Moving back to Spain with Spanish spouse

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Moving back to Spain with Spanish spouse


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Old 5th September 2016, 07:37 AM
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Default Moving back to Spain with Spanish spouse

Background

I lived in Spain from 2003 to 2011, most of that illegally. I did have a student visa for a while, a NIE, and a bank account. I tried to get residency via arraigo social after 5 years but was denied (thanks to the global financial crisis, the doors were pretty firmly shut at the time). Met my future-spouse, a Spanish citizen, there in 2005, although at the time we weren't married.

Since 2011, I have been in the US. Got married in 2012 (in Spain) and at that point my spouse joined me here in the USA, had a kid in 2013 and another in 2015. The kids have US and Spanish citizenship. We have a libro de familia and all that (and I'm in it), but other than that I have no legal status in Spain. The bank closed my account long ago.

Note that I am not a US citizen, nor an EU one; I'm here on a work visa sponsored by a US corporation. This means that when we go to Spain I'll have to close up shop and get all of my money and assets out of here. I don't really want to move them back to my home country (incurring exchange costs) if I can help it; I'd like to move them all to Spain.

Moving back to Spain

We know we want to move back to Spain within the next 1 to 3 years. There are three main areas of concern I have:
  1. My spouse left Spanish job in 2012 on coming to the US. Therefore, when we return, neither of us will have a job, so it is not clear how I can get residency if I can't demonstrate financial support (spouse can at least try to get a job, but I won't have legal status to even try). Spouse does have plenty of money in bank in Spain, although if we buy a house (see point 3), that may end up going away and being replaced by a mortgage instead. How much cash should we keep liquid in spouse's account to avoid problems in this respect? I'm guessing 3-5 months of bureaucracy before I get the residency and can start working (or looking for work). I have no idea how long it will take spouse to find job in field again after 5 or 6 years away.
  2. I have substantial savings in the US which I will need to transfer over to Spain. My experience with Spanish banks in the past leads me to believe that getting an account open there so I can transfer all this over is going to be tricky; will I be able to get a NIE on a prior visit, use that to an account, and then move the money over via wire? The amount will likely be a six-figure sum. I'm worried not only about the logistics of opening an account, but also the transfer of a very large quantity of money as well (basically, my life savings). This is really money I have earmarked for retirement; it is currently invested in index funds and I want to get it back into ETFs as soon as I can in Europe, so it can continue appreciating there.
  3. We want to buy a house. Again, worried about how the hell we are going to do that when only one of us is a citizen and we don't reside there yet. Will the Spanish banks touch us? Will I have to break open the retirement nest egg and pay cash for the entire thing? Is there any hope of me getting on the deed for the property given my status as a persona non grata, legally speaking?

At the moment all this is still 1-3 years away, but there are so many pieces that need to line up that I figure we have to start preparing now. I am sure I'll have much more specific questions as the moment of the move approaches, but for the time-being I just wanted to ask if our plan sounds reasonable and if there are any obstacles or gotchas that we might need to consider.

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Old 5th September 2016, 03:54 PM
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Let's see if I can help with a few of your questions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by elder View Post


My spouse left Spanish job in 2012 on coming to the US. Therefore, when we return, neither of us will have a job, so it is not clear how I can get residency if I can't demonstrate financial support (spouse can at least try to get a job, but I won't have legal status to even try). Spouse does have plenty of money in bank in Spain, although if we buy a house (see point 3), that may end up going away and being replaced by a mortgage instead. How much cash should we keep liquid in spouse's account to avoid problems in this respect? I'm guessing 3-5 months of bureaucracy before I get the residency and can start working (or looking for work). I have no idea how long it will take spouse to find job in field again after 5 or 6 years away.
First of all, you have to realize that you don't have to show financial support in order to get residency. Your wife does. She, as the EU citizen, will be the one to sponsor your application for residency. So she will have to demonstrate that she has enough income and savings to support the family unit. At the moment most foreigner's offices are asking for about 600/month/family member in income, plus also sometimes savings in a Spanish bank. Since there are 4 of you that will mean she'll need an income of about 2,400/month. Which brings us to the problem of finding a job. With 20+% unemployment in Spain that can be no small feat. Personally I would never be moving my family over here without a job lined up.

FYI, here is a link to the application you would use for your residency.

Quote:
Originally Posted by elder View Post
I have substantial savings in the US which I will need to transfer over to Spain. My experience with Spanish banks in the past leads me to believe that getting an account open there so I can transfer all this over is going to be tricky; will I be able to get a NIE on a prior visit, use that to an account, and then move the money over via wire? The amount will likely be a six-figure sum. I'm worried not only about the logistics of opening an account, but also the transfer of a very large quantity of money as well (basically, my life savings). This is really money I have earmarked for retirement; it is currently invested in index funds and I want to get it back into ETFs as soon as I can in Europe, so it can continue appreciating there.
Many banks will allow you to open an account with just your passport. As for transferring money once you have an account, there are international money transfer companies (such as Transferwise) that many people on this forum have used and recommended. But I have no personal experience with them. I have to ask, however, why you would want to bring your life's saving to such a questionable and unprofitable banking system as the Spanish one. Just saying...


Quote:
Originally Posted by elder View Post
We want to buy a house. Again, worried about how the hell we are going to do that when only one of us is a citizen and we don't reside there yet. Will the Spanish banks touch us? Will I have to break open the retirement nest egg and pay cash for the entire thing? Is there any hope of me getting on the deed for the property given my status as a persona non grata, legally speaking?[/LIST]
My advice would be to rent! If you buy and then change your mind you might not be able to sell because the market is dead. Also, rents are ridiculously cheap here, and it would give you the flexibility to test out several areas before committing yourself to something permanent.

Hope that helps!

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Old 5th September 2016, 08:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kalohi View Post
Since there are 4 of you that will mean she'll need an income of about 2,400/month. Which brings us to the problem of finding a job. With 20+% unemployment in Spain that can be no small feat. Personally I would never be moving my family over here without a job lined up.
Thanks for the reply!

Yeah, it does sound like no small feat. She has never earned more than about 1,600/month in her entire life. We may have to consider a "plan B". In the most drastic extreme, I could just live there illegally again. I hated the precariousness of the illegal lifestyle, but it's something I've lived with. Other options include me working in London and flying to visit the family regularly (I could probably get a job in London pretty easily as my company has offices there). Kind of shitty to think how hard it is to just have a family reside together in this crazy world, but we're not the ones calling the shots. In any case, her flying back a few months ahead of me, if necessary, might help her get a job, albeit not a 2,400/month one. She should probably start making inquiries soon to see if she can get something lined up. As you say, with high unemployment, it won't be easy.

Quote:
I have to ask, however, why you would want to bring your life's saving to such a questionable and unprofitable banking system as the Spanish one. Just saying...
At the moment all of my money is invested in index funds in the US with Vanguard. I can't keep those open once I am no longer a US resident (or if I do keep them open, it is only by lying or omitting to tell the truth to Vanguard).

So, I want a Spanish bank only insofar as it is a place to move the money into, and then from there straight back into the market (this time in Europe-domiciled ETFs), where I intend to let them sit for a couple decades, until retirement. It will suck to be out of the market for potentially a few months, but it may be a necessary evil. If I can get the money straight into the ETFs without going via the Spanish bank, I will.

Quote:
My advice would be to rent! If you buy and then change your mind you might not be able to sell because the market is dead. Also, rents are ridiculously cheap here, and it would give you the flexibility to test out several areas before committing yourself to something permanent.
This is a good option, and realistically, we may have to do exactly that until we find a place anyway. It will be hard to both find and buy a place from the US, even with a couple of visits to Spain along the way.

Quote:
Hope that helps!
Definitely!

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