The Many Joys of Living in Spain
If you are considering living in Spain, as with everywhere else, it’s a good idea to rent first. With a Short-Stay visa, you can stay in Spain as a tourist for 90 days out of every 180—a long enough stay to let you experience living in Spain without making a full commitment.
Stays under three months are generally listed as vacation rentals, and you will find plenty of these along the coasts and in major tourist cities in the interior—including the capital, Madrid, and Granada, in Andalucia.
Vacation rentals tend to be more expensive than full-time rentals—however, vacation rentals come fully furnished and generally include all utilities and fees. If you plan to come off-season or stay for several months, you can often negotiate a lower price than the listed per-day or per-week rate. For short-term rentals in smaller beach cities, expect to pay $700-$1,100 a month in rent for a small apartment off-season, while the rates in cities like Barcelona and Madrid can be double that.
If you do decide to live in Spain, you can choose between buying a property and renting. Long-term rentals are currently listing at attractively low prices for the quality available. In Alicante and Valencia, for instance, you can rent long-term starting at about $450 a month. Prices in Malaga start only a bit higher, though you’ll pay more the closer you get to Malaga’s historic center.
Away from the popular Costas, English isn’t as widely spoken as you might expect, even among realtors, though they will happily give you listings. Learning at least the basics of Spanish will make life easier, as all Spaniards speak it. However, do keep in mind that it isn’t the only language spoken in Spain. Most people in Catalonia, for instance, prefer to speak Catalan, the local language, rather than Spanish. Signs there don’t point to la playa (the beach). Instead, it’s la platja. Milky coffee isn’t café con leche, it’s café amb llet. And a street isn’t a calle–it’s a carrer. The same applies to the Basque country on Spain’s northern Atlantic coast, where many people speak Basque, and to Galicia, on the far northwest coast, where Gallego is spoken. To a lesser extent, you’ll find the same in Valencia and Alicante provinces, where many speak Valenciano.
To get the most out of Spain, you’ll need to make some changes to your lifestyle. Outside of the big cities, shops close for three-hour afternoon siestas (usually from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.), and restaurants rarely cater to early eaters. In fact, Spaniards don’t usually have lunch until 2 p.m. or dinner before 9.30 p.m. While supermarkets are readily available, many Spaniards still like to shop at traditional markets when they have the time. Most major cities tend to have at least a mercado central (central market), while many have neighborhood markets, as well. Under its roof you’ll find individual stalls devoted to selling fruits and vegetables, meats and sausages, poultry and eggs, fish, or frutos secos (shops devoted to selling nuts, olives, dried fruits, and sometimes dried fish).
When bringing your belongings into Spain, household goods are duty free if you’re moving to live permanently. But if it’s a second residence, non-EU citizens are subject to duty on the value of the goods.
9 Reasons to Live in Spain
Do you long to laze on a sunny Mediterranean beach? Explore historic buildings and ground-breaking architecture? Or just indulge in a simple cup of coffee, paired with a tasty churro? Then maybe Spain is the perfect place for you.
If you’re looking for a laidback retirement, then you need look no further. You don’t know what a relaxed lifestyle is until you experience Spain. This is the country that came up with the siesta, after all.
Right now, for expats, Spain is more affordable than it’s been in decades. Day-to-day expenses, for instance, can be very low. Pick one of the many areas with a warm, mild climate, and your monthly utilities can run to $150 or less.
Of course, if you’re not content with just sitting back and relaxing, there’s plenty to do and see in Spain too. From a myriad of bars, restaurants, and cafés, to the world famous Gaudi architecture, and historic castles—ruined and restored—you’ll never be stuck for entertainment.
Spanish cuisine is famous for being both delicious and healthy, and there are plenty of different dishes to choose from. What’s more, sticking to a Mediterranean diet won’t just keep your doctor happy and your waist slim. It’ll save you money too.
Along with a low cost of living, Spain’s real estate also has a number of real bargains, especially in beach areas. Modern condos near the Costa del Sol can range between $140,000 to $200,000, while a hilltop villa in Granada might start as low as $170,000.
But possibly Spain’s biggest attraction may be the people. Warm and engaging, Spaniards believe in enjoying life, and they put a high value on friends and family.
But this only scratches the surface of the reasons why Spain is a top retirement destination… If you want to learn more, read on for 9 reasons why you should consider living in Spain.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Spain is the lowest in Western Europe, and many day-to-day expenses rival those in Latin America’s more developed countries. In the city of Valencia, for example, $2,000 a month would cover your expenses, including rent.
The World Health Organization ranks Spain at #7 in the world, and the cost of healthcare can be as little as 60% of U.S. prices.
A Place for Everyone
Spain is one of the largest and most geographically varied countries in Europe. Whether you’re looking for sunny beaches, or green fields, Spain has it all.
Doorway to Adventure
From Spain you can travel easily throughout Europe by plane, train, or bus. You can even take a ferry to the UK, and Morocco.
Different regions of Spain get different types of weather. Expats who like it hot settle down by the sunny Mediterranean, while those looking for a cooler climate find the north suits them better.
Easy to get Around
High-speed and suburban train lines connect many cities, and bus routes crisscross the country. Getting from Madrid to the sunny southern coast can take less than four hours.
Culture and History
Spain is brimming with culture and history. Whether you walk the Santiago de Compostela, or admire Segovia’s 2,000-year-old Roman aqueduct, there’s plenty here that beckons to be explored.
Spain is known its fine wines. Up north you will find a vast array of vineyards, specializing in reds and whites, while Andalucía in the south is better known for its unique dessert wines.
There are many delicious Spanish dishes for you to try. Why not dig into a bowl of gazpacho, a traditional cold tomato soup. Or feast on a seafood paella.
Bonus Reason: Friendly Natives
The Spanish people are known for their great hospitality, friendliness, and respect towards each other, the elderly, and visitors to their country.
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