Moving to Spain – The Must-Read Guide
29th February 2024

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 becoming 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:

Why Move To Spain

Spanish Flag
Spain is a top pick for many expats. Image credit: Unsplash

William Russel, one of the top expat insurance providers, places Spain in the number 1 spot for the best country to live in as an expat!

They highlight that with so many Brits already living in the country, it is very easy to settle in and become accustomed to you new life here.

Factors including the ‘quality of life’ to ‘making friends’ all combine to make the country an excellent choice for expats.

Spain trumps the UK in many ways, offering a more balanced life where everyone takes the day as it comes.


Doctors Spain
Healthcare in Spain is considered very good. Image credit: Pixabay

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 important as it can be either a supplement to public healthcare or an alternative.


SafeAround gives Spain a safety rating of 83 out of 100.

This means it is towards the higher end of the global list, with similar scores to countries like Sout Korea and Sweden,

When you compare this to the UK’s score of 77 out of 100, you can get a real sense of 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

Row Boats in Madrid
Row Boats in Madrid. Image credit: Pexels

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.

Work/Life Balance

A global study of the countries with the best work/life balance conducted by Global employment experts Remote, puts Spain as the 2nd 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 in 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 residents!

Year-Round Sunshine

Mallorca Sunset
Mallorca Sunset. Image credit: Pixabay

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 untill October and 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.

In Spain, you likely won’t find rows upon rows of the same building unless you are looking at newbuild properties.

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.

Cost of Living in Spain

Cost of living Spain
Cost of living Spain. Image credit: Unsplash

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%!

One of the stand-out differences when it comes to cost of living is consumer prices, with prices being 30.6% higher in the UK compared to Spain.

There is also a huge difference when it comes to rent prices,  with the cost being 41.0% higher in the UK!

When it comes to basic utilities including water, electric and heating, residents in Spain pay an average of 128.5% less than those in the UK.

There are clearly some huge differences in the cost of living in Spain vs the UK.

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.

A Mediterranean Diet

Food in Spain
There is some wonderful food in Spain. Image credit: Pixabay

If you enjoy food and trying new cuisine, moving to Spain is an excellent choice!

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.

A 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.

What You Need To Bring

UK Passports
There are certain items you will need to bring with you to Spain. Image credit: Unsplash

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:


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 to obtain 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?

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:

The Spanish Housing Market

Homes in Spain
Homes in Spain. Image credit: Pexels

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.

Renting can be a great idea for those who want to experience the culture and feeling of an area before committing to buying.

However, 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.

Working in Spain

You may have a preconceived notion that most British expats living in Spain move there to retire, however, figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest that almost two-thirds of expats living in Spain are of working age!

Many young people move to the country to start a business or find work in one of the many beautiful beachside locations.

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 an excellent idea!

Opening A Spanish Bank

Banks in Spain
Banks in Spain. Image credit: Unsplash

You will need to make sure your finances are in order before making the move to Spain.

Opening an account as a non-Spanish resident is possible before you arrive in the country.

It is important to note that certificates of residency are required for any permanent residents of the country.

Once you have the certificate, you can request that your bank shift your account with the following documents:

Spain is home to several major banks including Santander, ING Direct, and Banc de Sabadell.

Keep in mind that you need to open a new Santander account in Spain, even if you bank with Santander in the UK!

Taxes and Pensions in Spain

If you are relocating to Spain and want to live off of your British pension, you should check your ability to access this, whilst also keeping in mind any fluctuations between the Pound and Euro.

To pay tax in Spain you will need to obtain an NIE number upon arrival.

This number is issued by the National Police of Spain and is a legal requirement for those working or planning to open a bank account in the country.

To receive your NIE you must go to the Comisaria General de Extranjeria, bringing the following documents with you:

  • Your passport, including a copy and photos
  • A completed EX-15 form
  • A document outlining why you need an NIE

The UK has a double taxation agreement with Spain.

This helps to ensure that you do not pay tax on the same income in both countries.

Be sure to enquire with the tax authorities about double taxation relief when making the move.

For those who have already moved to Spain, all existing double taxation arrangements for UK nationals remain unchanged.

As a Spanish resident, you will need to declare your global income to the Spanish authorities, no matter which country it came from.

Driving in Spain

Driving in Spain
Driving in Spain. Image credit: Pixabay

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.

Transporting Your Car 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, which can be rather costly!

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 of, through a road trip!

Bringing Pets To Spain

Bring your pets to Spain
Bring your pets to Spain. Image credit: Pexels

Pets are more than welcome here in Spain.

As with crossing any borders, when you bring pets to Spain from the UK they 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.

Understand Your Rights

As we all know, the United Kingdom is no longer a member of the European Union.

Before Brexit, British citizens enjoyed the right to travel, reside, and work anywhere within the European Union.

This made it extremely easy for British nationals to move to Spain, as there were no visa limits or maximum stay periods.

However, under post-Brexit legislation, British citizens are treated in much the same way as non-Europeans.

The laws currently limit UK passport holders to a maximum stay of three months in Spain.

Anyone who wants to stay for an extended period of time must officially register as a resident.

Non-residents who wish to work in Spain will nearly always require a visa or work permit to do so.

Register At The Oficina De Extranjeros

This is the place where you will register your residency in Spain.

This is the equivalent of 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 is mandatory to open a bank or sign 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 a 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.

Ready To Start Moving To Spain?

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