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Thinking of retiring to Spain? 

Heath Robinson April 9th 2024 - 6 minute read

Retiring to Spain is not merely a relocation; it is an immersion into a world where the sun-kissed and diverse landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and a relaxed lifestyle converge to create a retirement haven like no other. The allure of Spain as a retirement destination extends far beyond its idyllic Mediterranean climate; whether you are drawn to the sunny beaches or the historical charm of its cities, it encapsulates a mosaic of experiences that captivate the hearts of those seeking a fulfilling and joyous chapter in their lives.

Retirees contemplating a move to Spain should consider various factors. Buying a property in Spain, the cost of living, healthcare accessibility, legal and residency requirements, cultural integration, and international currency transfers are key considerations. Understanding these aspects ensures a smooth transition and an enjoyable retirement experience.

Buying a property before you retire to Spain – what you need to know

There are no restrictions when it comes to UK nationals buying and selling properties in Spain post Brexit, however navigating residency requirements and understanding their legal implications is crucial for retirees. Post-Brexit, UK retirees need to be informed about changes in regulations. How have new Brexit rules affected retired expats in Spain?

Spain offers various residency options such as the NLV, or Non-lucrative Visa. Its most suitable for individuals who are able to support themselves without looking for or engaging in work and with a proof of income, pension, or savings currently set at 25k per year.

Here’s a little more information on applying for residency post brexit in Spain

If you are going to need a mortgage in Spain this article will give you a good overview.

Here’s an introductory list to the things you need to think about when buying a property in Spain:

Legal and financial considerations:

  • Understand the legal process of buying property in Spain.
  • Hire a reputable lawyer who is experienced in Spanish real estate law.
  • Know the total cost involved, including taxes, fees, and any additional expenses.
  • Get familiar with the currency exchange rates if you’re purchasing from abroad.

Property documentation:

  • Ensure the property has all necessary permits and licenses.
  • Check the property’s land registry status.
  • Obtain the Nota Simple (property registry excerpt) to verify ownership and any existing debts or encumbrances.

Location and neighbourhood:

  • Look into property types and average property values.
  • Research the neighbourhood and amenities nearby.
  • Consider factors like proximity to public transport, shops, and healthcare facilities.

Property inspection:

  • Hire a qualified surveyor to inspect the property for structural integrity and any potential issues.
  • Check for any signs of damp, pests, or other maintenance problems.

Utilities and services:

  • Ensure all utility services (water, electricity, gas) are properly connected and functional.
  • Check the internet and telephone connectivity options available in the area.

Community fees and regulations:

  • If buying in a community or condominium, understand the associated fees and regulations.
  • Review the community statutes and regulations.

Tax implications:

  • Understand the tax implications of owning property in Spain, including property tax (IBI), wealth tax, and potential rental income tax.

Residency and visa requirements (if applicable):

  • If you’re a non-EU citizen, consider residency and visa requirements if you plan to stay long-term.

Insurance:

  • Consider getting property insurance to cover risks like damage, theft, and liability.

Negotiation and contracts:

  • Negotiate the price and terms of sale.
  • Ensure all agreements are documented in writing, including the purchase contract and any conditions or clauses.

After-sale considerations:

  • Plan for ongoing maintenance and upkeep of the property.
  • Understand your rights and responsibilities as a property owner in Spain.

Healthcare in Spain

As you get older, the accessibility of reliable healthcare becomes even more important.

Retirees can benefit from comprehensive healthcare coverage provided by the Spanish national healthcare system, which gives you access to their quality medical services without the financial burden.

UK retirees moving to Spain need to register for healthcare through the Spanish healthcare system. This typically involves obtaining an S1 form from the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) and registering it with the Spanish authorities. Once registered, the UK retiree will receive a healthcare card (tarjeta sanitaria) that grants access to the Spanish healthcare system, with costs covered by the UK government.

Cultural integration

Spain has a distinct culture, and if you’re moving to the country you’ll want to integrate with that culture wherever possible.

Learning the local language can make it a lot easier to feel part of the country and its people, and apps like Duolingo can simplify learning a foreign language.

It’s also worth familiarising yourself with Spanish customs, traditions, and celebrations.

Additionally, while it’s useful to see what expat communities are available in the area you’re moving too, you should also explore what activities you could join outside of the expat environment so you can get to know locals as well.

The top 5 destinations to retire in Spain

If you’re planning to retire in Spain, here are some of the most popular destinations to consider.

  1. Costa del Sol (Malaga Province):

Known for its stunning coastline, year-round sunshine, and relaxed lifestyle, the Costa del Sol is a popular retirement destination. The region boasts beautiful beaches, vibrant cities like Malaga and Marbella, excellent healthcare facilities, and numerous golf courses. The cost of living is reasonable, especially if you venture slightly inland, and the availability of English-speaking communities can make integration easier for expats. The region’s infrastructure is well-developed, with good transport links and modern amenities, making it convenient for retirees.

  1.  Valencia:

Valencia offers a perfect blend of modernity, culture, and affordability. The city enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate, making outdoor activities enjoyable year-round. Valencia is renowned for its vibrant culture, including festivals like Las Fallas and its delicious cuisine, particularly the famous paella. The cost of living is generally lower than in Madrid or Barcelona, yet the city offers excellent healthcare, public transportation, and amenities. Valencia also boasts beautiful parks and green spaces, ideal for leisurely strolls or picnics.

  1. Seville:

Seville, the capital of Andalusia, is rich in history, culture, and architectural beauty. Retirees can enjoy exploring its historic neighbourhoods, such as the charming Santa Cruz district, with its narrow cobblestone streets and picturesque plazas. Seville offers a vibrant social scene, with lively tapas bars, flamenco shows, and cultural events throughout the year. The city’s relatively low cost of living compared to other European capitals makes it an attractive option for retirees. With its warm climate, retirees can indulge in outdoor activities, savouring leisurely walks along the Guadalquivir River or relaxing in one of the city’s many beautiful parks.

  1.  Palma de Mallorca:

Palma de Mallorca, the capital of the Balearic Islands, is a stunning coastal city that offers a high quality of life for retirees. With its beautiful beaches, historic architecture, and vibrant cultural scene, Palma combines the charm of a Mediterranean lifestyle with modern amenities. The city boasts excellent healthcare facilities, international schools, and a wide range of leisure activities, from sailing and golfing to exploring its rich cultural heritage. While property prices may be higher compared to mainland Spain, the island’s natural beauty and relaxed atmosphere make it an appealing destination for retirees seeking a tranquil yet cosmopolitan lifestyle.

  1.   Granada:

Granada, nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, is renowned for its captivating blend of Moorish and Spanish heritage. The city is famous for the majestic Alhambra Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the winding streets of the historic Albaicín neighbourhood. Granada offers a relaxed pace of life, with affordable living costs and a strong sense of community. Retirees can enjoy the city’s rich cultural scene, including flamenco performances and traditional tapas bars. With its proximity to the Sierra Nevada National Park, outdoor enthusiasts can indulge in hiking, skiing, or simply enjoying the breathtaking mountain views.

Moving currency to and from Spain

When retiring to Spain, you’ll likely need to convert your funds from your current currency to euros. We can offer competitive exchange rates and no transfer fees for converting your money, ensuring you get the most out of your retirement savings.

Regular payments:

If you receive a pension or any other regular income from your home country, we can help you set up regular international payments to get that money to Spain. Automating these payments can save time and hassle.

Forward contracts:

If you have a larger amount to move to Spain, you could use a forward contract to fix the exchange rate for a future transfer.

This can be beneficial if you want to protect yourself against unfavourable currency fluctuations when transferring the sums involved in a Spanish property purchase or transferring your retirement savings.

Personalised service:

We provide a personalised service through dedicated currency specialists who can offer guidance and assistance tailored to your specific needs and circumstances. They can help you pick the right services for managing your currency transfers and maximising your retirement funds in Spain.

Online service:

We offer an online service that allows you to manage your currency transfers conveniently from anywhere in the world. With an online account you can track your transfers from start to finish, check live exchange rates and set rate alerts.

Rate alerts:
A rate alert can be set online or through your account manager. Simply set the target rate you want to achieve and we’ll notify you by text or email if the market moves to that level.

App:

With our app you can make currency transfers at a great rate, buy currency to use at a later date, check live exchange rates, track the status of transfers, add and manage recipients, and effortlessly manage your transactions in one place.

Multi-currency debit card:

Once you’ve retired to Spain you can use our multi-currency debit card to spend like a local. Simply add money to your account using our app, then spend seamlessly anywhere Mastercard is accepted, You can also use the card to withdraw funds from ATMs and it works with Apple and Google Pay. The card is free to order, and there are no monthly fees.  

Ultimately, retiring to Spain is not just about finding a place to live; it’s about embracing a new way of life filled with sunshine, good food, rich history, and a sense of community. Whether you dream of leisurely strolls along the promenade, sampling tapas in bustling markets, or exploring ancient ruins in picturesque villages, Spain has something for everyone.

Whether you’re drawn to the laid-back lifestyle of Andalusia, the cosmopolitan allure of Madrid, or the unspoiled beauty of Galicia, retiring to Spain promises to be a rewarding and unforgettable experience for those seeking a slice of Mediterranean paradise to live out their golden years.

Written by
Heath Robinson

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