Moving to Spain: Do's and Don'ts

Published on 06/11/2012 in Relocating to Spain

Would you like to move to Spain? Every year, large numbers of expats and immigrants opt for a life abroad on the Iberian Peninsula – oftentimes running into the same troubles. Here is a quick list of do’s and don’ts which you should definitely consider before your move to Spain.

Do try to find an employer in Spain before you actually move, and try to save up as much money as possible. This might sound trivial, but it will make things a lot easier if you move to Spain with an employment contract in your pocket instead of having to look for a job in the middle of the turbulent (and expensive) act of relocating to another country.

Do realize the importance of your decision and its consequences. In most cases, leaving your home country behind and starting a new life abroad is a huge step for everyone, one that changes almost everything about your life in a very short time. Make sure you are ready for this step. You will always have doubts about whether or not you are going to actually manage, or be worried about how things might work out. This is absolutely normal. Try to be as sure of your decision as possible before making it. If you would just like to see what life abroad is like without serious intentions of staying permanently or at least for a couple of years, leaving everything for good and just taking a chance is probably not the wisest idea.

Do prepare as thoroughly as possible. Try to think of everything that you will be confronted with during your new life, be it immigration legislation, the bus schedule in your city, whether or not pharmacies in Spain carry a certain kind of medication you regularly take, or how to dress in the workplace. Preparation is one of the most important aspects of relocating to another country, and living abroad in Spain is no different in this regard.

On to the don’ts: Don’t ever think moving abroad will not be a huge change for you, personally and professionally. Obviously, this is the other side of the “do” above. One of the biggest mistakes expats can make is assume that everything will be just like home. Even if many things in Spain are handled in a similar way to that in your home country, there are hundreds of little pitfalls, traps, and simple misunderstandings that will make everything more complicated if you take things too easy.

Another important don’t: Don’t bring everything, but carefully select what you want to bring. It is useless trying to ship all your belongings over to your new home. Sure, take the things that are most dear to your heart, be it clothing, furniture, books, or records, but also let go of stuff you can easily replace or simply will not need in your new surrounding – and that will surely amount to be a lot. Find out beforehand if everything you are sure you cannot live without is available in Spain, and take that which you think you cannot find a replacement for. On a similar note, don’t just come with just a backpack full of clothes either: buying everything you might need for your household from scratch will be a enormous strain on your budget!

One of the biggest don’ts probably seems very obvious to everyone who has spent time abroad, but is still a regular regret of many newcomers to the expat lifestyle: Don’t assume that English or limited knowledge of Spanish hastily acquired in a weekend course will be enough to get by. True, English is very widely spoken, particularly in business and academia, and has emerged to be the dominant international language in our globalized world. It is also true that the best way of learning a language is picking it up from native speakers. Still, you will always run into the pesky language barrier if you do not thoroughly prepare for your new life abroad by getting some knowledge of Spanish beforehand. This obviously applies to any country in the world; if you do not learn the language, you will never feel truly comfortable and at home.

Making a new home for yourself is everything but simple, but is probably going to be an unforgettable, treasured experience for you – make it a positive one by taking care of the small and large details of it all!

Written by: InterNations

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EricS said:
16 September 2015 @ 22:33

I would appreciate any and all information from American expats in Spain. I was last living in Spain in 1999 when restrictions were lax having flown in on a one way ticket from San Francisco, CA. I have been researching moving back for weeks, interested in moving to Valencia to teach English. I have about 4 years teaching experience from many years ago both in US public high schools and with Wall Street Institute in Rome, Italy. Masters degree educated and bachelors degree in Languages with some graduate course work in ESL and Linguistics. My problem is it seems really discouraging getting there these days. Aside from marrying a Spaniard are there any Americans that got there legally and made it on their own in this day and age?

EricS said:
16 September 2015 @ 22:33

I would appreciate any and all information from American expats in Spain. I was last living in Spain in 1999 when restrictions were lax having flown in on a one way ticket from San Francisco, CA. I have been researching moving back for weeks, interested in moving to Valencia to teach English. I have about 4 years teaching experience from many years ago both in US public high schools and with Wall Street Institute in Rome, Italy. Masters degree educated and bachelors degree in Languages with some graduate course work in ESL and Linguistics. My problem is it seems really discouraging getting there these days. Aside from marrying a Spaniard are there any Americans that got there legally and made it on their own in this day and age?

redmondeo said:
07 June 2015 @ 17:43

hi all, i am looking for a low cost long term rental apartment in the alicante region. Any help or direction would be very much appreciated. PS. both retired and mobile with in reason. thanks all.

Hylena said:
16 October 2014 @ 02:51

I want to share useful Cost of Living and Salary Analysis calculator that would be useful for future expats in Spain.

Download here.

grupoadvocates said:
08 October 2014 @ 13:06

The website is

grupoadvocates said:
08 October 2014 @ 13:06

Hi, we are lawyers that work in UK and in Spain.
You can visit the website, we can help you in any transaction about Real States.

Poedoe said:
08 February 2014 @ 10:53

Hi Lindsay,
We purchased an apartment back in 2007, the Security Company we used was excellent.
AVDP Security 630587085 (Arther)
& Aircon
Poligono Los Barrios, Rojales Tel 606218363.

Hope this helps XX

spain108 said:
03 February 2014 @ 11:44

if you want to earn a lively hood in spain

as johnny come lately ...forget it...

this place is only for those who dont need to

work......otherwise it s ultra tough

Enna said:
01 February 2014 @ 08:43

Oh dear, still they won't learn. How many more people are coming over to teach English. Spanish people are now going over to England for a more extensive course.

Don'ts - pensioners with a ongoing medical complaint don't come over here without private medical insurance. Oh I know its expensive but its certainly worth it. I am having on going back pain and I couldn't have got insurance anyway and may have to use my savings....

The medical services here (Valencia) are worse here than the UK

Stick to a place where there is a mixture of nationalities, we are suffering in a small village
with odd people not liking "the English".

Invalid people living here are not ALWAYS entitled to a parking place - especially in a small village.

We are selling up and going to live in the city where we can integrate better

yogavnture said:
28 January 2014 @ 04:45

im coming to Alicante/Valencia area in may to look to buy either a small flat near sea or just buy or rent something at a campground and get a is paramount. any suggestions.? I think for 50000 euros cash. I can get a decent flat with a garage on site near the sea in Alicante area? how can I make it secure????? get into gated community?

lyndsay said:
21 January 2014 @ 12:20

Hi, I am living in Murcia in Calasparra, but have come back to a spate of Burglaries does anyone know where I can get a metal security gate have contacted a firm in Murcia no response, local firms send away, for the patio doors,preferably under 525e. Or I also need an English king size pocket sprung mattress, does anyone deliver?

I used to live in Villamartin and assisted with an Estate Agency and have Both Secretarial and Business qualifications. I also ran Nursing Services and brought over Lloyds pharmacy products.
I am able to teach special needs, and was trained as a Dyslexia/English Teacher, and also teach, music,/guitar. My main career however was working for the National Health Service as a Cardiac Nurse. Are there any other nurses in Murcia who would like to team up and meet to discuss what is needed in the area. Perhaps there is an English/Spanish firm that needs someone with my abilities. I have a minibus. and speak some Spanish, Any suggestions gratefully received.

ElTorro said:
27 December 2013 @ 10:34

Hi I am moving to Spain from Edinburgh in the New Year and have decided to take Spanish Lessons in Edinburgh with an excellent school I would like to continue my Spanish Lessons when I move to spain can anyone recommend a good place to go that cater for relative beginners.

debra youngs said:
14 December 2013 @ 22:55

Hi am renting a huse from feb can someone tell me where my daughter can attend state school with expats not just spanish is willing to learn the language but at 14 worried bout gcses other option is home school we will be staying in seirra golf near balsicas any information to help would be appreciated thanks debra

tillymint666 said:
21 November 2013 @ 16:53

We live in Almeria - and meet each week with young spanish professionals to practice spanish and also for them to practice their english. There are more and more young professionals out of work here - I was speaking to someone who had just been made redundant from a Bank - they were hoping to improve their english so that it would improve their prospects of another job. I really feel for any young person in the world - trying to get on the job market - and then trying to keep a job. In life - it pays to be positive, be prepared to update as many skills as possible - learn different languages - be proactive. I'm just happy I'm retired - having had a successful and fulfilling career - and I wish the best for all young people who want to work for a living - instead of living off the state. However, - I can understand that there are now many young graduates/professionals - who have worked hard -and are having to rely on handouts. My heart goes out to them. But Education still opens up minds and hearts and any new skill is a positive. When looking for a job - it's sometimes not what you know - but who you know - so local people will have links within their community - which might help their job prospects - it's the same for people in the uk - you will have more chance of a job in your own country where you know the locality and possible people who can open a door for you.

Bernadette4129 said:
21 November 2013 @ 16:31

Just go go for it.

Joan said:
08 October 2013 @ 11:24

There are some negatives on here, work is scarce, not to different in UK,but here the Sun makes it so much more bearable. The Spanish are wonderful and appreciate if you try to intergrate. Learning to speak the language is a bonus. Valencia is lovely and not so expensive, so take the plunge nothing ventured nothing gained, and rent rather than buy, if you don't like it you can always go home.

tillymint666 said:
23 September 2013 @ 08:44

If you have good qualifications - speak the language of the country you want to work in - and have a good work ethos - then you'll find work anywhere. In small spanish towns - ordinary jobs will be given to family members over foreigners - but that's probably the same anywhere in the world. We all need money to live - so go where you'l be able to make a living. You don't get handouts in Spain - the U.K. seems to be the place the rest of the E.U. are going to - because they can get professional help to claim all the benefits going!!!

tillymint666 said:
14 September 2013 @ 09:14

It's going to be the same the world over - if you are young - you need to have a skill that is needed in the country you are going to - if you are old - you need to have enough money to live on without working. To leave your native country you need to be someone who is adaptable and willing to accept that you will be living in a different country with different laws/rules/culture/etc. etc. You won't have a network of 'buddies/familly' to help you out in times of trouble. You'll have to 'go it alone'!!! We miss a lot of the things that only your mother country can provide - but we still enjoy life in Spain because we have a positive outlook on life and always look for the good and not the bad. Glass half full people. Plus - we are retired and have enough to live on without having to work (we worked hard for over 45 years!!). Would think twice if we were a young family with no funds to see you through the tough times. Plus - the opportunities are much greater for young people in the u.k. Definitely would not come here with a young family - and wouldn't buy - would rent a property and keep a home in the uk which I would rent out. Wish I'd done that when we came over - Spain is not a good place to invest in - and the spanish will never change their attitudes to their economy. BUT that's a whole other post!!!!!

israel said:
14 June 2013 @ 22:54

I must add to all you guys have said a couple of things:

I am spanish. I lived in England for 8 years. One of the main reason why most of the "young english" went back home was that the capability of working within the spanish people was terrible due to not speaking the language.

I mean, job is terrible here, I admit that but THERE ARE JOBS TO BE DONE. My wife is bulgarian, speaks English and Spanish perfectly and she is working in a reception. Thanks to my English I am working in a bank.

Therefore, you guys MUST try to speak the language, if you are a pensioner you don´t really need to bother but if you are on your 30s, 20s, 40s,50s, jeezzz. Learn the bloody language and communicate with the spanish. That way you will have a HUGE advantage over any spaniard since they do not really speak much english (at least in Costa Blanca)

Ah! And intigrate a bit. When I was living in the UK all my mates were brits, I used to go to the pub and chatted up with them, my ex was british too! lol. That is the best way, YOU MAKE CONTACTS WITH LOCAL PEOPLE. They will help you forward in your trip in this country.

Cheers everyone

ehw said:
02 June 2013 @ 15:19

To say "the Spanish don't want us here" is ridiculous. The problem is not so much the lack of work but the lack of people qualified to do the work. The Technology Park in Málaga have permanent problems in finding staff because high level English is indispensable.
The Spanish do not worry about where you come from if you meet their demands, principally you're aged 30-35, have the knowledge needed to do the job and speak good English and Spanish. If you meet that profile there are jobs waiting for you.

Sandra Gilroy said:
12 May 2013 @ 09:48

Hi i am thinking of making the move to Spain, I am planning on teaching English as a foreign language. I would appreciate any comments or advice anyone can give.

Rob Atkinson said:
09 May 2013 @ 21:11

Hi, I work overseas on various offshore wind farm projects on a month on month off rotation. My wife and our 15yr old daughter along with myself would like to move to Spain as we are all fed up with the English weather etc etc..... My wife is a teachers aide working with all ages along with SEN children, our daughter is due to take her GCSE this year and will then go onto 6th form hopefully Spain either within private or public sectors... We are keen on living within the Murcia area however if anyone could recommend any other areas for consideration it would be appreciated. At the moment we are gathering as much info as possible to assist in our decision, any help regardless of how trivial it may appear would be sincerely appreciated.

jane S said:
18 April 2013 @ 21:38

Have just found a teaching job in spain at an International school. There are always jobs somewhere even with unemployment rife. Just keep knocking and learning Spanish!Salary is actually higher than the UK and am working less hours!
Miracles do happen.

Tom and Dot Delaney said:
11 April 2013 @ 15:44

When I move to Spain I will be
opening a bank account .
How long does this take and will
I have a card the same day?

floss said:
04 April 2013 @ 17:34

you can be unemployed anywhere,valencia sounds a better place to be unemployed than glasgow where i live.i owned a home in malaga for 5years and want to move back to depends what you can't listen to really negative people if you want to move.but you must tackle spanish language.its still much cheaper to live in spain than here. i pay a 'mortgage' in council tax.and going to the dentist is here is much dearer. go for it!!!

david rowe said:
03 April 2013 @ 15:27

if you have a job or pension in the UK and you have a nice house and live in a nice area then DONT move to Spain. High unemployment, High prices, hgh cost of living and the Spanish do not want us here. Stay at home and be happy.

windtalker said:
11 February 2013 @ 22:51

where have you been hiding Spain has a 80% unemployment rate in the under 25 age group and 30% unemployment overall good luck finding a job.

adelita said:
19 January 2013 @ 05:04

Is there anyone here who is familiar with valencia.....if so how is the job market...... are their any foreigners in the area

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