Moving to Spain

moving to Spain

Spain is an enticing destination for many Brittons when they decide to leave their homeland and relocate. Unlike the grim British weather, Spain offers an abundance of warm and sunny days. So it’s not surprising that many people choose to move to a warmer environment.

Also, the people in Spain are as warm as their summer days. You will be welcomed and invited to a neighbour’s party as soon as you move to your new home.

We have prepared answers to some of the most common questions that Brittons have before they move to Spain.

How to Move to Spain?

For the moment, you do not need a visa to move from the UK to Spain. The UK voted on a Withdrawal Agreement which has a transition period until December 31st, 2020. Up until that date, you are free to move, live, work, and study in the EU. After that, you may need a visa. 

But the visa is put aside when you want to move to Spain, you have to get an NIE number. 

  1. NIE number is the Spanish tax identification number and it’s issued by the National Police of Spain. You will need this to find work, to open a bank account, to sell/buy a car or property. You have to register at the Oficina de Extranjeros in the province that you’re moving to. Get this number before you apply for a Spanish residency because you will need it when filling in the documents.
  2. You also need to inform the British government that you’re moving. And you need to inform the British healthcare system that you’re changing residency and will be under another health care system.
  3. Then you need to register as a Spanish resident, this applies to people who plan on staying in Spain for more than 3 months.
  4. Check other important documents for their validity - passport, driving license, and others.
  5. When you arrive and move into your Spanish home - register your address as soon as possible to start earning rights.
  6. Tax return - when your other documents of residency are issued, you should file for a tax return. The UK and Spain have a double taxation agreement (for now at least) and you should declare where your income will come from and get your taxes in order.
  7. Organise your international removals to Spain from the UK ahead of time. Get removals quotes from several moving companies, organise storage if needed, plane tickets, etc.

Average house removal costs when moving to Spain from the UK

To move your entire house’s possessions across Europe isn’t an easy task, nor is it a cheap one. There are many factors that form the end price for an international house removal service, including the number of bedrooms, the transportation method, insurance, the time of the year, the end destination, etc.

Not all moving companies charge the same way. Some don’t charge for packing, others do. Many don’t include insurance in the quote they give you, others do. Some charge by the hour, others have fixed rates.

A rough estimate of the average cost of moving:

For a one-bedroom flat - between £2,200 – £2,700.
For a three-bedroom house - between £3,500 – £4,700.

However, it is important to note that the number of boxes, appliances, the furniture that you decide to move can also play a role. If you live in a three-bedroom house but decide to leave most of the items behind or move them to a storage facility, the price will range.

Transporting a pet to Spain can also be a task that will cost you money. You should also check the rules for transporting a pet to Spain before you organise the relocation.

Living in Spain

Just like in the UK, and any other country, living in different regions in Spain makes a huge difference in your quality of life. In Spain, particularly, where you live means different rent costs, different property costs, different costs for groceries and random expenditures. And also different people and way of life.

Overall, it won’t be wrong to say that no matter which area you choose to move to in Spain, most things will be cheaper than in the UK.

Best Place to Live in Spain

You will find it in Valencia if you’re looking for the largest population of British expats. Then southern Spain’s Andalusia, The Canary, and the Balearic Islands are also very popular for Brittons.

The most expensive cities in Spain are San Sebastian, Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona, and the capital - Madrid. To make the best of your money, you may settle in Almería, Murcia, Granada, or Seville.

Every Spanish city will offer a rich cultural experience, breathtaking views, an abundance of musical festivals, and more.  

*The cities are in no particular order.

Cheapest Place to Live in Spain

If you’re looking for a more peaceful place and a more affordable one, you can find that in Spain as well. Some of the top cheapest places to live in Spain are in the northern part of the country. That being said, you should know that the weather in the below-listed places isn’t the typical warm sunny Spanish weather.

Some of the cheapest places to live in Spain are:

  • Logroño, La Rioja (northern Spain)
  • Lugo, Galicia (northwest Spain)
  • Palencia, Castilla y León (north-central Spain)
  • Teruel, Aragón (eastern Spain)
  • Cáceres, Extremadura (western Spain)

*The cities are in no particular order.

Opening a Bank Account in Spain

UK banks don’t have affiliates in Spain, so if you need a bank account in Spain, you will need to open a new one in a Spanish bank.

If you change your residency, you must present the residency certificate, your current address, and a utility bill with your name.

If you’re not a resident, you’ll need your NIE number and a Certificado No Residente.

Living and Working in Spain

Most of the Brittons who decide to permanently relocate to Spain prefer to buy a property instead of renting. Especially people who move with their entire families or move after they retire.

In reality, buying a property in Spain can be cheaper than renting in the long run. And depending on the area or city you buy in, it will probably cost less than buying a property in the UK. You can check the UK Government site for a thorough breakdown of the process of buying a property in Spain.

Live in Spain may be less stressful for you. Especially in the southern areas where the people have a completely different understanding of life. Additionally, health care is free for Spanish citizens.

The rail network between the major cities in Spain is good and very reliable, and it’s also much cheaper than in the UK. But for travelling to smaller cities, you’ll need to take the bus, which is also more affordable than in the UK.

Education in Spain

It’s a popular opinion amongst Spanish people and British expats living there that education is widely accessible. Especially if you compare it to the UK. State education is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 16.

What is also different between Spain and the UK is that kindergarten. From ages 4 to 6, it is required by law in Spain, but it isn’t in the UK that the children attend kindergarten. 

University fees are also more affordable in Spain than in the UK. It costs around €1,000 per school year, but you must pay upfront. However, students with higher grades are often entitled to reduced fees. 

Working in Spain

Whether you’re moving to Spain without a job or moving for work but are planning on changing it soon, don’t worry. Spain offers а versatility of professions and job opportunities. But to be allowed to work anywhere in Spain legally, you will need to do a couple of things first.

Here’s what you need to work in Spain:

  • Social security number - Número de Seguridad Social - allows you to legally pay your taxes in Spain.
  • NIE number - Número de Identidad de Extranjero - you’ll need this number for almost anything you wish to do in Spain.
  • Have a Spanish bank account.
  • Register at the Town Hall where you live to obtain your Certificado de empadronamiento. 
  • Get a health card and have a medical checkup. 
  • An additional permit or a visa isn't required for people from the UK or another European Union country, including Iceland, Switzerland, and Norway.

Once you organise all of your documentation, nothing can stop you from finding a lucrative job in Spain. Unless you don’t speak the language, that's why when moving to Spain, you should learn Spanish as much as you can beforehand. 

You can look for a job at the Servicio Público de Empleo Estatal, which is their Public State Employment Service. You can check Facebook groups, job offers, and job websites to find work in Spain, for example, Expatica jobs, The Local, and ThinkSpain.

Cost of living in Spain

Spain is considered to be one of the cheapest countries in Western Europe, but is it really? Well, it is. It is second to Portugal in affordable living. Of course, the capital Madrid is one of the most expensive cities in the country, but it also offers more opportunities for finding a well-paid job.

The average monthly salary in Madrid is £1,433 whereas in London it’s £2.580. The costs resonate with the expenses you have living in the respective city. 

That being said, the average monthly rent prices are: 

One-bedroom in City Center£840£1,700
One-bedroom outside City Center£630£1,220
Three-bedroom in City Center£1,475£3,140
Three-bedroom outside City Center£1,020£2,040

Cost of Living in Spain vs the UK

Dining in Spain is also more inexpensive than dining in the UK. For example, on average, having a meal at an inexpensive restaurant in Spain will cost you around £8.56, while in the UK, it is around £10.

You’ll spend around £34.2 for a three-course meal at a mid-level restaurant in Spain. In the UK, you'll pay £40 for the same amount of food. 

*For the sake of making a comparison table to help you see the difference more, we’ll use Madrid and London, being two of the most expensive cities.

Water£1.13£1.100.33l bottle
Coke£1.56£1.410.33l bottle
Milk£0.71£0.951l bottle
Bread£0.94£1.08loaf of0.500g
Rice (white)£0.92£1.321kg
Eggs£1.51£2.04a carton of 12
Chicken£5.35£6.011kg fillets

Source: Numbeo data

FAQs About Moving to Spain

Can I Still Move to Spain After Brexit?

Yes, but you may need a visa to do so if you plan on moving after January 1st, 2021. So you should carefully choose the date for your move.

Do I Need a Visa to Spain From the UK?

As of the date this post was published on 04.03.2020, no. You do not need a visa to move to Spain from the UK if you move before December 31st, 2020. After the transition period of Britain leaving the European Union, you may need a visa. 

Where Do Most Brits Live in Spain?

Data from Spain’s municipal register, a.k.a the Padron, shows that most British expats are registered in Alicante, Almeria, Malaga, Barcelona, SCD Tenerife, Las Palmas, Madrid, Valencia, and others.

Best Place to Live in Spain for English?

It depends on what you’re looking for. If you want to be close to other Brittons, choose one of the above-mentioned cities. If you’re looking for warmer weather and more laid-back life, go to Southern Spain. 

Read more:
Cancel your council tax when moving out.
How to move house with a dog.
How to move house with a cat.
Best day of the week to move.
Checklist for moving outside of the UK.
To live in the city or in the country?


To end on a positive note, there are many good reasons why people choose to move to Spain:

  • The health benefits;
  • Affordable higher education;
  • You get more than 300 days of warm and sunny days;
  • Spanish culture; the food and the wine; the landscapes; the sea;  
  • Good quality of life;
  • Easy to get a residence permit and buy a property.

You can find large English-speaking communities in many areas, and you may even feel like you’ve never left home. If you’re looking for assistance to complete your move to Spain, we can lend you a helping hand.

Get assistance with your move to Spain

Check out our European removals service page.

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