How to Settle in Spain as an Immigrant

Last updated on May 7th, 2024 at 04:41 pm

Living in Spain as an Immigrant

Moving to a new part of the world can present some practical challenges. If you plan to settle in Spain, you’ve come to the right page. Here at Remitly, we’ve put together this guide for acclimating to your new home.

It covers everything from pinpointing a property to reviewing some cultural norms, all to help you settle into Spain as an immigrant.

Finding a place to live

Spain is home to many cities boasting dazzling architecture, lively restaurants, and a high quality of life. Whether you move to Madrid, Seville, Barcelona, or any other hub, you’ll need to find the right place to live and settle in Spain. Instead of visiting individual rental agents in person, use online property portals that list the latest offerings.

Idealista is an example of a property site widely used in Spain. It lets you look up apartments, houses, and even rooms within shared properties. The range of filters lets you narrow your search down to places that are in the right area and fit your budget.

Other property portals to check out include Fotocasa and Habitaclia.

It’s vital to arrange in-person viewings of any properties you’re interested in. Photos may be misleading, and even virtual viewings using Zoom or Skype may not reveal potential flaws.

You’ll also need certain official documents to rent a place in Spain. These can include proof of residency status, proof of employment, and recent bank statements. Typically, you’ll need to pay some rent in advance, plus a deposit to secure the landlord against possible damage to the property.

You can find out more with our detailed guide to renting in Spain.

Setting up a bank account

If there’s one thing that can help make you feel at home in a new country, it’s having a local bank account. There are some practical advantages, too.

For example, you’ll avoid any international banking fees by switching to a local bank in Spain. In addition, certain transactions, like receiving your salary from your Spanish job, or paying rent, may require a Spanish bank account.

There are plenty of banks to choose from, including well-known, high-street institutions like Santander, CaixaBank, and BBVA. Some immigrants may prefer to create an account with banks based entirely online, like N26.

Whichever you choose, you’ll have to show documents to prove your identity and address. Eligible documents may include your passport, student ID, and recent utility bill. We discuss the factors to consider when comparing banks in our detailed guide to Spanish bank accounts.

Finding a job

You may decide to change jobs while living in Spain. It’s important to check whether your particular work visa sets any limits in this regard. For example, you may have to stay within the same job sector to settle in Spain.

Recent research by LinkedIn shows tech as a booming sector in Spain, though other fields are popular too. According to these findings, some of the most in-demand roles are:

  • Business development professionals experienced in software like Salesforce
  • Cloud architects familiar with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure
  • Cybersecurity specialists skilled in information security and ethical hacking
  • Data engineers adept at using tools like Apache Spark and Hadoop
  • Medical specialists experienced in clinical research and oncology
  • Mortgage loan officers who’ve worked in home loans and refinancing

As with finding accommodation, the internet can help you find job vacancies in Spain. The government runs its own job search site, Empleat, where you can search for both private and public sector roles. Other sites listing up-to-date positions include Bolsade Trabajo, Oficina Empleo, and BuscoJobs.

Review your CV/résumé before embarking on a job search. Consider hiring a professional to translate the information. At the very least, get a friend well-versed in Spanish to read over it for you.

It’s also wise to keep your LinkedIn profile updated, as this can allow you to forge valuable professional connections in Spain.

Exploring your new home

Known for its many marvels, Spain has a superlative food scene. Paella, a dish of saffron-scented rice and meats, originated in Valencia and is now made all over the world. You may also want to try classics like patatas bravas (fried potatoes with spicy sauce) and refreshing gazpacho soup.

Lesser-known delicacies to discover include Cocido Madrileno, a chickpea stew from Madrid, and fideuà, a noodle dish popular in Barcelona.

You’ll also be able to enjoy many traditional treats in Spain’s famous tapas bars. Many people like to try some food at one tapas bar before moving on to another throughout the night. Some foodie quarters to explore include Madrid’s La Latina, Barcelona’s Passeig de Sant Joan, and San Sebastián’s old town.

Art is also central to Spanish culture and history. Consider taking a tour of Antoni Gaudi’s ornate, organic-seeming architecture in Barcelona. Meanwhile, the Prado Museum in Madrid has one of the top art collections in the world. You can use Spain’s public transportation system as you move from one destination to the next.

We recommend the Citymapper app, which shows you how to get between destinations in cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga, and Valencia. Review our guide to other apps for immigrants in Spain.

How to Settle in Spain as an Immigrant

Getting used to cultural changes

As with any country, there are aspects of everyday culture that many newcomers who want to settle in Spain aren’t aware of. Take the aforementioned tapas bars, which are so vital to the food culture in Spain.

While the country is famous for its large range of wines, ordering a glass is usually a very simple process. Many diners simply ask for vino tino (red) or vino blanco (white), with no need to name specific wines.

Often, you’re also allowed to throw trash like used napkins, olive pits, and prawn shells on the floor. This isn’t the case at every tapas bar, so check to see if the locals are doing it before joining in.

There’s also a popular misconception about the siesta in Spain. Many people may assume that this traditional afternoon nap is still a widespread custom, bringing communities to an afternoon halt.

However, it’s not as prevalent or formally observed as you might expect. A survey conducted back in 2017 found that almost 60% of Spaniards don’t partake in the siesta.

Your location determines whether the siesta affects your daily activities. The influence of this tradition isn’t as common in large cities, where many shops and businesses remain open throughout the day. By contrast, smaller communities and rural areas can become quiet in the late afternoon.

Sending money home

Sending money to your loved ones back home can be another key consideration when settling in Spain. You may want to send money to celebrate an event like a birthday, or you may need to provide ongoing financial support. Either way, you have several options regarding international money transfers.

You can choose to send funds through your bank, or a land-based remittance company with outlets in Spain. Online-only money transfer companies can offer real value.

For example, Remitly provides low transfer fees and competitive exchange rates every time you send money abroad. Multiple layers of security protect each transaction, and the Remitly app makes it easy to make transfers almost anywhere in Spain.

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