14 Top Tips For Moving To Spain

Published on 16/03/2009 in Relocating to Spain

Moving to SpainThere are many things to take into consideration before making that big lifetime decision of moving to Spain.  There are the financial considerations but also the emotional costs.  These I hope to cover in the next few pages.

The main object it to go into this with your eyes wide open not with rose tinted glasses.  If you have problems whether emotional or financial these will not necessarily be solved by moving to a different country.  I believe the best bit of advice is "do not leave your common sense back in Britain".  If you would not do it there, do not do it in Spain.  Know the pitfalls.  Many people have moved over to Spain and unfortunately have lived to regret it, and have found themselves in the position where they cannot afford to move back as their homes are now worthless.  So here goes.

1.      When buying property in Spain, check, check and double check.  If your estate agent tells you that you will have electricity connected to that beautiful house in the "campo" as soon as the sale goes through.  Beware.  This is unlikely to happen.  Insist that you will not go through with the sale until that meter is installed and you have seen the paperwork from Endesa Sevillana who are the main providers of electricity in the country.

Employ a solicitor who is not recommended by your estate agent.  There are plenty of ex-pats web sites where you can ask for recommendations in the area where you are going to  buy.

Now you have got your independent solicitor get him to make sure your house is legal and  has a Certificate of First Habitation.  You will need this to get electricity as it is now illegal to provide electricity to houses without this certificate.  If your builder supplies you with   electricity which you are not paying for BEWARE YOU WILL BE CUT OFF and life without it is not a picnic.  The expensive option is solar and a generator which is noisy and   expensive to run.  Also in the campo no electricity means no water as your water comes  from a well and has to be pumped up by guess what, yes electricity, you got it.

Beware of "Black Money".  You will be encouraged to pay a certain percentage of  the price for your property in cash which is then handed over at the point of completion by your estate   agent to your seller.  This is illegal and is now being clamped down on by the tax authorities  but it still goes on.  This can rebound on you at a later date and you may be fined a large     amount of money and have to pay capital gains on the money you handed to your seller.

2.      Open a bank account in Spain which is fairly easy to do and normally your estate agent will run through this with you or employ a Gestor.

3.      You will need an NIE number which can be got through your local Police Station. Remember to take photocopies of everything from your passport down to all the documents you have regarding the purchase of your new property.

4.      Register on the Padron for your town.  This provides information to the authorities to allow them to get extra money from central government to provide services for the town itself.

5.      There are various taxes to pay, i.e. IBI which is payable on your property and refuse tax which is pretty small.  Your refuse is normally collected in large communal containers at various points in the area every day.  This sounds good but in the country areas recycling means throwing your rubbish, which can also mean old fridges, settees etc in the general area of the bins to be collected at some time in the future.

6.      Health Care - Before leaving the UK make sure you approach the Department of Works and Pensions in Newcastle to apply for an E106 or an E121 if over pensionable age.  An E106 will provide you with reciprocal health care for up to two years depending on N.I payments in the UK prior to leaving.  If you are pensionable then an E121 will give you that same health cover and is invaluable.  After the two years you will need to take out private health care or else if working or self employed pay into the Social Service system in Spain which is expensive.

7.      This brings us to employment.  Unemployment is high in Spain especially if you cannot speak the language.  Also wages are low especially for women and hours are long.  Normal working hours are 8 am to 2 pm and then again from 5pm to 8pm or later.

Many people come to Spain and believe they will make a living out of "property maintenance".  It is possible but the money is low and many are forced to return to the UK to support themselves.  The best solution is if the main breadwinner is still able to work in the UK at UK wages and return to the family home in Spain at the weekends or else to work in Gibraltar which again pays UK wages and live in Spain.

8.      The cost of living in general is lower than in the UK but is rising all the time especially along the Costas.  To add to this is the fluctuation in the British pound at the moment which appears to be at a low so people living on a fixed income in the UK, i.e. a pension are finding that they are losing out in the currency fluctuations.

9.      Make a Will.  Spanish inheritance rules are vastly different than UK rules.  Inheritance tax is payable on practically all your wealth and is payable on whoever inherits including spouses. Normally without a will your children will inherit before your spouse.  So for example if your spouse has children from a previous marraige they will inherit his/her share on their death which could mean you are unable to sell the family home without their permission and will lose 50% of the said home.

10.     If possible keep a base in the UK if only a one bedroom apartment.  This can be rented out to provide income and also keep you on the UK property ladder if you ever need to return. Also keep your doctor, bank and credit cards using a UK address.  It is very difficult to get a new bank account or credit card when living abroad.  Also if you move back to the UK in the future and need credit of any kind it will be difficult to obtain.  It is also an idea to keep your name on the electoral role of your local council in the UK.  This enables you to vote in any General Election but again also is a help when moving back to the UK again to obtain credit.

11.     Learn the language.  I know along some of the Costas you will never need to learn Spanish as English is spoken by practically everyone.  You will miss out.  If you decide to live in a more remote area it is a necessity and a pleasure to be able to converse if only in a few words with your Spanish neighbours, and it will be appreciated.  Go on try it!

12.     Visit your chosen area out of season and preferably when the weather is bad.  If you can move in with a family for a couple of weeks when it is cold and wet, yes this does happen in Spain, and you still enjoy it.  Great, come on over.  The houses in Spain are built to keep out the heat in July and August but come the winter they are cold and often damp.  Central heating is not the norm.

13.     Relationships can also suffer from the 24/7 lifestyle.  When back in the UK you are working a normal life and seeing your partner for a few hours in the evening and weekends, the strain of suddenly being with them constantly can crack the relationship.  Also the boredom of not working and missing the family can also put pressure on the relationship.  Many women give up driving when moving to Spain.  Don´t do it girls.  Keep your independence.  When you want to go out, you can go without having to drag your other half around.

14.     On a positive note if you want a slower pace of life;  to enjoy more of a family life, i.e. eating out with your children on a Sunday without the 24/7 "shopping" which Britain now is;  having a glass of wine and a BBQ on a summer´s evening and know that the weather will be good, Spain is your choice.

To conclude REMEMBER THAT YOU NOW ARE THE IMMIGRANT  so respect your new country and the Spanish people and in so doing enjoy your new life.  Hasta La Vista!

Written by: Glynis Elliott

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