If you are looking to start a new life in Spain, there are a number of things you may want to make yourself aware of before making the big move.
Most popular relocation destinations in Spain
Mainland Spain is home to incredible cities such as Valencia, Barcelona, Madrid or Málaga. However, how can be forget the beautiful Spanish islands that include Ibiza, Majorca, Minorca and the Canaries. Spain, despite the stereotypical images that precede it, is incredibly diverse.
The top locations for foreigners include:
- San Sebastian
- Canary Islands
Weather in Spain
Spain’s weather differs from region to region. However, most of the country enjoyes a Mediterranean climate with warm dry summers and cool winters. The average high temperature in Spain in the summer is 32 degrees Celsius, and the average low in winter is 6 degrees Celsius.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Spain is relatively low, meaning that on an average salary, you can save money and live well. Generally speaking – rent, utilities and buying groceries is cheaper than in most other Northern European countries.
Spain’s public healthcare system is considered amongst the world’s best, and certainly one of the most complete in all of Europe. It consists of both private and public healthcare. The public healthcare system is free of charge to anyone living and working in Spain including those who are unemployed and is funded by Social Security (“Seguridad Social”).
After registering with the “Seguridad Social”, you can apply for a healthcare card at your corresponding health center (“Centro de Salud” or “Ambulatorio”) in your town. You can also apply for this card online.
There are some problems within the public health system that you will need to know. You may encounter:
- Public health system does not provide dental care at all, so your only way to do this is going through private clinics.
- It can take months for a visit to a specialist doctor and any necessary examinations or operations.
- The hospital emergency room may have queues and it can sometimes take hours to get help if it is not a life-threatening situation.
You can of course also choose private health insurance. This allows you to get faster care for non-emergency procedures, diagnosis tests and specialist consultancies. Private health insurance covers the following, among others:
- Consult your family doctor
- Consult specialists (no referral required)
- 24-hour emergency service in hospital / clinic and at home
- Hospitalization and operations
- Single room for hospitalization
- Ambulance transport
- Preventive tests
- Clinical tests (MRI, PET, blood tests, etc)
- International cover for emergencies
Private health centres and hospitals in Spain are investing in new distinguished clinics with modern technology. In addition to investments in medical equipment, you can also count on comfortable and modern single rooms and good food. No queues, no waiting times, you can book an appointment directly to a specialist of your choice and English is also spoken in most clinics and hospitals.
Education in Spain
Children between 0 to 3 years old can attend “guarderias” or kindergardens. From 3 to 6, they can go to public or private schools, however the mandatory education in Spain is from age 6 to 16.
For kids of primary school age or younger, a public school can be a great choice. Children are taught only in Spanish, surrounded by Spanish children, which will help them pick up the language fast and integrate quickly. Most schools offer extra-curricular activities which include English. This extra classes are offered from the early age of 3. Public schools are free, and the only costs are the meals (if the children stay in school for lunch time, normally from 2pm to 4pm) and the extra classes mentioned before.
Another option is a bilingual school. These schools allow children to settle in while still speaking English and learning Spanish. Bilinguals schools are usually private.
Private schools typically have smaller class sizes, top-quality facilities, and a range of extra-curricular activities to complement children’s learning. Unless the school is bilingual, lessons will be taught in Spanish.
Languages in Spain
You may think Spanish is the only language spoken in Spain. Whereas Spanish is the official language, it is actually known as Castilian (“Castellano”) and is spoken by over 46 million people in the country. But other languages are spoken according to the region. For example Catalan, Galician, Valencian, Basque and Balearic are all languages of Spain. However, Spanish is the official language and it will suffice when communicating in whichever region you are in.
Moving Your Possessions
Traditional international removals companies are one of the most popular methods of transporting possessions abroad when relocating. Some international removals companies will offer a full door to door delivery service, whereas some may require you to arrange the transportation of your items to and from the airports yourself.
Identification Number (NIE)
The NIE (“Número de Identificación de Extranjeros”) is a number that you will need for your paperwork to Spain. Also, it is essential if you need to: to work, receive salary, buy a house, to open an account, get insurance, pay taxes, apply for a driving license, take out a mortgage, buy a car, etc. Check our guide on how to get the NIE here.
Opening a bank account
Opening a bank account is often necessary if you want to receive income from a company based in Spain. It’s quite a straightforward process, but advisable to compare the conditions of different banks before doing so. You can check our article on how to open bank accounts in Spain here.
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