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Moving to Spain? A Guide to Spanish Living, An Expat’s Guide

Moving to Spain: An Expat’s Guide

Spain is a beautiful country, and it’s one that many expats simply can’t wait to move to. Between the high quality of life, the friendly people, the delicious food, and the vibrant and colorful culture, there’s plenty to love about Spain.
Luckily, Spain is widely regarded as an easy country to move to and it’s not difficult for would-be expats to build a home for themselves in this beautiful, unique, and welcoming country. Read on to learn more.

Why Move to Spain?

When it comes to moving to Spain, there’s plenty to love.
Regardless of whether you’ve visited Spain and adored it, or you’re considering your big move sight unseen, it goes without saying that this beautiful country offers many big benefits. For one, the cost of living in Spain is relatively low, and expats from European countries may likely find it to be less expensive than their previous home. It’s possible to build a nice life on a small salary in Spain, and many people move here solely because the cost of living is so manageable.
If that weren’t enough to convince you that Spain is a wonderful destination, there’s also the simplicity of the language (Spanish is much easier to learn than, say, Mandarin) and the widespread nature of English. Beyond that, Spain also offers an incredible social health care system and a festival-focused, laid-back, family-centered culture that offers more than enough for foreigners from around the world to love. Spain is a self-governing state located in the southwestern part of Europe, has two island chains in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean and therefore has two coastlines something very interesting and tourism attracting. Madrid is the largest and capital city of Spain and it where the Royal Palace, which took 17 years of construction, is located among other things. Besides being the largest municipality of the Madrid Community and with a metropolitan area, being the third largest in the European Union it is also the third largest city in the Union of Europe.

Getting a Visa in Spain

Once you’ve decided to live in Spain, you’ll need to get to work securing a visa. Luckily, this is much easier in Spain than it is in various other parts of the world. While you do need a visa to live, work, and study abroad in Spain, the Spanish government doesn’t make them very difficult to come by.
This is especially true if you’re migrating from any country in the EU. Thanks to the Freedom of Movement Act, EU nationals are permitted to move freely into Spain to live, work, or study. The only exception is people coming from Croatia, who will need a work permit to migrate to Spain.
Keep in mind that, even if you’re coming from a EU country, you will need to register with the Spanish authorities in order to secure Spanish identification and comply fully with the country’s immigration laws.If you’re planning to move to Spain from anywhere outside of the EU, you’ll need a long-term visa. Long-term visas are required for any non-EU-national who wants to live in, study in, or work in Spain for longer than three months. Luckily, long-term visas are easy to come by. While you’ll be required to apply for the permit with the Spanish embassy in the country within which you’re currently located, this is a relatively simple process and expats generally find that it goes rather smoothly from beginning to end.To ensure that your application is processed quickly and efficiently, be sure to pay your application fee on time and check in on a regular basis to find out if officials are missing any needed paperwork or documentation on your part.Once your long-term visa has been granted and you arrive in Spain, you’ll need to apply for a residence card within 30 days. Keep in mind that, to apply for this card, you’ll need to bring your passport, visa application form, proof of residence, and proof of income with you.

Finding Housing in Spain

Depending on where you intend to live, finding housing in Spain is relatively simple. While rental prices will vary depending on the city and accommodations you choose, it’s generally easy for expats from all walks of life and backgrounds to secure housing in Spain.
When it comes to living in Spain, most people choose to rent. Property prices in the country have taken a nosedive in recent years, and people are opting to rent instead of buy. Because of this, rentals are cheap and it’s easy for expats to find attractive, comfortable flats for just a few hundred dollars each month.
In addition to being more stable than purchasing a home, renting a home also allows expats to get to know the area and decide where they would like to be if and when they ultimately decide to buy.
To find your ideal rental property in Spain, you’ll want to start by hiring a Spanish real estate agent. While there are dozens of ways to locate property in Spain, a real estate agent will be able to walk you through the most effective and ensure that you find the property you truly want. What’s more, a real estate agent will also be able to help you determine what’s a fair price and how much houses in a given area should be renting for. As is true in many places around the globe, “unfurnished” apartments in Spain are truly unfurnished (often not even including kitchen appliances) and expats moving to the country should be prepared to fully furnish the apartment if this is the route they take.

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The 5 Best Places to Live in Spain

1. Santiago de Compostela
The capital of Spain’s Northwestern Galicia region, Santiago de Compostela is a world-famous pilgrimage destination and one of the most beautiful cities in all of Spain. Residents and visitors here love the city’s stunning architecture, unique history, and picturesque streets. Thanks to the large focus on tourism, expats here will find it easy to get a job in the tourism industry or to.

2. Toledo
Toledo is a mountainous destination that rose to prominence as the capital of Spain before the 16th century. Today, Toledo is a hotbed of art, culture, architecture, and fashion, and is widely known for its winding, picturesque streets and stunning cathedrals. When you choose to live here, you’ll gain access to a wide selection of bars, cafes, delicious restaurants, and plenty of quaint little galleries to make your head spin.

3. Cordoba
Cordoba is a medieval city that offers stately, Andalusian-style buildings, cobbled streets, and a gorgeous mix of cultures, attractions, and gardens. The pace of life here is a bit quieter, but expats who choose to live in this beautiful Southern city will enjoy plenty of sun, friendly locals, and days of getting lost in the picturesque medieval streets the city has to offer.

4. Barcelona
One of the most famous cities in Spain, Barcelona is known for its Gothic quarter and cobbled streets. Ideal for expats who want to live a Mediterranean lifestyle, Barcelona offers all of the art, culture, and vibrancy of a big city without sacrificing the quaintness and cozy feeling of a small town. Known for its delicious wine, outstanding architecture, and vibrant nightlife, Barcelona is the go-to destination for people who want to be in the midst of everything Spain has to offer.

5. Madrid
Known as one of the most vibrant cities on earth, Madrid is a colorful place with plenty to see and do for all who choose to venture there. Like many other spaces in Spain, it offers outstanding architecture, a vibrant artistic scene, and plenty of Michelin-starred restaurants for the culinary devotees among us. Madrid also offers a vibrant nightlife and a spot as one of the most unique and exciting cities in the world.
The fact that Madrid is the home of the Royal family has many tourists streaming in just to get a glimpse of its magnificent view and get the opportunity to enter its premises and explore the palace rooms which are regularly open to the public and tourists except when there are state meetings. The palace contains 3,418 rooms and it will take you more than just a day to visit all of them. The inside of the palace is full of decorations and is rich of fine art including the Royal Armoury of Madrid, famous artists’ paintings and objects made out of silver. For those who love music, the palace contains the only complete Stradivarius string quintet built by the famous Stradivari family members. Fine materials used for its construction are evident all over the interior. Beside the place runs the Manzanares River adding beauty to the already exquisite scenery especially from the aerial view. Visit the Royal Palace to quench your curiosity and marvel in the beauty it holds.
Madrid’s population according to the 2013 Census report is about 3.2 million people with a total population of 6.5 people including the 20 adjoining metropolises. Its population density fluctuates from place to place where places with high densities surpass 30,000 people per square kilometre and the least densely populated places exceed 1,500 people per square kilometre. Due to its economic properties, there are a large number of immigrants from South America and Eastern Europe in the city. However, most of the immigrants are in the country illegally and they therefore mostly work in the large markets that fill all of Spain to go unnoticed and undetected by blending in. About 90% of the population is Spanish citizens. The largest immigrant groups are the Romanians who amount to 148,000 in population, followed by the Moroccans being 136,000 people and lastly the Colombians ranking in the fourth position of immigrants by 61,000. Other immigrant groups include the Chinese, Filipinos, Ecuadorians and the Peruvians.
Madrid is the home of Real Madrid and Atletico de Madrid, two worldly recognised and loved football clubs. Almost everyone is a fan of a certain club and loves watching football as it is among the most viewed sports. Real Madrid was selected by FIFA as the best team of the 20th century after its victorious encounter of 10 European Cups. It is among the four cities in Europe to have two UEFA stadium categories of a 5star rating. Apart from football, Basketball is also a prominent sport in Madrid. Real Madrid basketball team boasts of many victories in Spanish Leagues including 5 intercontinental cups, 8 Euroleague Championships and 22 Spanish Cup Championships. Madrid offers every sport from skiing during the winter to all time golf playing. You will get a golden chance to watch international sports and football matches. If you are a sports fan you can practice a little football basketball or golf at the sports ground and stadiums.
Being a modern metropolitan city and located at the centre of the Iberian Peninsula, it is the economic, financial and industrial centre of Spain. The standards of living in Madrid are high hence its economic status. The Monocle Magazine in 2014 report ranked it as the 17th most live-able city in the world. It acts as the headquarters for many international organizations including the United Nations Organisation, the World Tourism Organisation and the Organization of Ibero-American States. Many educational institutes are located in the city including the Royal Spanish Academy, the Foundation of Spanish and the Cervantes Institute. For anyone who wants to learn the Spanish language, these institutes are highly recommended among others not mentioned.
The city is full of attractions that offer entertainment and amusements as well as cultural aspects that you might want to observer during your vacation in Spain. This comes from the amusement parks including the Warner Park that offers entertainment to the whole family including children activities where they can be able to see their favourite cartoon characters like Scooby Doo and Donald Duck at the Cartoon Village. Live shows are offered and the behind the scene secrets are revealed on big screens for adults. There is great fun for the family as every member gets entertained fully and gets to relax in front of the screen. The Madrid Amusement Park offers water rides, pirate ships for children, roller coasters, adventure playgrounds, cars and miniature train rides. After a hot day, the water rides will do a great deal in cooling off your body and freshening up. Some people have a passion for wild life as well as marine life, animals including fish, sea snakes, turtles, see weed among others. The Madrid Zoo Aquarium offers tourists a chance to take a tour and see the animals in the zoo including Pandas and Koalas. It also contains an aviary where rare breeds of birds can be found flying around. Not to forget children, there is the Little Farm specifically for entertaining children at the same time educating them. The aquarium have tanks with large dolphins at different stages, tourists can get to observe the life cycle of a dolphin, which is always fun and intruding. On a hot summer, you might want to escape the heat and take a trip to the Aquapolis Water Park, relax under a shade while your children run around playing with the waters and slides.
Great monuments found in Madrid include the many museums; Museo de America that encompasses the finest assortments of pre-Colombian American art and relics in Europe, Museo Del Romanticismo shows the Spain’s Romantic era and the people’s way of living during that time. Great works of Gustavo Adolfo Becquer, Rosalia de Castro and Lord Byron are manifested and represented in this museum. Over 1,600 pieces including pianos, furniture, paintings are kept on display. This is eye candy for the unending string of visiting tourists to Spain. After a long tour, be sure to stop over at the Garden Café just adjacent the museum for a relaxing hot cup of coffee. Tourists of all races and ages are usually awed by the unique collection at the Natural Science Museum in Madrid, which overlooks a beautiful garden. It contains a great display of Mediterranean flora and fauna, which reflects the biodiversity of the expanse. An open-air rock garden referred to as the Jardin de Piedras parades rocks and fossils from the Community of Madrid and a carbon copy of a Diplodocus alongside a very long whale skeleton more than 20 metres. Finally yet importantly is one of the oldest museums in Madrid, Museo Arquelogico Nacional. Here you can find many artefacts supporting the evolution of human cultures from the pre historic time up to the 15th century and other cultures of different races. Excavations carried out within Spain were the sources of most of the archaeological pieces; evidence of the settlement of humans in the Iberian Peninsula.
The weather in Madrid varies from hot and dry in the summer to cold in the winter. During the summer, the weather is warm and hot with the warmest month, July, the daytime temperature ranging from 32 to 33 degree Celsius and usually go as high as 35 degree Celsius in the heat waves of the city. Madrid’s dry climate and altitude brings about diurnal temperature variations during the summer season. In the winter season, the weather is usually cool and mild due to its altitude of 667m above the sea level and the distance to the sea. Snowfalls are witnessed during this season and the temperatures drop up to below freezing levels. For this reason, you might want to carry along very heavy clothes in preparation for you winter vacation in Madrid to protect your loved ones and yourself from frostbites and cold. In the autumn and spring, there is concentration in precipitation therefore minimum occasional showers and thunderstorms.
Bullfight and boxing enthusiasts should visit Madrid between the months of March to October because this is usually the period where bullfights are held during the festivals of San Isidro, the patron saint of Madrid, and public holidays. Bullfights happen every day on the onset of these festivals for a total of 20 days beginning at 7 pm. It will give you the opportunity to witness the best bulls and fighters in action. The city is known to have the largest bullring in Spain, Las Ventas, majorly thought of as the world core of bullfighting and can accommodate as many as 25000 spectators. The city of Madrid holds secrets that awaits your discovery, grab the chance to take a trip there and have a mind-blowing experience.

What Expats Need to Know About the Weather in Spain

While all of the popular postcards depict Spain as a land of sun, this is only partially true. Spain is varied geographically, and different parts of the country get drastically different weather patterns.
As a general rule, the country is hot, dry and sunny. This is true in the summer, at least. Come winter, though, the weather in Spain undergoes a large shift. The high mountain and central areas of the country get more than their fair share of snow, and temperatures can get bone-chillingly cold.
This means that expats who prefer the warmer, sunnier side of the country will do best to stick to the Southern reaches or the coastal areas.
In these portions of the country, the winters are mild and the rainfall is plentiful throughout the winter and the fall.
While it’s true that Spanish weather patterns vary widely, it’s also true that the country as a whole enjoys a mild, enjoyable series of seasons that most expats adjust to nicely.

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Pros and Cons of Moving to Spain

As is true with any destination in the world, living in Spain has its fair share of pros and cons. By understanding each side of the coin equally, expats can make an informed decision and ensure that the big move is something that works out for the long-term.


Travel-friendly. Living in Spain makes it easy to travel to other locales throughout Europe. Flights to Germany, France, and the UK are easy to find and inexpensive to purchase.



While Spain, like all places, has its own selection of drawbacks, it is an overwhelmingly beautiful country that offers all of the flavor, culture, outdoor pursuits, stimulation, and acceptance an expat could want.
As is true with all locations, though, it pays to be certain that Spain is truly where you want to wind up before you move. While the visa process is simple and the quality of life is outstanding in this gorgeous country, many expats find it difficult to acclimate to Spain, and it’s wise to consider the pros and cons before you take the plunge.
If you do decide that Spain is right for you, you’re in for a lifetime of enjoyment. Between its delicious food, world-class wine, and ample attractions, Spain is a place that’s easy to love, and most expats are happy to settle down here for the long-term.Whether you’re moving to the country in pursuit of work or you simply want to enjoy the famed Spanish lifestyle that has appealed to so many, there’s no doubt that Spain is a wonderful place to put down roots.


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