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Settling in Spain: A moving guide for expats embracing a new chapter

Hello, my absolutely beautiful Soulmates, and welcome back to another post in my travel series of an Expat Astrologer in Spain! Want to know why I moved to Spain? Check it out here!

If you’re thinking about moving to Andalucia or anywhere in Spain, here are eight action steps that will help you move and get settled. If you want to follow my full expat journey click here

 

1 - First off, get your visa and paperwork done

I talked a bit about the process of how we applied for our digital nomad visa in the first post on this travel series, but I wanted to remark on the importance of timing for this. We used our fantastic and affordable Attorney Marina and her team at bureaucracy.es. This saved us thousands and all the stress it lifted was incredible. They have walked through every step with us. I highly recommend this route.

If you don’t have a EU passport, getting a Spanish visa is a lengthy process, so make sure that you allow plenty of time and follow all of the steps. It’s incredibly important to know that you need to have the timing down correctly in order to get granted a visa. Another important thing to have in consideration is that if you apply from Spain, you won’t be able to leave the country while the visa is in processing.

 

2- You’ll want to look for a home as soon as possible

In the beginning we stayed at two Airbnb's since you can't enter into a rental contract with certain documents in place. In Spain, you can look for both furnished or unfurnished apartments. For this, we used a website called idealista.com but you can also search on fotocasa.es.

One thing to know when you’re looking for housing is that you’ll be responsible for setting up most utilities. Things like electricity, water, and internet aren’t typically included in any housing you’ll rent. The good thing is that services are very affordable over here. For example, we regularly pay less than 160 euros for three months of electricity in Seville when back home we used to pay about $300 to $500 dollars per month. As digital nomads and a family with teenage girls, we use a lot of electricity and water!

Also, if you have pets, keep in mind that most websites won’t usually tell you if they accept them or not, and you’ll have to ask in person.

Finally, you’ll need to have whatsapp on your phone in order to communicate with the landlords, as it’s what Spanish people mostly use. They don’t often reply to emails and won’t reply to messages during the weekend either.

 

3-Get a phone with data and internet service

As mentioned in the previous point, most people here use whatsapp, and to be able to communicate this way you’ll need data. We got ours at the Orange store, which is incredibly cheap. We were able to get a pay as you go service just with our passports before the visa was even approved, so no need to wait.

Back home, we were paying a minimum of $130 dollars per month , and here, we pay 60 euros for three phone lines with full data, internet and international calling.

There are also other Spanish phone companies you can use, such as Vodafone and Movistar.

 

4 - Find health insurance as an expat

Be aware that it may be a requirement of your visa to have private health insurance that you bring from home or hire here. We did our search through the lawyer we contracted, but it’s not hard to find good coverage in Spain.

Even without medical and dental health insurance, out of pocket is very cheap here and the healthcare system is great. For perspective, in the US we were paying premium of almost a thousand dollars a month for a family of four, which didn’t include copays and didn’t include some of my daughters specialist’s visits. Here, for full coverage including dental we pay 160 euros for the whole family, and have had extraordinary care.

Once our visas were granted, we were told we could enroll in the national healthcare system which wasn’t an option at the beginning of the process, which was great.

 

5- Sort out your banking situation

One of my best pieces of advice is to sign up with Wise (formerly TransferWise), which works internationally. You’ll be able to use your Spanish account number to transfer funds to your landlord, do direct debits, and more. Wise links banks accounts all over the world, and it’s easier to convert money this way as they have an internal converter.

The other thing you’ll want to do once you’re settled is get a Spanish bank account. You’ll get your IBAN number and this will save you money on conversion rates.

 

6 - Figure out how you’ll want to move about

For transportation, most people here use the bus or bike system available. You can rent bikes with different plans for a few months or up to a year, and there's unlimited plans for students as well.

We got a bus pass that has lasted us over six months, and the total cost was 18 euros—we do go mostly everywhere by foot, but this included over 50 bus rides.

There’s also a great train system here to move between bigger cities—which also connects to airports, so that’s something to keep in mind.

If you decide to have a car, you need to consider if you’ll have a garage at your rental, which is usually about 100-150 euros per month, or if there’s parking around you that’s regularly accessible. Honestly, it is incredibly hard to find parking on the road.

People often rent out their garage space to collect extra money, so that is totally legal if you decide not to have a car but have a garage at your place.

 

7 - Enroll in Spanish classes in the city you live in

If your spanish isn’t great, I’d suggest signing up for intensive sessions if possible. Make sure they have weekly intercambios to chat with people that are learning English while you’re learning Spanish—this is a fast way to improve! We used both CLIC Escuela de idiomas, and SevilleHabla

These courses will often introduce you to many places in your community as well as people, so they’re great ways to integrate into the community, too.

 

8 - Get your new ID number

Depending on how you apply for your visa, you’ll get your NIE in different ways. This number is  basically your residence card, and it’s like a driving license that you can use everywhere. Your accounts will mostly be used under these numbers, too, so this will be your new ID.

 

Extra tip: Use technology to your favor.

Even before we moved, we used Facebook groups to find other expat families that lived in the area. This helped us find a wonderful group of expats that welcomed us when we got to the city. This amazing bunch of people also helped us become a part of the community by helping us find a local gym, yoga studios, nail salons, hair salons, and so much more.

With every engagement as we investigated the things on this list we were able to make more connections with people in the community. Some of these connections eventually turned into acquaintances and some even friendships! So be open to getting to know the people around you, it’s very important to find a sense of belonging.

 

I hope this post helps you in your journey of moving and settling into Spain or wherever you find yourself. Europe feels like home to me and I’m daily in awe of the history, the culture, the life, the beauty and everything that’s unfolding here. I hope wherever you’re looking to travel to, that you find a lovely place that you can enjoy as much as we’re enjoying life here—a place to call home.


Got questions? Let me know! XOXO



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