Moving to Spain

Moving to Spain from Thailand: An Expat Guide

Moving to Spain can be an exciting and rewarding experience for expats.

In this comprehensive moving-to guide, we will cover various aspects of moving to Spain, including living costs, visas, accommodation, health, and the educational system.

Crown Relocations has over 50 years of experience to move you to Spain hassle-free and successfully.
Spain is a vibrant and diverse country in Europe, known for its warm weather, delicious cuisine, and laid-back lifestyle. As an expat planning to move to Spain, it's essential to understand the country's culture, society, and infrastructure to ensure a smooth transition.

From navigating the visa application process to finding suitable housing and schooling for your children, as well as understanding the healthcare system and overall living costs, these factors will play a crucial role in determining whether Spain is the right fit for you and your family. 

Let's dive right in now.

Understanding the Spain Visa

Before relocating to Spain, it is essential to understand the residency requirements. EU citizens have the right to live and work in Spain without a visa, but they need to register as residents after arriving in Spain. Non-EU citizens must apply for a visa or residency permit before moving to Spain to legally reside in the country.

Remember, the visa application process can be complex, and it's essential to prepare all the required documents and follow the correct procedures. If you're unsure about any aspect of the process, consider seeking advice from a local lawyer or immigration expert.


Visa Application Process

The visa application process for Spain can vary depending on your nationality and the purpose of your stay. From student visas to work visas, it is important to research the specific requirements and documentation needed to secure the appropriate visa for your move to Spain.

The visa application process for expats moving to Spain can be complex, as there are various types of visas available, each with its own requirements. Here's a simplified guide to the process:
spain visa application
Depending on your purpose for moving to Spain, you may be eligible for different types of visas, such as a student visa, work visa, family reunification visa, or investor visa.
For most visas, you will need a valid passport, passport-size photographs, a completed visa application form, proof of financial means, and a criminal record certificate. For a non-lucrative visa, you will also need proof of health insurance and a self-addressed envelope for the return of your documents. 
You can schedule a visa appointment at the Spanish embassy or consulate in your home country. Some visas may require an interview, while others can be processed without an interview. 
During the interview, you may be asked to provide additional documents or information. Bring all the required documents and be prepared to answer questions about your purpose for moving to Spain and your financial situation. 
The legal period for reaching a decision on a visa application is 15 working days, but this period may be extended if an interview or additional documents are requested. If your application is approved, you will receive a visa sticker in your passport. If it is denied, you will receive a visa refusal letter. 
You can pick up your visa/passport/refusal certificate in person at the embassy or consulate, or by appointment. 
Depending on the type of visa, you may need to renew it after a certain period. For example, a non-lucrative visa can be renewed for a 2-year visa, then a 5-year visa.

Cost of Living in Spain

Spain has become a popular destination for expats seeking a higher quality of life at a lower cost. With its stunning beaches, vibrant culture, and delicious cuisine, it's no wonder many foreigners are choosing to make the move to this Mediterranean paradise. 

One of the key factors that attracts expats to Spain is its affordable living costs. From rent and groceries to healthcare and transportation, expats find that they can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without breaking the bank.

Spain is known for its relatively low cost of living compared to other Western European countries. The cost of living in Spain varies depending on the region and your lifestyle. 

For a single person, the estimated monthly expenses for a one-bedroom apartment, utilities, groceries, and miscellaneous expenses are around €1,7315. For a family of four, the estimated monthly costs are €3,356. 

Now, let's break down and inspect each of the categories below:
cost of living in spain
food and groceries

Food and Groceries

The cost of food and groceries in Spain is relatively low, thanks to the country's role as a major producer of fruits and vegetables. Fresh produce, dairy products, and meat are all affordable in Spanish supermarkets.  
dining out cost

Dining Out

Eating out is also affordable, with a meal in an inexpensive restaurant costing around €12 and a three-course meal for two in a mid-range restaurant costing around €50. 
transportation cost


Public transportation in Spain is extensive and affordable, with an average one-way ticket costing around €1.50 and a monthly pass costing around €39. Owning a car is also relatively affordable, with the average price for one litre of fuel being €1.66. 
transportation cost


The cost of utilities in Spain is reasonably low due to the country's temperate climate, with the average monthly costs for essential utilities (electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage collection) ranging between €85 and €225 per month. 


The cost of entertainment in Spain is also relatively low, with an average cinema ticket costing €8 and a bottle of wine costing around €5. The country is known for its vibrant nightlife, with a local beer costing around €2.50 and a cappuccino costing around €1.83. 

Navigating the Housing Options for Expats Moving to Spain

For expats relocating to Spain, navigating the real estate market can be overwhelming, with various options to consider ranging from apartments in bustling cities to quaint villas in coastal towns. 
Finding the perfect place to call home in a foreign land is crucial for a smooth transition and a comfortable living experience. Whether you are moving to Spain for work, retirement, or simply seeking a change of scenery, having the right accommodation is key to settling in and feeling at ease in your new surroundings.

We will explore the different types of accommodation options available for expats moving to Spain. From short-term rentals to long-term leases, we will provide insights and tips on finding the perfect place to suit your needs and preferences, making your relocation to Spain a seamless and enjoyable experience.


Rent prices in Spain vary depending on the city but are generally affordable. The average cost for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is around €734.83 per month, while a one-bedroom apartment outside the city center costs about €603.18 per month. 

Housing is inexpensive compared to similar European cities such as Paris and London.
In an overview, the rental prices for a furnished two-bedroom flat can range from €800 to €2,000+ per month in popular cities like Barcelona and Valencia.

Renting for expats moving to Spain involves several key steps and considerations. Expats typically opt for renting a property in Spain, especially when they first arrive. 
Expats looking for accommodation in Spain can start by searching online, visiting desired neighbourhoods, and checking local listings in newspapers or online platforms. While English websites and publications cater to expats, most resources are in Spanish, so learning the language or hiring a translator/agent can be beneficial.
Once a suitable property is found, expats will need to negotiate terms with the landlord and sign a lease agreement or "Contrato de Arrendamiento." These contracts are typically in Spanish, so having a local translator or agent can be helpful. It's common for expats to pay the equivalent of one month's rent as the agent's fee on top of the first month's rent and security deposit. 
Prospective tenants will need to provide documentation such as an NIE number, a copy of their visa, proof of financial status (bank statements, payslips), and proof of employment. Third-party references, preferably from previous landlords, may also be required. 
Both expats and landlords can terminate the rental contract by giving 30 days' notice in writing. Landlords typically require a security deposit of one to six months' rent. It's essential for expats to return the property in good condition to receive their deposit back. 
Utilities like electricity, water, gas, internet, and cable are usually not included in Spanish leases. Tenants are responsible for these costs in addition to the monthly rent. 

Owning a property in Spain

Owning a property in Spain is a dream for many expats looking for a change of scenery and a taste of the Mediterranean lifestyle. With its warm climate, stunning beaches, rich culture, and affordable cost of living, Spain has long been a popular destination for those seeking a second home or retirement haven. Whether you're looking for a coastal villa, a city apartment, or a charming countryside retreat, owning a property in Spain offers a unique opportunity to experience all that this diverse country has to offer.  

Foreigners from all nationalities, including expats, can easily purchase real estate in Spain by following a few essential steps. There are no restrictions based on language, origin, or country when it comes to buying property in Spain. 

Expats can find the perfect property that matches their needs and expectations through online listings, making the property search process more convenient and accessible. 

To own and buy a property in Spain as an expat, you need to follow a series of steps and procedures. 
Get a lawyer or a specialist who can guide you throughout the purchase process, helping you with all the formalities and legal aspects of buying property in Spain. 
If you need to take out a mortgage, conduct a feasibility study to confirm the viability of the operation. Banks specializing in international customers can assist in this process. 
All potential foreign buyers must apply for a foreigner's identity number (NIE), which is used to identify them in Spain. An advisor can assist with the paperwork required for applying for an NIE. 
It is essential to open a bank account in Spain to facilitate the payment of taxes and fees associated with the property sale transaction. This account will be used for financial transactions related to the property purchase. 
Before buying a property, it is advisable to check its condition. You can hire a company specializing in property inspections to assess the property's condition and identify any potential issues. 
Reserve the property by making a down payment, typically around 10% of the property's value. Be aware that you could lose this payment if the sale falls through due to reasons beyond the seller's control. 

Best neighbourhoods to live in Spain for expats

Spain is a popular destination for expats seeking a vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, and year-round sunshine.

It's important to choose the right neighbourhood that suits your lifestyle and needs. From bustling city centers to charming coastal villages, Spain offers a diverse range of neighbourhoods that cater to expats from all walks of life.
Neighbourhood The Attractions
Madrid Madrid is the capital city of Spain and is known for its vibrant nightlife, cultural attractions, and excellent job opportunities. Some of the best neighbourhoods in Madrid for expats include Chueca, Salamanca, and Malasaña.
Barcelona Barcelona is the second-largest city in Spain and is known for its unique architecture, beautiful beaches, and bustling nightlife. Some of the best neighbourhoods in Barcelona for expats include Eixample, Gràcia, and El Raval.
Malaga Malaga is a coastal city in southern Spain that is known for its beautiful beaches, warm weather, and vibrant cultural scene. Some of the best neighbourhoods in Malaga for expats include La Malagueta, El Palo, and Pedregalejo.
Valencia Valencia is a coastal city in eastern Spain that is known for its beautiful beaches, delicious cuisine, and unique architecture. Some of the best neighbourhoods in Valencia for expats include Ruzafa, El Carmen, and El Cabanyal.
Seville Seville is a historic city in southern Spain that is known for its beautiful architecture, vibrant nightlife, and delicious cuisine. Some of the best neighbourhoods in Seville for expats include Santa Cruz, Macarena, and Triana.
San Sebastian San Sebastian is a coastal city in northern Spain that is known for its beautiful beaches, delicious cuisine, and stunning mountain views. Some of the best neighbourhoods in San Sebastian for expats include Aiete, Gros, and Zurriola.
Sotogrande Sotogrande is a luxury resort community in southern Spain that is known for its beautiful golf courses, stunning beaches, and vibrant social scene. Some of the best neighbourhoods in Sotogrande for expats include Sotogrande Costa, Sotogrande Alto, and Sotogrande Sotogrande is home to a large expat community and offers sunny days and little rain all year round.

Education Options for Expat Kids

Expats moving to Spain with children have several options for their kids' education, including state-funded, state-subsidized (concertado), private, and international schools. 

State schools are free for residents, while concertado schools receive partial funding from the state. Private schools are independently run and charge tuition fees, and international schools offer a curriculum in English or other languages and cater to expat families.

The education system in Spain starts with nursery classes until the age of 6, followed by junior school. Children can start school at the age of 3, and those moving to Spain after starting junior school may need additional Spanish lessons. Teenagers can study for a school certificate and then go on to college at 16 to study the Spanish Baccalaureate, which is comparable to A Levels in the UK.

When moving to Spain with younger children, it is best to move while they are still acquiring their language skills. This way, they will learn the language with other Spanish toddlers, making the transition smoother. Older children may need additional support in adapting to the new language and education system. 

It is important to research local amenities and events in the new area, as well as the schools. Talking to local parents and finding out about the performance of schools in the area can help make an informed decision about the best school for the children. 

Enrollment in state schools usually occurs in May, so it is advised to visit the school early in the academic year.

International schools generally have smaller class sizes and offer a curriculum in English, helping children settle back into their studies. They may also offer Spanish language lessons for children who are not yet fluent in the language. These schools are usually based in large towns, so it is important to consider the costs and convenience of travel to and from the school.

When moving to Spain with teenagers, it is important to discuss the implications of the move and allow them to voice their concerns. Enrolling them in Spanish language lessons may be helpful in adapting to education in Spain.

Overall, Spain is a child-friendly country with a strong emphasis on family and community life. The great weather and abundance of child-friendly attractions make it an excellent place to raise a family. With careful planning and research, expats can ensure a smooth and stress-free move for the whole family.

Understand the Spain’s Healthcare system for Expat

The healthcare system for expats moving to Spain is a comprehensive and well-regarded system that offers both public and private healthcare options. Expats in Spain have access to high-quality medical services through the country's universal healthcare system, known as the Sistema Nacional de Salud (SNS). 

This system provides a wide range of services, including general practitioner visits, specialist consultations, in-patient hospital treatment, emergency services, maternity care, pediatric care, mental health services, and certain surgeries. The public healthcare system in Spain is funded through taxes and social security contributions, ensuring that all residents, including expats, have access to essential healthcare services.

Expats in Spain can access public healthcare by registering with the social security office and receiving a health card that grants them access to primary care services, specialist consultations, hospital treatment, and emergency services. 

However, it's important to note that coverage under the public healthcare system is primarily based on social security contributions, so expats must be legal residents or hold work permits to access these services.

In addition to public healthcare, expats in Spain also have the option to obtain private health insurance, which offers benefits such as quicker access to specialists, private hospital rooms, and English-speaking medical staff. Private healthcare facilities in Spain are known for their high standards and shorter waiting times compared to public healthcare. Expats can choose between private insurance providers or opt for the national healthcare system (Sistema Nacional de Salud) based on their individual needs and preferences.

The differences between public and private healthcare in Spain for expats

The differences between public and private healthcare in Spain for expats are significant and offer distinct advantages and considerations: 

Public Healthcare

  • Access: Public healthcare in Spain, known as the Sistema Nacional de Salud (SNS), provides universal coverage to all residents, including expats who are legal residents or hold work permits. It is funded through taxes and social security contributions.

  • Services: Public healthcare offers comprehensive coverage,       including primary care, specialist care, hospitalization, emergency services, and prescription medication.

  • Cost: Public healthcare is free for residents, but some services may require co-payments.

  • Waiting Times: One of the main drawbacks of public healthcare is the long waiting lists for specialist appointments and non-emergency surgical procedures, which can lead to delays in treatment.

Private Healthcare

  • Access: Private healthcare in Spain offers quicker access to medical services, more specialized treatments, and the option to see English-speaking doctors. Expats often choose private healthcare for personalised attention and faster service.

  • Services: Private healthcare facilities are known for their high standards, shorter waiting times, and a more personalized approach to patient care.

  • Cost: Private healthcare services can be more expensive than public healthcare, and not all treatments may be covered by insurance.  Expats may need to pay out-of-pocket for certain services.

  • Choice of Specialists: In private healthcare, patients can choose their specialist directly without the need to visit a general practitioner first, allowing for more direct access to specialized care.
Overall, the choice between public and private healthcare in Spain for expats depends on individual preferences, needs, and financial considerations. Public healthcare offers universal coverage and essential services at no cost, while private healthcare provides faster access to specialized care and personalised attention, albeit at a higher cost. 

You should carefully consider their healthcare needs and budget when deciding between Spain's public and private healthcare options.

Cultural differences to be aware of when moving to Spain as an expat

Moving to Spain as an expat can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it's important to be aware of the cultural differences that may exist in this vibrant and diverse country. From its laid-back approach to punctuality to the importance of family and socializing, 

Spain has its own unique customs and traditions that may differ from what you are used to. By understanding and respecting these cultural differences, expats can integrate more easily into Spanish society and fully enjoy all that this colourful and passionate country has to offer.

Expats moving to Spain should be aware of several cultural differences, including: 
Spanish people usually greet each other with two kisses on the cheeks, starting on the left. Men may shake hands or hug if they are close. In formal settings, people may be addressed as Don or Doña followed by their name. 
The primary language in Spain is Castillian, also known as Spanish. Other official languages include Galician, Basque, Catalan, and Valencian. However, most people will speak Castillian. 
Spanish people are direct and welcoming, using the informal tú instead of the formal usted. They are expressive and may interrupt or touch each other as a show of affection. 
The family is the most important social unit in Spain, with children often living with their parents until their early thirties. Grandparents usually live independently but take care of their grandchildren when needed.
Mealtimes in Spain are different from many other countries, with a small breakfast, a large lunch around 3:00 P.M., and a late dinner around 10:00 P.M. Food is often enjoyed with family and friends, and Spanish people take their time to enjoy meals.
Spanish people prioritize socialising and enjoy life, often gathering around shared meals and celebrating traditional festivities. They are proud of their artistic, historic, and cultural heritage. 
Although the traditional siesta is disappearing, many shops and businesses still close in the afternoon for a few hours. 


Spain is a popular destination for individuals looking to move to Spain and start a new chapter in their lives. Whether you are considering relocating for work, retirement, or simply for a change of scenery, Spain offers a rich culture, beautiful landscapes, and a high quality of life. 

Our moving-to guide provides you with valuable information on how to make a successful transition to living in Spain.

With the help of Crown Relocations, transitioning to a new life in Spain can be made easy and stress-free. From packing and shipping to navigating the ins and outs of the relocation process, Crown Relocations offers a seamless experience for expats looking to move to Spain successfully. 

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