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Moving to Spain

Moving to another country isn't as easy as simply selling your home, getting on a plane and arriving there. There are a host of things which have to be taken care of. Think of the process as being in three stages - Selling up. Travelling and Settling Down.

Selling Up
So you have decided to move to Spain, visited the area you would like to move to, and perhaps even seen the property you intend to buy or rent. At least you will have found somewhere to stay, if only temporary, when you arrive. Next is selling your property 'back home' and you have a buyer. Now the decisions start. To take furniture, pets and even mother-in-law with you, or not !!! The cost of taking furniture to Spain, the cost of storage and delivery may outweigh the benefits, and your furniture may not be entirely suitable in Spain or your new surroundings. Are your pets elderly and will they settle down to a hotter climate? Will mother-in-law continue to be a nuisance?


Next, tell all your suppliers, services and local authorities of the date you are leaving, and if possible give them the new owners details. Book your travel arrangements - plane, ship, car, train, etc. Decide what you are going to take with you and what has to be shipped separately. Close bank and building society accounts if necessary. Get all the necessary documents to export such things as your car.

There is not a lot to be said here, other than if possible, sit back and enjoy. The car ferry to Bilbao or Santander will probably be the best if you only intend to take your car and personal possessions that you can fit in it, and then a drive across Spain to your future location. Otherwise it's likely to be a flight to the nearest Spanish airport, with your possessions and furniture following later by a removal service.

Settling Down
Having arrived, if you haven't already got accommodation, you need to buy or rent. The ease of renting will depend a lot on where you want to be. In towns, cities and coastal resorts, there will be rental or estate agents to help you. If you have to sign a rental contract, get an Abogado (Solicitor) to check it through first, don't take the word of the agent that everything is alright, because they are trying to make a deal. If you are buying, see 'Spain Real Estate' on this web site.


Most Spaniards have two surnames, one taken from the first surname of each parent - eg. Senior Antonio Martos Navarro. Martos will be his father's first surname and Navarro his mother's first surname.

When you arrive in Spain to live, you will have to produce your passport on many occasions, such as to request a Residence Card, Bank Account, Health Card, etc. Each of these organisations will copy your name exactly as it is written in the Passport - eg. John Peter Smith and they will assume the last two names are your surnames. Be prepared from then on to be called by your second forename (if you have one) - eg. Senór Peter or sometimes Senór Peter Smith. On forms that you personally fill in, putting a hyphen between your forenames usually overcomes the problem.

Now for a few more personal notes. Having decided to move to Spain, remember that you are not going to be living in your old country but in a new location. Things will be different - customs, people, language, bureaucracy, etc. If you can't cope with change and have difficulty in adapting to new surroundings, perhaps moving to Spain is not a good idea. Some people moving to Spain, then return because they have not given enough thought to it.

For those thinking of moving to Spain, this book -

"My Place in the Sun"
by John H. Sumner

makes an interesting, useful and sometimes humorous read. It follows his first five years in living in Spain, coping with the language, local customs, excessive bureaucracy, amateur builders, strange neighbours, and many funny situations he found himself in. It's an eye-opener and useful for anyone considering a move to Spain, or just to have a chuckle at the authors expense. This book can be purchased direct from the publisher -, and
and available in Kindle format.