Moving to Spain – The Must-Read Guide
17th January 2020

Moving to Spain – The Must-Read Guide

Every year, thousands of Brits take a leap of faith and end up moving to Spain, the fantastic Mediterranean powerhouse.

In line with past figures, 2017-18 saw 37% of Brits relocating to the Eu, relocate to Spain. Why wouldn’t you want to relocate here? Sun, sea and sand alone should be enough to convince you.

If you’ve already made your mind up, then this article will provide you with some valuable information on moving.

Either way, buying property, finding a job and become a resident all require a little bit of groundwork, which we’ve gone ahead and done for you.

Here is the must-read guide on moving to Spain this year:

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Why Move To Spain

The HSBC Explore Expat Survey places Spain in 4th place for the best country to live in. In comparison, the UK comes in at 27th.

This is for many reasons, from ‘quality of life’ to ‘making friends’. Spain tops the UK in many ways, offering a more balanced life where everyone takes the day as it comes.


The healthcare system in Spain is classed as the 8th best in the world, by the Healthcare Access and Quality Index (HAQ).

On top of this, Spain is the global leader in organ donation and carries out more organ transplants per capita than any other nation in the world.

Similar to the UK, Spain has both public and private healthcare. Public healthcare is free to those who contribute to the Spanish social security system. You’ll be given a registration card with your social security number.

This card will allow you access to the publicly funded healthcare system. Sometimes a small fee will need to be paid to cover some costs for your procedures.

On top of this, 15% of Spanish citizens have private health insurance. This is becoming increasingly more important as it can be either a supplement to public healthcare or an alternative.

safety educationSafety

SafeAround gives Spain a safety rating of 82.8 out of 100. This puts it as the 18th safest country in the world.

This may seem far down the list, but when you compare it to the UK, placed in 35th place, you realise just how safe Spain is.

The highest risk of crime is from pickpocketing and scams. These are heavily prevalent due to the large amount of tourists within the country.

While there have been no recent terrorist incidents in Spain, the terrorism risk is medium due to other European countries being targeted.

Overall, Spain is an incredibly safe country where you relax and live your best life. Just watch out for potential scams and pickpocketing.

Social Life

Spanish people are open and friendly and love to socialise. If you believe this to be yourself as well, then you’ll have a whale of a time in Spain.

Even if you’re not very open to new people, the Spanish are, meaning it’ll be straightforward for you to make new friends here.

You can expect to be welcomed into your new Spanish home by your neighbours, feeling a part of the country from day one.

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Work/Life Balance

The HSBC Expat Explorer Survey of 2019 puts Spain as the 3rd best country in the world for work/life balance.

Spain has 14 public holidays every year; however, 2 of these depend on the municipality. Alongside this, employees in Spain are entitled to an average of 30 calendar days of paid holiday.

This means that Spain has roughly 11 more days worth of holiday each year than the UK (assuming you have 25 days of holiday with your employer in the UK).

This work/life balance is considered far greater than the UK, and the working day normally takes into account ‘siestas’. Therefore, a working day is generally from 8:30am/9am to 1:30pm, then from 4:30om to 8:30pm.

Siestas are declining in major cities in Spain, but they are still considered a key part of the day by many.

Year-Round Sunshine

Spain is a rather large country, however the majority of the country sees sun throughout the year.

The northern coastal regions experience an average temperature of 14oC throughout the year, creating a cool but humid environment.

The southern coastal regions see far more warmth throughout the year, with temperatures staying in the 20s from May till October, sometimes even later.

Beautiful Property

Property in Spain varies depending on location, type and cost.

But all in all, the property over is cheaper, better located and plenty will have character. Here in Spain, you likely won’t find rows upon rows of the same building unless you are looking at newbuilds.

From coastal properties overlooking the ebb and flow of the sea to the mountainous villas looming over valleys and locked lakes; the choice of property is endless in this Sun blessed country.

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Quality Of Life

The quality of life in Spain is considered to be much higher than that of the UK.

Not only is property more affordable, the cost of living, in general, is much lower. Numbeo reveals that the UK is more expensive in almost every aspect, from consumer prices to restaurant prices; by at least 20%!

Alongside this, those who suffer from bad backs, arthritis and similar common issues will find that the temperature in Spain will ease up plenty of the pains associated with such muscle stiffness.

Family Oriented

Spanish families put a high value of relationships with their family. They understand the importance of strong community bonds, and this is one of the reasons people make an effort to get to know newcomers.

Children are given responsibility from a young age, preparing them for their later life. Families often end up living close by and meet up on a regular basis.

Grandparents in Spain typically play an essential role in raising their grandchildren, taking stress off of the parents when they need to work and the like.

Paella with seafood on wooden table

The Mediterranean Diet

Oh, you like food? Get moving to Spain already!

If you’ve never eaten any form of Spanish food, you’re missing out on life. Head to your closest tapas bar right now and order everything on the menu.

The food will be amazing. This is the standard for most restaurants and food in Spain, with access to fresher vegetables and fruits, everything tastes that little bit better over here.

On top of this, everything is nowhere near as expensive. In some places, you can get a kilo of grapes for a couple of euros, maybe not even that!

From Gazpacho and Seafood Paella to Tortilla Espanola and Patatas Bravas, your taste buds will go on a journey they will never want to return from.

Rich History

Spain’s history forms the foundation of everything you see here today.

They owned the first global empire in the history of the world. In the 16th century, Spain and Portugal were the pioneers of European global exploration.

You can see the effect Spain has had on civilisations throughout the world, from Mexico to the Philippines.

If you were looking for incredible history, and endless UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the Santiago de Compostela, book a flight, call a removals company and start your new life here.

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What You Need To Bring

There will be plenty of bits to bring with you from home; however, the following are probably the most important things you’ll need for the foreseeable future:

Adventure concept. Sunglasses and passports on map


Needless to say, you won’t even be able to leave the airport without one of these!

Usually, your passport will have to be valid for a minimum of 6 months before you leave the UK. This is for multiple reasons; however, if it were to run out while you lived in Spain, it would be a slightly more complicated process obtaining a UK passport in Spain.

Power Adapters

An obvious addition to any traveller.

The last thing you want is to head to another country and have to pay an extortionate amount for a single travel adapter, without which none of your electronics would function.

Living in the electronic age sure has its downsides, huh?

A selection of various colorful spices on a wooden table in bowls

Your Favourite Spices

A fact not many people consider before moving country.

The ability to make dishes from all over the world is now at our fingertips, something which wasn’t possible decades ago. But with this, comes a cupboard filled with exotic spices ranging from Saffron and Anardana to Cinnamon Sticks and Italian Herbs Blend.

You’ll be surprised to know, that not all of these spices are easily accessible in countries such as Spain.

Moving to Spain will no longer be boxes of clothes and family ornaments, but endless boxes of herbs and spices.

Anything You Wear In The UK Will Be Fine For Spain

Spain is known for being hotter than the UK in almost every season there is.

This is because it is true. However, depending on where you are moving, the north and south of Spain offer very different climates.

As mentioned earlier in this article, the north is cooler and humid whilst the south is hotter and humid. You’ll likely need to buy more shorts and t-shirts, but the majority of your winter clothing should be perfect for anything Spain can throw at you in those ‘winter’ months.

What You Need To Know

Before you set off on your new adventure, there are a few things to be aware of first.

First and foremost, make sure you check the current travel advice to see the events currently occurring in the country and whether it is a good time to go or not.

After this, there are a few things you should be aware of before travelling to Spain:

Spanish Housing Market

If you are looking to rent when moving to Spain, then your best chance of securing a home will be through local estate agents.

Make sure you’re aware of the average rental prices in the area and have a rough idea of what you are looking for.

If you can’t speak Spanish, you may be able to get away with it depending on the area. If the estate agents don’t speak English, then it may be best to communicate via e-mail and start taking Spanish lessons.

One of the main reasons many move here is for cheap property. While renting may seem like a good idea, the housing market was struck by the global financial crisis, meaning there are ample low-priced properties available on the market.

The majority of expats look towards purchasing a property, as it will often be cheaper (in the long run) than renting, and you can get a lot for your money over here.

Ethnicity People Imagination Job Search Opportunity Concept

There are plenty of websites you can use to find a job in Spain (if you haven’t obtained one already), here are a few:

If you can’t speak any Spanish apart from ‘Me das otra cerveza, por favor?’, it may best if you aimed to live nearby or in a main city in Spain such as Barcelona or Madrid. This is because they are known to offer English speaking jobs here.

The most significant difference when working in Spain is the Siesta period of the day. Your day will, most likely, no longer be a straight 9 till 5, but instead split up into two sections of the day.

A nap in the hottest part of the day? Sounds like heaven to me.

Opening A Spanish Bank

If you plan on living in Spain for the foreseeable future, then the bank account to go for would be the resident bank account type. They are more flexible than non-resident bank accounts and offer more perks.

If you’re only planning on staying for a couple of years of so, then go for the non-resident bank account, as they are easier to open.

Opening a bank as a non-resident, you will need:

  • Your valid passport
  • A document to prove your address
  • A document to prove your employment status

Opening a bank as a resident, you will need:

  • Your valid passport
  • A document to prove your Spanish address
  • Your Spanish NIE number (this will be covered later)
  • A document to prove your employment status

Nowadays, you can apply for bank accounts online as well as in person. If you’re looking for a detailed article on the banks available in Spain and there use, visit TransferWise.

Calculating numbers for income tax return with pen and calculator

Spanish Tax

Spain utilises a progressive tax system ranging from 19% tax to 45%. It is made up of two parts, a national tax and a regional tax.

You are a tax resident in Spain if you:

  • Spend more than 183 calendar days in Spain in a single year
  • Your primary employment is in Spain
  • Your main interests live in Spain.

Tax in Spain is very complicated. With the rules changing every year, it can be hard to keep on top of all the new requirements, especially if you are self-employed.

Another important fact is that the Spanish tax year runs from January to December.

Should you be looking for further detailed analysis of the tax system, head over to Experts for Expats.

Driving Here

The UK Driving Licence is accepted in Spain, however this will likely change come 31st January.

Currently, the law states you may have this licence for either two years, or before you commit a traffic offence in Spain, whichever comes first. After this, you will be obligated to exchange your current driving licence for a Spanish one.

Moving to Spain and exchanging your driving licence means a visit to the Provincial Traffic Headquarters. You will require a long list of documents that can found on their website.

When driving in Spain, you will notice they drive on the right side of the road. This may take some time to get used to.

On top of this, they work in km/h, and the motorways are often void of traffic as they contain too many toll booths, meaning they can rack up a small fortune from yourself alone if you aren’t careful.


Want to Know Who To Tell Before You Leave? Make Sure to Read:
The Moving Abroad Checklist – Everything You Need To Know


Moving To Spain

Now that you’ve read the important things to know section, it’s time to figure out how to get you moving to Spain as soon as possible.

This will all depend on what you are bringing, some things (pets for example) may require a little more thought than others (such as clothes).

Loaded Removals TruckCost Of Moving

Depending on the size of the house you are moving to and from, and where you are moving to and from, the cost of moving can change dramatically.

For example, a 3-bedroom house will generally cost between £3000 and £5000, while a 5-bedroom house could cost between £4000 and £7500.

Next, you could be moving from Portsmouth to Santander, or you could be moving from Manchester to Valencia. Bear in mind that the distance you are moving will affect the time it takes to arrive and the overall cost.

Make sure to do your research and find an excellent European removals company that will provide you with the best price.

Bringing Pets To Spain

Pets are more than welcome here in Spain. As with crossing any borders, your pets will need to be:

  • Microchipped
  • Vaccinations
  • Pet Passport
  • Vaccinated against rabies specifically

When you’re travelling with them, they can either fly on-board with you, but they have to stay in their crate the entire time.

Otherwise, they can be put in cargo storage with the rest of your bags or be classed as live animal shipment.

Looking To Take Your Cat With You? Make Sure to Read:
Moving House With A Cat – A Comprehensive Guide

Driving into the Sunset. Romantic Young Couple Enjoying Sunset Drive in Classic Vintage Sports Car

Car Transport To Spain

Taking your car with you abroad is a typical move nowadays. There are a couple of different ways of going about moving your car abroad.

The first is to get it shipped in a cargo container. The majority of cars will fit in a 20ft container costing around £1000. Add this to the quarantine checks in Spain and you will have forked out over £3000.

The more popular way is to drive your car to Spain. This is more time consuming, but you save much money in the process, and you also get to experience parts of Europe in a way many dream, through a road trip!

Opened personal organizer with a to do list.

What You Need To Do

There are things to bring, things to sort out and plenty of bits to be getting on with. But when you arrive in Spain, what are the first things you should be doing?

What Does Brexit Mean For Moving To Spain

Moving to Spain after Brexit is well within the realm of possibility. It will just require you to jump through a few extra hoops is all.

The Spanish government may require documents proving you have an income above a specific value and other such documents.

Do I Need A VISA?

You will not need a VISA after Brexit if you stay for no longer than 180 days. Upon arrival, you must register as a Spanish resident if you plan to stay in Spain for longer than three months.


Register At The Oficina De Extranjeros

This is the place you will register your residency in Spain. This is the immigration office and you must book an appointment before going here.

When you book online, you will need to select the province you live in and follow the instructions to confirm an appointment time.

When you attend the appointment, make sure to bring the required supporting documents.

You will then be issued a credit-card-sized certificate. The certificate will contain your name, address, nationality, NIE number and the date you registered.

Your NIE number is incredibly important as this is required to pay tax, of which you can be fined for not doing.

An NIE is a tax number for foreigners and mandatory to open a bank or signing utility contracts. If you are renting, then it is common for the landlord to request your NIE number and proof of sufficient payment such as a payslip from previous months.

Get Social Security Number

After you have applied for your residence VISA, and you have entered Spain, you then have one month to obtain a social security number. You will not need a work permit even after Brexit.

You can obtain your social security number from your local Oficina de Seguridad Social (Social Security Office). All cities and the majority of towns will have one of these offices, and you can find the closest one to you by using the SeguridadSocial website.

The social security number will give you access to the healthcare system, and it is a necessity to allow you to work and live within Spain.

Once you have obtained your NIE and your social security number you are ready to begin working and living stress-free in Spain.

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What Not To Do

All the above information will aid you in what to do in Spain, and how to make sure you avoid common pitfalls and mistakes that can be costly or time-consuming.

Below, you’ll find a bit of information about what not to do when you’re living in Spain. These may help you out in ways you didn’t realise:

Beach During Tourist Season

It’s probably something you’ve thought about. Spain is known for its beautiful beaches, people from around the world flock here.

Make sure, at all costs, you avoid going to the popular beaches in July and August time. A large portion of the Spanish population, as well as thousands of tourists, will control these beaches during these months.

On top of that, it’ll be very difficult to get a table reservation at any restaurant due to how busy it will be everywhere. Easiest thing to do? Go to a smaller town or beach that isn’t well known of during these months.

August Is A Month For Doing Nothing

Having mentioned the tourists during the time of summer holidays, August isn’t a well known month for getting things done.

Whether that be renovations, house buying, doctor appointments or anything of the sort; the likelihood is you won’t get much done so sit back and relax this month.

There Are Plenty Of Languages, They Aren’t Dialects

Many people around the world refer to Catalan and Valenciano as dialects of Spanish. This is, in fact, wrong. They are separate languages from Spanish and are the official language / co-official language of some regions in Spain.

Don’t Go For Lunch Between 2pm and 5pm

You should know that siesta is a crucial time in Spain by now.

It’s likely that many restaurants, bars and cafés will be closed during this time. So if you’re hungry, the last thing you want to do is stroll about your local streets looking a place to eat.

The likelihood is that it won’t be open, so make sure you have lots of food stocked up at your home for these hours.

Good Move Branded TruckReady To Start Moving To Spain?

GoodMove are here to help. We have over 35 years’ experience handling removals throughout the UK and Europe.

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To find our how GoodMove’s removals service can work for you don’t hesitate to contact us on the number listed above or use the quick quote form.