Moving to Spain

Moving to Spain offers residents far more than just the famed sunny climate! In addition to being a popular tourist destination in Europe, Spain has an ever-growing expat population. With cosmopolitan cities, stunning coastlines, delicious cuisine and artistic treasures, you will find plenty of reasons to call Spain home.

Spain attracts many people who are looking for an unhurried way of life. And a slower pace of life can still be found in Spain, the country where the siesta was invented. Nevertheless, Spain is also a very sociable country with a vibrant nightlife and many festivities.

Located in the Iberian Peninsula, the landscape varies dramatically from desert to mountainous ski resorts. This means that the countryside and the weather vary from region to region. There are also notable cultural differences between the regions, which have a lot of autonomy and often different laws from one another.

Finding accommodation

The accommodation standards in Spain are very high overall. And finding somewhere to live for a reasonable price should be easy. In fact, many people choose to spend their retirement in Spain to take advantage of the great house prices and standard of living.

No matter what kind of accommodation you are looking for, you’re sure to find something you like. From very traditional properties with Spanish shutters and tiled flooring, to very modern and luxurious villas, Spain has it all.

The busier cities, tourist hotspots and Madrid (the capital city) have the highest house prices. The Spanish property market sees interest from residents, expats and tourists, with many in Europe looking to own a second home here. This wealth of interest can make house hunting more competitive at certain times of year, and especially in tourism heavy locations.

When renting property in Spain, lease agreements usually come with a contract of at least one year. However, leases up to three years are not uncommon. You can expect to pay a deposit of anywhere between 2 – 6 months’ rent. Renting a single room within a house is a popular option for many people relocating alone.

Expats often show interest in buying property in Spain, but it’s important to engage a local property expert (Gestor) and lawyer. The property laws are complicated so make sure you know exactly what you’re doing before buying a new home.


If you’re moving to Spain with your family, finding the right schooling is one of the most important things on your moving checklist. Settling your children in as soon as possible can make all the difference to a successful relocation. So, it’s important to start researching and applying to schools well ahead of your actual departure. There are several education options in Spain: public, private, international and semi-private schools. But regardless of which route your family chooses, compulsory education starts at the age of six and ends at sixteen years of age.

State-funded public schools in Spain are free to attend for the children of expats if they have registered at the local town hall on the municipal register (known as the empadronamiento). This is a great choice if you want your children to pick up the language quickly and really submerge themselves in the Spanish culture. Attending a state school can really help all members of the family adapt to life in Spain. Classes in public and private schools are usually in Spanish, while international schools mainly teach in English.

If your family is relocating to Spain, and you want help finding the best schools, get in touch. Our school search experts don’t just find you the right fit, they walk you through the application process. We do everything we can to make sure your move is easy and your transition to Spain goes smoothly.

Spanish culture

Spanish is the predominant language spoken within the country. However, due to vast regional differences within Spain, dialects such as Catalan and Basque are also commonly spoken. Not only do these distinct regions have language differences, but their cultural differences are so pronounced that many residents want to form independent states from the main government. Regardless of the dialect spoken in your new area, it’s very important you have learned Spanish to at least a basic conversational level before you move.

Around 70 percent of the population identify as Roman Catholics. The influence of the church within communities is evident from the ornate cathedrals, shrines and churches, which are located in prominent positions within towns and cities. Spanish citizens enjoy the many Saints Day Fiestas throughout the year, where local communities come together to celebrate patron saints. These are often all-night parties in the streets, with food, drink, dancing and fireworks.

Despite being a modern European country, Spain holds onto many of its traditions. Some of which can cause expats quite a shock. In rural or smaller towns, it’s not uncommon for all drinking water to be collected daily from freshwater fonts. And daily morning trips to the local bakery or delicatessen are essential for fresh bread, pastries, meats and cheeses.

Everybody enjoys leisurely siestas – where most businesses, apart from restaurants bars and cafes, shut down for a couple of hours midday. Get ready to take a break in the middle for the day for a very long lunch or even a restorative nap. Siesta time also means that dinner is eaten much later than in many countries. It is not unusual to eat at 9 or 10 pm on any day of the week, with meals being a sociable family affair. Some expats struggle at first to adapt to seeing young children out at restaurants eating well into the night. But once you’ve tasted the warm and sociable nature of these meals, it’s hard not to wonder why we don’t all eat this way.

Good to know

Most people moving to Spain come to find a job or to retire in the sunshine. This is especially appealing to EU citizens who don’t need a visa to work and live in the country. For those coming from outside the EU, there are a number of different visas with differing requirements you will have to meet depending on why you want to move and your home country.

Spain also has very complicated tax laws, so it’s important to get professional advice before you move. Even those who are not working must pay tax on savings and capital gains when selling property, so we advise all expats to engage with a tax and immigration specialist before relocation internationally.

All new residents in Spain will need to visit their Oficina de Extranjeros, to get their residence certificate. You will need this to start working and open a bank account. And you’ll need to register with your local Oficina de Seguridad Social. This is where you get your social security number upon arrival in Spain, which enables you to work.

All workers in Spain who pay their national insurance contributions are entitled to use the public healthcare system. The standard of healthcare in Spain is very good, and most expats are content to use the public health sector. For this reason, health insurance is not necessary. However, if you plan on using private healthcare or are not working in Spain, you should look into it.

The siesta is widely used in Spain, particularly outside of large cities. Many businesses close between the hours of 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm to return home for a nap or long lunch. And many businesses are closed on Sunday, in observance of the Roman Catholic religion. Don’t try to buy or rent a home, start a job search or make school applications during August, as the entire country seems to shut down in favour of heading to the beach!

How can we help you move to Spain?

We’re here to help you. With over 120 years of experience moving people around the globe, we make moving home easy no matter where you’re going to or coming from. From helping you find your dream home, matching your family to the right schools, to setting up one-to-one language courses, we know what makes a successful relocation. We’re your moving company, specialising in moves to Spain.

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