The Ultimate Guide to Moving to Spain

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Moving to Spain

With its balmy Mediterranean climate, beautiful beaches and scenic countryside, delicious cuisines, magnificent architecture steeped in history and an unrivalled classical and modern arts culture, Spain is the perfect relocation destination for Brits looking to escape the humdrum of blustery Blighty. With around 1 million British expats already living in Spain, you can be safe in the knowledge that you’re in good company too.

Whether you dream of sipping sangria in your very own secluded villa in Menorca or dining on tapas after a busy day at work in Madrid, there are many reasons to pack up your belongings and relocate to Spain. Now the decision has been made you might be starting to ask yourself a few important questions about the logistics of your move. This guide will give you all the information you need, including details of customs, moving your belongings, importing your car and also the best locations for expats to live.

Choosing a Place to Live in Spain

 

Depositphotos_3927854_s_1The location you choose will likely depend on the lifestyle you wish to lead. For a glamorous party lifestyle, choose Ibiza in the Balearics or Mabella on Spain’s glorious Costa Del Sol. For more laid back living choose a remote countryside village in rural Andalusia or for those hoping to build a career then one of the larger cities such as the financial capital, Madrid, or arts capital, Barcelona are perfect for business people, artists and students alike.

Moving your possessions to Spain

Making arrangements for moving your beloved furniture and possessions can be a stressful experience as concerns are raised for cost, logistics and practicality. Deciding what, and indeed what not to take with you can be difficult as well as finding a reliable and cost effective shipping company. That’s where Britannia Movers can help. By providing a full service, which can even include packing, they will make all the arrangements needed for the safe delivery of your belongings to your new home, leaving you time to focus on other things.

Customs

There are no restrictions on the amount of alcohol and tobacco that can be brought into Spain from EU countries. However, large quantities of either will raise suspicion with customs that they are being imported for commercial sale and may be seized if evidence suggests so. For this reason it is best to bring with you a maximum of 800 cigarettes and 10 litres of spirit.

Prohibited goods

The following items are prohibited from entering Spain.

  • Meat and milk products
  • Protected species and their products such as ivory, tortoise shell, coral, reptile skin and wood from Amazonian forests.

Taking Domestic Pets to Spain

If you have a beloved pet that you wish to bring with you to your new home, you’ll be delighted to know that moving domestic animals such as cats and dogs from the UK to Spain is now easier than ever. All your pet needs is a microchip or identity tattoo, proof of rabies vaccination, pet passport and tapeworm treatment (for dogs only), all of which can be arranged with your vet.

Whilst making arrangements for your pet is a fairly simple process, choosing a method of travel can be a little more difficult as any long journey can be stressful for animals. Make sure to check with your vet that your pets health condition is suitable for the type of journey you are planning. Britannia Movers have a wealth of knowledge surrounding the exporting of pets and will be able to help you with any questions you may have. Additionally, our affiliate company, Pet Air can help in arranging documentation, transport and providing the necessary information you need for your pet.

Registering Vehicles in Spain

If you decide to take your car with you to Spain it is important to note that Spanish laws require you to register your vehicle with the authorities within six months of your move. All vehicles registered in Spain must comply with regulation standards. Vehicle import taxes apply and must be paid to Spanish authorities. UK driving licences can be converted to a Spanish licence, though your driving licence must be valid and with

in its expiry date in order to do so. After your move to Spain it is not possible for the DVLA to issue a new driving licence once it has expired so it’s worth converting your driving licence as soon as the decision is made to move.

Travelling to Spain from the UK

The quickest and easiest way to travel from the UK to Spain is by plane. Spain has a number of international airports, the biggest being Madrid Barajas followed by Barcelona El Prat. Airlines that operate between the UK and Spain include British Airways, EasyJet, RyanAir and Iberia, amongst others, and the flight will take approximately 2.5 hours. If you prefer not to fly, travelling by car is an option which will take approximately 3 days with overnight stays and plenty of breaks. Another option is to travel by train utilising the high speed rail networks of France.

 

Visas

British citizens or those with a right to live in the UK with a valid passport do not need a visa to live or work in Spain or indeed any other country in the EU.

Jobs in Spain

The following table shows typical monthly salaries across a range of industry sectors.

Job CategoryAverage Salary
Fitness / Hair / Beauty983
Photography1,050
Gardening / Farming / Fishing1,220
Care Giving and Child Care1,240
Fashion and Apparel1,360
Recreation and Sports1,395
Electrical and Electronics Trades1,401
Cleaning and Housekeeping1,531
Law Enforcement / Security / Fire1,592
Pet Care1,643
Courier / Delivery / Transport / Drivers1,643
Facilities / Maintenance / Repair1,684
Automotive1,699
Customer Service and Call Center1,845
Publishing and Printing1,900
Insurance2,025
Administration / Reception / Secretarial2,039
Teaching / Education2,090
Construction / Building / Installation2,178
Media / Broadcasting / Arts / Entertainment2,225
Independent Jobs2,250
Architecture2,266
Factory and Manufacturing2,372
Advertising / Graphic Design / Event Management2,420
Food /Hospitality / Tourism / Catering2,449 
Information Technology2,450
Quality Control and Compliance2,452
Real Estate2,500
Engineering2,535
Environmental2,619 
Import and Export2,621 
Health and Medical2,638 
Oil / Gas / Energy / Mining2,663 
Purchasing and Inventory2,959 
Legal3,006 
Bilingual3,050 
Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology3,066 
Human Resources3,234 
Sales Retail and Wholesale3,306 
Accounting and Finance3,373
Telecommunication3,380
Banking3,383 
Science and Technical Services3,567
Marketing4,111
Counseling4,416
Government and Defence5,000
Airlines / Aviation / Aerospace / Defense5,190 
Business Planning5,501
Executive and Management5,512

Depositphotos_16488599_sFinding a Job

Finding employment in any country can be difficult and it’s certainly worth asking your current employer, if it’s an international company, for the option to move to the Spanish office. If it’s not international, look for the Spanish equivalent and send them an introductory email. Other alternatives are to choose a company you specifically want to work for and keep an eye on job openings on their website and other places such as LinkedIn. If you are looking for work in the tourism or leisure sector it may well be easier to simply travel to Spain for a day or two before your big move and hand your CV to the manager in various shops, bars, restaurants, hotels and clubs.

Currency

The local currency in Spain is the Euro (€ or EUR).

Cost of everyday items

Milk (1l)0.79
Cheese (1kg)8.59
Loaf of Fresh Bread (white)0.94
12 Eggs1.61
Apples (1kg)1.57
Tomatoes (1kg)1.46
Chicken Breasts (1kg)6.04
Potatoes (1kg)0.90
Rice (1kg)1.01

Sports and Leisure

Monthly Gym Membership44.00
Tennis Court Hire11.25
Cinema Ticket8.00

Eating and drinking out

Meal at inexpensive restaurant10.00
Three course meal for two at mid-range restaurant40.00
Standard Spanish beer2.00
Coffee1.55

Spain Transport Costs

 

Spain has expansive rail networks, including both inner city metro lines and long distance fast trains, that make it simple and easy to get around. Spain also boasts a highly developed highway system including freeways and toll routes. Petrol costs €1.45 per litre which is fairly expensive compared to the rest of Europe but still lower than the UK. A one way ticket on local transport costs on average €1.50, whilst a monthly pass costs €48.50.

Renting or Buying in Spain

The cost to rent a 1 bedroom apartment in a city centre is on average €540.00 per month. A 3 bedroom home outside of a city centre can be rented for on average €650.00 per month. If you’re thinking of buying a home it’s worth considering the length of time you are planning to live in the property as Spain is a very bureaucratic country and buying a home can be costly and extremely time consuming. In some cases renting might be a more financially viable option until you find the home of your dreams.

Language

The official language of Spain is Spanish with 85% of natives speaking Spanish as their first language. A number of other languages or derivatives of Spanish are also widely spoken including Catalan/Valencian and Galician. English is also widely spoken throughout Spain by the well educated as a second language and is used in international business.

Public Holidays in Spain

Public holidays in Spain include a mixture of national and regional holidays. Each municipality is allowed a maximum of 14 public holidays each year, of which a maximum of nine are chosen by the government and at least two are chosen regionally. Where holidays fall on a Tuesday or Thursday workers tend to take the Monday or Friday off too to make a longer four day weekend, this is known as a puente, the Spanish for ‘bridge’.

National Holidays 2014

Here is a list of the nine national holidays which are recognised in all regions of Spain each year.

  • 1st January – New Year´s Day
  • March or April – Good Friday
  • 1st May – Labour Day
  • 15th August – Assumption
  • 12th October – Fiesta Nacional de España
  • 1st November – All Saints Day
  • 6th December – Constitution Day
  • 8th December – Immaculate Conception
  • 25th December – Christmas Day

Free Education in Spain

Education is free in Spain, and compulsory for children aged between 6 and 16. Most schools are state funded with only 6% of children educated in a purely private school. Spain is also home to many notable universities including Complutense University of Madrid, the University of Barcelona, the University of Salamanca and the University of Valencia. Many students from around the world choose to study in Spain, specifically arts, culture, language and literature courses. Courses are usually 4 years long aside from Medicine which is 6 years.

Popular Destinations in Spain

Madrid

Whilst modern in terms of infrastructure, Spain’s capital Madrid boasts bountiful historical architecture which has beautifully maintained its classical charm. Houses, offices, government buildings and cinemas ooze 18th and 19th century glamour. Madrid has existed since prehistoric times and was a pinnacle city of the Roman Empire. Some of Madrid’s world famous sites include the Prado Museum, Las Ventas Bullring and the Royal Palace. Other attractions in the city include Bernabeu Stadium home of the most popular football team in the world, Real Madrid and Rastro Flea Market.

Barcelona

Steeped in culture, Barcelona is both the art and architectural heart of Spain. With the outstanding works of Gaudi running through the central core of the city, easily spotted because of their unique and quirky style, and art museums abundant with the works of world famous artists such as Picasso and Salvado Dali, Barcelona is an incredible place to call home. Much like any other European city, Barcelona is a bustling metropolis offering a cosmopolitan and unique lifestyle. Spend your weekends touring the multitude of museums and tourist hotspots or simply relax on the beach, in a park or at a bar enjoying tapas and a local Spanish cerveza (beer).

Ibiza and the Balearics

The three main islands in the Spanish archipelago known as the Balearics are Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca. Ibiza, lovingly known as La Isla Blanca (The White Isle), is home to some of the most beautiful beaches and most enviable nightlife in the world. As well as being well-known for its party culture there are also many stunning remote locations on the island perfect for relaxing and soaking up the atmosphere. Most job opportunities in Ibiza will include promotional, tourism, DJ and bar work. Majorca and Menorca offer a calmer and more relaxed lifestyle with numerous beautiful ports for yachts and sailing boats.

Valencia

Founded in 138 BC, Valencia is home to some of the most magnificent historical monuments and world heritage sites in the world and is bountiful in both classical and modern architecture. The port of Valencia is the largest container port in the mediterranean sea resulting in many job opportunities in the importing and exporting of goods to Spain, within the EU and the rest of the world.

The village of Bunol, near Valencia is home to the worlds craziest summer festival, La Tomatina where thousands of people gather in the village on the last Wednesday of August every year for the largest tomato fight in the world. The tradition of throwing tomatoes on this day dates back to 1945 but the specific reason for the first fight is unknown.

Marbella

If you have a love for popular Essex reality television show, TOWIE, then Marbella may well be the perfect Spanish relocation destination for you. It’s glamorous shops and bars and beautiful beaches make for the perfect getaway destination with job opportunities in boutiques, hairdressers and beauty salons, restaurants and hotels.

Popular Nearby Destinations

Spain is located closeby to many beautiful cities which are easily reachable by car, train or plane. Make the most of this great location by travelling around the rest of Europe and beyond. Here are just some of the unique places you could visit.

Lisbon

Lisbon is a truly remarkable city stepped in history. Visit the beautiful São Jorge Castle or Belém at the mouth of the Tagus River which marks the exact location where the Portuguese first left Portugal to colonize Brazil.

Bordeaux

Bordeaux in France is a magnificently beautiful port city on the east coast of France and is known as the wine capital of the world. Wine has been produced in the city since the 1st century when it was made by the Romans and has since become a benchmark city for wine production. If you’re a wine fanatic why not visit the Bordeaux Vinexpo, the world’s largest and most important wine exhibition which offers the opportunity to sample some of the most unique and important wines in the world.

Marrakesh

Marrakech in Morocco is just a short hop across the Alboran Sea from Spain. With a completely unique culture unlike any European city, Marrakech offers an exciting and remarkable retreat. Visit Jemaa el-Fnaa, a famous square and meeting place, the historic city walls and gates built in the 12th century to provide protection for the city, the stunning Menara gardens, Badi Palace built in 1578 and the multitude of mesmerizing and colourful mosques, tombs and religious spaces.

Monaco

Home to the Monaco Grand Prix, and infamous Monte Carlo Casino, the Principality of Monaco is home to the rich and famous and offers a unique and interesting place to visit as a break from your new home in Spain. Located on the south coast of France, Monaco is rich in luxurious hotels, landmarks and tourist attractions.

Climate

Spain’s climate varies from region to region. However, the majority of the country, including Barcelona, Seville, Alicante, Granada and Valencia has a mediterranean climate with warm dry summers and cool wet winters. Madrid is within the continental climate zone with hotter summers and colder winters. The average high in Spain in the summer is 31 degrees celsius, and the average low in winter is four degrees celsius.

Spanish Culture

Art and Architecture

Spain’s art heritage is extraordinary with thousands of notable artists within its magnificent repertoire. From the classical painting of Diego Velázquez and Francisco Goya to the contemporary works of Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso, the art history of Spain is expertly documented across the country in numerous museums and exhibitions. Some of the most famous museums of Spain include the The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the El Prado in Madrid and the Museo de Bellas Artes in Seville, all of which are also architecturally magnificent. Moving to Spain will offer opportunities to enjoy these works of works of art for yourself as you enjoy weekends touring exhibitions and visiting landmarks of historical artistic interest.

Food and Wine

Traditionally Spanish people eat a main meal at lunch time followed by a smaller meal at dinner. Dinner is also usually eaten much later than in the UK at around 9pm. Some of the traditional meals of Spain include tapas which is a variety of hot and cold appetizers, and paella which is a rice dish cooked in a large pan with accompany ingredients such as vegetables, fish, seafood or chicken. Depending on your chosen location you will also find international restaurants serving delicacies from around the world. During lunchtime shops generally close which allow for a relaxed meal and even time to stop at home for a siesta, a short nap. Though they do remain open much later in the evening, especially in the summer when it is simply too hot to shop during the day.

Music and Flamenco

The Spanish guitar is one of the most famous instruments in the world and in traditional Spanish bars and restaurants you will find many an opportunity to dance or clap along to the sounds of traditional folk music. Flamenco, which came from the Andulucia region in the 1700s includes four important elements, toque (guitar), palmas (clapping), cante (singing) and baile (dancing). The performance itself makes for a unique and theatrical experience with dancers and musicians wearing colourful and extravagant costumes.

Bull Fighting and Racing

Bulls are a very important animal in Spain and the tradition of bullfighting dates back to medieval times when fights were a form of entertainment and were performed during weddings and other celebrations. The Running of the Bulls event known as El Encierro takes place in the town of Pamplona where bulls are released to run wild along a specific route in the town. Locals and tourists then decide to show off their courage by jumping in front of the bulls and running ahead of them, during which people are often injured and sometimes killed. The route ends in the bullfighting area where the bulls will later fight.

More about Spain…

Interesting facts

  • Madrid’s main football team, Real Madrid is the most popular team in the world with 228 million supporters.
  • Spanish parents don’t tell their children about a tooth fairy, instead they have a tooth mouse and his name is Ratoncito Perez.
  • Spain raised numerous hollywood actors including Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas and Javier Bardem.
  • Spanish is spoken in 44 countries.
  • Spain was one of the first countries in Europe to ban smoking in bars and public places.
  • Barcelona’s city hall part funded the film Vicky Cristina Barcelona paying 1 million Euros.
  • The name Spain comes from the latin word Ispania which means the land of rabbits.
  • Spain produces 44% of the world´s olive oil.
  • The first recorded Spanish bullfight took place in the 11th century.
  • The symbol of Madrid is a bear eating from a strawberry tree.
  • In Spain, Christmas Eve is more important than Christmas Day and usually involves late night dining and parties.
  • Children usually receive their Christmas presents on the 6th January, the day of The Three Kings.
  • Madrid is home to the oldest existing restaurant in the world called Casa Botin which opened in 1725.

More on moving to Spain…

For more information on the practicalities of a move to Spain, visit our Moving to Spain page. For a quotation please visit this page

If you’re planning a European house move, Britannia Movers can support you in all aspects, ensuring everything is taken care of. Call us on 0845 600 6661 or email sales@britannia-movers.co.uk for more information.

Moving2Madrid is an extremely valuable source to any potential expatriates looking to find a property in Madrid, secure a job out there and loads more. Definitely worth a read!

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