Top Five Things You Need To Know When Moving To Spain
Written exclusively for Expat Network by Kevin Gardner
1. Get a Visa
First things first, as is with most countries, you’ll need a visa to stay longer than three months if you’re a U.S. citizen or citizen of non-EU countries (EU citizens do not have this problem and can work freely). Before moving to Spain, you’ll need to visit the nearest Spanish Embassy and apply for a visa. After you’ve arrived in Spain, you’ll need to apply within three months for your permit with the Ministry of Interior. If you find yourself staying in Spain for years and years, there is a path to citizenship! Once you’ve been living in Spain for five years, you can apply for permanent residence (which applies to EU as well) and if you make it to ten years, you can apply for Spanish citizenship.
2. Find a place to live
So you’ve got your visa, now you need some place to sleep at night! Unfortunately, finding rental agents may be difficult if you don’t already speak fluent Spanish. While there are some agencies that have English-speaking agents, they can be few and far between. Do your homework and keep calling, until you’ve found someone who you can communicate with. If there are absolutely no English speaking agents in your city, try using WhatsApp or Google to translate. Communication is vital when finding and renting a rental in another country! Make sure you’ve vetting your landlord’s reputation, always see your rental in person, and comb through any paperwork before signing.
3. Find a job
While most people will already have a job lined up, if you’re an adventurous gap year student or backpacker, you might be looking for something on the go, especially if you’re already an EU citizen and don’t need special visas to work. Popular options for jobs for expats in Spain include teaching English and working seasonal jobs in tourist areas where they need English speakers. Why not try freelance English teaching? Or make your way to your favorite seasonal tourist destination and market your English skills.
4. Get Healthcare
Spain is a great choice for expats looking to relocate due to its excellent health care! Spanish health care is run by the state and free for its residents. If you’re an expat living and working there, you can also get free state healthcare! While you may have to pay for certain medical work if it’s extremely specialist, in general your health care should be free while working in Spain, so check that off your list! You’ll just need to be a resident in Spain who is either employed or self-employed and paying social security contributions. You can also get free healthcare from the state if you’re temporarily staying but have an EHIC card. Either way, you’ll need to register to get access to the public health care system. You’ll do this by registering with the social security office in your province. To register with social security you’ll need a valid ID card, residency certificate, and proof of registering address with the town hall. Once you get your social security number, you can then apply for the national health card.
5. Adapt to local culture
So you’re all set up with your paperwork, apartment, job, and health care card. Now it’s time to adapt to the local culture! Spanish culture and habits have their own rhythm and sensibility. A rhythm that may be way off your old schedule. Did someone say dinner at 9:30 pm? A three-hour siesta in the middle of the day when all the shops close down? Rather than fighting your new schedule (and the schedule of the entire village or city you’re living in), embrace your new living rhythms. This is a new culture, with new rules, and unless a rule completely conflicts with your value system, try to take the new rules and adapt them as your own. After all, who doesn’t appreciate an afternoon rest? Embrace your new relaxed pace and culture.