Things to Do before you Move

Emigrating to Spain is not as simple as hopping on a plane and finding a home!

If you’re a British Citizen with a right to live in the UK, then won’t need to purchase a visa to enter Spain – should you wish to simply visit the country before deciding if you want to live there or not.

If you’re a British National but are unsure of your right to live in the UK, you may need to inquire at your nearest Spanish Embassy before taking your plans any further. You’ll need a valid passport that’s within date to enter and exit Spain.

Gaining residency in Spain is a different kind of challenge all together. For the last 10 years, it’s been a requirement (via Royal Decree) for every EU citizen wishing to live in Spain to register their interest in person at the Oficina de Extranjeros in their chosen province or at a specified Police Station. Once you’ve been accepted to stay there you’re handed a Residence Certificate (around the size of a credit card), once you’ve lived in the country for 5 years you’ll then be eligible to apply for permanent residence.



In order to be accepted you may be asked to prove that you have the financial means to support yourself, in addition to providing details about any dependants that may be moving with you. You may also be asked to show proof of medical insurance (either private or public). The Spanish Ministry for Work and Social Security lay out the requirements to live in Spain which you find a translation for here:

In addition to the above requirements listed above, when moving to Spain from the UK, you must also remember to register ‘on the padrón‘. This is a process that is separate to the application for residency and is more of an administrative requirement, rather a legal. The process is quick and painless, only requiring you to fill in a small form at your local town hall. You may need to present some documents there, such as your residence card or copy of your rent contract. The whole procedure is over quickly, although you may need to return to collect your certificate that same day.

Once you’ve registered your details, you’ll be eligible to take advantage of a number of benefits including: better public services, access to certain forms of benefits, discounted leisure activities and the right to vote. Although it may not be a legal requirement, you’ll find that you need to be registered on the padrón in order to carry out several mandatory admin tasks – so don’t assume that you can get away without doing it.


Most importantly, you’ll need to sign on to the padrón if you want to have access to Spain’s state-sponsored Healthcare system. If you’re planning on working in Spain and contributing to the National Insurance system accordingly, then you’ll be able to have full access to the healthcare system as if you were a citizen of the country. If you’re a child or a pregnant woman then you have a legal right to healthcare whilst you’re staying in the country – you’ll need to contact a social worker to begin the process of application. However, if you’re not planning on working whilst you’re out there then you’ll need to purchase public health insurance. Find out more about Healthcare whilst you’re living in Spain here:

Keep reading the blog for more details and information on how to make the move from England to Spain…

What To Expect: Food & Drink

If you’re not aware of it already – the Spanish are huge fans of their Food and Drink.

This goes way beyond what you might assume is a healthy appetite and transcends into the fanatic for some citizens.

From strict customs to regimented schedules, there are a number of defining characteristics to the culture of eating and drinking in Spain, varying from the bizarre to the adorably endearing. Like every set of cultural quirks, these are by no means hard and fast rules – don’t think that you’re required to live by any of them. But if you want to attempt to fit in to your surrogate community, then it might be a wise idea to take a brief look over these little habits and tics that unite the Spanish people…and may well confuse you upon arrival.



With nary a Weetabix or bowl of Bran Flakes in sight, the Spanish have a very different approach to their first meal of the day. It’s all about kicking off your day with a jump start rather than a slow-burning meal. Forget about fry-ups and toast – and think single shot of espresso. If you’re feeling a little naughty then you can indulge in Spain’s favourite breakfast treat, the Churro (a napkin is recommended with as it is with every meal in Spain). A sugary strip of doughnut served by itself or with a simple chocolate sauce. This makes for a wonderful compliment to your coffee and also works well as a post-drinking session snack. Too many though and you’ll soon start to feel it…



In Spain, the siesta is a culturally important and infuriatingly ambiguous time of the day when natives take a 2-hour break from work to go home, eat a meal with their family and take a small nap. Don’t think about capitalising on this down time to get some shopping done though, as most shops are usually closed during the hours of roughly 2-5 pm. Different establishments will open and shut when it suits them best, it’s simply the Spanish way! For most families this is the largest meal of the day and a key moment in the day for bonding; think many bowls of tapas or even a big dish of paella that is shared between the whole table.

Dinner and Eating Out

If you haven’t gathered so far, the Spanish are an incredibly sociable bunch capable of stretching out chance encounters to gargantuan meals and dawn-breaking nights out. But dinner itself is rarely a grand affair in and of itself. Usually taken later in the evening, around 9pm on average, it usually consists of a light salad or some seafood. When eating out, the meal doesn’t necessarily get any larger, but the length of time that it takes to be completed expands massively. If you’re eating out it’s courteous to leave a tip and don’t make a dash for it as soon as you’ve paid! The period after dinner is known as sombremesa, a time to relax and chat for anywhere up to an hour with your fellow diners.


The summer weather in Spain can often be stiflingly hot, it’s not unheard for temperatures to rise over 40ºC so it comes as no surprise that the locals have a large swathe of refreshments that they use to cool down. Before you even think about starting on the alcohol it’s imperative that you drink water with lunch. It’s rare that a meal in Spain isn’t accompanied with a jug of water. Served either fria (chilled) or del tiempo (ambient room temperature) it should be your first port of call when sitting down to eat.

As far as alcoholic beverages go: cerveza (beer to you and me) is the go-to dive bar drink. If wine’s more your thing, sangria is the tourist’s drink of choice, so ask for Tinto De Verano to get a nod approval from the waiting staff – this blend of red table wine and gasesoa (the term for any soda – a low-sugar lemonade is usually preferred though) served over ice is an ideal refreshment for summer time quaffing.…