Moving to Spain
- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Spain Guide (PDF)
Expats moving to Spain will find an attractive destination famous for its history, fashion, food, architecture, music and arts. The allure of this vibrant country is hard to ignore, and foreigners will find that there are exciting new experiences and encounters to enjoy no matter what their interests.
Spain is defined by its distinctive cultural core, with the individual characteristics of each of its 17 autonomous regions contributing to the country's unique cultural identity. That being said, Spain shares important cultural roots with other Western European countries and, as such, most expats should not have to make too many adjustments when moving.
The dominant language of the country is Spanish, but other local languages, such as Catalan and Basque are also commonly used. Expats are encouraged to learn as many of the local, region-specific languages as possible to ensure that they will be able to comfortably integrate into Spanish society.
Expats living in Spain are ideally placed to not only explore locally, but also to experience all the best that Western Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa have to offer. Within Spain, public transport is most efficient in its large cities, with buses being the first choice for much of the country's transit needs. The rail system is extensive, and cities like Madrid and Barcelona offer hundreds of flight and rail connections to nearby exotic destinations every day.
In recent years the employment environment has been improving steadily, and while salaries are still often lower than they are elsewhere in Europe, this is made up for by a lower cost of living. Expats relocating to Spain should do what they can to secure employment before they relocate. Those from outside the EU are likely to need a solid job offer in order to get a work permit.
The unhurried lifestyle and affordable beachside properties lure many expats to live as retirees on the coasts of Spain. Britons and Germans, in particular, have flocked to the country’s sunny shores to scoop up reasonably priced villas and haciendas for quite some time.
Although the country is renowned for its idyllic coast and sprawling countryside, the Spanish terrain is highly varied. Spain might be known for its favourable climate but the weather actually varies quite dramatically from one part to another. In fact, Spain is home to Europe’s only desert and its southernmost ski resort. Expats should therefore do a bit of research before making the move.
The Spanish are known for both their relaxed attitude to life and exuberant social personalities. Things take time in Spain so expats should follow the lead of the locals and try to enjoy the slower pace of life. Interpersonal connections are important in Spain so new arrivals should invest time building solid friendships. Expats who arrive in Spain with an open mind and a sense of adventure are sure to have a vibrant and fulfilling experience in their new home.