The Potential Pitfalls of Relocating to Spain

Leave the rain behind you
Head to Spain and leave the rain behind you…

Most of us dream of living life slowly in the sun. Many Brits try to realise this dream by moving abroad. Australia, the States and France are all popular relocation destinations, but nowhere rivals Spain when it comes to the number of British expats. It is estimated that over half a million British people live in Spain, which is more Brits than any other country outside Britain. The most common reasons for moving include the weather, the easy going lifestyle, the vibrant culture and the adventure of living abroad.

However in many cases the dream has turned into a nightmare and the current economic issues in Europe, Spain in particular, have made living in Spain a completely different ball game to how it was pre-2007. There are a number of things that you should consider before committing to a move and as with most things; it’s not always as straight forward as it is made out to be.

To help you avoid making the same mistakes as others we have provided a rundown of the main pitfalls of moving to Spain.

1. The State of the Spanish Economy – At the moment this is by far and away the main reason not to move to the country. If you think the UK economy is in turmoil take a look at Spain’s. Unemployment is at almost 25% and climbing. This makes the UK’s 8% look positively encouraging. Spain’s high unemployment rate translates to a mind-bending 1.5 million households that have no earners. And as bad as things are now it looks set to get even worse with a complete economic collapse likely. The recent multi-billion Euro bailout of Bankia says it all. The weather in Spain might be pleasant but the financial forecast is somewhat bleak.

2. The troubles of returning to the UK –There are countless tales of people who have moved to other countries, often Spain, to retire and live a laidback life only to suffer a disaster that requires them to go ‘home’ again. Illness, death, unhappiness and financial troubles are all common reasons for expats realising that their dream isn’t what they had hoped for. But if you think moving back is as easy as moving away think again.

Most people sell their UK home to buy a Spanish property. The Spanish property market is cheaper than the UK so most use the money from their home sale to buy a new house with cash left over. The leftover cash inevitably gets spent elsewhere. If disaster does strike and you have to sell your home in Spain to move back to the UK you, like many others, could find yourself out of pocket and struggling to maintain the standard of living you’re used to, back in the UK. Is this a position you want to be in?

The financial uncertainty mentioned above makes this problem ten times worse. Keeping a home in the UK and bank accounts with UK based banks is always wise.

3. It simply isn’t what you’re used to – Life in Spain is very different to the UK and adapting can be very challenging. A new culture, language and society can be hard to grasp. Everything moves at a much slower pace and it isn’t as easy to get everyday tasks done. Banks open at inconvenient times, most shops close for lunch and people generally do less than people in the UK. British manners and conduct don’t apply in Spain. The person who shouts loudest is usually the person who gets served first and waiting quietly and politely won’t get you anywhere. The same attitude applies to driving and indicators are seldom used.

It’s not necessarily a worse way of life; it’s just one that you won’t be used to. The best way of finding out if it will suit you is to go on a long self-catered holiday there. Have a look at short term homes to rent. Having to do things for yourself will open your eyes to the reality of living abroad and will help you to answer the question; do I really want to live in Spain?

There are many factors that make moving to Spain an attractive proposition. The food, weather and laidback lifestyle are all great. However there are also some major pitfalls and now more than ever do you need to consider if it’s the best path to take. Be realistic. Is moving to a country that has a severe economic crisis looming really the best idea? The houses for sale might be cheap but things could get worse.

PropertyLive.co.uk is a leading UK property authority, with thousands of current rental and sale properties available. To find out more click here, or here to view rentals.

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10 thoughts on “The Potential Pitfalls of Relocating to Spain

  1. DQ

    “There are many factors that make moving to Spain an attractive proposition. The food, weather and laidback lifestyle are all great. However there are also some major pitfalls and now more than ever do you need to consider if it’s the best path to take. Be realistic. Is moving to a country that has a severe economic crisis looming really the best idea? The houses for sale might be cheap but things could get worse.”

    I would like to know what those pitfalls are, what things could get worse, and how to handle them, since I am more than considering a home in Spain.

    Realistically thinking, living almost anywhere is crazy right now on this planet; however, if you are relocating and have the funds to do so, and don’t need to depend on any government for anything, especially don’t have to look for work, then it might be a different story.

    Moving to Spain, paying cash for a home, keeping your funds offshore, being independent, and perhaps even hiring staff or assistants should remove much of the pitfalls in this article — I know this is not everything but a good portion of it.

    Excellent article, I want to know more 🙂

    DQ

    1. Hey DQ,
      I would say you’re probably right. If you don’t need a mortgage and you don’t need to work then you’ll be fine pretty much anywhere. The only thing that might be an issue for you is the exchange rate. As the Euro falls so does the value of anything you have here…

      You want to know more? What do you want to know? You should be able to find pretty much anything you want/need to know within these pages! If not, feel free to ask any questions and if I can’t answer them somebody else might!
      Andy

  2. Who wrote this?

    OK, just a few comments.

    Banks open at inconvenient times,
    ^^For who?

    most shops close for lunch
    ^^Excellent – I mush prefer shopping in the cool of the evening. IAC many supermarkets are open right through. You will NOT starve!

    and people generally do less than people in the UK.
    ^^Which means?!?!?!?!? Most of my Spanish friends work hours that would be unheard of in Britain or Scandinavia.

    British manners and conduct don’t apply in Spain. The person who shouts loudest is usually the person who gets served first and waiting quietly and politely won’t get you anywhere.
    ^^Debatable but you will soon learn to scream “Me toca” with the best of them! IAC in many shops, banks etc ticketing systems are being brought in. All that said, most expats WANT a slower pace of life and so if the waiter is a bit slow with the dessert, the sun is still shining on the terrace, the meal is half the price and you may well be offered a drink on the house. Different – not wrong/worse IMHO

    The same attitude applies to driving and indicators are seldom used.
    ^^#FAIL …indicators are used to show that the guy will be parked on the zebra crossing for less than 30 minutes. The Spanish Driving Test is MUCH tougher than it’s UK equivalent.

    I “THOUGHT” that the expat dream was for “change” – Spain offers you that and if you can’t cope with banks being open DIFFERENT hours or not be able to shop for specialty goods in the afternoon then, yes, you probably should stay in the cocoon of the environment you live in.

    “PropertyLive.co.uk is a leading UK property authority, with thousands of current rental and sale properties available. To find out more click here , or here to view rentals.”

    ^^I tell you what, how about you keep to something you know about because as sure as heck isn’t Spain.

    1. Easy, Steve!!

      Banks open at inconvenient times for me, and plenty of other people. Closing at 2pm is useless and not many open at all on Saturdays.

      “most shops shut for lunch” – The point of this, and some of the other points, is not to irritate you but to inform people who are thinking about moving here but haven’t yet and may not be aware of the differences.The article doesn’t criticise, it just points it out.

      “…and people generally do less than people in the UK.” Maybe not worded too well but lets be honest, the Spanish are slightly more idle than most! Not a criticism, merely an observation. Mañana, mañana…

      “British manners and conduct don’t apply in Spain.” – This is 100% true. I don’t know how you can argue with that. Spain is not known for it’s orderly queues as England is. Waiting in line is a truly English trait and this IS important for any would-be immigrant. No matter how patient you are, your “turn” may not come when expected. Of course, it is better if you are in a shop with tickets.

      “The same attitude applies to driving and indicators are seldom used.” The Spanish, despite their driving test allegedly being tough (I’m yet to be convinced on that one), have no concept of indicators (or roundabouts, T-junctions, road courtesy, parking restrictions…). Again, you can’t argue with that one!

      The idea isn’t always change! There are hundreds of reasons why someone may move to Spain – work, family, inheritance, or simply for change. It is helpful for those people to find an article like this that gives them an idea of what to expect. It would be no good if it said “Spain is the same as England” because when people arrived they would see it is very different indeed.

      It is not intended as a guide for people who are already here.

      Andy

      1. Steve’s right,

        Spain is a brilliant place to live and I’ve sold thousands of properties to happy clients over the last 33 years; some who just wanted a holiday home which they are still enjoying and others who came to live permanently.

        I’m not in touch with all of them, but I can’t remember more than a dozen or so who have gone back.

        My own parents moved down in their sixties when my father was almost on his deathbed suffering a cold East Anglian winter and I reckon life in Spain helped him enjoy another 15 years.

        My mother, at 92, is in a state run old people’s home where I think she gets better care than in most facilities I read about back in the UK.

        Oh, and has everybody forgotten the bank scandle of a few years ago in Uk with Northern Rock etc before they start knocking Spanish banks – I find the 0815 to 1400 opening hours particulary convenient.

        Spanish people are generally friendly, happy, courteous and a delight to socilaise with.

        ‘Spain is Different’ as the ads say. Come out and try it – you can always go back.

        Tony

      2. Is it just me that can clearly see that this article is aimed at people who may move to Spain and NOT for people who already live there?

        It is a short guide pointing out some fundamental differences that Brits can expect to see if they move to Spain.

        On that basis the article is 100% correct and accurate.

        It doesn’t criticise any aspect of Spain or Spanish life so why are you all so defensive?

        Nice to see a decent conversation on here though! I appreciate you all taking the time to comment. More please!!!

        Andy

  3. DQ

    I for one, appreciate all the comments; I have been researching everywhere it seems for a place to relocate to, and I have decided on Spain. I would like to know more about taxes and how things work when a foreigner buys property in Spain with an offshore IBC. I am thinking it makes sense to open a Spanish corporation, and have the off shore IBC own that, which in turn buys the property.

    I wouldn’t have any funds in any bank in the EU, so I am not concerned too much about whether the euro falls or stays in effect.

    I love the med weather (I check the weather reports), and have some years of Spanish language, which would obviously be improved on upon arrival 🙂

    I will get official advice from an attorney about all the legalities, but would appreciate some info from folks who have bought as foreigners and what they went through, and how to avoid the problems they encountered.

    What is the procedure when you bring a vehicle in from off shore? Pets? Household goods? I assume I would be well received there, but would like to know the policies and procedures when stepping foot on Spanish soil. I am not a Brit but would be an expat.

    Thanks 🙂

    DQ

  4. The best way of relocation from one place to other is to hire one of the moving firms present in the market. These firms are professionally trained group of people who help their customer to relocate easily instead of doing this hectic job on their own. Anyway thanks for the useful tips on Moving to Spain…

    1. DQ

      I have already contacted one moving company that was given to me as a referral, I would like to get a couple more so I could have a proper estimate from all three to get the right price and services. if anyone has any referrals to international movers, I would appreciate it 🙂

      DQ

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