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Moving to Spain

Expats moving to Spain will find a country famous for its history, fashion, food, architecture, music and arts. The allure of this vibrant country is hard to ignore, and foreigners will be exposed to exciting new experiences and encounters 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. 

While the most widely spoken language of the country is Spanish, 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 accommodation 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 region 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.


Fast Facts

Population: About 46 million

Capital city: Madrid 

Other major cities: Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Zaragoza

Neighbouring countries: Spain shares borders with Portugal to the west and France to the north. To the south, across the Strait of Gibraltar is Morocco, while Algeria is to the southeast.

Geography: Spain's terrain is varied, ranging from sandy beaches to flat desert-like areas and high mountain ranges. Most of the country's borders are occupied by sea, with the Pyrenees Mountains forming a natural frontier with the rest of Europe. It also occupies a number of islands in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean.

Political system: Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy

Major religions: Catholicism. Spain is a secular state that guarantees freedom of religion.

Main languages: Spanish. There are several regional co-official languages such as Catalan and Basque. English is widely spoken and understood.

Money: The Euro (EUR), which is divided into 100 cents, is the official currency. ATMs are widely available and usually accept foreign cards. A Spanish tax identification number is needed to open a local bank account. 

Tipping: Most locals do not tip more than small change. Ten percent is considered generous and would be appreciated, but is not necessary.

Time: GMT +1 (GMT+2 from the end of March to the end of October)

Electricity: 230 volts, 50Hz. Standard European two-pin plugs used.

Internet domain: .es

International dialling code: +34. 

Emergency numbers: 112 (the European emergency number), 061 (health emergencies), 091 (police)

Transport and driving: Cars drive on the right. Roads are usually in good condition. Drivers are required to flash their lights before overtaking another vehicle.

Weather in Spain

Expats often imagine the weather in Spain to be marked by magnificent sunny skies, Mediterranean temperatures and cool ocean breezes. Though this certainly happens to be the case in parts of the country, Spain has its fair share of geographic diversity and, as a result, the temperature in Spain varies tremendously.

Most of the country does see hot, sunny summers, but winter weather behaviour changes depending on locale, and the central and Alpine areas can experience their fair share of cold temperatures and snowfall. Expats should pay careful attention to what patterns are associated with each region.

The Spanish east coast typically enjoys mild winters, abundant sunshine and rainfall only off-season. Spain's southern region, Andalusia, is considerably hotter and many expats will find the peak summer months of July and August supremely uncomfortable; hot winds from the nearby African deserts often make an appearance. The northern part of Spain experiences moderate summers and cold winters but is prone to a large amount of rainfall. Expats in this region should take care to properly prepare themselves for the rainfall in Spain. The Spanish mountain region is subject to harsh winds, cold winters and mild summers.

Overall, though, the climate in Spain is enjoyable, and expats won't find too much to complain about in the way of weather. Furthermore, there are lots of low-cost shopping opportunities for those who need to beef up their winter wardrobe or supplement the summer options in the closet.

Embassy contacts for Spain


Spanish Embassies

  • Spanish Embassy, Washington, United States: +1 202 452 0100

  • Spanish Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7235 5555

  • Spanish Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 747 2252

  • Spanish Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 2 6273 3555

  • Spanish Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 460 0123

  • Spanish Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 269 1640

  • Spanish Consulate, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 04 802 5665


Foreign Embassies in Spain

  • United States Embassy, Madrid: +34 91 587 2200

  • British Embassy, Madrid: +34 91 714 6400

  • Canadian Embassy, Madrid: +34 91 382 8400

  • Australian Embassy, Madrid: +34 91 353 6600

  • South African Embassy, Madrid: +34 91 436 3780

  • Irish Embassy, Madrid: +34 91 436 4093

  • New Zealand Embassy, Madrid: +34 91 523 0226

Public Holidays in Spain

 

2020

2021

New Year’s Day

1 January

1 January

Epiphany

6 January

6 January

Good Friday

10 April

2 April

Labour Day

1 May

1 May

Feast of the Assumption

15 August

15 August

National Holiday of Spain

12 October

12 October

All Saints' Day

1 November

1 November

Day of Spanish Constitution

6 December

6 December

Immaculate Conception

8 December

8 December

Christmas Day

25 December

25 December

Safety in Spain

Despite a recent rise in European terror attacks and petty crime, safety in Spain is not a major concern for expats. Petty theft is mainly an issue in the urban centres, and criminals are known to specifically target foreigners. Terrorism in Spain is also a concern; the country has witnessed terrorist attacks from both regional and international terrorist groups.


Crime in Spain

Passport theft is becoming more common since demand from potential illegal immigrants has fuelled the creation of a lucrative passport black market. A stolen passport should immediately be reported to an expat's local embassy and a new passport should be issued.

Pickpocketing is also rife in some crowded areas of Madrid and Barcelona, so expats should keep valuables locked securely away. They should also be wary if someone bumps into them, as it may be a potential thief searching for valuables.

Expats are advised to take basic security precautions while in Spain, like locking doors, being mindful of possessions in crowded tourist areas, and avoiding deserted or dark streets when walking alone at night.


Terrorism in Spain

Though the assumed al-Qaeda terrorist attack on one of Madrid’s train stations in 2004 and the 2017 terror attack in Barcelona likely remain fresh in many minds, terrorism bares little concern from locals and other residents of Spain.

On the domestic front, the Euskadi ta Askatasuna - Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) is a long-standing indigenous separatist organisation fighting for the independence of the Basque region. This organisation has used explosive attacks to support its pursuit of autonomy. Despite a declaration of a "definitive cessation of armed activities" in 2011, the group has not officially disbanded. The police, nevertheless, made key arrests in 2015 that have significantly weakened the ranks of the group.


Protests in Spain

Spain has witnessed numerous protests and strikes in recent years. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Spanish cities in protest over welfare cuts and unemployment, amongst other grievances.

Violence has erupted on numerous occasions and protesters have vandalised public and private property. When they have occurred, protests have severely affected service delivery and transport. Expats in Spain need to keep abreast of developments and should avoid protest areas.


Emergency numbers in Spain

  • General: 112

  • Medical: 061

  • Fire: 080

  • Police: 092

Working in Spain

Finding work in Spain can be very difficult as an expat, and those already working in Spain would do well to hold onto their jobs.

Although unemployment in Spain has improved steadily over recent years, it's still among the highest in the European Union (EU). The national government has even created financial incentives to encourage jobless foreigners already in the country to return home.

The country’s strict policies protecting workers rights also means that many stay in their positions long-term and turnover rates remain low – creating a limited amount of openings. This can certainly work to an expat’s advantage once they secure viable employment. 

Non-EU citizens need a work permit to be legally employed in Spain, while EU citizens and EEA citizens do not need a work permit.


Finding a job in Spain

Those lucky enough to secure employment prior to arrival will thankfully avoid the crunch of the job hunt, but many who arrive in Spain without a job offer will quickly discover that finding work can be more difficult than they anticipated.

The job prospect horizon will broaden tremendously for those with a good command of the Spanish language. If an expat happens to know German, there are even more opportunities to be filled – especially with real estate agencies, travel companies and tour operators.

Otherwise, English-speaking expats should strongly consider taking a course in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) so they can take advantage of the demand for teachers in private enterprises and language schools.

Overall, the tourism and construction sectors are Spain’s most important industries and are the best areas to look for employment.

The country has also historically attracted large interest from entrepreneurs looking to set up their own businesses. Anyone planning to migrate to Spain to do so should, however, hire a local gestor to help them negotiate the sticky bureaucracy spun from Spain’s web of rules and regulations.

Qualifications obtained in Europe and the UK are widely recognised. Salaries are generally less than in the UK and northern Europe, but the standard of living is higher and the cost of living is lower. Plus typical Spanish working hours include a two-hour break for lunch in the afternoon, although the traditional siesta is slowly being done away with in many Spanish cities in favour of sociable working hours.


Being self-employed in Spain

Given the poor state of the economy and lack of decent job opportunities, many expats have had to turn to self-employment to work in Spain – many finding success in the IT sector or in improvements and repairs.

The actual process of working as a self-employed person in Spain (known as an autonómo) is quite straightforward, but expats interested in doing so will need a financial consultant called an asesor to help them get established, handle their income tax returns and IVA (the Spanish equivalent of value-added tax). 

Anyone from another EU country can come to Spain and start work without any special requirements, but this is not the case for non-EU nationals, who will need a Cuenta Propia permit to legally do this kind of work. 

Being self-employed also legally requires contributions to the health and pension system, the cost of which increases with age. There is no sliding scale of contributions whereby someone pays more as they earn more. This is obviously a barrier if someone aims to set up a business and does not have much money behind them.

Earnings tend to be lower in Spain than elsewhere in Europe, and monthly costs are high from the get-go. Expats will also need to take into account that their asesor will charge them for their three-monthly IVA returns and a yearly tax return. Thus, expats planning on raking in the cash as a self-employed worker should think twice, since it is going to cost several thousand euros a year just to operate legally.

Expats can also choose to increase their monthly contribution payments to provide for unemployment and sickness benefits.

Doing Business in Spain

Expats will find that doing business in Spain – much like Spanish culture as a whole – is entrenched in tradition. It follows that it may take time and patience to establish a firm foothold in the Spanish business environment.

Nevertheless, Spain remains a relatively easy place in which to do business, as demonstrated in its ranking of 30 out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Survey for 2020. Factors for which Spain ranked well include trading across borders (1st), resolving insolvency (18th) and enforcing contracts (26th).


Fact facts

Business hours

Business hours are highly variable. Generally, offices open at 9am and close mid-evening, with two hours set aside for lunch in the early afternoon. However, this is slowly changing as the traditional siesta becomes a thing of the past.

Business language

Spanish is the main language of business, although some multinationals in the main cities may do business in both English and Spanish. 

Business dress

Business attire is usually formal, conservative and of high quality. Dark or linen suits with white shirts and silk ties for men, and modest dresses and tailored suits (including pantsuits) for ladies. Brand names and designer labels are noted approvingly.

Gifts

Gifts aren't expected but are appropriate after successful negotiations and at Christmas time. The recipient of a gift generally opens it in front of the giver. Gifts should be of high quality.

It is wise to check the gift-giving policy of a company as some corporations in Spain have particular protocols or forbid their employees from accepting gifts. 

Gender equality

Although men and women share equal rights, Spain is traditionally a male-dominated society. Only recently women have started to assume mid- to senior-level management positions in anything but family businesses.


Business culture in Spain

Spain's business culture is strongly rooted in tradition, and some business practices may seem old-fashioned to expats. Nevertheless, once they adjust to this, expats should find it relatively easy and pleasant to do business in Spain.

Greetings

While greeting someone with a kiss on each cheek is common in Spain, it may be best for expats to allow their Spanish counterparts to initiate this in the business setting, since some people may prefer to shake hands. It's important to note that, should an expat be greeting anybody in the traditional Spanish way, the cheeks of the other person are usually not directly kissed. Rather, people tend to touch cheeks and make a kissing sound. It is generally accepted that kisses take place on the right cheek first, and then the left.

When speaking Spanish in business circles, it's common to use the formal form 'usted' when addressing a superior. 

Business structure

Hierarchy is paramount to business in Spain. Spanish managers are autocrats of a sort, having the authority to make important decisions without consulting their employees or receiving input from their colleagues.

Those in mid- and lower-level positions should show the utmost respect for their seniors, and count on remaining quite separate from their superiors.

Expats coming from countries where personal initiative is expected and rewarded shouldn't put an end to this behaviour, but should nonetheless be wary of being perceived as undermining authority.

Furthermore, control is a central part of the Spanish business ethos. Locals prefer to avoid uncertainty, even at the cost of longer periods of deliberation and less frequent decision-making.

Keep in mind, however, that Spain's business culture is slowly evolving. Those of a younger generation may uphold slightly different ideals and subscribe to more egalitarian practices.

Making an impression

Strong emphasis is placed on personal pride, social status and character attributes. In many cases, these factors carry as much weight as an individual's technical excellence and professional experience. A successful businessperson will not only be well-dressed, dignified and honourable but will also be good company and entertaining.

Meetings

Face-to-face meetings in Spain form the foundation of business relationships. As such, expats should anticipate engaging on this level with their clients, rather than in writing or by telephone. Keep these interactions personal, but formal.

Attitude to foreigners

With increased unemployment and competition for jobs and business, there has been a certain amount of resentment towards employed foreigners from certain sections of Spanish society. That said, the majority of Spaniards aren't xenophobic and are courteous in their interactions with foreigners. 

Expats are far more likely to get a positive reception if they make an effort to speak at least some Spanish and display an openness to the Spanish way of doing things.


Dos and don'ts of business in Spain

  • Have business cards printed, with one side in English and one side in Spanish. Present cards Spanish side up, along with a handshake, eye contact and a warm greeting.

  • Don't fall for the mañana ('tomorrow') stereotype. While Southern Spain may canter at a calmer pace, in Northern Spain deadlines are adhered to and punctuality is expected.

  • Don't expect to start negotiating at the beginning of a meeting. The Spanish like to establish a formal, but personal, environment before engaging in business transactions. Similarly, when dining with associates, only speak business if invited to do so or if it has been established that the purpose of the meal is to discuss work.

  • Try and schedule appointments for mid-morning. Business hours vary in Spain and this is the time slot when people are most likely to be available.

  • Don't be surprised if you find your personal space compromised. Spaniards like to stand close, and moving away can be taken as offensive.

Visas for Spain

Expats will need to have the appropriate visa for Spain prior to their arrival. As Spain is a Schengen state a large number of foreign citizens don’t need a visa for short-term visits or business trips.


Visit and business visas for Spain

Citizens of the European Union (EU), the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and nationals belonging to one of the countries on the Spanish government's designated travel list are afforded visa-free entry and the right to a 90-day stay. It is simply necessary to have a passport that is valid for three months from the final date of travel and neither a visit visa nor a business visa is required.

This list includes Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the USA, but does not include India or South Africa, among others. Citizens of countries not appearing on the list must apply for a Schengen Visa to gain entry into Spain for tourist or business purposes.


Applying for a Schengen Visa for Spain

Those who secure a Schengen visa can travel in Spain for up to 90 days within a six-month period, from the date of entry.

Those who wish to apply for a Schengen visa will need to gather the required documents, complete a visa application form and submit their paperwork to the Spanish consulate or embassy in their home country before they travel. Processing times can vary, so expats should be sure to submit their application in due time before their departure date.

If applying for a Schengen visa to travel to Spain for business purposes, it is necessary to include a letter of invitation from the Spanish business party and a letter from the applicant's employer stating their duties in Spain. If attending a conference, proof of registration and accommodation is required.

In some cases, applicants may be asked to provide additional documents, at the discretion of the Spanish embassy or consulate.

Cost of Living in Spain

Spain provides a seductively fine quality of life. The country is relatively large and varies enormously (culturally, climatically and economically) from region to region. Common to most of Spain is, however, a benign overall climate, a welcoming society, decent infrastructure and political stability.

That said, the cost of living in Spain has markedly increased over the years, while the average Spanish salary hasn't – thus making life more difficult for residents and expats earning euros. Certainly, Spain still represents good value for many foreigners who are either retired or earning Northern European or US salaries. These expats will be able to afford a high quality of life.

The country's capital, Madrid, is the priciest Spanish city to live in. It was ranked as the 87th most expensive expat city out of 190 cities in the Mercer Cost of Living Survey for 2019. Still, even Spain’s largest urban centres are significantly less expensive than popular European destinations such as Geneva, London and Milan.


Cost of accommodation in Spain

Generally speaking, the closer a property is to the coast, the more it'll cost. This is particularly true of the Mediterranean coastline. This trend is due to a passion for the beaches of Spain, a love which is shared by the Spanish and foreigners alike.

Needless to say, the sky is the limit for high-quality accommodation in prestigious locations. That said, there are also some exceptional bargains to be found.

Short-term summer rentals for any coastal property can be among some of the most expensive real estate in Spain, while long-term leases are usually cheaper.


Cost of transport in Spain

Public transport in Spain is generally cheap with buses providing an excellent, low-cost way of travelling around the country. The rail network also provides good value for money. Spain is second only to China in the distance covered by its high-speed AVE network. Although more expensive than normal trains, the AVE does mean that travel between different parts of the country can be undertaken very quickly.


Cost of schools in Spain

Expats can send their children to state schools in Spain at no cost, as long as they have registered for their Certificado de Empadronamiento (Certificate of Residence) at their local town hall.

Private schooling is available with fees varying greatly depending on the school concerned, its location and the language and curriculum it teaches. An English-language private school in the centre of Madrid will, for example, generally be more expensive than a Spanish-language private school in the provinces. 

Many expats choose to send their children to international schools in Madrid or other urban centres. This allows students to continue studying the curriculum of their home country and removes the challenges presented by the language barrier. Some international schools in Spain charge exorbitant fees, however, so expats planning on pursuing this option should ensure their budget can accommodate this.


Cost of food and clothing in Spain

Oddly enough, the cost of supermarket food in Spain equates with prices found in a country such as the United Kingdom and is therefore surprisingly expensive in comparison to the wage levels of the Spanish themselves. However, the inverse is true when eating out, a pursuit which can be of tremendous value. Similarly, alcoholic drinks are fairly cheap, which isn't too surprising given the vast quantities of wine produced by Spain.

Clothing is, however, relatively expensive. That said, there are certainly more than a few options in which expats can find reasonably priced, stylish clothes.


Cost of living in Spain chart

Prices may vary across Spain, depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Madrid in February 2020.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

EUR 600 - 900

One-bedroom apartment outside city centre

EUR 500 - 700

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

EUR 1100 - 1600

Tthree-bedroom apartment outside city centre

EUR 700 - 1,100

Shopping

Dozen eggs

EUR 1.60

Milk (1 litre)

EUR 0.80

Rice (1 kg)

EUR 0.95

Loaf of white bread

EUR 0.95

Chicken breasts (1kg)

EUR 6

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

EUR 5

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

EUR 7

Coca Cola (330ml)

EUR 1.70

Cappuccino 

EUR 1.75

Bottle of beer (local)

EUR 2.50

Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant for two

EUR 35

Utilities

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

EUR 0.15

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month) 

EUR 40

Basic monthly utilities (includes electricity, water, refuse)

EUR 110

Transportation

Taxi rate/km

EUR 1

Bus fare in the city centre 

EUR 1.50

Petrol/gasoline

EUR 1.30

Culture Shock in Spain

Most expats moving to Spain will be familiar with the siesta, but more often than not, this somewhat outdated cultural concept is the full extent of a foreigner’s Spanish foundation. While expats might not experience as much culture shock in Spain as other locations, they are still likely to find a lot that takes getting used to.


Time in Spain

Many places in the Iberian Peninsula do still observe the siesta, a long break between 2pm and 5pm in which many people sleep or return home for lunch. Expats working in larger cities such as Madrid and Barcelona will, however, find that it is slowly disappearing. Spanish businesspeople often cannot afford to take this time out of their days, and many workers insist that a shorter lunch gives them more free time in the evening. For restaurants and other members of the service industry, the siesta, if taken, might run at a different time.

On a similar note, new arrivals soon realise that many Spaniards work on their own time, and get irritated if somebody tries to hurry them. For example, when asking for a bill in a restaurant in Spain, expect to wait for it. This does not necessarily mean the person is rude, they just see and do things differently.


Language barrier in Spain

Many expats assume that learning Spanish is not necessary because, since Spain is a Western European country, everybody will speak English. This is not only an attitude that Spanish people often despise, it is also an outright fallacy. Although much of the population does have some knowledge of English, levels of proficiency vary greatly. Furthermore, the Spanish can be very unforgiving towards foreigners who make no effort to even begin to communicate in the national language.

It is also important to recognise that Catalan is largely spoken in the northeastern region of Catalonia, which claims Barcelona as its capital. A French-influenced variation of Spanish that derives from Latin, it has co-official status in the autonomous community.

One of the best ways to ease the degree of culture shock expats will experience after they arrive is to learn Spanish, and it is highly recommended that they master at least a few basic phrases before they move.

Politeness in Spain often does not rely on “please” and “thank you” in the way that it does in English. New arrivals should instead expect to be spoken to with short and sharp requests for either action or information. 


Women in Spain

Women may have a difficult time adjusting to Spanish culture, especially if they come from places where cat-calling is uncommon. The cities are essentially modern, but rural Spain still holds onto some of its patriarchal thinking – staring and commenting on passing women is something of a national pastime for many groups of men. 

While times are changing, it’s not for nothing that the word "machismo" originated in the Spanish-speaking world. However, there are few legal, educational or cultural impediments to female advancement in the workplace and the law protects female equality.


Religion in Spain

Spain is a Roman Catholic country and, while the Church is not state-backed, the evidence of its reach can be seen everywhere. In many towns, the largest building is the church, and the cathedrals and shrines of Spain are not to be missed when sightseeing. As much as 70 percent of the population identifies as part of the Catholic Church, and around 20 percent are regular churchgoers.

Despite the country's religious background, a large degree of social change has come about since 2004; for example, same-sex marriage and abortion have been legalised.


Bureaucracy in Spain

The structure of the Spanish government means that a high degree of autonomy is given to each of its 17 political regions. This means that both laws and culture can vary extensively from one part of Spain to another and, as a result, the bureaucracy in Spain is particularly painful.

Similarly, in business, the Spanish people adopt a tedious approach to contract negotiation. The Spanish will take a lot of time arranging any deal, running over each section until it is clear that both sides understand what is required of them and, once signed, it is expected that details are carried out to the letter.

Accommodation in Spain

Expats will discover that finding good quality, reasonably priced accommodation in Spain is relatively easy. Of course, prices vary enormously depending on where one wants to live, with the best parts of major cities still being expensive.


Types of accommodation in Spain

Expats will find that there is a wide range of accommodation available in Spain. Those wishing to rent in larger cities such as Barcelona, Madrid or Seville will find that their options are limited to furnished or unfurnished apartments in the downtown areas, but there are plenty of free-standing houses and villas on the city outskirts and in the rural areas.

While it is easy to find both furnished and unfurnished apartments, expats should keep in mind that most free-standing houses and villas come unfurnished. 

Expats are encouraged to conduct online searches and to check local newspapers for listings before moving to Spain. 


Renting property in Spain

Most expats will opt for renting property in Spain, at least at first.

The rule of thumb is that the closer to the city centre one lives, the higher the rent becomes. It’s therefore strongly advised that expats look to secure some kind of accommodation stipend in their employment contracts. It is not uncommon for housing costs to account for a significant percentage of someone's monthly expenses if their salary is based on Spanish levels of pay.

Be aware, however, that leases in Spain are generally signed on a year-long basis and are secured with a down payment of between two and six months' rent. In some instances, expats may be required to provide proof of contents insurance when signing a lease to ensure that there is some provision in place in the event of a theft and so that the landlord will not be held liable for any costs. 


Factors to consider when house-hunting in Spain

The standard of accommodation in Spain is generally good, although apartments can sometimes be relatively small. This is more often true of newer apartments than older ones. Older apartments can be surprisingly large and offer plenty of space, with some having an outside terrace.

While shipping to Spain is a viable option, expats won't have much difficulty buying furniture to suit their new home after arriving in the country. Most Spanish cities boast a large range of second-hand and antique stores, while modern superstores such as IKEA can also be found.

Home security will not be a critical issue for expats relocating to Spain. Although petty theft and minor break-ins do occur in some neighbourhoods, these crimes are rarely violent and expats usually feel safe in their homes in Spain.

Healthcare in Spain

The healthcare system in Spain is generally of a high standard and combines both private and public facilities. Residents in possession of a Spanish social security number and the necessary documentation are entitled to receive free or low-cost healthcare.

Each of the country’s 17 regions takes individual responsibility for the implementation and execution of medical services within their respective area, so expats may find healthcare provision differs slightly depending on their location.


Public healthcare in Spain

Public hospitals provide much of the primary healthcare and emergency services that Spanish residents require. Staff are generally efficient and well educated, and hospitals often employ personnel who speak English or offer the services of interpreters. 

Public hospitals in Spain are well equipped. The downside is that the public sector has been known to suffer from staff shortfalls, and the waiting periods to see a specialist or have a procedure done can, in some cases, take months.

To be able to use the public healthcare system (Sistema Nacional de Salud) expats would first need to get a social security card at the Social Security Treasury Office (Tesorería de la Seguridad Social). It is then necessary to obtain a medical card at their local clinic, which will give them the right to use the services of the nationwide public health network.

Expats should note that a social security number can only be obtained if they have registered on the Empadronamiento, the municipal register. 

Non-residents, unfortunately, do not qualify to receive universal healthcare; however, there is a pay-in scheme for those who aren’t otherwise able to access state healthcare, called the Convenio Especial


Private healthcare in Spain

Some expats prefer private healthcare in Spain in order to have access to more options for treatment and physicians, and to avoid the queues of the public health system.

There are hundreds of private clinics and hospitals across the country, giving the Spanish private healthcare system a greater degree of accessibility.

While single consultations within the private system may be affordable for most expats, the cost of a medical complication or an emergency can quickly escalate. It is recommended that expats who plan to regularly utilise private care take out health insurance.


Health insurance in Spain

While the public health service sometimes only covers 75 percent of the cost of treatment, private companies generally pick up the full amount if the account holder pays their monthly premiums.

Most employers offer private health insurance for foreign assignees, so expats moving to Spain for professional reasons should check their contract before arranging their own coverage. Private insurance providers operate in different ways; some reimburse the amount spent on healthcare, while others pay medical bills directly.

Expats should note that most Spanish health insurance providers offer plans that best suit the local market, and it follows that contracting an international service provider or one that covers all of Europe might be beneficial.

Pensioners moving to Spain should take special care to ensure that they can obtain optimal treatment for the best price.


Medicines and pharmacies in Spain

Expats will not struggle to find a pharmacy in Spain, and can easily recognise them by a large green neon cross outside. Pharmacies are open daily, including on weekends, and some are open 24/7. 

Just about all medicines have to be purchased at a pharmacy. It is not possible to buy any medication in a supermarket in Spain. Medicines are quite cost-effective due to strict price restrictions.


Emergency services in Spain

There are both state-run and private ambulance services in Spain. Both offer efficient and timely services. Expats can dial 112 in the case of any emergency. This is a general emergency number. Operators are usually able to speak English and will dispatch the relevant emergency services.

  • Medical emergency number: 061

  • General emergency number: 112

Education and Schools in Spain

A primary concern for expat families relocating with children is finding a good school in Spain. Options vary between public, private, international and semi-private schools. These institutions range from Catholic to secular, co-educational to single-gendered.

Parents will need to carefully evaluate a number of factors before making their choice – considering their child’s age, the anticipated length of their stay in Spain, their budget, the primary teaching language they would prefer and the curriculum that would best suit their child.

Each situation is different and worth careful consideration but, generally, expats who only plan on staying for a short time or those with older children send them to an international school in Spain.

Education is compulsory in Spain for children between the ages of six and 16, and the school year typically extends from mid-September to the end of June.


Public schools in Spain

The standard of the state education system is supposed to be as high as that of the private system, and these schools are free for children to attend. Parents normally do, however, need to pay for books and for fees incurred by extra-curricular activities. It is free for expats to send their children to state schools in Spain, as long as they have registered on the municipal register, or Empadronamiento, at their local town hall.

Children usually attend the state school in closest proximity to their homes until secondary school, when the principle of catchment zones takes effect.

The primary teaching language of state schools in Spain is generally Spanish, or sometimes the language of the region, such as Catalan in Barcelona. Do not assume that teachers in the state system will speak English, as many do not and those that do will have varying levels of proficiency.

State schools in Spain tend to be best for expats with very young children who can easily overcome the language barrier and other challenges, and for expats who plan to live in Spain long-term.


Semi-private schools in Spain

Semi-private schools are former private schools subsidised by the Spanish government. Fees are low, and in some cases, non-existent.

These schools are a good option for parents who would prefer smaller class sizes for their children, but the standard of each is dependent on its location The rule of thumb seems to be that if the school is located in a prosperous area then it is more likely to meet expat standards. Some of these types of schools admit children from as young as one year old.

The primary teaching language in these schools will also be Spanish or the regional language, and the curriculum will be the Spanish state curriculum.


Private schools in Spain

Private schools in Spain are numerous and always have annual tuition fees. These schools are assumed to have smaller class sizes, higher quality facilities and a greater array of extra-curricular activities.

Unless the private school is a bilingual school or an international school, the primary teaching language will be Spanish or the co-official language of the region.

Demand can be high for the more prestigious private schools in Spain, and in order to enrol their children in one of these schools expats will have to move fast and negotiate well.

Education costs vary immensely, and it is best to consult with the school directly regarding tuition and curriculum.  


International schools in Spain

International schools in Spain are private schools that teach an international curriculum, such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) or the curriculum of another country. Short-term expats usually favour these schools because they allow their children to continue learning the curriculum from their home country in a language they are familiar with.

Most urban centres in Spain have a healthy assortment of international schools. Keep in mind that these institutions can often be on the outskirts of a city, making for long commutes. Expats should make sure their wages can cover the high annual fees required of them before they agree to move to Spain with their families.

Admission procedures vary from one school to the next, so it is best to correspond with each school individually. It is recommended that expats bring their child’s previous school year report card and their immunisation records to any interviews.

Transport and Driving in Spain

One of the biggest countries in Europe, the system of transport in Spain is comprehensive enough to give expats a variety of options for getting around. 

Functioning as a gateway between Europe, Africa and the Americas, it has an extensive network of ports, airports, road and rail networks to facilitate the demands of its position. 

While it is possible to get by without a car, many expats prefer driving in Spain for the freedom to explore that a personal vehicle affords them.


Public transport in Spain

Public transportation in Spain is well organised and comprehensive, enabling residents to travel effectively both within and between cities. 

The national railway network is one of the most popular ways for travelling between different regions, although expats can also make use of buses and aeroplanes, or take to the picturesque Spanish roads themselves. Expats should find getting around in Spain straightforward and relatively stress-free.

Trains

The Spanish railway network is mostly operated by La Red de los Ferrocarriles Españoles (RENFE) and, especially in larger cities, is often integrated with regional and urban networks.

The high-speed train network in Spain is known as AVE and travels between its largest cities. Centred in Madrid, it fans out to Barcelona, Seville, Cordoba and Zaragoza, and allows for travel to France. 

While not the cheapest way of travelling in Spain, with speeds of up to 192 miles per hour (310km/h), it is one of the fastest and most convenient ways of getting around.

There are also regional train services in certain parts of Spain, such as the Ferrocarrils Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC) which operates in northeastern Spain.

Numerous cities have light rail or subway systems, while the metro system in Madrid is said to be one of the best in the world. 

Tram networks also operate in several Spanish cities, including Barcelona, Zaragoza and Seville. 

Buses

There are extensive public bus networks in Spain’s larger urban areas, as well as a variety of options for inter-city travel. 

Bus tickets can be bought online from Movelia. The site allows users to choose between and buy tickets from more than 20 transport companies which operate on countless routes in the country.


Taxis in Spain

Taxis in Spain are widely available, especially in the cities. While they are generally reasonably priced and drivers deliver a good level of service, non-Spanish speakers might be mistaken for tourists and overcharged. It is always a good idea for expats to have an idea of where they are going, ensure that their driver has switched on the meter, or agree on a price upfront. 

It is worth noting that, as a result of Spain's strict transport laws, the use of many ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft is heavily restricted.


Driving in Spain

Expats may take a while to get accustomed to dealing with local driving behaviour in Spain. There are also several laws that may be different from what expats might be used to. Cars in Spain drive on the right-hand side of the road. Expat drivers should also note that people are required to flash their vehicle’s lights before overtaking the car in front of them. 

Non-Spanish speaking expats may have a little trouble getting around in Spain, given that signs are usually in Spanish, Catalan or Basque, depending on the region. 

Parking in larger cities can often be a frustrating experience owing to high congestion and limited spaces. 


Cycling in Spain

Some cities in Spain are more cycle-friendly than others. Seville and Barcelona are especially known for having good infrastructure such as dedicated cycling lanes, bike hire and storage facilities; although cyclists are still encouraged to be cautious.

Travelling around Spain by bicycle is a popular holiday activity, especially in the summer months. Expats should, however, be prepared for steep gradients in some of the country’s mountainous regions 


Domestic flights in Spain

The three busiest airports in Spain by some distance are situated in Madrid, Barcelona and Mallorca, altogether handling around 100 million passengers a year. 

There are, however, dozens of airports across the country, making it easy for expats to travel throughout the Spanish mainland.

Expats wanting to travel through Spain quickly at a lower price than high-speed rail can compare the domestic flight prices of different carriers. The largest airlines in Spain include Iberia, Air Europa and Vueling, in addition to several others.

Buying a Car in Spain

For many expats, the very idea of buying a car in Spain might seem daunting. Car salespeople have a bad reputation and caution is required when purchasing a vehicle in Spain, just like everywhere else. The language barrier and bureaucratic timetables can create additional problems.

Smaller car models are advisable since parking spaces are stingy in size and on-street parking is often very difficult to find.

The process of buying a car in Spain can be trying, but with proper preparation for the purchase, there is no reason for it not to run smoothly.


Necessary fundamentals for buying a car in Spain

  • A folder for paperwork

  • Current and up to date documentation

  • Help from a good friend, a helpful Spaniard or a gestor

When beginning the purchasing process at least one of the following will be necessary (though it’s best to have as many as possible, with photocopies). Expats should note that they will not need to have a driver´s license, car insurance or a residence permit in order to buy a car in Spain.

  • Residence Permit (NIE) or passport

  • House deeds or a rental contract for a minimum of one year (Escrituras)

  • Proof of residence (Certificado de Empadronamiento), available free or for a few cents from the Town Hall. It should not be older than three months. 

  • If financing the car through a dealer an expat will also need to provide their three last payslips (tres nóminas), or some other proof of income, such as a copy of a work contract.


Buying a car in Spain from a private seller

Buying a second-hand car from a private seller is certainly possible for expats in Spain, and as there is normally more leeway to negotiate with these individuals it can be a great way to bag a bargain. That said, keep in mind that private purchases will get no guarantee or warranty on the car. 

Buying a car from a private seller involves entering into a joint legal relationship with the seller and handling all the paperwork yourselves.

A purchase agreement (contratode compraventa) must be drawn up, and the transfer of ownership must be made at the vehicle registration desk of the Traffic Department (Jefatura de Tráfico) where a transfer document (Solicitud de Transmisión de Vehículos) needs to be filled in and signed. Make sure that the date and time of the transfer appear on the Contrato so that any traffic fines the seller has left unpaid are not passed on to the buyer. 

Also, note that it is accepted practice to take the proposed car for a thorough check over at a mechanic; expats should look out for a toda prueba in the advert. 

To start the car-hunting process expats are advised to check local newsagent´s (quiosco) for specialised car magazines, such as AutopistaCoche ActualCar and Driver and Autofácil or use their online versions. Other digital sources include Autoscout24.com and Coches.net.

If external finance is needed for the car, expats will have to apply for a loan from the bank in person. Bank rates can be better than dealers’ rates, but the banks also have stricter criteria for eligibility. If external finance is not needed, payment will have to be made with a bank cheque, since personal cheques are barely used and not guaranteed.

Hiring a gestor

Expats who are not yet fluent in Spanish but live in an area with a large expat community will find that there are plenty of people happy to help with the purchasing process and to answer questions.

However, in areas with fewer expats, or for expats who don't have the time to queue in lines and devote to the laborious paperwork necessary, it might be worth hiring a gestor to do most of the process.

Since the gestor has runners who deal with many clients at the same time and don´t need to queue like the rest of us, expats shouldn´t have to pay for too much of the gestor's time.


Buying a car in Spain from a dealership

Alternatively, foreigners can buy a new or used car from a reputable dealership (concesionario), and the dealer will handle the paperwork with the Traffic Department. Buyers will also get a guarantee that lasts up to a year on the car, but unfortunately, the overall price of the car will most likely be more expensive than one bought from a private seller - even if the dealer does offer a discount or a special deal.

Depending on your circumstances, it could be possible to pay upfront for the car and the dealer might pay the registration fee, especially on a new, list price car or if it is paid in cash. 

Due to various government plans to reduce pollution, cars over ten years old may be taken in part exchange and qualify for a discount on a new purchase.  

When purchasing cars through a dealer the car finance will be paid through standing order monthly, which is an automatic deduction from the appointed account.


Paperwork for buying a car in Spain

Whether deciding to buy from a private seller or a dealer, similar paperwork is involved. Expats should ask to see the originals of all documents, particularly when dealing with a private seller.  

  • The Log Book (Permiso de Circulación), which is the car´s ID. It shows proof that the vehicle identification number corresponds with the one on the vehicle´s registration document, and provides information on the car, such as the number plate, make, model, name and address of the owner and when it was first registered.

  • A transfer of ownership form (Transferencia)

  • The ITV document (Inspección Técnica) stamped and dated on passing the last inspection and detailing when the next one is due. This proves that the car met the minimum environmental and road safety standards required by law.

  • The road license fee (Impuesto Sobre Vehiculos) for the current financial year, paid in full. 


Car insurance in Spain

In Spain, it is illegal to drive a car without insurance. All drivers must have the minimum Seguro de Terceros, also known as the Responsabilidad Civil Obligatoria, which covers third-party damages and usually fire and theft. Drivers must carry the insurance policy in the car at all times.

One way of obtaining insurance is to ask the seller if they will transfer the existing policy. Dealers also offer insurance policies or suggest which insurance companies are offering a good price. The big insurance companies in Spain, such as Mapfre or Mutua Madrileña, are reputable and efficient so there is no cause for concern. Dealers also offer insurance policies or suggest where to get one.

When finally picking up a new, insured car, expats will be given the registration document. It´s a good idea to have a photocopy of this document stamped at the Town Hall and to keep this in the car. Keep the original at home; if lost, it is time-consuming and expensive to replace.

Frequently Asked Questions about Spain

Expats moving to Spain are likely to have many concerns about adapting to the pace of life in this Mediterranean country. Here are some answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions about expat life in Spain.

What is there to do in Spain?

Spain is an endless sea of things to see and do. The major cities are cosmopolitan dream worlds of museums, nightlife and shopping diverse enough to suit any personality. For any sports lover, the football culture is a huge part of Spanish society and the clubs have massive fan bases and rich traditions. There are four distinct climates in Spain, meaning that there is no shortage of hiking, beaches, forests and landscapes to explore. Rural Spain still retains much of the traditional cultures and is worth investigating.

Spain contains almost too many historical sites to visit in one lifetime. After the Carthaginians and the Romans left, most of southern Spain was conquered by the Umayyad dynasty and the Caliphate of Cordoba ruled over an educated and enlightened society. The collapse of that dynasty gave rise to the Christian Empire of Ferdinand and Isabella, who linked by marriage the territories of Castile and Aragon, sent Columbus off to the new world, and began the infamous Spanish Inquisition. 

What are the best ways to navigate Spanish bureaucracy?

The Spanish are obsessed with bureaucracy. Every contract should be supervised by a Spanish lawyer, which becomes even more important in the case of expats who have limited Spanish language skills.

 Almost every significant action an expat is required to take will require a form of some sort to be filled out and there is a lot of paperwork to be done before departing and on arrival. However, once it is all done and dusted there should be time to finally enjoy the country.

Which city is the best for expats?

As a tourist one might try Barcelona, which has long been regarded as the Spanish cultural capital. Madrid is the financial and commercial hub, so expats in these industries are likely to be based there. Rural Spain is also offers a great standard of living so this is also a good option depending on a person's priorities. 

Banking, Money and Taxes in Spain

Expats will find that managing money in Spain is easy but expensive. Banking facilities are generally modern and function quite efficiently, but bank charges and commissions on international transfers are hefty when compared to most other countries in the European Union.

Additionally, filing taxes and organising large purchases can translate into a bureaucratic nightmare. It is often necessary to employ the help of a Spanish-speaking specialist to manage the maze of red tape.  


Currency in Spain

Since 1999, as with the majority of other EU member-states, Spain has used the Euro (EUR) as its official currency. One euro is divided into 100 cents.

  • Notes: 5 EUR, 10 EUR, 20 EUR, 50 EUR, 100 EUR, 200 EUR and 500 EUR

  • Coins: 2 EUR, 1 EUR; and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents

Note that the Spanish separate large figures into thousands with a full stop rather than a comma. 


Banking in Spain

Spain has one of the highest bank branches per capita on the European continent and most offer online banking with fast, easy transfers. In recent years many mobile banking options have become available in Spain, with banks such as BBVA offering mobile wallets for card-free transactions.

When choosing a bank as an expat without knowledge of the local language, it is best to select a branch with English-speaking staff and an option for statements and documentation to be translated into English.

Banking fees in Spain are notoriously high and a variety of charges might be encountered, including debit card transaction fees, correspondence fees (when the bank communicates with a customer) and transfer fees. Most banks also charge a small sum for opening an account.

There are quite a few international banks that offer services in English and allow free transfers between branches around the world, as well as multi-currency accounts. HSBC and Barclays are popular with Britons moving to Spain, as well as many other expats.

Banks in Spain generally open from Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 2pm, and on Saturday mornings from around 9am to 1pm. There are some banks which open on Thursday afternoons instead of Saturday mornings, so it is worth checking the specific opening hours of each branch before visiting. 

Opening a bank account

Expats can either open a resident or non-resident bank account in Spain. Non-resident accounts can be held in foreign currencies and normally have higher fees, while resident accounts tend to offer more services, have higher interest rates and lower commissions. Resident accounts can only be opened by those with a Spanish tax identification number or Número de Identificación de Extranjeros (NIE).

ATMs and credit cards

ATMs (cajeros automáticos) are widely available and normally accept foreign cards. Expats who are yet to open a local bank account will find that these machines provide the best exchange rates, but transaction charges do apply.

Alternatively, currency exchange offices (cambio) can be found at most airports and in most tourist areas. The exchange rates they tend to offer are less attractive than those provided by banks.

Debit and credit cards are widely accepted in Spain, although transaction charges will apply if using an international debit or credit card. 


Taxes in Spain

It is important for expats to check whether their country has any tax treaties with Spain and the European Union, such as a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA). This ensures that they will not be double taxed at any point.

Income taxes must be paid for any year that an individual spends more than 183 days in the country – at this point, a person becomes a formal Spanish tax resident and is liable to be taxed for their international assets and accounts as well as those within the country.

Expats living in Spain need an NIE, which can be obtained at the local police station, in order to be identified by the Spanish revenue service (Agencia Tributaria).

Expatriates who work on a freelance basis or who run a business will also have to register as an autonomo with the local government. It is worth hiring a tax assessor to help navigate the complex Spanish system.

It is important for non-European expats to keep all receipts since value-added tax (VAT) is paid back when they leave the country or the Eurozone. This could be a hefty sum for expats who have lived in Spain for an extended period of time.

Expat Experiences in Spain

When considering a move to a new city, there is nothing more useful than hearing real-life stories and experiences from other expats who are living there. We'd love to hear about your expat experiences. Please contact us if you live or have lived in Spain and would like to share your story.


Dany and Thijs fell in love with Valencia, and moved there just five weeks after their first visit. Their small bed and breakfast in the heart of the city's historical centre was voted one of the top three B&Bs in Spain by Trip Advisor. Many 'would-be' expats enjoy their inside knowledge of the city as well as their hospitality. Read more about their expat experience in Valencia.

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Kate Boyle is an English author who spent several years living and teaching English in Madrid. She quickly fell in love with the city and now considers it a home away from home. Read more about her expat experience in Madrid.

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Lottie Nevin is a British expat living in the southern Spanish town of Alcala La Real with her husband, Pete. Having lived as expats in Jakarta, Indonesia, Lottie and Peter are now enjoying the quieter life of the Spanish countryside. Read more about Lottie's expat life in Spain.

Lottie Nevin - A British expat living in Spain

Jacqui Evans relocated from Britain to Spain with her family when she was eight years old. Having lived there most of her life, she shares her insight about growing up as an expat child. Read more about her expat experiences in Mallorca.

Billie Jago is a British expat living with her boyfriend in Valencia, Spain. Over the past five years, she has worked as an English teacher in various countries across the world. She has lived in Turkey, China and Thailand, but says it's Valencia that has begun to feel like home. Read more about her expat experiences in Valencia.

Billie is a British expat living in Spain

Maria Balear moved from England to Spain almost 30 years ago and now lives on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca, which is very popular among holidaymakers and expats alike. Maria runs a real estate business (Balearic-properties.com) and says the best way to meet people in your new home is to go to their favourite hangouts, whether these are cafés frequented by locals or popular expat clubs. Read more about her expat experiences in Mallorca.

 

Maria Balear is an expat and estate agent in Mallorca, Spain

Robin Wheeler and his wife moved from the UK to the Spanish coastal town of Moraira. Once a fishing village, it's now an upmarket tourist town and the Wheelers are running a successful pub. Robin says they found the move easy and straightforward - and reckons the best way to meeting people in Spain is to head down to your local bar. Read more about his expat experiences in Spain.

Robin Wheeler is a British expat living in Spain

Sara Wilson is an American expat living in Altea, a picturesque town on the Costa Blanca. After leaving New York City in 2009, she and her Spanish husband have been enjoying the quiet life, temperate weather and natural beauty along the Spanish Coast. Read more about her expat experience in Spain.

Sara Wilson is an American expat living in Spain

Anna is a Russian expat who moved to Spain’s southeastern city of Alicante for an internship. She enjoyed the small-town feel of Alicante and the friendliness of the locals, who would invite her to eat tapas and enjoyed a good party. However, Anna found that it was essential to learn Spanish in order to communicate and adapt faster to living in Spain. Read more about her expat experience in Spain.

Anna - A Russian expat living in Spain

Originally from Austin, Texas, Zach Frohlich is an American expat living in Spain. He moved to Valencia three years ago with his wife, who is Spanish, to settle closer to her family. Zach has some wonderful insights to share about his expat life in Spain. Read more about his expat experience in Valencia.

Zach Frohlich - an American expat living in Spain

Lisa Sadleir is a British expat who has been living in Spain for the past 20 years. She lives just outside Mijas Pueblo, in the Malaga province, with her husband and two children, who were both born in Spain. Lisa now considers Spain to be her home country, and runs a number of websites about life in Spain, providing valuable information and relocation services for those moving there. Read more about her expat life in Spain.

Lisa Sadleir - A British expat living in Spain

Patty Sanchez is an American expat who moved to Spain 10 years ago. While she misses her family and friends back in America, she now considers Barcelona home. She believes that the key to truly enjoying expat life in Barcelona is keeping an open mind and embracing the Spanish culture. Read more about her experience of expat life in Barcelona.

Patty Sanchez - An American Expat living in Barcelona

Anna Nicholas is a British expat who has lived on the island of Mallorca with her husband and son for the past 11 years. She is the author of several humorous books based on her own experiences of living on Mallorca, the most recent of which is A Bull on the Beach, published in July 2012. Read more about her expat experience on Mallorca.

A bull on the Beach by Anna Nicholas

Rachel Harris is an English teacher living and working in Zaragoza, Spain. She is a bit of a serial expat having lived in London, the USA, Japan, and South Korea. Rachel manages to include freelance writing among her wide range of interests and activities and has shared her take on expat life in Spain right here.

expat-rachel

Emma Grenham is originally from London and now lives and thrives in Barcelona. She is a writer and advisor on expat issues and has a particular passion for kids and parents in Barcelona. She produces a well-known family guide to the city. Read about her expat experiences of Barcelona.

Juan Liria followed his family and returned to his roots on the Iberian Peninsula a little over two years ago. He's currently enrolled at the Universidade de Santiago de Compostela and perfectly positioned as a young person to shed some light on the Spanish side of life. Read more about his expat experience in Spain.

Picture of Juan Liria

Justin Aldrige is living the dream. He beat the system, brought his family down to the Spanish coast, and is learning a little about what life is supposed to be like. He built up the site Eyes on Spain and now offers Expat Arrivals a glimpse into expat life through rose-coloured glasses.

picture of justin aldrige

John Kramer has lived and worked in Spain for the past 12 years. He moved here after travelling widely, before discovering the many charms of the Spanish lifestyle, weather and people. His expat experience of life in Spain is positive and enlightening - see what he has to say in his interview about expat life in Spain.

Erik Rasmussen is, quite frankly, living the dream. He telecommutes to the USA, his country of origin while living large in splendid Spain with his wife and young child. Read about his expat experiences as a Spanish local in the town of Colindres.