Spain is a vibrant, multi-cultural nation offering beautiful weather,
world-famous cuisine and a rich and diverse history. The cities of
Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia are modern, bustling urban centres that
effortlessly combine cutting-edge contemporary fashions with iconic
architecture. These cities are centres of commerce and culture, offering
everything from chic modern cafes and bars to wonderful museums and
medieval churches. Meanwhile, the small towns and sleepy villages like
Elche, Cuenca and Carmona provide sanctuary from the rush of modern
living and a slice of traditional Spanish culture. The Balearic Islands,
where you will find the popular holiday resorts of Tenerife, Ibiza and
Mallorca (to name a few), are ideal for young travellers looking for
sun, sea, and a non-stop nightlife. In short, whatever your reasons for
moving, Spain has something for everyone.
Planning Your Move
abroad is a big step, so it's important to make sure it's definitely
the right choice for you and your family. Here are some suggestions to
help prepare you for the decision.
before you buy. Renting an apartment for a few months in Spain can give
you invaluable experience of living there without making a big
commitment. You can also use your time in Spain to look for potential
employment options and acquaint yourself with the local language and
- Take part in a home exchange. These programs allow you
to swap homes for an agreed period of time with a Spanish family. Visit
these sites for information on how to sign up:
sure your chosen area is suited to your needs. Look for schools if you
have children, a hospital if you or a member of your family has specific
healthcare needs, good public transport links, and other social
amenities that will make life easier.
- If you are looking for a
job in Spain, make some trips before your final move to scope the job
market and secure a position. If you are planning on running your own
business, do some market research in your chosen area to make sure your
business will be welcome and profitable.
Your New Home
When you arrive in your new home in Spain you'll want to make sure that
everything is set up ready for you to move in straight away. The
complicated and often stressful process of buying a house is made all
the more difficult when you have to travel long distances to view the
property and are not always available to be on-site if problems should
occur. Not only this, but if your Spanish is not good, negotiating with
the Estate Agent may prove tricky. Here are some tips to help you get
the best start in your new home.
your chosen region out of season, preferably when the weather is bad.
Spanish weather is, more often than not, very clement, but if you still
love your new home when it's raining and cold then you'll love it all
- Once you have chosen a house, make sure the
electricity is connected. Ask to see the paperwork from Endesa
Sevillana, Spain's main electricity supplier, confirming your connection
before you agree to go through with the sale.
- Try to find an
independent solicitor who does not come recommended by your Estate Agent
- that way you can be sure of an objective opinion! Ensure your house
is legal and has a Certificate of First Habitation.
- Beware of
"Black Money". Some Estate Agents may ask you to pay a percentage of the
property price in cash upon arrival. This is illegal and complying may
have serious ramifications for you in the future.
- If possible,
maintain a UK base. A one-bedroom apartment in the UK can bring you
extra pocket money if you rent it out and, should your Spanish dream not
work out as you had hoped, you will have a safe home to go back to in
Once you have
chosen your new home, one of the first things to think about before
leaving the UK is how best to transport your belongings to Spain.
Advance Moves specialises in moves to and from Spain and offers removal
and storage services as well as van hire. Their website (www.advancemoves.com)
offers a quick quote service. Best Global Movers is a price comparison
site that offers quotes from six removal companies to bring you the best
price. Check out www.bestglobalmovers.com for a quote.
The Practical Details
excitement of moving abroad can easily eclipse the practical - and
often boring - details, but these are vital for a smooth transition to a
new country. Please check with the local authority of your region to
make sure you have fulfilled all of your legal obligations.
- Open a bank account in Spain.
an NIE number (Tax Identification Number, or Número de Identificación
de Extranjero) from your local Police Station in Spain.
- Make photocopies of all paperwork, including your passport, insurance documents and the paperwork for your new house.
on the Padron in your new town. This will allow the government to
provide the town with additional resources for new inhabitants.
should apply for Residencia, or proof of residency. You will need this
in order to organise your tax and insurance payments and to import your
- Pay your taxes. IBI tax is payable on your property. You will also have to pay a small amount of refuse tax.
Care. Before you leave the UK contact the Department of Works and
Pensions in Newcastle to apply for an E106, or if you are over
pensionable age, an E121. These will provide you with invaluable health
cover for two years. After this time, you can take out private health
cover in Spain, or pay into the Social Service system (although this can
- Make a Will. Spanish inheritance rules differ
greatly from UK rules. Make sure you understand how these work and that
your Will is updated accordingly.
- Importing your Car. If you are
taking your car with you to Spain, make sure your driving license is
up-to-date and that you have the paper counterpart if it is a photocard
licence. You will also need to take the registration papers for your
vehicle. It is essential to insure your vehicle, and it may be cheaper
and easier to do this with a Spanish insurer. Visit www.arpem.com
for information. The Spanish for insurance is seguros. If you have a
Residencia, you should be able to import your car and arrange to have a
Spanish licence and number plate.
- Of course at LHD Car Supermarket, we can take any hassle out of buying a new LHD car. Please contact us for further details.
Making the Most of your Move
the expense and stress of moving to Spain, make sure you get the best
out of your new home. Here are some suggestions to ensure you're not
missing out on the full Spanish experience.
the language. Spain has one official language - Spanish, or Castilian -
but several additional languages are spoken in various territories,
including Basque, Aranese, Catalan, and Galician. While most Spaniards,
particularly those living in the larger cities, speak good English, you
will find your stay much more rewarding and immersive if you learn
Spanish and, if applicable, the additional languages native to the
region. Also, being able to speak Spanish is generally a pre-requisite
for finding employment in Spain.
- Join an online ex-pat forum such as www.thisisspain.info.
There you can talk to people who have already made the move and get
invaluable advice on the benefits of living in Spain, as well as some of
the potential pitfalls.
- Tranquila - be patient. The Spanish
pace life is much slower and more relaxed than you'll be used to in the
UK. This is great if you're looking for a quiet retirement or a safer
and less stressful environment in which to raise your children. On the
other hand, however, be warned that public services can often take a
long time to come to fruition and you might be kept waiting longer than
you'd like for a plumber or electrician.
- Register as a local
resident, or empadronamiento, at the local town hall. This will grant
you access to the benefits of being a local resident, including cheaper
public transport fares, cheaper gym membership, and so on.
Following the Rules
laws differ subtly from UK ones so it is easy to accidentally get into
trouble. Similarly, if you do not understand the local customs and
etiquette you run the risk of offending your new neighbours. Here is a
quick list of things to watch out for.
alcohol limit for driving is lower in Spain than in the UK. In Spain,
the limit is 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, which is less than the
UK limit of 80 mg/100ml. For new drivers the limit is as low as
10mg/100ml of blood. If in doubt, don't drive!
- Like in the UK,
it is illegal in Spain to smoke in indoor public spaces, and it is also
illegal to smoke outside hospitals, schools and children's play parks.
Barcelona it is illegal to wear beachwear (bikini/swimming trunks) in
the street. As a general rule, it is good to cover up when you come off
- For security reasons, some public authorities do not
allow the burka or niqab to be worn inside their buildings. If you are
wearing one of these you may be asked to remove it before entering.
and traffic offenses are rigorously policed and Spain and subject to
on-the-spot fines. Always carry your driving license and vehicle
registration papers, and ensure your vehicle is insured. The speed
limits in Spain are 120 km/h on the motorway, 90-100 km/h on open road
and 50 km/h in built-up areas.
- It is compulsory to carry
high-visibility vests and warning triangles in your car at all times.
These must both be used in the event of a break down or accident.
- When invited to the home of your Spanish neighbours, it is customary to take a small, wrapped gift.
is acceptable and common to be late by 30 minutes in Southern Spain and
15 minutes in Northern Spain when arriving at a social event.
is a wonderful country but you might find you miss some of the more
unique quirks of living in the UK. Don't worry - there are a number of
online shops that deliver UK brand products to Spain, including The
British Corner Shop (www.britishcornershop.co.uk). If you prefer not to shop online, pay a visit to Spainsbury's (www.spainsburys.com),
a UK-brand store located in Lliria, Valencia. If you find yourself
craving a good cup of English tea, Living in London in Madrid, and the
Old English Tea Rooms in Tenerife boast an authentic English tearoom
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