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Spain has always excited many foreigners looking for an exotic retreat. Not in the last place because of its many beaches (more than 8000 km of them), bars (more than anywhere else in the EU) and hot summer climate. The country’s coastal regions, especially in Andalucía, are one of the most popular expat destinations in Europe. But also the larger cities in Spain have significant expat populations, and are also very popular among exchange students.

Expats moving to Spain from non-Spanish speaking countries should account for the language barrier, as many Spanish people will have little desire to talk with people who do not make at least some attempt to  speak Spanish. It is highly advised to take some Spanish classes before you arrive, as this will make life much easier for you. It’s also important to consider that, in contrast to Northern European countries, many people in Spain identify themselves as being religious (70% of Spaniards feel a part of the Roman Catholic church).

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Moving to Spain

Without a doubt, the most popular place to buy a house in Spain, especially for well-off retirees, is the coastline of Andalucía. Many expats from the UK and other parts of Western Europe move to Costa Del Sol for at least a couple months per year. Please note that  for non-EU citizens, there may be restrictions to the amount of time you can spend in Spain every year. All foreigners buying property must possess an IE (foreign identification) number for tax purposes. Only with an IE number, foreigners can you apply for permits, take out insurance, open a bank account, import goods, obtain national health benefits etc.

One should apply for an IE card several months before signing any purchase contract. You can apply both in person (at a foreigner’s office), or hire a third party to take care of the application for you. For non-EU citizens in particular, we recommend hiring  a professional agency to assist you with the application process well before moving to Spain. Please note that not having an IE number at the time of a house purchase may result in fines. It is strongly advised that you always seek independent legal advice before paying or signing anything. Always ask for recommendations when hiring a lawyer; the ones experienced with Spanish property law are usually the best choice.

The different options to choose from when moving house to Spain are almost endless. Therefore, expats are wise to decide exactly what they’re looking for and how much they wish to pay, beforehand. As always, it is usually wise to rent accommodation in the area that you’re interested in first, in order to get acquainted. Inland areas are generally cheaper than coastal regions, but restrictions on the construction of houses may exist when you move to Andalucía. As a rule of thumb, property comes at attractive prices for foreigners, as the real estate market lags behind the recovery of the economy

The rental market for people moving to Spain is relatively small; many Spaniards live with their family for longer than elsewhere in Europe, and buy property after they leave home. It’s advisable to always view a house before moving in. Most landlords insist on meeting tenants before signing the contract. But because it may be hard to find a place to rent, there are also trustworthy rental services that you can use in order to be sure of a place to stay upon arrival in Spain. However, these tend to be slightly more expensive. A small apartment in Barcelona or Madrid starts at about €600 a month. Shared accommodation is also an option of course, and this is not uncommon for (new) expats that move to Spain. If you look for such opportunities online, you’ll find them in every major city in Spain.

Contracts to rent an apartment in Spain are usually for a fixed period of one year. Bonds can be quite significant (up to 2 months’ rent for furnished rooms or apartments) although negotiation about this is usually possible. Property owners may require tenants to demonstrate that they have enough funds or income to fulfil their obligations (think bank statements, pay checks, bank guarantees).

Shipping  Furniture to Spain

If you’re shipping furniture to Spain from other parts of Europe, it’s wise to look for international removal companies that offer services such as shipping container and sharing a container overseas. In addition to an IE number and a residence/work permit, you’ll also need to register with the local town hall in the area you’re moving to. Also, you will have to get your passport and inventory list stamped by the Spanish consulate in your country of origin. It is recommended to contact international removal companies that could help you with the procedures regarding your shipment. Moreover, it is not absolutely necessary to fill a 20′ container, if the goods shipped are less than that, you can opt for container sharing. Different international removal companies often have different policies and prices. It is advantageous to get in touch with multiple international moving companies and compare prices and services.

Those who opt for container sharing need to prepare themselves for a longer shipment time because the container would need to off-load goods that belong to others first depending on your destination. For more information you can contact international moving companies that would be pleased to help you. Prices are usually affordable and the shipment is worth the effort.

Moving to Madrid

Madrid is undoubtedly the most important city on the Iberian peninsula. It’s famous for its nightlife that starts early in the afternoon with tapas and doesn’t stop until the sun rises.  Although the hectic of the Spanish capital may not be very attractive to anyone, the city is a popular destination for younger expats. And despite the fact that the recession has devastated the Spanish economy, the prospect of finding a job with an international company is higher in Madrid than in the rest of the country. Expats moving to Madrid from Western Europe are expected to make less money in there, though the costs of living is significantly lower as well. Perhaps that is why the city is also home to the largest expat community in the country.

Moving to Barcelona

Filled with pride people, stunning architecture, a grand nightlife , glamourous beaches and a lively community of expats from countries in Europe, Africa and South-America it’s hard to think of a reason why one wouldn’t want to move to Barcelona. The cultural diversity of the city is visible everywhere, for example by the great variety of restaurants in the city centre. The seaside locations of Barcelona makes the city to an important trade hub with an industrial background and an incredibly important and diverse tertiary sector. Especially the ever-innovating IT sector attracts many workers moving to Barcelona from other countries. That said, it may prove to be difficult to find a job in Barcelona, especially if you don’t speak Spanish and/or Catalan. To cut costs at the beginning of your removal, you can opt for shipping container to Barcelona. International moving companies can advise you on the possibilities you have, as well as on their services and pricess.

Moving to Costa del Sol

It’s hard to think of any place that’s more associated with the words ‘summer holiday’. Many Europeans have visited the coastal regions of Spain at least once in their lives. Temperatures rarely fall below 15 degrees Celsius, even in winter. Prices along this 300 kilometres of gorgeous Spanish coast may vary greatly, with the area around Marbella being the most expensive retreat. However, as in many places in Spain, eating and drinking out is relatively cheap compared to the grocery shopping. There are few areas in Europe where you’ll find so many inhabitants from other countries (especially people moving to Spain from the UK, Netherlands and Scandinavia), some of which have been living there for decades. Recently, the area is becoming increasingly popular with expats from outside Europe as well.


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