Moving to Spain: To Do List

12 February 2021

Checklist for Moving to Spain

The Moving to Spain TO DO list (checklist) of things you will need to take care of before moving/ relocating. Information and preparations like: learning Spanish, business, visa, changing your home residency status, getting health insurance, a foreign bank account, purchasing electronics, and finding accommodations.

...find out or ask your agent about where to move to where there's a large expat community - this is generally where you'll want to be, at least initially."

Our checklist of strong suggestions before moving or relocating to Spain:

  1. Print out this checklist for moving to Spain and mark down the relevant To Do items for your situation on your calendar.
  2. Look into a basic Spanish course before moving to Spain. No matter who you talk to, this will be their #1 suggestion.
  3. Depending on your financial independence and future plans, consider what type of work you’ll be looking for before you move to Spain. If possible, find gainful employment - a job - before you move to Spain.
  4. If you’re looking into starting a business in Spain then you’ll want to talk to a Spanish lawyer who speaks English, which can be easy enough via email and phone.
  5. If needed, apply for your Spain visa. In my case, once I got my paperwork together and presented it, the NY Consulate took a week to process it and issue the visa. Otherwise you may have to move to Spain, wait up to four months for it to process, then return home to pick it up, then come back to Spain. Sometimes this is unavoidable though.
  6. If you’re moving to Spain and will be away from home for a long time, you may want to look into cancelling your residency in your home country (particularly for non-EU expats). In order to do this in Canada, for example, you must cut all ties such as asset ownership, memberships, and bank accounts (friends and family can be helpful in taking care of your belongings…). This doesn’t mean giving up your citizenship, but it does mean that you will be exempt from paying taxes at home. In some cases you may end up paying taxes twice, to your home country and Spain, while you’re working or doing business in Spain if you don’t do this.
  7. Before moving to Spain, look into how you’ll cover your health costs, whether that’s the public health care system or private medical insurance. If you’re giving up your home residency then you’ll probably have to look to a Spanish company or health insurance for expats. Otherwise, you’ll have to take out health insurance with a company back home. Also take care to continue paying any home-country health care, as most travel health insurance providers only supplement that which you already have for free through the public system. Check with your public health care providers that there are no problems staying longer than 6 months. Spain’s health care system, if you qualify, is quite good and free.
  8. If you’re not moving to Spain permanently, you’ll probably want to keep a foreign bank account, and maybe your credit card account (if keeping your home residency status). Find places that don’t charge extra for international ATM withdrawals and credit card use. (See more in Banking) Check with your home bank as to whether they have any problems with your account status as a non-resident, there may be better/cheaper options for you too.
  9. Renew your driver’s license or passport, if they’re about to expire. This is really important! Don’t forget it!
  10. Consider purchasing any electronics that are language intensive, such as a laptop or computer, before you leave. Getting stuck with a Spanish keyboard and Spanish language settings can be an exercise in frustration until you learn Spanish.
  11. Coordinate between buying your flight to Spain and your movers’ relocation schedule. Booking these as far ahead of schedule (and confirming it) will save you a lot of headache.
  12. How are you going to get around in Spain? Buying a car or bringing a car? Or maybe you prefer public transit (which is very effective in Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia). Talk to your insurance company about the your stay in Spain and what their coverage, um, covers.
  13. Are your pets moving to Spain with you? This can be a real pain in the ass, so check the requirements and talk to your Vet pronto
  14. Sort out your mail. Go to the post office and set up a redirect for your mail (USA, Canada)for as long as you think is necessary. Some countries’ mail services will only do this for six months, so once you start receiving your redirected mail, be sure to update the senders with your new address in Spain. Some people want to maintain a mailing “presence” back home, ie. a PO Box with mail redirection services. I’m not going to suggest anyone in particular, just use Google.
  15. Do you have a place to stay? Before you’ve actually moved to Spain, this could be difficult. You may want to look into rental flats/apartments by contracting an agency to take care of this for you. On the other hand, many long term flat rentals can be found if you know where and how to search and speak some Spanish (this will save you a lot of money, probably around 20%-50% on rent prices). It will be difficult to know the best location and do this over the Internet. You’ll want to stay off the beaten tourist trail, but find out (or ask your agent) about where to move to where there’s a large expat community - this is generally where you’ll want to be, at least initially. If your flights and movers are confirmed, book this as far ahead of schedule as possible, especially during the high tourist season (May-Sept). You’ll need about two weeks to a month to find a longer-term flat rental or property during this time.

See the Related SpainExpat links on the right for further information about the finer aspects of your move to Spain.

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