Spain Relocation Guide: 8 Things to Know Before Moving to Spain

Great weather, a rich culture, a world-famous food scene: there are plenty of reasons why you might be thinking of relocating to Spain. At Remitly, we know a potential move will mean doing a lot of research beforehand. That’s why we’ve put together this short guide to the essential things you need to be aware of, from visa requirements to Spanish healthcare.

1. Applying for a visa

If you’re not a resident of the EU/EEA or Switzerland, you’ll usually need to apply for a work visa or long-term student visa in order to settle in Spain. In both cases, you’ll need to provide embassy or consulate staff with documents including:

  • Valid passport
  • An official medical certificate
  • A criminal record certificate
  • Proof of health insurance from an officially sanctioned insurance company

If you’re after a student visa, you’ll also need to show a letter of admission from your university or educational institution, along with proof that you can financially support yourself. For example, recent bank statements, or a notarized letter from a parent/guardian confirming they’ll take on financial responsibility.

If you’re after a work visa, your employer in Spain may first have to apply to the relevant immigration authorities to demonstrate they haven’t had any suitable Spanish applicants for the job role. You’ll then be able to apply for a work visa at your local Spanish embassy or consulate. You can learn more about work visa applications, and different kinds of Spanish work visas, with our in-depth guide.

2. Setting up a Spanish bank account

One of the most fundamental steps towards getting settled in a new country is to set up a local bank account. Fortunately, the process is pretty straightforward, although you should note that any official documents requested by the bank will need to be translated into Spanish by a certified translator known as a traductor jurado.

Documents commonly requested from new arrivals to Spain include:

  • Proof of address
  • Employment contract, student ID or other proof of your employment/student status
  • Official photo ID such as your passport
  • Your Spanish foreigner identification number (NIE), which can be obtained from a local police station by appointment

There are lots of banks in Spain to choose from, so it’s a good idea to do some research online. Compare what kinds of services the banks offer and what kinds of fees they charge. You’ll often be able to open your account within moments online, though many people prefer to make an appointment and do it in person at a branch. You can check out some of our recommended Spanish banks here.

3. Healthcare in Spain

As mentioned above, one of the conditions of getting a long-term visa is taking out adequate health insurance. Your policy must be provided by an insurance company that’s authorized to operate in Spain, and it must cover you for routine doctor’s appointments and medical emergencies alike. It’s important to confirm with your local embassy or consulate staff about what the exact stipulations are for your private health insurance. This will ensure that you meet the requirements and that your visa application won’t fall at that hurdle.

4. Cost of living

There are some costs that will naturally attract your attention, such as the price of applying for the visa, or the price of the private health insurance policy. But anyone moving to Spain should also take some time out to consider the general living costs. After all, the last thing you want is to end up spending beyond your budget as you settle into your new lifestyle.

This is why it’s a great idea to sit down and list all your expected expenses, trying to estimate how much you’ll spend as accurately as you can. Some key factors to take into account are:

  • Rent
  • Utility bills, not forgetting the cost of internet and mobile phone
  • Grocery costs
  • Transportation costs
  • Costs relating to socialising/entertainment
  • How much you are planning to send to family and friends back home

5. Finding accommodation

You’ve selected the country you’d like to live in – Spain – but what about the property itself? This can certainly be a time-consuming process, but thanks to the internet you can take your time and have a good browse around from the comfort of your own home, well ahead of your move. There are numerous real estate listings sites available, and you can swiftly search for rentals in Barcelona, Madrid, Seville and anywhere else in the country.

As well as being able to filter your search by city and region, you can also search by other parameters, such as the number of rooms, location within a city, and of course price. If you’re going to study in Spain, you can contact the university to see what student accommodation options are available. These include halls of residence, student apartments, and placements with approved host families.

6. Transport in Spain

As you might expect, Spain has a sophisticated and state-of-the-art public transportation network in place. It boasts Europe’s longest high-speed rail network, which makes it a breeze to get between major locations in the country. Three major cities – Madrid, Barcelona and Bilbao – have their own metro rail networks, while many urban areas have trams to get people where they need to go. There are also buses and taxi cabs, so you’ll have your pick of ways to get around.

Just remember to factor transportation costs into your monthly budget, as this can rack up quite a lot depending on how much you expect to spend on the various services.

7. General things to know

We’ve covered some of the most important aspects of moving to Spain, but here’s some more general trivia you might be interested to know.

  • Spain’s official name is actually the Kingdom of Spain
  • Spanish has the second-highest number of native speakers in the world, after Mandarin Chinese; other prominent languages spoken in Spain include Catalan, Galician and Basque
  • The oldest restaurant in the world is in Madrid; it’s called Botin and has been in operation since 1725

8. Sending money back home

One of your priorities after you move to Spain may be to send money to your loved ones back home. There are a number of ways to do this: you could use your bank, or one of several money transfer companies. It’s wise to compare prices, both in terms of transfer fees and the exchange rates offered. You may well find that using a digital remittance company is more cost-effective than more traditional, over-the-counter services.

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