January 30, 2024

Top 7 mistakes when moving to Spain

Do you know the common mistakes expats make when they want to live in Spain? 

The first mistake may be not doing it sooner. Many expats and digital nomads say their biggest regret is that they waited too long to follow their dreams. 

So if you are ready to get started, read on for advice about moving abroad. Here are the 7 mistakes you should avoid when moving to Spain:

#1 Not knowing what you need to emigrate to Spain 

Do you need a Spanish work permit or and visa to live in Spain?

UK citizens moving to Spain typically need a work permit and visa in order to move to Spain. Since Spanish visa requirements vary based on your personal circumstances, visit this UK government website to learn about moving to Spain after Brexit.

Citizens of the US moving to Spain can learn about eligibility for a Spanish visa at their local Spanish consulate. Check your Spanish consular jurisdiction here

Citizens of the European Union (or the EEA or Switzerland) do not need a visa to enter Spain. However, they must be entered on the Register for Citizens of the Union.

All new residents of Spain, regardless of country of origin should check in with their local authorities to inquire about registering their residency and any other requirements.

⚠️ Immigration and local registration rules change frequently and will vary based on your country of origin and personal family circumstances. For up-to-date information, check the Spanish government website or the Spanish embassy to see the immigration requirements for your situation.

This page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or immigration advice.


#2 Not Choosing the Right Area to Live in Spain

Before you decide to move to Spain, do your research.

The country of Spain is more than just beautiful beaches and vibrant cities – although it has plenty of those too. From the white villages of Andalusia to the port city of Bilbao in the north, and from Pyrenees mountains to the windswept Atlantic coast of Galicia, Spain has varied climates, lifestyles, cultures and languages. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you know the “Spanish lifestyle.”

Take time to explore and find the region that is right for you!


#3 Assuming your family is as excited to move to Spain as you are

You may be thrilled to move abroad, but that doesn’t mean that your family shares your wanderlust.

Consider taking a pre-move trip to learn about Spanish schools, sports facilities, and other places that matter to you and your family. Younger children can often be more adaptable to new adventures, but all age groups benefit from knowing that their needs can be met in their new surroundings.


#4 Not creating a support network in Spain

One of the most important things that you can do when you move to Spain is to make new friends. Prioritise building a support network.

To meet local residents and other expats in Spain, try:

  • Co-working locations
  • Parent groups at your children's school
  • Sports, fitness, hiking, cultural adventures/tours etc.
  • Language classes or language exchanges like Intercambio
  • Private clubs
  • Volunteer groups

For tips on how to build this critical resource, read our guide: How to build a support network overseas.

friends reunited during home leave 4x3

#5 Not learning Spanish

The richness of a culture is often reflected in its language. If you live in Spain, you will have a much deeper connection to your surroundings if you take some time to learn the language. But which language should you learn?

While Castilian Spanish is the official language of Spain, autonomous areas have additional official languages, including Catalan, Galician, and Basque.

Feeling overwhelmed? Don't worry, many Spaniards are forgiving of newcomers who are trying to learn their language. In some areas speaking the local language is essential, so get your app or ebook going. It’s never too late!


#6 Not making a checklist for moving to Spain

Being an expat isn’t just about embracing a new culture. It comes with a lot of logistical responsibilities.

A checklist for moving to Spain should include – but definitely isn’t limited to:

  • Apply for the all-important visa and work permit
  • Hire a moving company
  • Register with your local authorities and get your certificado de empadronamiento
  • Notify your current local council that you are moving abroad
  • Get a local bank account (usually necessary to pay rent and get local insurance, SIM cards, etc.)
  • Get a Número de Identidad de Extranjeros (NIE) - link to instructions here. Work with your accountant to observe tax treaties between Spain and your home country
  • Obtain health insurance (non-EU citizens)
  • Get a Spanish drivers licence within first six months of residency 
  • Any other official documentation and applications for your specific situation. If you aren't sure what you need to immigrate to Spain, contact your local Spanish consulate or embassy.

Leave plenty of time to take care of these logistics. Check opening hours for your local city hall and other institutions!

#7 Choosing the wrong removals company

To help make your move to Spain go smoothly, choose a removals company that specialises in European removals.

At Sterling Lexicon, our move specialists average 12 years in the industry and are experts in international moving. Our mover and packer teams specialise in speciality packing and shipping for overseas moves as well as road transport within the EU.  

Are you moving for new job in Spain? If your employer has given you a lump sum relocation package to work in Spain, our team can help you pick the move solution that fits within your relocation budget. Let us help simplify your move! 

Want to learn more about Sterling Lexicon house removals services? Read real moving company reviews by our customers.   

Ready to Move to Spain?

Spain is hugely popular with expats, and for good reason. Spain ranked 3rd for quality of life in a recent HSBC Expat Explorer survey, and more than 5 million foreigners call this fascinating and beautiful country home. If you are considering a move to Spain, check out our Know Before You Go Guide: Moving to Spain

And reach out today! Our Move Specialists can move you to Spain or anywhere in the world. 
Our local team in Madrid stands ready to welcome you!

Learn more about our Moving Services

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