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relocating to spain

Matthew James Removal has put together for Expatclic a number of tips for UK citizens relocating to Spain. Useful also for other EU citizens. Thank you!


Spain is full of happy expats who are studying, working or have retired. With fantastic weather, delicious food and relaxed culture, it doesn’t come as a surprise to find a number of UK citizens relocating to Spain.

Whether you’re a student who is considering studying abroad, a professional finding work, or, planning to settle down with your family, continue reading to discover what you need to know before moving to Spain from the UK.

NIE number

Currently, UK citizens do not need to apply for a visa when relocating to Spain as the UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) is part of the EU, however, due to Brexit the rules for obtaining a visa may change. You will need to obtain an NIE number if you plan to live, buy property, work or start a business in Spain.

A Numero de Identidad de Extranjero ( NIE), issued by the National Police of Spain, is a unique tax identification number for foreigners, used to track all financial and legal activities in Spain. It’s a legal requirement for all individuals who are working, want to open a bank account, or are looking to buy or sell a property.

Typically, European citizens apply for an NIE number in Spain, once they have lived in Spain for at least three months; you are required to register for a government certificate that shows your NIE number. You will need to visit the Spanish National Police station and submit all your appropriate documents. Alternatively, you can apply for an NIE number by going to your nearest Spanish embassy in the UK.

Work and income

It’s important to give yourself time to find a suitable job in Spain. Ideally, you should have done your research beforehand and have some interviews in place. If you haven’t done this, ensure you have the money to cover your living expenses while you’re on the job hunt.

Luckily for EU citizens, you won’t need a work permit to work in Spain. However, to be employed in Spain, you would need to acquire a social security number from your local Oficina de Seguridad Social.

Cost of living

One of the greatest things about relocating to Spain is the cost of living. You’re able to eat and live like a local, without worrying about how steep the expenses are. The properties in Spain are reasonably priced, and the utility costs can be relatively cheap in less touristy and commercial areas.

vivere a barcellona

Photo ©CarolineMervaille

On the other hand, housing prices tend to be a lot more costly in central cities and popular areas of Spain. Despite the national average wage being higher in these popular cities, the cost of living is higher, meaning it’s more expensive to live and work.


One of the reasons why people move to Spain is because of its lush weather and long hours of sunshine. But in fact, it’s not always sunny and hot as everyone thinks – the climate varies depending on which region of Spain you’re planning to live in.

In the North of Spain, you will generally experience mild, wet winters and warm summers, whereas, in the South of Spain, it can get unbearably hot. Individuals living in the centre of Spain, usually experience extremes of hot, dry summers and cold winters.

Learn Spanish

It is always advised to learn some Spanish before relocating to Spain. This will be an extremely useful skill to help you get around and adjust to the culture. If you can’t find time to attend a class, you can learn Spanish online or on an app, in your own time and pace. Also, learning the language can facilitate your job search and allow you to converse with the locals. You can ask for help from locals who don’t utter a word of English, making it easier for you to explore less touristy areas of Spain.

Public transport

Spain has excellent rail network transport offering reasonable fares to major cities. For longer journeys to another city, you must reserve a seat before the day of travel. If you’re on a budget, you can book your fare way in advance and get up to 60% off the original price.

vivere a barcellona

Buses in Spain are cheap and surprising luxurious for what it’s worth. But a downside of the bus system is that it can be extremely confusing for individuals who aren’t familiar with all the different operators. Most of the buses don’t stop at the town’s central bus station, which makes it difficult to find the relevant bus stop that takes you to your desired destination.

Each city will have its own form of public transportation links, and typically a travel card will be available to buy to access all modes of public transport. Buying a travel card usually works out cheaper than paying for each trip.


Just like the UK, EU residents living in Spain can receive free national healthcare. Individuals who are working and paying National Insurance in Spain, are eligible for free healthcare. If you’re planning to stay in Spain for a short period, you can access healthcare by applying for an EHIC card.


Matthew James Removal
September 2019

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