeguard your interests in the best possible way. Once the paperwork and process has been reviewed, your contract will be signed, ready for completion.

Our Tax advisor will notify you of all the relevant tax implications before and after completion.

RENTING A PROPERTY IN SPAIN

One of the main reasons that British residents are purchasing properties in Spain is the prospect that they can double up as an additional source of income by renting out for tourist purposes. 

If this is the case for you, our tax advisor will be able to study your property investment and advise on any tax implications before you officially purchase the property.

If you have decided that your Spanish property will be dedicated to tourist rental, it is extremely important that you register the property in the Andalusian Tourism Registry. Our team at Tejada Solicitors will be able to provide you with all of the relevant information required to complete this procedure. This is an extremely important step, and failure to register your property under the Tourism Registry department will result in very high penalties.

POST-BREXIT: WHAT WILL CHANGE? 

The departure of the UK from the EU will alter the procedure for UK residents to obtain Spanish citizenship, as they will be considered non-EU citizens. However, a Transition Agreement has been put in place, in which UK residents are able to obtain residency in Spain through the current process, up until December 31, 2020.

Post Brexit applications for residency in Spain will primarily impact the residence certificate that is issued by the authorities. If you registered your residency before July 6 2020 and have a green paper residence certificate, you do not have to take any other action, however, we do advise that UK citizens should renew their residency and obtain a new TIE certificate. However, if you are registering after this date, you must follow a procedure to obtain a TIE Certificate. You must carry out the following steps:

  1. Submit your residence application to the immigration office in the province where you live 
  2. Provide the following documents
    1. Application form EX20 
    2. Passport 
    3. Proof of residency in Spain before 31 December 2020 
    4. Documents proving you meet the EU residency requirements on income and healthcare 
    5. Present evidence that you have sufficient financial means to support yourself and your family in Spain

For information on the next steps of your TIE Certificate, visit the GOV website.

If you are moving to Spain from 1 January 2021, different immigration requirements will be required. These requirements are yet to be released. 

The current UK to Spanish healthcare procedure will continue up to the end of the transition period. 

Any other processes relating to your Spanish residency (for example, your Spanish driving licence), will be under the non-EU citizens rules once the transitional period has ended.

This simple, definitive guide has been provided by Tejada Solicitors in the hope that you will feel at ease with your next steps, allowing you to focus on other practical aspects of your big move, such as transportation and accommodation. 

If you require any further guidance on any of these topics, please do not hesitate to contact the Tejada Solicitors team. We will be more than happy to help.


 

Comments

  1. Karen Morrill says

    Hello, can anyone share their experience of getting a farm building legalised as a dwelling for human habitation in the Valor province. If you have any local legal adviser details you’d recommend and why that too would be helpful. Also if you know the key local government contacts, can you share that too. Many thanks
    KM

  2. B J Clark says

    We moved to Spain in 2002 we had both retired before the then retirement age and bought a villa 20 minutes inland from Malaga Costa Del Sol.We decided to open a bb in our 6 bedroom villa and we were very busy for several years before looking else where for something to occupy our minds and excersise our bodies.Although the weather is sublime it is very easy to become bored and lazy and turn to the dreaded drink.Fortunately we did not succumb because of our interests in helping to give food and shelter to the abandoned cats and dogs here. For over 16 years we have raised thousands of euros to help the animals and it has been extremely hard work but very rewarding and also heartbreaking but only a tip of the proverbial iceberg.Having watched tv programmes about buying in Spain and showing couples on their balcony drinking wine and watching the day evolve we realised how misleading this could be to some people.Life is the same but in a different country where just when you feel you are on top of all the beurocrasy another law or royal decree enters the already bogged down system.It has been a wonderful experience but now we have decided to relocate back to the U K.and all that lovely cold weather rain and the four seasons which we have missed believe me the sun is not the be all to life.So our 6 bedroom villa with pool is on the market (if you are interested and when it is sold we will bid farewell to Spain for a while.

  3. Hi, I’m little confused because I’m reading everywhere that in order to become a legal Spanish resident, you must live in the country for 5 consecutive years !!! But U.S. citizens can only stay legally in Spain for up to 3 months ! So what do I do with my legal status for the other 4 years and 9 months ? Lol

    • Jacky Chan says

      Haha man are you stupid or what? If you are visiting as a tourist obviously you can’t stay as long as you want. Same for foreigners visiting the US. You have to either study, get married or get a job to stay in Spain legally if you are not from the EU.

      • Alex Pineiro says

        Don’t be an ass. Calling people stupid because they don’t know soemthing, only speaks to your own. It’s called ignorance and all of humanity suffers from it. It is only a question of subject matter and degree, and that fundamental truth should be well understood and recognized by any human being of fair intelligence. Their are a great deal of things you are ignorant about too. Would like to be called stupid just for asking for help?

  4. grace sherepita says

    Hello,
    My husband and I are looking to move to spain soon, but i have tried and ask people what is what in spain but i have nothing back, soi would like to know should we move or stay, any help would be grateful , best regards Grace

  5. You say that 30% of expats move back within three years, that is not a majority as you claim and does not justify saying that relocating to Spain goes wrong for “most” people, as you do in a few places on your site. According to those odds it goes OK for 7 out of 10 people. I’d say that’s pretty good.

  6. Completely agree. The arrogance of the ignorants! God bless the brits. I hope one day they will stop flocking over spain, because, soon, they lll make it hell, like the do in the US, the UK and all countries they touch.

  7. Hello everyone,

    My name is Andor and I live with my wife and 8 months old baby boy in Granada. I need a job. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and Administration and certified Lean Six Sigma and Business Process Manager. I have 18 years of work experience as Accountant, HR and Payroll specialist and Credit Controller. I live in Granada but I’m willing to move.

    Please help if you know something/somebody.

    And yes, I already registered to
    Infojobs
    Trabajos
    Indeed
    Monster
    Jobomas
    Expatica
    Oficinaempleo
    Turijobs
    etc.

    Thank you.

    Andor
    +34 643 195 410
    andor.dns@gmail.com

  8. Hello, brand new to this site! I’m retired Army on Social Security and fly on US cargo planes to Rota every year. I’m a native Spanish speaker and now want to spend 6 months a year somewhere in Spain.

    I’m looking for step-by-step “how to” advice.

    TIA

    Mark Wise

  9. Claire Zollinger says

    Hello Can anybody help with best residential rentals for family of 6, I want to rent before I commit to buy. Any area that has all amenities and international schools, any help appreciated.

    Thanks Claire

  10. Thinking about moving there, have mainly IT (Computer/Network/Printer/Copier) Experience
    Are there these kind of jobs available, or would there be enough Business to Cater to Expats?

  11. Lori Addison-Simmons says

    Hi i would like advice on relocating your pets when living in Spain. I have 6 cats and a dog. They are all micro-chipped and will have their vaccinations up to date.
    Also do you have to pay for schools, healthcare, prescriptions, dentists, opticians.
    I would like to hear from other mums who have upsticks and moved with their children to Spain and tell me of their experiences and if its worth it. Its all or nothing for me as when i give my tenancy up with the council that will be it off to a new life.
    Cheers Lori xxx

  12. kimberley szlafke says

    I want to be a rep can anyone help!!!

  13. i would like to be a rep 🙂

  14. michael says

    we are desperate to move back………..always a but….i am a psv driver bus /coach and will be seeking similar position any ideas welcome on who to contact,have tried the obvious but welcome any suggestions…thanks

  15. Inglaterra en Casa says

    Hello,

    We are looking for British families living in La Marina Alta (alicante) to wrk this summer hosting a spanish students.

    If you know some familie interested, please contact us!

    Thanks!

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