Buying Advice
Moving to Alicante, Costa Blanca, Spain

RMR - Real Estate Management and Rentals - Buying Advice – Moving to Alicante, Costa Blanca, Spain

With year round sunshine, 8,000 km of beaches and a very competitive cost of living, Spain has long been a favourite destination for British expats.

The Costa Blanca and Costa Del Sol are magnets for retirees, while vibrant cities like Barcelona and Madrid are full of young British expats enjoying the relaxed Spanish lifestyle.

RMR - Real Estate Management and Rentals - Buying Advice – Moving to Alicante, Costa Blanca, Spain
RMR - Real Estate Management and Rentals - Buying Advice – Moving to Alicante, Costa Blanca, Spain
  • Population: 46.77 million
  • Number of British expats: 761,000
  • Most popular areas for expats: Costa Blanca, Costa Del Sol, Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid
  • Currency: Euro
  • Official language: Spanish, but there are also widely used regional dialects and languages such as Catalan, Valenciano and Gallego
  • Main industries: Tourism, Automotive, Energy, Textile Manufacturing
  • The Kingdom of Spain, as it’s officially known, is the second largest country in the EU
  • Spain has the fourth highest life expectancy of all the OECD countries

Spain is a member state of the European Union, so British citizens don’t need any additional visa to freely work and live in Spain.

However, as an expat you will need to get a Número Identificación de Extranjeros (NIE number), which registers you with the authorities. Once you have accommodation, you will also need to register yourself (and all other members of your family) at the Town Hall in order to get a Certificate of _Empadronamiento. You will be required to show this when you register with a school or doctor, or do certain other things such as buy a car.

People used to prices in the UK will find the cost of living in Spain refreshing - however bear in mind that this is reflected in Spanish salaries. Accommodation in popular cities can be expensive however, and utilities are also noticeably higher - up to 20% up on UK averages.

There are over 170 financial institutions to choose from in Spain, split into bancos (private banks) and cajas (state owned). Cajas are often much more ethical in their investments, including funding local social projects, and are often locally based with just a few branches. Major bancos with branches across the country include Santander, Banco de Sabadell and Banco Popular.

RMR - Real Estate Management and Rentals - Buying Advice – Moving to Alicante, Costa Blanca, Spain

There is usually an annual fee of up to €30 for a current account and additional fees for debit cards and saving accounts. You will need your Numero Identificación de Extranjeros to open your account, as well as your passport, proof of employment (or unemployment) and a proof of address.

Once you have opened your Spanish account, register with TransferWise in order to transfer money between your UK and Spanish accounts without having to pay hefty bank fees.

The Spanish school system gives you the choice of sending children to state school, private school or colegios concertados.

These are semi-private and generally offer better facilities than the state schools but with less of a price tag than going fully private. International schools are also a popular option with expats, with lessons taught in both English and Spanish.

The Telegraph has a comprehensive list of British-style schools that offer GCSEs and A-Levels in Spain, if you are just planning a move of a few years.

RMR - Real Estate Management and Rentals - Buying Advice – Moving to Alicante, Costa Blanca, Spain
RMR - Real Estate Management and Rentals - Buying Advice – Moving to Alicante, Costa Blanca, Spain

Although the healthcare budget in Spain has been cut over the last few years due to austerity measures, it is still offers a good standard of care.

Expats who are resident in Spain are entitled to free (or low-cost: some treatments are only covered 75%) healthcare through the Sistema Nacional de Salud (public healthcare system), as long as you have a social security number.

Many expats, especially retirees, choose to go down the route of private healthcare, as it is still affordable and offers a greater choice of options. If you think you will be using this regularly however, taking out insurance will be cheaper than paying the extra each time.