Moving to Spain? In 2017, Spain made it back into the Top 10 Expat destinations (Expat Insider) thanks to an excellent quality of life, a friendly population, low costs, and a slowly improving economy.
When you look at the main reason for relocating to Spain, a better quality of life is the clear winner: 26%, more than three times the global average (8%), cite this factor. And Spain does not disappoint; nine in ten expats (90%) are satisfied with their life in Spain, twelve percentage points more than the global average. It’s a consistently strong area for Spain: across all four years of Expat Insider, the country has always been in the top 10 of the Quality of Life Index, ranking third in 2017.
So, whether you’re relocating to Spain for more sunshine or a change in career, preparation is key. I’m pretty sure that one of the first words I learned in Spanish were: “falta uno”. Sound familiar?
Spain is a country where The Law of “falta uno” applies when dealing with local bureaucracy: no matter how many documents and photocopies you bring, there will always be one missing. Before you come to Spain, here are a few tips you should know to get set up in your new country.
Get your NIE
First thing’s first: apply for your NIE (Foreigner’s’ Identification Number). You will need the number to do anything that requires an official process: renting an apartment, opening a bank account, getting a job, connecting to utilities or paying your taxes.
There are three ways you can go about applying for the NIE:
– You can either apply in person when you arrive in Spain
– Apply at the Spanish Consulate in your current country of residence
– Hire an accredited representative in Spain with the correct legal powers to make the application on your behalf.
Open a bank account
Once you have your NIE, you can open a bank account.
Resident accounts have more flexibility and benefits, while non-resident accounts are easier to open. You can take a look at BBVA, CaixaBank, Banco de Sabadell and Banco Santander. These are the top banks in Spain.
Find somewhere to live
In my experience, when you go to live in another country, one of the most complicated things is to know in which area to live.
There are many online pages where you can look for an apartment, but I recommend that you do it once here. It is difficult to know if the neighborhood will like you or if it will adjust to your needs if you do not know the city. Then you have these options:
- Ask someone you know to live in the city where you are going to move
- Contact the agencia inmobiliaria
- Hire someone to do all this for you (this is something I can help you with!)
Make sure you have the right to work in Spain
If you are a citizen of the EU and European Economic Area member states as well as Switzerland, you can come to Spain and work freely without needing a work permit.
On the other hand, if you come from the U.S., Australia or Canada, you will need a Spanish residence visa and a valid Spanish work permit (permiso de trabajo). If you plan to work independently in Spain (working as an autónomo), you can apply for a work permit from the Spanish consulate or embassy in your home country.
Set up a business
Maybe you want to skip battling your way through the job search and set up your own business in Spain.
Here your options:
- Become an autónomo
- Found a company (a pequeña empresa)
Each option has its process and its bureaucracy. Maybe it’s complicated if you do not speak Spanish well. Honestly, I know Spaniards who also find it difficult and need professional advice.
Find schools for your kids (if you have them)
In Spain, you have a few different schooling options if you are bringing your kids:
- Colegios concertados (these are the semi-private ones)
There are some factors you should bear in mind before making a choice:
- Your child’s age
- How long you will be living in Spain
- Your budget
- The primary teaching language you prefer for your kids
Once again, make sure you have all the necessary documents and follow instruction online for what you need in order to enrol your child. Maybe te falta uno…
Here you have my School Search Guide for Barcelona.
Remember that if you need help with any process related to your move to Spain, I can help you! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to assist you.
Barcelona is surrounded on one side by mountains and the other side is the sea. If you can’t find something to do here, then you can’t be looking that hard!
I came to Barcelona almost 10 years ago, single, no kids and with absolutely no idea that they spoke 2 languages here…not quite sure how I missed the whole Catalán memo, but I was young and excited to move. I had never visited Barcelona before but knew that I wanted to live somewhere in Spain and based on where this city is located (sea, close to France and access to flights anywhere in the world) I decided that this was the place to be! I was working in international events at the time and came over for a week long stretch of interviews. I was offered a few jobs and by the end of the week had accepted one and booked my flight to come back a month later…reality hit…I was moving to Barcelona!
A month later I landed in Reus airport, having spent less than 9.99€ on my flight – those were the days! Took a bus to the centre and jumped in a taxi to get to the hostel I had booked. It was before the days of Facebook pages and groups which everyone posts on now to find flatmates. I was using loquo.com but had to be in the city to visit the flat and meet my new roomie before I could move in. I got tons of odd stares when I walked in to the hostel dragging my 2 massive suitcases and 1 carry on behind me. Granted, most people staying there were younger than me, on gap years and getting ready to go out. But I was only 25, so I didn’t think I was that out of place. Turns out that it’s not very normal to see people rock up to a hostel with suitcases! Everyone there had packed light, with just a back pack to their name, and here I was asking if there was any hanging space.
Within two days I had made some great friends at the hostel. We went to some really cool festivals and events. Barcelona hasn’t changed one bit in this respect, except to say that there’s even more going on. If you want to make friends here, all you have to do is post on a forum or Facebook page and you will have tons of people wanting to meet up, grab a drink or go to a festival together.
Jump almost 10 years forward and I am now married to Alberto and we have two gorgeous little boys. That Catalán language which I was completely oblivious to is now a very real thing in my life and I am proud to say that my eldest is trilingual! If I were to write bullet points of exactly why you should move to Barcelona then I wouldn’t do this city justice. There are so many reasons to live here which are just based on a feeling that you get from being in the city. If you like being outdoors, then this is certainly the place for you. In March we went on a day trip to the ski slopes and then spent the next day in the sun on the beach. I’m not sure I can think of too many places where you can do that! There are great little hiking trails in the mountains with lovely masia’s where you can stop and get a bite to eat and either heat up next to the fire or sit outside and catch some rays in the sunshine (or hide in the shade if you want to seem like more of a local 😉 )
There are music festivals in Montjuïc, Volleyball and chiringuitos on the beach, hiking group meet ups on Tibidabo, Water parks in Vilassar de Dalt, street parties in every barrio of the city throughout the whole summer…the list of things to do whether single, partnered up or with kids is endless. Barcelona is so diverse that you will always find a little part of it which suits you and yours perfectly!
My somewhat under researched and fairly hasty move to Barcelona, turned out to be one of the greatest plans I’ve ever had! I’m of the “never say never” thinking, but at this moment in time I honestly can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.
Get in touch and I will help you find your little part of Barcelona and then it’s time for you to make your own fabulous memories!
Your whole life you have grown up in your country imagining (maybe not actively but subconsciously) how your life will be when you have kids. You have seen your friends, siblings, cousins etc having their own children and you just assume that you will be doing the same activities, events and traditions (albeit with a difference as you don’t much rate the way they handle “little Lisa’s” meltdowns and are sure in the knowledge that your children will be better behaved 😉 ). Jump forward a few years and BAM! all has changed! You have fallen in love with a Mediterranean Adonis and have decided to move to Barcelona to stare lovingly into each other’s eyes and live the Barcelona dream (or you have moved with your job…but let´s go the Adonis route for a better read!).
Now you are married and have decided to start a family. An incredibly happy time in your life, but a totally different experience to the one you imagined. You’re now trying to figure out how the public health system works and learning a whole new Spanish vocabulary including such vital words as “PUSH!” “PANT!” and “EPIDURAL PLEASE……NOW! WHERE’S THE ANAESTHETIST?!”. You take your gorgeous new baby home and have a stream of visitors for the first month or two. All your family fly over to see this beautiful new creation and then as fast as they arrive they are gone and you’re staring into those perfect little eyes thinking…what next?
Most parents have that “what next” feeling, but for us non-natives, life is really different to the way it was imagined. However, different can be good. In fact, different can be GREAT! The first great choice we made was to move to Barcelona which allows us such a huge array of opportunities.
Barcelona is a great place to make last minute plans. A play date can be organised the same day rather than having to give a weeks’ notice. The weather helps as it doesn’t rain too often so our kids can run around in the fresh air most days, making friends in any and all languages available!
Most importantly, you may miss family and friends from your country, but the friends you make here are another level of friendship. The fact that you are all in the same boat with babes and toddlers, paddling through this amazing cultural adventure makes for some very special bonds, which to me have felt a lot like having another family right here in Barcelona. My “family” of friends here have taught me wonderful things and I know they will be friends for life, wherever we end up in the world. My kids have Spanish, German, Slovakian, Australian, English……friends themselves and will grow up instinctively understanding other cultures; something which I had to wait until adulthood to be able to experience.
Then your toddlers become pre-schoolers and it’s time to tackle the next big hurdle. How in the world do I even start to choose a school for my 3 year old?! Well let’s take it step by step.
Barcelona School Search Guide
1. Find out which schools (public and concertada) are in your catchment area
2. Make a list of the schools and the dates of the open days (some start at the end of January!)
3. Go to all of the open days you can possibly manage (you can walk out of some if you immediately recognise that the school is not for your family – as I mentioned in a previous blog post)
4. Make a note of the important days which you can’t miss:
– Preinscripción (End of March)
– Matriculación (Beginning of June)
5. Stand outside the schools you like at 4.30pm and chat to all of the parents who currently send their kids to that school to get some inside info…you can skip this step if you don’t want to seem quite as crazy as I possibly looked!
6. Skip numbers 1-5 and come straight to me. I can help you with the whole process (except choosing the school, I’m afraid that still falls on you!). I can however take away all of the other stressful parts including form filling, assisting with the application process and offering a kind and sympathetic ear as someone who has been through it and lived to tell the tale!
So, the morale of the story is this; move to Barcelona, marry a Mediterranean Adonis, have beautiful children and send them to a fantastic school where they will be happily playing whilst you go the beach and drink a glass (bottle) of well-deserved Catalán Cava with your new family!
For all information re my schools package, please just write to me at: email@example.com I am looking forward to helping you with your next adventure!
It was our turn as a family to find the school which fit all of our impossible wants, needs and requirements for our 2 year old son. Yes…2 years old! It’s a crazy thought that in Barcelona you need to find your “forever” school for your precious children at an age where they are still using the baby swing and only just learning to balance on one foot! We had our eye on the school closest to our house not only because of proximity but also because it has recently implemented a teaching methodology which we love and think works with our little boy’s personality and way of learning. But then doubt creeps in that maybe we are being incredibly lazy as it is the closest school and the morning routine can be long enough without having to add a commute! Read more “P3 madness from the other side!”