Moving To Spain

by Jose Marc Castro on August 4, 2009

movingtospainIMAGESpain has quickly become one of the hot spots of Europe, with regards to the place of rest for many foreign nationals. According to Wikipedia in 2009, since the dawn of time, because of its crossroads location, Spain has integrated many early civilizations and was further enriched by its colonial activities.  This has resulted in a truly multi-cultural society, offering a safe and pleasant haven for many looking to settle overseas.  The excess sunshine also seems to attract many from the colder areas of the world!

Spain is one of the more popular destinations for foreign nationals looking to move overseas and become Expats living in Spain. An estimated 4.8 million foreign residents as at the end of 2005 were Expats in Spain .  The country is very popular with Moroccan and Ecuadorian nationals, although the British (8.09%), French (8.03%) and Germans (5.58%) also make up a substantial part of the overall 4.8m total.  The country has particularly strong cultural ties with south America, hence the high number of south American nationals choosing Spain for their new home.

Content: Spanish Culture | Employment in Spain | Property in Spain | Spanish State Benefits | Key Facts on Spain

Spanish Culture

Spain is a fairly diverse country with a number of sub cultures entrenched in their history, including Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia.  While this has resulted in various infighting and terrorist activity in the past, this area has been fairly quiet of late with ongoing discussions and political activity to resolve the situation.

It rich culture and history has been attributed to the Iberian, Celtiberean, Visigothic, Roman Catholic, Islamic and the myriad of other cultures that came under Spanish rule in its colonial heyday. To date, it has forty UNESCO World Heritage Sites which is second overall in the world, according to 2009 Wikipedia.

Employment in Spain

Spain is very much a holiday industry based culture, with seasonal work available in all of the coastal resorts (much in line with the UK holiday industry).  If you are looking to work long term in Spain it is essential that you have a contract of work with your employer.  This though has been subject to stress as it has one of the highest unemployment rates in Western Europe at 11%, mainly due to the worldwide financial recession. While employers are allowed to offer short-term contracts of up to 9 months, you are entitled to a longer term (full time) contract after the initial short term contract is up. Do not forget the famous Spanish siesta – the much welcome 2-3 hour period of rest in the afternoon, when all shops are closed, opening later in the cooler evening.

Even though wages are generally lower in Spain compared to e.g. the UK, the cost of living is also less.  It is therefore essential to compare wages / cost of living in Spain against your country of origin.  While all taxes, etc will be deducted from your wages at source, any overseas national found working illegally in the country will be sent “home” and the employer fined.  Be very wary of cash payment employment!

If you are dismissed from a long-term contract you have the right of appeal, under what is a fairly rigid and structured procedure – offering a degree of protection to overseas residents.  There is also very little problem being accepted into the Spanish employment culture, with overseas workers more common place than the majority of European countries.  To work in Spain you must have an NIE Number – this is vital!

Property in Spain

The property market in Spain is very fluid, especially on the coastal areas which are proving ever more popular with holiday revelers.  While there are a variety of hot spots on the coast, inner city prices are less inflated, although as more foreign nationals look to make Spain there long term homes, the prevailing market conditions of 2009 have seen a drastic fall in property prices, some as much as 26% in the most developed areas.  As of late, this seems to be alleviating as prices are expected to pick up once 2010 rolls around.

Customer comments and reviews of the apartments in Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote can be found on the Puerto del Carmen Apartments site.

State Benefits in Spain

Thankfully for those looking to settle in Spain, the benefits system is much like the UK in that once you start to contribute taxes to the system. Only after contribution can you begin on the path to full entitlement under the Spanish welfare system.  If for example you were to lose your fulltime job after 6 months or more, you would be entitled to the full range of benefits, including health, social security, etc.  For those looking to move permanently to a new country, it may be possible to arrange for part of your national insurance payments to be transferred to an overseas state benefit agency as this is recognized under the current system.


For many, Spain has become the country of choice when considering moving abroad.  A mix of the weather, employment opportunities and a lower cost of living all add to the attractions.  The benefits system also seems to be very fair, with similar protections enforced for non-nationals as foreign residents.

Many testimonials from Spain Expat Forum, one of which dated last August 14, 2009 elucidate the loveliness for the Spanish region:

“Love… The sights, the sounds, the food, the attitude of the spanish, the culture in general, less crime, lots more smiling faces, and the weather of course.”

One post succinctly puts how living in Spain is, shared last July 23, 2009 in Spain Expat Forum:

Or maybe I’m just a very privileged person, I live in a tiny typical noisy Spanish flat, but have wonderful neighbours. I live in tiny town where the kids have free activities all through the summer, teenagers look after tots, whole families and friends party together, where I leave my car inevitably unlocked cos my old one hadn’t locked for the past two years and it’s still there next day, I work in an even smaller office in a small town where every day ex-clients who are now dear friends come for a chat, a coffee, to put up a notice or to drop me some eggs or a lettuce, to ask a small favour; when I go out for a cofffee, my office is open, my handbag is there and the only danger is getting told off by the taxidriver cos the phone rang twice while I was out or I come back to find I have missed a kind visitor who has dropped off a couple of English books for me. Yeah… life’s tough in Spain, I earn about 800€ a month cos I do private teaching and courses after I finish full time work and I still have two girls at school who live with me. I haven’t been back to the UK for 10 years, only five times in 35 years, I don’t have holidays and we can’t buy custard powder or gravy here but I have a wonderful life, I have a lot of wonderful people in my life and every day I have at least one magical moment when I think, wow… some days it could just be that first cup of coffee at work ‘cos when I get to work every morning my boss has my cup of coffee waiting on my desk!” 

Living in Spain, in a nutshell, is truly marvelous and magical.

More facts about Spain :-

Capital : Madrid

Official Language : Spanish

Government : Monarchy (with an appointed President)

Size : 506,030 km2

Population : 44.7 million

Currency : Euro

International Dialling Code : +34

Economy : 8th largest in the world (5th largest in Europe)

Religion : Predominately Roman Catholic

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

BENJAMIN EMMANUELS December 31, 2009 at 12:20 pm



Christine December 10, 2018 at 8:33 am

Hello, I’m just new to the forum, looking to share ideas about living in Spain full time, I’m currently here till spring.
Have a great day


Christina February 27, 2010 at 2:07 am

Hi, Im very happy to be able to use Exspat forum. My husband an I are moving to the south of Spain (Rota) this year in November. I just wanted to know if any one knows of a good moving company to ship overseas? If any are there travel agents for people who fly back to the states twice a year, looking for disounts.
Thank You. (:


DAVID May 27, 2010 at 9:01 am

Hi we moved are home contents and used a chap TOM first class service slow but sure he also dilivered a bentley
to spain for some other people.
TOM 07976572680


Patty April 25, 2011 at 1:56 am

Hello I just found this forum also, I am thinking of moving to the Malaga area, and am also searching for good moving company, tips, etc.I have been living inFlorida for 20 years, but am still a Dutch citizen. For me, it is about moving closer to my friends and family in Holland, but with a little more sunshine! Anybody on here near Nerja, Spain, please contact me, I would love to hear! Patty.


chris west May 20, 2010 at 12:53 pm

I am a UK resident and considering moving to Spain,
I own my own home which i am looking to sell to move over, but i have a few queries before i go ahead with anything,
At the moment i am receiving social security, disability allowance and incapacity benefit,
Please could you advise me on how i would go about this, and what the procedure would be for me to move while i am receiving these benefits.

Kind regards

Christopher west


Gary Haynes May 25, 2010 at 2:45 am

Hi i'm an Australian and I'm looking at moving to Spain with my French girl friend what do i need to do? Do i need to have a work visa? What papers do i need to fill out? We have been together for over 3 years and we have been living in New Zealand and now we are looking at Spain as a place to live.. Can you help with any information…


Gary Haynes


Benni Poulsen August 21, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Hi, I am thinking about moving to Spain with my family. We are from The Faroe Islands. Is there maybe anyone who knows a little about the tax system in Spain. What the basic tax rate is etc. And how the rules are when you are working abroad in the offshore oil idustry.


Sean Gorrie August 28, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Does anyone know the days allowed from the uk to out of the country to stop paying uk tax? I work at present in uk, but I want to move to Spain.


qropsspecialists October 21, 2011 at 11:05 am

183 days or more to be resident in the UK. If you are moving to Spain, you can avoid UK IHT and UK income tax on your pension through a QROPS pension transfer. A QROPS specialist should be able to help you out in this regard.


sarah b September 2, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Hi i am English and am moving to spain in October 2010, my daughter will be turning 6 on October 14th, does anyone know whether she will go into primary school or nursery?? Does anybody recommend any particular schools/nurseries in the the Nerja area or competa.


Patty Best April 25, 2011 at 2:00 am

Hello Sarah, I just came across your posting, I am Dutch, but live in Florida. Am thinking of moving to Nerja, did you move there yet? I was there last March and loved it. One of my best friends , also Dutch, lives there already. Just wanted to talk to some more people about it, and any experiences you would like to share. Sorry, I don't know anything about primary schools, I'm probably a lot older than you! Patty.


Gena September 26, 2010 at 4:43 pm

can i take my child and work tax credits with me if i move to spain?? as i have a young daughter of 12..?


lauren December 2, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Hi did you find out im in the same situation as you I have a 12 year old daughter im lookjng at movingnext year


Laura January 18, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Oh I live in Spain and Its a beautiful place 🙂 I recommed the south, move to little towns there the people is really nice 🙂


becky February 24, 2011 at 11:48 am

hi does anyone know of a primary school in oliva town my daughter is 4 and would appreciate any help xx


Debbie May 23, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Hi, can anyone help with advice on American with British wife moving to Spain please…seems difficult to get info..does it help if you get dual nationality?
Thankyou Debbie


Ronald Barber September 2, 2011 at 10:30 am

My name is Ron, am from Texas, divorced, and have worked all over the world in my career. My first career was in Offshore Oil and Gas. For the
last 20 years I have been in the food and beverage business. Some years ago I lived in Nice, but am looking strongly at Mallorca as a place to
settle down and live out this life. I too do not know how to go about what it takes to gain residency in Spain. I did work with many Gallegos in the North Sea. My dishes are delicious and I love to pour a drinker a good stiff one or be gingerly with the ladies. Anyone out there who could
put me on to the Immigration and Naturalization Department of Spain??? It would be greatly appreciated. [email protected]


Elvira September 15, 2011 at 8:43 am

Hi Ronald, you have to get all the information about the Spanish residency in the Spanish Consulate in your area in Texas or through their website. Your Consulate most likely would be in Houston. Here is the useful link:


Murray October 17, 2011 at 10:25 am

I'm Austrian but lived in the UK for ten years before moving to Madrid a couple of years ago. I am wondering if anyone knows what should be doing in regard to National Insurance (Pension) payments etc from when I lived in the UK?


Tracey May 24, 2012 at 3:58 pm

hi everyone. my husband son dog and i are wanting to move to Spain – Costa Blanca i think. do you need to get a visa etc as ive heard mixed reports???? also i have just bought a new car – just a corsa and wondered if i could take it over with me? we would like to rent somewhere for around 2 years or perhaps longer if `we` as a family like it but are unsure of `good` companies….. bit stressed at this end so any help would be truly greatful ;))))))


Amy September 11, 2012 at 10:21 am

Hi, I have been searching for schools in the La Manga Resort area but cannot find anything! Does anyone know if there are any schools in that area (state or international). My daughter is 5 and will be 6 in November.
I would be very grateful if anyone can help! Thank you 🙂


vr2012 September 19, 2012 at 11:00 am


I have read many of the comments on here about International schools, so apologies for more school questions!
However, I just wanted to know the local reputations of Aloha College and EIC in Marbella. Without league tables it is hard to know if they are very similar at all, especially in results/standards etc. I know the main difference is IB vs A level, but as schools go…is one more or less geared to helping students who struggle, or all about achieving academic success? Are parents encouraged to get involved in either school? What are the teachers like? etc etc.

If there are any parents from either school who can give me their personal opinion/experience, I would be so grateful! I am looking for a good school, but with a happy, not too pressured atmosphere. I have a 6 year old daughter & 1 year old son – my daughter enjoys school and could cope with being pushed hard, my son however – I have no idea what he will be like – so I need to be sure that the school I choose will be suitable for him too if he turns out not to be so keen on learning!! We are currently living in London, but moving to Marbella in Sept 2013.



uberm August 15, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Spain is my most favorite vacation spot. So many beautiful places to see. I specially like music bars there.


leah September 22, 2014 at 8:14 am

hi, we are thinking of moving to spain from Australia for about 6-12months, my partner works in Africa on an oil rig, we have 3 children. so no job needed in spain, does anyone have any info for me regarding areas, schools and if anyone in this kind of job has also done this move


lauren December 2, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Hi does anyone have advice im looking to move to spain early next year wheres the best place with jobs for english speakers n high school for my daughter. Any help would be appreciated


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