Living a Spanish Life is just Five Tips Away

You have just started a new life in one the world’s greatest countries with lovely sunny days. Buying property in Spain is another stage you have to take so you can fully enjoy your Spanish living.

housing in spain

However, with so many property companies knocking at your door to sell you their different products, choosing the best of them can be a little tricky. If you hate all the hassles and stress of buying property in Spain (remember, the country is also known for the long queues everywhere), you won’t shrug off these useful tips.

  1. The most important deciding factor is the money you are able and willing to spend on the property. It also matters where you are going to get the money. Do you have a bank account that’s been set aside for circumstances like this? Will you get it from a mortgage loan or from the sales of your old home? Knowing that you have an available budget and the amount in it will help you determine the range of property designs, brands and quality that you should stick to. You are from another country so do not ignore the exchange rate as well.
  2. You have to separate the must-have and the would-be-nice properties. Your must-have list is the necessary properties, such as the number of bedrooms, proximity to shops, schools and market, and the space outside. Would-be-nice list consists of the things that you can do without, but would add a better ambience in your home, like Jacuzzi, swimming pool, patio and basketball court. You also have to give a thought whether or not you want to renovate. If so, you will need to set two separate budgets for the house and for the rework to be done.
  3. Now that your money is ready, the next thing you should do is to start searching in different regions and towns of Spain where you want to start your new life. This hint might help you in your search: The closer the property is to the Costa del Sol, the more expensive it is. It doesn’t even matter if it’s a town or a country house.
  4. You will definitely need the help of an estate agent if you want everything to be done in a little amount of time. Learning the ins and outs of buying property in Spain may take longer than you could ever imagine. Just beware of scams that advertise a very persuasive price. Though they charge you low at first, you may end up paying them more than you are ever aware of.
  5. Never ever forget the proof of Title and to get insurance for it. Insurance will be like your battle shield against possible losses caused by title-related defects for the time that you own the property. Some examples are clerical or typographical error that can affect your title, alteration or loss of title documentation, unrecorded tax liens, forgery and fraud.

Your dream of living and owning a home in Europe’s sunniest country will be hassle-free if you take these five tips seriously.

The do’s and don’ts of living in Spain as an expat

Statement one.

Pay attention. Living in Spain is NOT the same as being on holiday here!

Now I’ve got that out of the way, let me explain.

Moving to ANY foreign country is something not to be taken lightly, and as the TV show from years ago used to proclaim, there is “no going back” as it where.

Mind you, talking of TV shows, be wary of what you see on shows like “A place in the sun” because that is about as far removed from reality also.

Some people who come to live in Spain, especially from the UK, seem to be attracted to either country houses, or urbanisations with more expats from the same country, English bars, English shops etc. Whilst these facilities can be handy, living in this sort of environment is very restrictive, and can skew the reality that you live in Spain, after all, why aspire to “England in the sun” when you are NOT in England.

We thought to put together one or two main points to help you.

Here’s a few misnomers and myths busted.

  • “Everyone speaks English!”

No they don’t! Whilst the waiters in the hotel where you stayed last year before moving here may have spoken English, it is because they are paid to do so and it is most certainly NOT the norm. Try going 10 miles inland, walking into a Spanish bar and asking, in English, for a Cornish pasty and a pint!

  • “I can bring my UK right hand drive car and drive as normal!”

Why would you want to do that? We drive on the right in Spain, in left hand drive cars. Driving a RHD car here can be in some cases dangerous, plus you are only allowed your car on UK plates for 6 months, and after that, by law, you will have to register it as Spanish, and pay import tax, vat, mot fees etc. In addition, as it is right hand drive, you will NOT be able to sell it for anything much more than peanuts. You may be targeted by criminal gangs also, even if you have Spanish plates because no one in Spain apart from brits drive RHD cars. Driving in Spain can be mad enough without doing it in a silly illegal RHD English car.

  • “I can live off my UK benefits until I find work.”

No, wrong. When you leave the UK, you leave your entitlement to benefits from the state and yes that also includes child benefit. If you have work and then lose it here, it is very unlikely that you will get any form of dole at all, in most cases, Expats who have found themselves out of work have had to return to the UK, penniless and hungry. In Spain, if you don’t work, you don’t eat.

There is no housing benefit, no tax credits, and no help from the state if you need. This is important to remember too, that spain is in the worst recession for years, with over 50% of under 25’s unemployed.

In addition, although the cost of living is generally less than northern Europe, wages are much lower, and it is unlikely that you will find a job here.

Another point to consider if you are not single, is your family. Moving far away can make you miss your loved ones, but don’t think they will be out to see you every 5 mins, unless you have plenty of money.

Bringing the children to live in Spain

Everyone is different and everyone has their own life to lead, so if you choose to lead that life in Spain, your success will largely depend on your age and experience, and your willingness to adapt to a very different life than one you have been used to.

If you are thinking about moving to Spain in the near future, and you have children, of whatever age, don’t underestimate the effect the move to a new land, and the new life that you will experience, will have on your kids.

They are part of YOU after all and will go through various periods of insecurity and helplessness, especially until they make friends and of course learn the language, which seems easier for kids to grasp than it does for the parents.

Final points

Living in Spain as an expat, you can choose to integrate with the locals or stay in a Northern European “bubble” but if you do, you will NOT experience the real Spain and that would be a terrible shame. Spain is there to enjoy. Learn the language, or at least enough to “get by”, you will find your life here much easier and more rewarding.

Spanish Expat Advice from Guy Alexander Bell

What New Life Do You Want in Spain?

Planning the big move to Spain ? Stop for just one second and consider the simple question – why?

What are you hoping to achieve and what lifestyle are you hoping to lead once you reach the Iberian shores. Theres no ultimate right or wrong answer and plurality of the Spanish areas, cultures and destinations can cater for most desired lifestyles – but to avoid disappointing your own dreams its worth matching your hopes for a future life with the area, the activities and the attempts at integration that you undertake as part of moving abroad.

Two common types of generalized immigrants to Spain:

1. The Sunshine Hunter. You are basically happy in your home country, but desire to live somewhere warmer and more pleasant – preferably in as close to the same way as you are used to. In other words, you are happy with life as it is, you just want it relocated to the sun, near to a beach and perhaps to an area with lower costs of living or more luxury within your economic reach.

If such goals are anywhere close to yours the Spanish beach resorts and expatriate “ghettos” will most likely suit you. In the case of Jávea the obvious choice of location would be the Area round the main Arenal beach or one of the attached urbanizations. In those parts of town you can more or less get by without speaking Spanish or indeed without the need to venture outside the comfort zone of  “little England” (or “little Germany” for that matter). The Arenal area has English/German bars, supermarkets, schools, services and whatever else you might fancy.

You might argue that such a lifestyle has little to do with actually living in Spain and you´d obviously be correct. However, this is in fact the most common way for expats from England, Germany and other parts of the world to live.  Some use it as a stepping stone to explore more integrational lifestyles in Spain later on, others are happy to remain in the comfortable tourist areas forever.

2. The Wannabe Spaniard. In the exact opposite end of the spectrum we have those wanting to assimilate themselves into the actual Spanish society to the furthest possible extend.

You may have visited Spain repeatedly and fallen in love with the Spanish lifestyle and the nutty Spaniards, you might have lived in the expat “ghettos” for a while and decided its time to venture into the “real” Spain or you might simply crave a complete change in your way of life. Whatever your reasons may be you will probably find a challenging but rewarding path ahead. Spanish society may seem difficult to enter into but on the whole Spanish people tend to be generously rewarding even your first feeble attempts.

In Jávea your obvious destination would be the historic centre, Jávea old town. You most definitely need conversational Spanish at the very least to enjoy it fully and get by in every day life comfortably. But more importantly you probably have to embrace the thought that Spain IS different and you are the one in the process of blending into a lifestyle that treasures different things than you might be used to.

Moving straight to a traditional Spanish area like the Jávea old town from Northern Europe WILL be a culture shock – but it might also be an eye opener to an entirely new lifestyle.

costa blanca cove

The In-Betweeners … Is there a middle ground?
Well of course, you can choose to go half way, take little steps in one direction or the other. The beauty of Spain is hidden in the variety and the tolerance. Yet, the middle of the road isnt necessarily the best option though – you might end up not really achieving any parts of the life you actually want if you try to do things halfway.

You will occasionally hear expatriates complain that the Spanish are hostile or even racist. It simply isnt true in any reasonable sense of the words. If you move to Spain and spend a decade in your new home country without learning a word of the language or contributing a dime to your local community whilst treating the natives as subhuman servants – Yes, you might get a bit of hostility back. Frankly, you earned it. Name one country in the world where that sort of attitude wouldn’t be considered rude, you can´t.

If on the other hand you treat people with respect, learn at least enough of the official language in your country of residence to communicate in a meaningful way and show at least a basic bit of interest in your local community you will find the Valencia brand of Spaniards to be enormously generous in their hospitality, helpfulness and willingness to include you in their circles. It may take time – but hey, you have your entire life in Spain ahead of you.

A few simple things to make integration in Spain easier and more smooth:

  • Make The Effort To Learn The Language!
  • Adjust your own pace to the Spanish one
  • Embrace the siesta – its a pleasant break and a social blessing
  • At least TRY out participating in local activities
  • Treat people with respect – whoever they are (doh!)

There is no right or wrong as such – choose the lifestyle you prefer. Just dont put a blindfold on and uproot your entire life to a new country without a bit of basic research and realization.

Picture from the traditional Moors and Christians fiesta in Jávea – Photos by White Coast Photography.

Expats in Spain – New Residency Law

Expats in Spain and people thinking about making the big move abroad have a new law to adhere to. The law tightens the rules for immigrating to Spain from another EU country.

The basic intention of the law is to ensure new residents in Spain from the rest of Europe have ways of supporting themselves so they dont become burdens of the economically challenged Spanish state. The way to achieve this is to grant residency only to applicants who can prove income in form of a pension, a job or a business.

Don´t be sad!

The new law wont stop you moving to Spain. Think about it. They are asking for proof you can provide for yourself – why would you move if you couldnt? Any job, pension, sum in the bank or similar that will provide for your new life is acceptable and as such it doesnt actually stop anyone with a decent plan from making the move to Spain

You can see a more detailed explanation of the new law, the consequences and advice for making the move to Spain – with a focus on moving to the Costa Blanca area of Jávea, but the advice applies anywhere in Spain – read the
Moving To Spain – A New Livelihood ? article.

The English embassy has made a translation of the key parts of the new law:

This is an unofficial translation by the British Embassy* of the key parts of Spanish Order 1490 of 9 July 2012, setting out the rules on the entry, free movement and residence in Spain of nationals of other European Union (EU) Member States and European Economic Area (EEA) states.

Article 1. Right of residence for a period of longer than three months.

Nationals of:

  • a Member State of the European Union
  • other States party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA)
  • Switzerland

have a right to reside in Spain for a period of longer than three months if they meet the conditions laid down in Article 7 of Royal Decree 240/2007, of 16 February 2007, on entrance, free movement and residence in Spain of Nationals of European Union Member States and of other States party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area.

Article 2. Attendance and registration on the Central Register of Foreign Nationals.

  1. Applications for registration as residents by the nationals mentioned in Article 1 shall comply with the provisions of sections 5 and 6 of Article 7 of Royal Decree 240/2007, of 16 February 2007.
  2. Applications will be filed in person in the Immigration Office of the province where they intend to reside or in the relevant Police Station.
  3. If the application for registration does not meet the necessary requirements for it to be processed, the interested person will be required to correct any faults or attach the obligatory documents within a period of ten days and he will be informed that, if he does not do this, it will be assumed that he has abandoned his application, by reasoned decision, which does not exhaust the administrative procedure and which may be appealed against.
  4. The certificate will be issued immediately, once compliance with the corresponding requirements has been confirmed. This certificate will give the name, nationality and address of the registered person, his foreign national identity number and the date of registration.

Article 3. Supporting documentation.

  1. All applications for registration must be accompanied by the applicant’s passport or national identity document, which shall be valid and in force. If these documents have expired, a copy of these and the application for renewal must be produced
  2. In addition, the following documentation will be required, depending on the applicant’s circumstances:
  • a) Employed workers must produce a declaration to the effect that they have been hired by the employer or a certificate of employment. These documents must include, as a minimum, details of the name and address of the company, tax identification and Employer’s Social Security Number. Presentation of an employment contract registered with the corresponding Public Employment Service or a document of registration or situation similar to registration with the corresponding Social Security System will be accepted, although it will not be necessary to produce these documents if the interested party agrees to have his details checked against the General Social Security Finance Office files “Ficheros de la Tesorería General de la Seguridad Social”
  • b) Self-employed workers must produce evidence to the effect that they are self-employed. Registration on the Economic Activities List “Censo de Actividades Económicos” or proof of their establishment by means of registration in the Mercantile Registry “Registro Mercantil” or a document of registration or situation similar to registration with the corresponding Social Security System will be accepted, although it will not be necessary to produce these documents if the interested person agrees to have his details checked against the General Social Security Finance Office or Taxation Office files “Ficheros de la Tesorería General de la Seguridad Social o de la Agencia Tributaria”
  • c) People who do not work in Spain must produce documentation proving that they comply with the following two conditions:
    • i. Public or private health insurance contracted in Spain or in another country, provided that it ensures cover in Spain during their period of residence equivalent to the cover provided by the National Health System. Pensioners will be considered to meet this condition if they can prove, by means of the corresponding certificate, that they are entitled to health care paid for by the State from which they receive their pension
    • ii. have sufficient resources, for themselves and their family members, not to become a burden on Spain’s social assistance system during their period of residence. Proof of the possession of sufficient resources, whether from regular income, including work income or income of another kind, or from ownership of assets, will be given by any legally admissible evidence, such as property deeds, certified cheques, documentation proving that income from capital is received or credit cards. In this latter case, an up to date bank certificate proving the amount available by way of credit on the aforesaid card shall be produced.  The assessment of sufficient resources must be carried out on an individual basis, taking into account the applicant’s personal and family circumstances. The possession of  resources that are more than the amount established each year by the State General Budgets Act “Ley de Presupuestos Generales de Estado” that justifies the right to receive non-contributory benefits, taking into account the interested persons’ personal and family circumstances, will be regarded as sufficient proof to meet this requirement
  • d) Students, including those who are taking vocational training courses, must present documents proving fulfillment with the following conditions:
    • i. Enrolment in a public or private establishment, accredited or financed by the competent educational administration
    • ii. Public or private health insurance contracted in Spain or in another country, provided that it ensures complete cover in Spain. However, this condition will be deemed to be met if the student has a European Health Insurance Card that is valid for a period that covers the entire period of residence and that allows him to receive, exclusively, any medical assistance that are necessary from a medical point of view, taking into account the nature of the assistance and the envisaged duration.
    • iii. Sworn Statement that he has sufficient resources for himself and his family members, so that they do not become a burden on Spain’s social assistance system during their period of residence. Participation in European Union programmes that promote educational exchanges for students and teachers will be regarded as sufficient proof of compliance with these requirements.

Article 4. Application of the right to reside for a period of longer than three months to family members.

  1. This Order will also apply to family members, as set out in Article 2 of Royal Decree 240/2007 of 16 February 2007, who are nationals of an EU Member State or of another State party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area and of Switzerland, who meet or accompany a national of a Member State of the European Union or of another State party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area and of Switzerland.
  2. In the case of students, who are nationals of an EU Member State or of another State party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area or Switzerland, the right of residence for a period of longer than three months will only apply, regardless of their nationality, to their spouse or de facto partner registered in a public register in the terms established in Article 2  of Royal Decree 240/2007, of 16 February 2007, and dependent children, provided that they meet the conditions laid down in letter d) of section 2 of Article 3 of this Order.
  3. In other cases, the right of residence will also be extended to the spouse or de facto partner registered in a public register, to their direct descendants and to those of their spouse or registered partner, who are less than 21 years of age or disabled or who are older than this age and dependent on them and also to the direct ascendant and to those of the spouse or registered partner who are dependent on them, when they are not nationals of a Member State of the European Union and accompany the national of a Member State of the European Union or of another State party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area and of Switzerland or meet him in the Spanish State, provided that the conditions laid down in letters a), b) or c) of section 2 of Article 3 of this Order are met.
  4. Family members who are nationals of a Member State of the European Union or of another State party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area and of Switzerland, set out in sections 1, 2 and 3 of this Article, must apply for registration in the Central Register of Foreign Nationals in accordance with the provisions of this Order.  Family members who are not nationals of a Member State of the European Union or of another State party to the Agreement on the European Economic State and of Switzerland, set out in Articles 2 and 3 of this Article, must apply for a residence card to be issued for a family member of a Union national, in accordance with the provisions of Article 8 of Royal Decree 240/2007, of 16 February 2007.

Single Interim Provision.

This Order will apply to applications presented after 24 April 2012.

First Final Provision. Competency Title.

This Ministerial Order is passed under the provisions of Article 149.1.2 of the Spanish Constitution, which gives the State sole jurisdiction in matters of nationality, immigration, emigration, foreign affairs and right of asylum.

Second Final Provision. Entry into force.

This Order will come into force on the day after its publication in the “State Official Bulletin”. (10 July 2012)

*This translation is provided by the British Embassy with the intention of assisting English-speaking EU citizens to understand the new residency requirements. The British Embassy can take no responsibility for any errors or differences between this and any future official translation, nor for any inconvenience or expense caused by any error or difference.

Moving from the UK to the Costa Blanca

Some real advice from someone who’s made the move.

If anyone reading this has fond memories of sunny spanish holidays, then one would think moving over to Spain would be one long summer vacation, for ever, but in reality, the truth is about as far from that as you can get.

Time and time again, people make the same mistakes, and speaking from someone who has made the move from the UK to Spain, some of the mistakes can be expensive, upsetting and in some cases, embarrassing.

Ever since the 1960’s when Spain started to open up to mass tourism, the Brits have been flocking to this sunny country in their droves. Sitting on the beach, or in a lively bar can be a great break from our normal humdrum lives back home and many people consider moving here for good, after all, it all seems so nice, and everyone speaks English, you can get all the UK papers, English TV etc. STOP!

You are NOT on Holiday!

Pinch yourself. Moving to Spain does NOT mean you will be on a permanent holiday and do not make the mistake of comparing what English focussed resorts offer because it’s fake and geared solely towards holidaymakers, people on holiday, not people who live here full time.

Living in a spanish resort can bring its own nightmares, and during the winter times, these can be bleak and lonely places to be in. Being surrounded by other British people also can bring untold grief, like you would never think. People who come here form the UK, often “change” and become quite the sort of person you would not want to be around.

We made the mistake, possibly as we didn’t know anyone when we first arrived, and got to know some English people. We were friends with them for a while until we realised we only got to know them BECAUSE they were fellow brits, and as it turned out they weren’t very nice friends at all!

The Spanish say that the English leave their brains on the plane when they come here, not they aren’t welcoming because they are. The Spanish are very warm and friendly, and making Spanish friends (Amigos) or acquaintances (conocidos) can be an enriching experience and can be very helpful if the language is not your strong point, or you have to deal with the dreaded spanish system and need some help and advice.

You’re not on holiday!

The best piece of advice I could give anyone who wants to move over here is NOT to move to a resort, but to look to more traditional Spanish places of which there are a multitude just waiting for you to discover them but avoid houses in rural areas as it can be very lonely and its unlikely that your house will have postal deliveries, nor mains water or gas, and no internet signal.

However, brits who live in resorts, surrounded by other brits are generally living a strange artificial existence, a sort of “England in the sun”. If that’s what you want only, I would suggest just staying where you are, and buy a few strong lights for the house, and turn the heating up!

No going back.

Moving to Spain means you are moving to another country, yes, you are emigrating! Don’t underestimate that. We all miss stuff from the UK when we live here, me especially, and I couldn’t be without my English bread, marmite and the English newspaper for expats, the Costa Blanca news, but to really integrate here you need to learn some of the language, if you don’t, you will find aspects of life here very hard.

You don’t have to become fluent, you just really need to learn some basic stuff, remember this is not fawlty towers and we are not looking for “Manuel” to speak down to, and patronise them by raising our voice and speaking English slowly. You need to learn some language, even if it is just enough to order what you want at a café etc.

Learn the lingo!

Being here and being totally ignorant and speaking only English will not hold you in esteem with the spanish and I guarantee that at some point you will be in an important situation that requires Spanish and you wont know what to do. There are people who advertise translation or will accompany you places and speak on your behalf, but can you imagine doing that in England?

Moving to Spain means hard work, and great expense, but if done right, the rewards can be massive.

My advice: Steer clear of tourist resorts; learn some Spanish; RENT first before you buy anywhere and never ever buy “off plan”.  Make Spanish friends, not English ones. If you don’t have a pension to fall back on then you will find gaining work here very difficult.

Don’t sever all your UK ties, keep a bank account there, Don’t expect your relatives to be over every week but do expect them to think they have a free holiday when they do come and you will be a taxi service, guide and cook, and finally, do as much research as possible as Spain in general is very very different from the UK.

Guest blog by: Janner