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One of the most popular destinations in Europe, it’s hard to deny that Spain has it all.
With warm and welcoming communities, a high quality of life, and an abundance of beautiful locations across the mainland, Balearic, and Canary Islands, the reasons for living in Spain become readily apparent when spending any significant length of time in the country.
From exploring the streets of Barcelona to admiring the unique architecture of Seville, Spain has a way of enchanting visitors, regardless of which region you visit. The beauty of its cities and countryside, coupled with the affordable cost of living, is enough to persuade many to start moving to Spain and begin new lives in this varied and scenic country.
However, as with any move abroad, differences in legislation and financial regulations can potentially result in costly consequences if you’re unfamiliar with them, especially if you’re unprepared for moving to Spain after Brexit.
Fortunately, here at Blacktower, our expert team is equipped with the understanding, knowledge, and regulatory footprint necessary to make the transfer of your personal and financial arrangements to Spain as simple and stress-free as possible.
So, to help you take your first steps towards moving to this stunning country, here’s an overview of what you should know before you make your move to Spain official.
Moving to Spain from the UK
It might come as a shock to hear, but Spain is home to an estimated three-quarters of a million British expats, making it one of the most popular locations in the world for UK expats.
There’s so much to recommend about this vibrant country, from the year-round sunshine to beautiful beaches and lively culture, and many expats wanting to move to Spain do so to take advantage of the housing market thanks to its affordable property and low-interest rates.
Spain also boasts a significantly cheaper cost of living than many other European countries, with the average cost of living in Spain being 18% cheaper than the UK. Rent prices are also 24% lower, and eating could cost up to 34% less, making these financial savings alone one of the main reasons you may want to move here.
Besides where in Spain you want to move to, and the type of future home you have in mind, one of the other main things you’ll need to bear in mind when moving abroad from the UK to Spain is your residency status.
Establishing where you’ll be residing in Spain, and for how long, is essential for ensuring that you pay the correct amount and types of tax.
Unlike countries such as Portugal, Spain does not permit a split-year treatment for tax status; you will be considered a tax resident if you reside in the country for more than 183 days over the course of a year, or if your primary sources of income are based in Spain.
It’s also important to note that the location where your relatives reside can also impact your residency. If your spouse or children live in Spain, you’re more likely to be considered a Spanish tax resident.
Fortunately, if you’re required to pay Spanish tax, the process is made much easier thanks to the aforementioned Double Tax Treaty.
This treaty is in place to ensure that you only qualify as a tax resident in one of the two countries at any one time. However, this does not necessarily mean that you’re automatically guaranteed to be paying the right amount of tax.
Changes in circumstances can result in you under or overpaying tax, with both scenarios likely to be costly in some capacity. Therefore, it’s always recommended that you seek advice concerning your residency if you are unsure whether or not you qualify.
Benefits of living in Spain
From the low cost of living to the country’s glorious sunshine, there are many reasons why British expats flock here more than anywhere else in Europe. And it’s not just the weather and views. There’s also a huge range of employment opportunities, especially in the aerospace, pharmaceutical, and IT sectors.
Sunshine, sunshine, and more sunshine
Spain enjoys incredible blue skies and sunshine for most of the year, and on the sun-drenched Costa del Sol, residents enjoy an average of 320 days of sunshine a year!
For British expats, moving to Spain is an easy choice when compared to the wet, windy, and cold climate of the UK. From skiing in the Pyrenees to sunbathing in Marbella, Spanish citizens get the chance to enjoy an outdoor lifestyle, no matter the time of year.
A greater quality of life
Even for Europe, Spain is a remarkably healthy place to live, thanks in no small part to the benefits offered by their tasty and nutritious Mediterranean diet and their focus on outdoor activities.
However, in the unlikely case you do need to visit the hospital, the healthcare in Spain is world-class – in fact, it’s ranked seventh in the world by the WHO. On top of this, the lower cost of living also ensures you get more for your money, from improved property prices to competitively priced food and drinks.
Spain is famed for its beautiful coasts. Lined with sandy beaches, hidden coves, and dramatic vistas framed by rolling green hills, you can discover miles and miles of unspoilt Blue Flag beaches, national parks, and the famous forests of Basque country, mere miles from your new home.
Naturally, there’s also a wealth of manmade treasures for you to see, from the cultural highlights of Barcelona to architectural jewels like the Alhambra, leaving you spoilt for choice with what to do on your weekends.
Best cities to move to in Spain
Expats who are moving to Spain will need to decide where to make their new home. While all cities in Spain boast sun, fun and fantastic culture, if you’re looking for something particular you’re sure to find an area in Spain to suit every lifestyle.
- Pint of beer: 3.00 EUR (£2.70)
- Cappuccino: 1.80 EUR (£1.61)
- Meal in a restaurant: 12 EUR (£10.79)
- Monthly public transport pass: 40 EUR (£35.97)
- Population: 1.62 million
A popular pick with expats moving to Spain, Barcelona is a truly global city, and a major centre of both culture and business in Spain. Expats moving to Spain for work will find that Barcelona is one of the biggest hubs for biotech and transport in Europe, and an ideal area for entrepreneurs with a focus on new talent and technology. Compared to other major cities in Europe, Barcelona is also relatively affordable in terms of cost of living.
Barcelona boasts a coastal location, with all of the sun and sea that applies. Bright, warm sunshine year-round means you can make the most of days off and weekends in the great outdoors. Barcelona is also famed for its architectural wonders, thanks to visionaries like Gaudi. From the gothic Old Town to the Sagrada Familia, wondrous sights are a regular occurrence in this iconic city.
- Pint of beer: 2.50 EUR (£2.22)
- Cappuccino: 2.07 EUR (£1.84)
- Meal in a restaurant: 15 EUR (£13.32)
- Monthly public transport pass: 30 EUR (£26.64)
- Population: 456,088
Palma is the capital of the Balearic Islands, situated on the island of Mallorca. It’s an economic and cultural hub for Mallorca, which makes it a great place for expats to call home. The city itself is lively and stylish, combining hundreds of years of history and culture with the feel of a modern, vibrant city. Palma is well known for its iconic Moorish architecture and intricately designed churches, and the stunning gothic cathedral of Santa Maria overlooks the city’s cobbled streets and rooftop bars.
Palma has plenty to offer expats – it’s easily reached from the airport (with great transport links to the rest of Spain and Europe), and it coastal location means that you don’t have to choose between a bustling city lifestyle and easy access to stunning Spanish beaches. With fantastic international schools, private and state hospitals within the city boundaries, expats can enjoy modern infrastructure and amenities while still experiencing the best that the Balearic Islands have to offer. You can also rest easy knowing that you have easy access to Blacktower’s financial experts, with an office conveniently located in Palma.
There’s a good range of property in Palma, but some of the most desirable areas for expats are the peaceful Calatrava district and the charming fishing village of Portixol, now home to designer penthouses and renovated fisherman’s cottages. Heading further into Mallorca’s countryside, those looking for luxury might find the Son Vida estate offers the best of Mallorca, including convenient access to three golf courses.
- Pint of beer: 2.25 EUR (£2.02)
- Cappuccino: 1.52 EUR (£1.36)
- Meal in a restaurant: 10 EUR (£8.79)
- Monthly public transport pass: 39.95 EUR (£35.85)
- Population: 571,026
Acting as a gateway to the sun-soaked Costa del Sol, Malaga is one of the oldest cities in the world. In modern times, it combines the best of traditional Spain, in its charming classical Old Town, and the modern, with its bustling port and city centre acting as a hub for commerce in the region.
From the cobbled streets in the old quarter to the sleek architecture of the Pompidou Centre, there’s tons to see and do in Malaga. With an up and coming culinary scene and lively nightlife, Malaga is a great choice for young professional expats, but the nearby beaches of the Costa del Sol also make it an ideal location for families and retirees.
Sought-after neighbourhoods like El Limonar and La Malagueta are popular with expats, but you can get a more traditional Spanish feel in areas like Paseo Marítimo de Oeste.
- Pint of beer: 3.25 EUR (£2.02)
- Cappuccino: 1.52 EUR (£1.36)
- Meal in a restaurant: 15 EUR (£13.66)
- Monthly public transport pass: 63 EUR (£55.85)
- Population: 791,413
Valencia, the third-largest city in Spain, surprisingly offers a small-town feel for its residents. It’s a port city bordering the Gulf of Valencia in the Mediterranean Sea.
Its average summer temperature is anywhere between 22 and 30 degrees, meaning it doesn’t get too hot as the sea breeze helps keep things cool.
Valencia has plenty to offer culturally for those who like dining out, there are plenty of interesting bars, cafes, and restaurants to enjoy. Seafood is popular here, and there’s plenty of good beer and wine to go with it.
Valencia’s nightlife there are concert halls, theatres, and outdoor cinemas around its medieval centre, while the Cathedral of Valencia to the Museu de les Ciencies Pricipe Felipe are must visits
Managing your finances in Spain
Blacktower are your financial experts in the heart of Spain. With offices across the country, we are here to provide sound financial advice and excellent guidance on the products and services that are right for them.
Whether you want to find out more about international pensions, such as QROPs or SIPPs advice, or help with tax planning and inheritance rules, we’re here to help. With teams across the country, we can also help you to navigate living in Spain, bureaucratic issues and even cultural concerns with our friendly and supportive manner.
To get in touch, simply fill out the form above, or discover our Spanish offices in Barcelona, the Canary Islands, Mallorca, and on the Costa del Sol, Costa Blanca, and Costa Calida. Alternatively, find out more about moving to Spain with our guides to tax in Spain and wealth management.
Spanish Tax Planning
Of course, when looking at how to move to Spain from the UK, there are a number of taxes you’ll need to consider before you make the leap. Many of these will depend on your personal circumstances and wealth, but some are simply unavoidable.
Some of the tax categories that might be applicable to you once you move could include:
- Wealth Tax
- Income Tax
- Capital Gains Tax
- Inheritance Tax
Although the UK and Spain have a Double Tax Treaty designed to help alleviate some of your tax liability, the differences in taxation from region to region in Spain can make it difficult to know whether you’re really paying tax in the most efficient way.
With this in mind, the best way to establish tax efficiency and put your mind at rest is to seek the advice of an experienced adviser who is familiar with your local area and the relative laws and regulations that apply there.
Spanish investment tax
In order to ensure tax efficiency in respect of your relocation to Spain, it might also be necessary to restructure your current investments. This is because different investment types are taxed differently in different countries, and possibly, even regions.
It’s advisable that you consider the tax efficiency of the following investments before moving:
- Personal Equity Plans (PEPs)
- Private Pensions and SIPPs
- Investments and investment products
- Open Ended Investment Companies (OEICs)
- Premium Bonds
- All stocks and shares
- Rental properties
If in doubt, your local IFA will be able to advise you on how to get the most out of your savings whilst helping you establish a long-term strategy to achieve your financial goals.
Despite the clear allure of Spain, there’s no denying that arranging the transfer of your personal and financial arrangements overseas can be stressful – as well as costly if done incorrectly. However, this shouldn’t be something that prevents you from pursuing your dream life in Spain, regardless of which region you’ve chosen to make your new home.
But in order to secure a robust financial future for yourself and your family, financial planning is essential. To get the most out of your savings and to provide yourself with peace of mind, get in touch today with one of our experienced advisers who can help you put together a road map for your new life in Spain.
With our holistic range of financial planning services, our experienced advisers can help you with everything from inheritance planning to taxation advice, allowing you to relax, knowing that your finances are in safe hands.