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Moving To Spain

Viva espana

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

Moving 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.

  • Rent 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 customs.
  • 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:
  • Make 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.

  • Visit 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 year round.
  • 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 an emergency.

Moving Companies

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

The 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.
  • Obtain 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.
  • Register on the Padron in your new town. This will allow the government to provide the town with additional resources for new inhabitants.
  • You 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 car.
  • Pay your taxes. IBI tax is payable on your property. You will also have to pay a small amount of refuse tax.
  • Health 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 be expensive).
  • 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

After 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.

  • Learn 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

Spanish 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.

  • The 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.
  • In 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 the beach.
  • 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.
  • Speeding 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.
  • It 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.

Homesick?

Spain 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 experience.

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