Spain has always been a popular holiday destination, but more and more people are now seeking to relocate there permanently. It’s cities contain a diverse mix of culture and tradition, historical architecture and modern buildings that attract professionals and families from all over the world. Whether you fancy a cosmopolitan location or a quaint villa in one of Spain’s gorgeous whitewashed mountain villages, there are plenty of things to think about before you can make the move.
See also: How to Start a Business in Spain
1. Where to live
Spain is a country of many different faces. You could choose to live on the sunshine coast, in a quiet mountain location or in one of the main cities. Before you begin your move in earnest, study the country and decide where you’d like to settle. It’s important to actually visit the areas you’ve shortlisted to decide which would suit your needs and circumstances best. Property prices and rents vary, so research is all-important.
Renting a property initially is a good idea before you buy. This will give you chance to get to know the area on a daily basis and check out things like schools, transport, shopping etc. Wherever you go in Spain, you’ll find a different vibe; bustling or quiet, old-fashioned or uber-modern, and it’s important that you settle somewhere that’s right for you.
In less touristy areas you’ll find that most shops and offices close during the heat of the afternoon, opening again during the evening when things can get quite lively so it might not be a good idea to choose an apartment right over a bar if you’re a light sleeper!
2. Think about health care
Healthcare is something that you must put in place before you move. Your healthcare entitlements in Spain may vary from those in your home country and you might not be able to claim the benefits you currently enjoy. Check with your home Embassy or relocation consultant who will be best placed to advise you on this.
Before you move, check out doctor’s surgeries in the area where you plan to settle and register with them. If you are an EU citizen, you can register for a free EHIC card that will allow you to receive free medical treatment whilst visiting Spain. However, the best thing to do is to take out private healthcare for you and your family, before you move there permanently.
If you have children of school-age, you’ll need to research local schools well before you plan to move. You could opt to send them to a private or state Spanish school or to an international school where they will be taught primarily in English. Research likely schools via their websites and arrange to visit them in person with your family to get a feel for what would suit you best. Spain is very family-focused so you and your kids will be guaranteed a warm welcome wherever you decide to settle.
4. Learn the language
English is spoken pretty much everywhere in Spain, but it’s still important that you make the effort to learn some Spanish before you move. This shows that you’re keen to embrace the Spanish culture and integrate with your new neighbours. It will also be extremely helpful if you are intending to work in Spain. You could either attend night school to learn the basics or undertake an online study course.
5. Find employment
If you haven’t already been offered a job in Spain, get your CV up to date and register with several good recruitment agencies. Although you can register online and an interview can be conducted by telephone or Skype, a Spanish employer will generally expect you to attend the interview in person in Spain so that they can meet you face-to-face.
The Spanish visa system can be complicated and it’s recommended that you seek the advice of your home Embassy or a relocation specialist. In many cases the Spanish employer will guide you through the visa process and may even handle it for you.
6. Transport and getting around
Spanish public transport is generally very good, especially in the areas that are popular tourist destinations and in the main towns and cities. However, if you’re intending to live and work in Spain, you’ll be better off with your own car. You can drive legally in Spain on a full UK driver’s licence, but if you’re a foreign national you’ll need an International Driving Permit which can be obtained from the AAA to be used in conjunction with your home country’s licence.
7. Moving with your pets
If you intend to immigrate to Spain with a pet, you’ll need to check that it will be allowed to enter Spain with you. Pets travelling within Europe will need an EU Pet Passport and must be fully vaccinated; check with your vet for full details of what’s required. If you are bringing a pet from outside of Europe, you will need the correct paperwork and your pet may be quarantined for a period of time when you arrive in Spain. Bear in mind that the paperwork you require can take up to eight months to process. Ask your vet for full details on what vaccinations your pet will require and what documentation you will need to produce when you arrive in Spain.
See also: How to Find a Job in Spain
Spain is a beautiful country with much to offer. Research and plan your move thoroughly to ensure that your relocation to the land of sea, sunshine and sangria goes smoothly.