Moving to Spain: 10 things to know before boarding the plane

Spain is one of the most desirable countries to live in, thanks to its culture, climate, and cuisine, to name but a few. But what do you need to live in Spain? Is residency hard to get? We’ll answer these questions and more.

If you’ve ever pictured yourself moving to Spain, enjoying the famous Spanish calidad de vida, we have good news and bad news: The good news is that many people have managed to do exactly that. The bad news is that there’s a lot of bureaucracy involved.

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infographic shows the needed 8 steps to move to Spain.
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1. Apply for your residency permit

This is the first step—and perhaps the most difficult, as it depends on multiple factorsto get residency in Spain. When it comes to duration, the residency may be temporary or permanent, and there are different types: residency as a student, an entrepreneur, and a highly qualified professional.

You can opt for any of them if you meet the requirements—but whichever you choose, you must complete this process in order to reside legally in the country.

2. Check rental requirements

With your residency permit in hand, you’re ready to choose a place to rent. However, finding a place in Spain isn’t easy—and to rent a place safely,you’ll need several documents throughout the process.

Madrid and Barcelona are among the most expensive areas to rent in Spain, with rentals starting around €850, while the most affordable apartments in the country are in Ourense (starting at €350) and Castellón (starting at €400).

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3. Register for Social Security

Social Securityis how you access most of the benefits of living in Spain: free health care, pensions, etc.

There are different ways of registering according to your particular situation in thecountry, so take a good look at your case and bear it in mind before emigrating to Spain.

4. Get an NIE

The NIE (Foreigner Identity Number) is the number identifying any foreigner residing in Spain. It is equivalent to the DNI (National Identity Document) for Spanish nationals.

It’s a number that you’ll be asked for in order to complete most formalities in the country—for example, from opening a bank account to taking out medical insurance—so make sure it’s on your list of priorities.

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5. Register on the Electoral Roll

If you’re not on the Electoral Roll, you don’t exist (at least not to the Council). This register keeps tabs on all the residents in an area, in addition to verifying the length of residence of each individual in Spain.

Failure to register could result in a fine of up to €150, so keep this procedure in mind—both for your sake and the sake of your wallet.

6. Get a TIE

The TIE (Foreigner Identity Card) is the document verifying that you have permission to legally stay in Spain. It shows your photo, your details, and the type of residency that you have in the country.

Although many people get them confused, the TIE is not the same as the NIE. The TIE verifies that you are a legal resident in Spain, while the NIE is just an identification number at the administrative level.

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7. Understand the cost of living

Most people worry about getting to Spain but not about the costs, which are essential for making ends meet. Prices vary a lot depending on the area, mostly in terms of public transport and accommodation, but other expenses are more standard.

To give you a ballpark figure, your new life in Spain could cost you between €820 and €1,100 per month, per person.

8. Get to know the special procedures for self-employment

If you’re an entrepreneur at heart, you should know that there are different proceduresto register as self-employed in Spain. Like everything, there are advantages and disadvantages compared to working for a company.

Being a foreigner, you’ll have to meet certain criteria such as not residing irregularly in the country, not having a criminal record, and having sufficient financial resources for your upkeep and accommodation, among other things.

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9. Learn about the different types of taxes

If you thought you’d see the end of taxes, we’re sorry to disappoint you: They’ll be part of your journey in emigrating to Spain too. Based on your situationin the country, you’ll have to pay some taxes but not others. Most types of taxes are paid by everyone, but other taxes relate to special situations (self-employed people, for example).

Before landing, it’s worth starting to get to know them and doing the math.

10. Get to know the different types of work contracts

Spain is a country with many employment opportunities and different ways to earn a living, which translates into different contract models. It’s a good idea to take a look at them and get to know which fits your situation best.

The most important thing is to understand that you have the same labor rights and obligations as any Spanish national, beyond the fact that you have to present documentation related to your residency to be able to apply for a job.

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