Are you moving to Spain? | The Spectrum IFA Group (2023)

First, an update on Brexit

Whilst departure terms between the UK and EU are yet to be finalised, the status of British expatriates living in Europe has largely been agreed, in principle at least. From state pension escalation, to health care cover and rights on residency and employment, first phase negotiations concluded (eventually) with consensus on protection of citizens’ rights.
Of course, agreement still needs to be formalised and as the EU/UK progress agreement highlights, ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’. But for now, at least, it is looking like existing expatriates’ rights are likely to be recognised beyond April 2019.

Buying a property

From the initial and legally binding ‘pago de arras’, the legal process of buying a property is markedly different from UK conveyancing.

It is important to engage a knowledgeable lawyer, ideally English speaking if you do not speak Spanish. Your lawyer will liaise with and arrange your meeting with a notary, which is legal a requirement in Spain for the property buying process. Resident and Non-resident tax obligations vary and require reviewing on an individual basis.


Seek guidance on the wide range of borrowing options available, from the national banks to smaller regional lenders. An independent mortgage specialist will identify the most competitive and flexible mortgages available and ensure suitability for your specific borrowing requirements, as well as introducing you to trustworthy and reliable legal and professional services, a must in Spain when purchasing or selling property. It is important to note that banks do not make mortgage offers without the property being secured. (See below for our independent mortgage brokers, Spectrum International Mortgages Spain)

Bank accounts

Familiarise yourself with the various current and savings accounts available, from the cuenta corriente (current account) to tax efficient ‘Cuentas de Ahorro’, or savings accounts. It is important also to note that bank managers tend to move branches frequently, so finding a bank you like is more important in the longer term than a friendly bank manager or ‘Director’.

Tax Residency

Please note you cannot choose where to be tax resident. The law dictates when this will happen and you do not necessarily have to complete any forms to be treated as tax resident. If you meet one of these following conditions you will be a tax resident:

● If you are in Spain for more than 183 days in any calendar year
● If your “centre of interests” are considered to be in Spain eg. If your main income is in Spain, your main home is in Spain or if your spouse and children live in Spain.
● Residency commences from the first day that you declare Spain to be your permanent home.

Tax declarations

When you move to Spain, the Spanish tax authority becomes your controlling tax authority, even if you pay tax elsewhere. The tax year is the calendar year. Worldwide income needs to be declared annually (between April and end of June) and the relevant form is called “La Renta”. (Income taxes and capital gains tax are called IRPF). UK source income from dividends and property rental, whilst taxable in the UK, should also be included in your Spanish tax return. The double tax treaty between Spain and the UK should ensure an accurate tax assessment, but it is important to check that liabilities have been calculated correctly.
Note too that tax-free investments in the UK, such as ISAs and premium bonds, do not hold the same favourable status in Spain. For permanent and long-term Spanish residents, there are tax efficient alternatives available (see Investment section below). Without exception, make full disclosure of income and assets, recognising that there is automatic exchange of tax and financial information between the two countries, under global Common Reporting Standards adopted by the EU in 2017.
The Modelo 720 or M720 is a requirement for all Spanish residents, including foreigners, to complete. It is an informative overseas asset declaration for assets of over 50,000 euros including property, banks accounts, offshore investments, shares and other assets. This declaration needs to be completed by March 31st following the first full fiscal year of residency. As this declaration can only be completed electronically we highly recommend the involvement of a qualified ‘gestor’ or tax accountant, as hefty penalties could be imposed for providing erroneous information.
Wealth tax obligations change on a regular basis and vary between autonomous regions, so obtaining the latest local rates applicable is important.

Beckham Law

For employed individuals earning over 60,000 euros pa and having not been resident in Spain for the past 10 years before becoming tax resident, the possibility exists of being paid as a non-resident for tax purposes and up to five full tax years. The rate of income tax is 24% plus you avoid the need to declare M720. It is available to company owners as long as they (and their immediate family) do not own more than 25% of the shares. The ability to join this scheme needs to be assessed on a case by case basis.

Inheritance tax

This is a subject that causes some confusion on moving to Spain. In Spain, it is the beneficiaries that are assessed for Inheritance tax. In the UK it is the estate of the person who has died that is assessed for Inheritance tax. This means that different planning is required in Spain although it is possible to plan for both the UK and for Spain in some circumstances.
Like wealth tax, inheritance tax varies from autonomous community to autonomous community. Advice in the community where you are living is therefore very important.


Spain’s comprehensive and efficient healthcare system is considered to be at least on a par with the UK and better in many areas. It is generally accessible to expatriates but the extent of cover available to you, and how to secure access to it, depends on individual circumstances. Eligibility for a Tarjeta de Salud or holding suitable private health insurance, or a combination of the two, are essential to avoid unexpected and expensive bills for medical treatment. This especially applies to dental treatment which is typically very costly in Spain.

Currency exchange

Relying on your bank for foreign exchange transfers is generally an expensive option. Numerous currency transfer specialists provide not only competitive terms and secure, swift transactions, but a range of other benefits including on-line facilities for regular payments, forward contracts and rate tracking alerts.


Pensions are a technically complex subject where reliable advice is essential. From understanding UK state pension entitlement, to reviewing all existing personal and/or occupational schemes, there is scope to increase the value, flexibility and security of your retirement finances. British expatriates living in Europe currently enjoy pension freedoms and transfer opportunities that are unavailable elsewhere. However, in relation to both Brexit and ongoing UK pension reform, it is unlikely this flexibility will remain beyond the short term.
Even if Brexit transitional arrangements encourage a smoother economic separation, further changes to pension regulations are already on the UK domestic agenda. Consult an authorised, qualified and experienced specialist to arrange a comprehensive review of your existing pension arrangements. Be wary of any recommendation to transfer a UK pension without receiving a detailed report which explains clearly why a transfer is in your best interests.

Wills and estate planning

Spanish forced heir-ship rules restricts the extent to which you can freely transfer wealth during your lifetime. It also, unless you have planned properly, governs how your estate is distributed upon death – most notably, prescribed heir-ship laws override individual choice when it comes to nominating beneficiaries. However, if you are a British expatriate living in Spain, EU legislation allows you to specify that your estate be administered according to the laws of your country of nationality, rather than your country of residence. Doing so provides valuable flexibility and control over the eventual distribution of your estate. Note this relates to probate law and is unconnected to inheritance tax law.
It is important to establish and maintain a valid will or testamento which fully reflects your intentions. A notary will prepare your will in the appropriate format.

Investments and savings

Recognising that UK assets are taxable in Spain, and that tax free in the UK doesn’t translate to the same in Spain, consider switching to Spanish approved tax efficient investments. Care is needed with possible tax consequences on the disposal of UK assets, so always seek professional advice before restructuring. Seguro de vida are widely regarded as the most tax efficient solution available in GBP and EUR (and other currencies), in English language and with investment flexibility to match individual objectives and risk profiles. Technically a life insurance policy, but in practice an investment vehicle and this is the most tax efficient means of investment in Spain –
Low cost, straightforward, beneficiary nomination, IHT exemptions/reliefs, capital access, income option, portability (UK return),


Even for the financially experienced it is worth seeking professional advice, if only to ensure that all available investment and tax planning opportunities are being fully utilised. Only deal with an independent, appropriately authorised firm and ideally someone living and working locally who has been recommended by other expatriates in the area.
The regulatory status of an independent broker can be checked on-line at;, and at any initial discussion with an individual you should be informed about the advisory process, from fact finding and presenting suitable recommendations to responsibility for investment management and ongoing client servicing.


    How much money do you need to move to Spain? ›

    How Much Does It Cost to Live in Spain? Well, expats who move to Spain will see that you need between €2,000-2,200 a month to live comfortably in a big city. However, in a smaller city, you will need a more modest €1,700-1,900 a month.

    Can you live in Spain as a foreigner? ›

    It is absolutely easy for US citizens to move to Spain. All you have to do is file the necessary paperwork to the relevant Spanish authorities, whether for employment purposes or otherwise. You can also choose to invest in Spain under the Golden Visa scheme and be on your way to permanent residency for life.

    Can I move to Spain without a job? ›

    Can You Move to Spain Without a Job? The short answer is yes, there are definitely ways to move to Spain without a job. That being said, there are a lot of criteria that you need to hit to be eligible. Of course, as it always does with moving abroad, it comes down to which visas you're eligible for.

    What do I need to retire to Spain? ›

    Evidence of sufficient financial resources to cover the cost of living in Spain. Valid health insurance coverage. A clean criminal record certificate from the applicant's country of origin. Proof of accommodation in Spain (this may vary based on the specific visa requirements).

    Is it cheaper to live in Canada or Spain? ›

    Cost of living in Spain vs Canada

    On average, the cost of living in Spain is 59% cheaper than in Canada. Although gym memberships and utility bills can be slightly more expensive in Spain, you'll find the biggest differences in cost in rent, groceries, alcoholic drinks, and daycare.

    What is the minimum income to retire in Spain? ›

    Financial requirements for retiring in Spain

    If you're a non-EU/EEA citizen who wishes to retire in Spain, you'll need to prove you have enough income to support yourself without income from employment. As of 2021, the minimum figure for this is currently set at €2,259 per month or just over €27,000 per calendar year.

    How can a Canadian move to Spain? ›

    Depending on why you wish to move to Spain, you must select the type of long-stay visa and residence permit corresponding to your travel purpose. You need a long-stay visa to apply for a residence permit. A long-stay (D visa) visa will allow you to stay in the Spanish territory for long-term residency.

    How much is rent in Spain? ›

    The average rental price per square metre in Spain is €11.70/sqm. This means that a 100-square-metre apartment (the average size in Spain is 97 sqm) will cost new tenants €1,170 a month in rent on average. A tiny 50 sqm apartment costs on average €585 to rent every month.

    Can I buy a house in Spain if I am not a resident? ›

    Can Foreigners Buy Property in Spain? In short, yes! The Spanish government welcomes and even encourages foreign buyers in general. Though if you are specifically looking to buy a holiday let, you might need some legal help with the bureaucratic part of it.

    Can I just go and live in Spain? ›

    If you're not keen on changing your nationality, then you can apply for an “EU long-term residence permit” (permiso de residencia de larga duración) after 5 uninterrupted years in Spain or any EU state. This residence permit grants you the ability to work freely and reap the benefits from the social welfare in Spain.

    Can a retired person move to Spain? ›

    The most popular visas for retirement in Spain are the Golden Visa and the Non-Lucrative Visa. You will need to apply for one of the two if you wish to live in Spain as a retiree.

    What is the full retirement age in Spain? ›

    From the beginning of 2022, if you want to retire in Spain and claim a state pension, you need to be a little bit older than 65, that is, 66 years and 2 months to be exact! However, there are some situations when it may be possible to retire earlier, for example, if you are 65 and have paid 37.

    Do I have to pay taxes if I retire in Spain? ›

    If you spend more than 183 days per year in Spain (that is, 6 months), you will be regarded as a tax resident. That is the typical case of non-lucrative visa holders who receive a pension. Being a tax resident means you will pay income tax in Spain (“IRPF”) for all incomes you generate all around the world.

    Where is the cheapest place to retire in Spain? ›

    The cheapest province in Spain to live in is known to be the Andalucia province, located in the southern region. Here, you can find cheap cities such as Almeria, Malaga and Granada with an average cost of living that is significantly lower than most other places in Spain.

    Is it hard for a Canadian to move to Spain? ›

    Individuals who wish to immigrate to Spain from Canada face a relatively simple process and first need to comply with the visa requirements. There are two distinct options available: residing in Spain for long-term work or study purposes or staying in the country based on a non-lucrative visa.

    Which is best Canada or Spain? ›

    Canada vs Spain 2022: Quality of Life
    Purchasing power index88.86 high69.49 moderate
    Safety index56.71 moderate65.72 high
    Health care index71.15 high78.15 high
    Climate index57.05 moderate93.83 very high
    5 more rows
    Mar 24, 2022

    How long can I live in Spain as a Canadian? ›

    You can stay and work in Spain for up to 12 months.

    Is it better to retire in Spain or Portugal? ›

    Security. As mentioned before, one thing that contributes to the overall quality of life in any particular country is safety. While both countries are considered generally safe, Portugal is by far safer than Spain.

    What is the best place to retire in the world? ›

    Countries Natixis ranked as secure retirement locations are mostly concentrated in Europe but also include New Zealand and Australia. The top three countries in the rankings are Norway, Switzerland and Iceland, all of which have life expectancies of 83 years, compared to 77 in the U.S. and the world average of 72.

    How long can you live in Spain without residency? ›

    How long can I stay in Spain without becoming a resident? You can stay in Spain for a maximum of 183 days per year (6 months) in order to not become a resident. If you spend an extra day (184 days and onwards), you will be regarded as a resident, hence paying resident taxes in the country.

    Where do most Canadians live in Spain? ›

    Where do Canadians live in Spain? Choose big cities like Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia if you are a Canadian living in Spain.

    Can a Canadian own property in Spain? ›

    Can Canadians buy property in Spain? Yes. There are no restrictions on property purchases for Canadians.

    Can I drive in Spain with a Canadian license? ›

    You can drive in Spain with your valid Canadian driver's licence and an international driving permit for up to 6 months. For stays longer than 6 months, you must obtain a local driver's licence.

    Is Health Care Free in Spain? ›

    Spanish healthcare is established widely throughout the country. It is public, free, and available to every Spanish resident. People who work pay monthly social security contributions to uphold the public healthcare system.

    Are groceries expensive in Spain? ›

    Food in Spain

    Food prices in Spain are relatively low, making it easy to stick to a budget. The cost of groceries will depend on where you shop, with larger supermarkets offering discounts. In general, you can expect to pay about $60 per week for groceries as a couple.

    What bills do you pay in Spain? ›

    The standard running costs of your Spanish property are:
    • Local Property Tax.
    • Rubbish Collection Tax.
    • Community Fees.
    • Electricity fees.
    • Gas and Telephone.

    Can I live in Spain all year if I buy a house? ›

    Yes, if you are a non-EU citizen, you can obtain a residence permit in Spain valid for 3 years as long as the property you purchase is valued at over €500,000. This residency is famously called golden visa, and comes with great advantages (which we will explore below).

    How much is a house in Spain? ›

    The average house price of a home in Spain is $400,000, or $200 per square foot. Real estate prices in Spain in 2023 are steadily appreciating, having increased by 7.3% compared to one year prior.

    What are the pitfalls of buying property in Spain? ›

    Top 7 Pitfalls Of Buying A House In Spain
    • Not Allowing Enough Time. ...
    • Not Doing Enough Property Research. ...
    • Not Being Financially Prepared. ...
    • Not Having the Legal Registrations You Need. ...
    • Not Reading the Contract. ...
    • Not Researching Property Locations. ...
    • Not Budgeting for Future Fees.
    Feb 24, 2022

    Where do most Americans live in Spain? ›

    Where do most expats live in Spain? Madrid and Barcelona are the cities most loved by expats in Spain. Thousands of expats and digital nomads find their home here every year. There are plenty of work opportunities in Madrid and Barcelona for those looking to relocate to Spain.

    What is the healthiest part of Spain to live? ›

    Valencia is the healthiest city in the world

    Valencia is more than just a city famous for its Paella, it is also the healthiest city in the world! This beautiful Spanish city places joint third on our index for greatest life expectancy due to an array of lifestyle factors. Firstly, this city has the ideal climate.

    What is the safest city in Spain? ›

    1Gran CanariaGreat
    4 more rows
    Jan 12, 2023

    How long can I legally live in Spain? ›

    The 90-day rule

    This rule simply states that you can live in Spain without residency for a maximum of 90 days. After those 3 months, you need to either obtain a residence permit, or leave the country.

    Can you live in Spain without a car? ›

    While it is possible to get by without a car, many expats prefer to own one in Spain for the freedom it affords.

    Can I live in Spain without speaking Spanish? ›

    Can I live in Spain without speaking Spanish? Sure. If you're living in a major city, studying a course taught in English, interning or working at a company that requires English, or are living in expat areas such as Costa del Sol or Malaga, you can get by with just English in Spain.

    Can I collect Social Security if I live in Spain? ›

    Normally, persons who are not U.S. citizens may receive U.S. Social Security benefits while outside the U.S. only if they meet certain requirements. Under the agreement, however, you may receive benefits as long as you reside in Spain regardless of your nationality.

    How long can a retired US citizen stay out of the country? ›

    If you leave the U.S., we will stop your benefits the month after the sixth calendar month in a row that you are outside the country. You can make visits to the United States for specific periods of time, depending on how long you've been outside, to continue receiving your benefits.

    How much money do you need to retire in Europe? ›

    You'll need to provide proof of annual income of at least 31,000 euros from Social Security, savings, investments, a pension or annuity, as well as a lease or rental contract for a place to live.

    What country has the lowest retirement age? ›

    China has the world's youngest retirement age, according to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). For that distinction, it can partly thank a government policy dating back to the 1950s that lets women retire at 50 and men at 60.

    How much is Spanish pension? ›

    For pensioners living alone (those who are not considered to have a dependent spouse) the 2022 pension rate is €10,103.80, which gives a payment of €721.70 per month. This figure will increase to €10,962 per annum or €783.04 per month.

    What is the retirement age in USA? ›

    Full retirement age (FRA) is the age you must reach to receive full retirement benefits from Social Security. Your FRA varies depending on the year you were born. The FRA in the United States is 66 years and two months for those born in 1955, increasing gradually to 67 for those born in 1960 or later.

    Do US citizens pay taxes in Spain? ›

    The US has a citizenship-based taxation system, which means that regardless of where you live, as a US citizen, you're required to report your worldwide income and assets to the IRS. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in severe consequences, including penalties and interest.

    How many US citizens live in Spain? ›

    Spain is the European country with the most American residents, and this population swelled by an additional 13% between 2019 and 2021. There are currently 39,812 US nationals living in Spain.

    What countries do not tax US Social Security? ›

    If you move to one of the following countries, your Social security benefits will not be taxed by the US -- Canada, Germany, Egypt, Ireland, Israel, Italy (only if you are an Italian citizen), Romania, UK.

    Is it cheaper to live in Spain than the US? ›

    Cost of living in Spain vs the USA

    This is especially true if you're planning to work remotely and earn in USD. On average, the cost of living in Spain is 123% cheaper than in the USA. The biggest differences in cost are in rent, utilities, groceries, daycare, and health insurance.

    Can I retire in Spain from USA? ›

    Long-Stay Visa Spain

    The long-stay visa grants you temporary residence in the country. It also allows expats to work, study, retire or live in Spain. The long-stay visa is indefinite and renewable annually. In order to renew this visa, you'll need to spend at least six months per year in Spain.

    Is it cheaper to retire in Italy or Spain? ›

    Although Portugal is often described as one of the cheaper places to live in Europe, figures from Eurostat show a basket of basic supermarket goods is more expensive there than in either of the three other popular retirement destinations. Spain is the cheapest followed by France, then Italy.

    Can I get residency in Spain if I buy a house? ›

    Can you get Spanish residency by buying a property? Yes, if you are a non-EU citizen, you can obtain a residence permit in Spain valid for 3 years as long as the property you purchase is valued at over €500,000.

    Can I move to Spain full time? ›

    You can acquire permanent residency in Spain in two ways: EU long-term residence permit. Spanish citizenship.

    What is a good salary in Spain? ›

    According to the Spanish government, higher earners are those that earn above €46,225 gross a year, mid-income earners are those that make between €12,943 and €46,225, and low earners are those that earn below €12,943 a year.

    Do I have to pay tax if I move to Spain? ›

    Spanish income tax

    At the most basic level, Spanish tax residents are liable for to pay income tax on their worldwide income, once personal allowances have been taken into account. However, a non-resident of Spain is only required to pay tax on any Spanish income (such as rental income from a Spanish property).

    How can an American get residency in Spain? ›

    Spanish Residency: How to get your Residence Permit in Spain
    1. Student visa. Validity and renewal of the student visa.
    2. Business visa.
    3. Non-lucrative residency visa. ...
    4. Work permit as an employee of a Spanish company.
    5. Golden visa.
    6. Family member of an EU citizen visa.
    7. Family regrouping visa.
    8. The arraigo procedure.

    Can a US citizen buy property and live in Spain? ›

    Can Foreigners Buy Property in Spain? In short, yes! The Spanish government welcomes and even encourages foreign buyers in general. Though if you are specifically looking to buy a holiday let, you might need some legal help with the bureaucratic part of it.

    Which part of Spain is best to live? ›

    Best places to live in Spain: the verdict
    • San Sebastián: best for food and drink.
    • Frigiliana: best for rural escapes.
    • Marbella: best for families.
    • Toledo: best for affordable property.
    • Barcelona: best for culture.
    • The Canary Islands: best for climate.
    • Madrid: best for career opportunities.
    Feb 14, 2023

    Can a US citizen move to Spain? ›

    Depending on why you wish to move to Spain, you must select the type of long-stay visa and residence permit corresponding to your travel purpose. You need a long-stay visa to apply for a residence permit. A long-stay (D visa) visa will allow you to stay in the Spanish territory for long-term residency.

    How long can I live in Spain as an American? ›

    The 90-day rule

    This rule simply states that you can live in Spain without residency for a maximum of 90 days. After those 3 months, you need to either obtain a residence permit, or leave the country.

    Can US retirees move to Spain? ›

    You can retire comfortably in Spain at about €20,000 – €25,000 a year. But keep in mind that if you're from a non-EU country, you need to make at least €27,793 of passive income a year to get a Spanish retirement visa and move to Spain.

    What jobs are most in demand in Spain? ›

    To increase your chances of finding a job in Spain, it's crucial to understand which jobs are in high demand. Sales, engineering, customer service, marketing, tourism, finance, legal, healthcare, information technology, and data processing are among the most popular jobs in Spain in 2023.

    How much is a rent in Spain? ›

    The average rental price per square metre in Spain is €11.70/sqm. This means that a 100-square-metre apartment (the average size in Spain is 97 sqm) will cost new tenants €1,170 a month in rent on average. A tiny 50 sqm apartment costs on average €585 to rent every month.

    What is the average income in Spain in US dollars? ›

    Spaniards earn USD 37 922 per year on average, less than the OECD average of USD 49 165.

    Does Spain tax US income? ›

    Non-residents are generally taxed at 24%. If you're a tax resident of Spain, your worldwide income will be subject to personal income tax at a progressive rates, which vary by region. The highest rates in Spain peak at 49% in the Cataluñu and Andalucía regions.


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