Moving to Spain with family is becoming an increasingly popular lifestyle choice. Increasingly Spain is seeing younger families move to its shores from Northern Europe and America, and who are now choosing to stay on a permanent basis thanks to the country’s numerous lifestyle benefits. MumAbroad took a look at some of the obstacles to tackle when thinking of moving to Spain with family.
Spain is world renowned for its fantastic lifestyle benefits and an idyllic way of life for families. With a sunny, gentle year round climate and diverse landscapes, this Iberian country is the perfect destination for families contemplating moving to Spain with family – a life-changing international move. Moving to Spain with family is particularly popular among those seeking a healthier, more balanced lifestyle and a growing international community is moving to Spain from the UK and across Northern Europe.
Expat families in Spain benefit from a wonderfully child-friendly culture, where children are welcome in almost any setting. Known for its excellent education system, world-class healthcare and a relatively affordable cost of living, relocating to Spain ticks every box.
Relocating to Spain with kids, from toddler stage to teenagers, can be an intense and overwhelming experience, but the benefits of living in Spain as an expat absolutely outweigh any drawbacks. Depending on their ages, involve your children in the moving process. Maintain an open dialogue and let them be a part of the decision making – the experience of moving abroad together brings many families closer.
On the key benefits of moving to Spain for the MumAbroad.com video channel, Founder Carrie Frais enthused “it’s a fantastic lifestyle – that you won’t regret. Finding decent job opportunities can be a challenge so you need to be creative.” As with anywhere, jobs are more plentiful in larger cities, though Spain’s start-up sector is growing exponentially and the current boom in working from home is opening up new opportunities.
“From my own experience, the more research you do before relocating to another country, the smoother the transition will be.” said Jane Mitchell Mumabroad.com’s Associate Director on moving to Barcelona with family. The most common criticism from families moving to Spain is the extensive bureaucracy, though luckily there are many experienced relocation agencies offering support and removals to Spain.
When living far from family, one of the most important aspects of life abroad is finding a community. “I came to Barcelona in 2011 with my husband and 1-year-old…I was lucky to find some really good friends through the preschool and toddler groups I attended in my first few months, so I was able to connect with others, which is something that is so important when you move to a new place” – education consultant Anya Van Der Drift on her move to Spain. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there by joining local groups and clubs to meet like-minded people who speak a common language.
While it is possible to get by with basic Spanish in major cities, speaking the language is a hugely important part of every day life and a wonderful experience to learn and practise together as a family. There are plenty of excellent Spanish tutors and small group classes both in person or online. Language exchanges, volunteering and local festivals also provide opportunities to improve your speaking and gain confidence as a family.
Whether you are researching the best places to live in Spain with a family or have settled on a destination and are focused on logistics, here is a useful checklist for a smooth and stress-free transition when moving to Spain with family.
Choosing where to live is the most significant question for families moving to Spain. Is it important for you to have access to an international community, or would you prefer to be fully immersed in a region with fewer foreign residents? It’s also important to be aware of which local languages are spoken – Catalan or Valenciano are often the primary languages of instruction in schools in the regions of Catalonia and Valencia (with Castellano taught as a secondary language).
From the city or suburbs to remote countryside, the coast or the mountains – different Spanish regions offer wildly varied advantages. Some of the best cities to live in Spain for families include Valencia, Barcelona, Madrid and Granada.
EU and EEA Citizens don’t require a visa when moving to Spain, however anyone relocating to Spain from non EU/EEA countries will need to arrange a visa through their nearest Spanish embassy or consulate. The first thing families should do upon arrival is register with their local town hall to acquire a Certificado de Empadronamiento (a separate process from any visa applications). Next (within three months of arrival), EU nationals should apply for a tax code known as the Número Identificación de Extranjeros (NIE), which enables access to everything from social security and medical assistance to school registration and opening a bank account. Non-EU citizens are automatically allocated a tax code via their visa application, so need not apply for an NIE. There is a more detailed guide, with a list of all required paperwork within the ‘Moving to Spain’ section on the MumAbroad website.
Popular online property portals include Idealista and Servihabitat as well as Comprarcasa, fotocasa and tucasa.com. Whether you are looking to buy or rent a family home in Spain, there are reputable English-speaking real estate agencies throughout the country.
Depending on your children’s ages and languages spoken, you may consider a local state school, a colegio concertado (semi-private), private Spanish school or international school. The best international schools in each Spanish region, with a detailed guide to the Spanish education system are listed on the MumAbroad website.
To open an account, customers will need to provide their NIE number, passport, proof of employment and address in person (it is rare to open a bank account online in Spain). Here’s a useful guide to the process of obtaining a mortgage in Spain also.
All residents (including expats) with a social security number have access to free or low-cost healthcare in Spain. Most hospitals have English-speaking doctors and medical staff, and there are usually English-speaking paediatricians and family doctors working in general practise.
For more detailed advice, check out the MumAbroad guide to moving to Spain which covers all of the most important elements of relocating and settling into the Spanish way of life as a family.
This article was first published on Fiduciary’s website