Pros and Cons of Spanish Residency

Are you thinking about moving to Spain? It is a sure thing to have several apprehensions about the process. With the immigration policies being in a continuous flux state, you are undecided about your next move. One of the things that should concern you the most must be Spain’s citizenship and residency rules.

Before taking the plunge and making this huge decision, you should know whether you will be eligible for residency and citizenship in Spain? You may also want to know about any unique benefits of residence in Spain or citizenship. The immigration policies and laws are different across the world, which should affect your decision to relocate. Without knowing about those policies, you should not decide to move to Spain. You should move to Spain if it best suits your interest and situation.

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We are a team of immigration experts that help people understand the immigration policies and consult them about the best choice for relocation. Relocating to a new country can be tremendously rewarding for you, given that you make the right decision. In this blog, we will provide you a comprehensive overview of relocating to Spain, which will guide you towards the best conclusion that you must make. We will help you understand the pros and cons of Spanish residency.

pros and cons of spanish residency

The Living Expenses

There are specific pros and cons of Spanish residency when it comes to finances. In some ways, it is economical to live in Spain. Other conditions may create problems for which you must come prepared.

This is your foremost concern when moving to a foreign country. You will be happy to know that the cost of living in Spain is lower than in certain other western European countries. It is generally cheaper to have a meal outside, and specific bills also cost less, for instance, the council tax. The cost of housing in Spain is also less in comparison with certain other countries in Europe.

Some items and services are more costly in Spain. If your plan is to work in Spain, you will find out that the average salaries are markedly less in Spain than in other countries in Europe. The cost of electronics and particular gadgets is more. The price of electricity is more so you may incur a higher bill for it.

Another disadvantage is the higher rate of unemployment in Spain. Unemployment remains high all the time in Spain so you must carefully plan your finances before going there. Ideally, you must have finances for yourself, for a situation where you cannot find work. So, you should have a fixed amount in your bank account or a pension.

Also, you must try to get a job in Spain before going to Spain if you want to work there. Alternatively, you may plan to get self-employed in Spain; for instance, you may think about doing business there. But it will be best if you deposit all your travel and stay expenses for your trip to Spain in a bank account.

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Schooling of Children

Now, this is important if you plan your trip with family accompanying you or if you want to live there for long. Presently, there are three central systems for schooling children in Spain, and each of them has its advantages and disadvantages.

The three options for schooling include state schools, home tutoring, and international schools. It is not a good idea to send your child to international schools, more so if you have financial constraints. The other option is homeschooling, but this has its disadvantages.

The Weather

pros and cons spanish residency

There are pros and cons of living in Spain when it comes to weather.

Spain has all four seasons of weather. Whether or not you appreciate a temperature depends on your area of residence’s climate conditions and personal preference. You may still be appalled from summers, despite living in a region with hot and humid weather for long. You can still stand the low temperatures of the winter season, even if you have lived in a warmer area all your life. The climate conditions in Spain are sure to impress you.

The weather is human-friendly, so this gives you the luxury of moving anywhere, traveling, and exploring the country, visiting any place you want. We understand that communication and technology have not decreased the zest for tourism and Spain has the perfect weather so you can plan a trip any time during the year. Because of the cozy weather conditions, there are several opportunities for exciting outdoor opportunities in Spain. But summers in Spain can be challenging for you if you are not fond of the hot and humid climate.

One of the best aspects of living in Spain is the nice weather. Unlike other regions in Europe or the USA, the climate of Spain is pleasant. This means that you do not have to restrain yourself from going outside and having a good time. Compare this with frosty winters in other countries, where temperature below the freezing point inhibits movement and challenges life. In Spain, you will experience the most pleasant winters, autumn, and spring, which enable you to travel and have a good time outdoors.

Spain’s season contrast is one of its unique features that makes it more habitable than several other regions in Europe. In the main cities, the temperature does not get below 9 °C during the peak winter seasons. If the country’s climate condition is a point of decision-making for you, then Spain is a good option for relocating.

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If you do not like the summer season, this must be a disadvantage. Summers are warmer in Spain, in comparison with other regions. You will likely have to spend more on air conditioning in your home. Still, the temperature is less than 40° even during the summer season. This means that summers are still less severe in Spain than in other countries in the world.

Lack of Benefits

Con: There are significantly fewer benefits available in Spain; however, you may be entitled to one or two if you are an ex-pat from the UK in the region. So, if you have received benefits as an EU citizen or as a citizen of the UK, then you may find this appalling, and it might shock you. Therefore, we recommend you keeping your finances in check before moving to this country.

You Cannot Drive an RHD Car in Spain

Cons: You cannot bring your RHD car to Spain. This is a bad idea as in Spain; people drive on the right. This is contrary to the practice in the UK, where they drive on the left. So, it is dangerous to operate an RHD car on the roads in Spain.
This is also an expensive endeavor as you will have to register the car after six months and pay the import taxes. If you do not register your RHD car in Spain when it is expected from you, then the police may stop you, and the car will get impounded too. This means there is no point in bringing your RHD car to Spain. You cannot drive it, and it incurs additional costs if you keep it.

Cultural Heritage

pros spanish residency

Pro: Spain is a country with a different past that sets it apart from other countries. There have been several different rules in the region during the past that influence its present dynamics. You will surely relish watching the spectacular resorts and stations. The historic buildings are well-preserved and must-visit sites for tourism-buffs.


Spain is perfect if you plan to visit it with your family. The culture is very welcoming for children.

This is a general practice that children generally go to sleep late during the night in Spain.

Diversity and Variety of Languages

Here we tell you the pros and cons of Spanish residency in terms of cultural and social integration.

There are diverse cultures and languages in Spain. There is so much difference between different regions of the country as they have unique traditions. Spain is a country that you would love to explore. The diversity and landscapes are intriguing and sure to surprise you. This is not a fact that should make you apprehensive of Spain. You will still find many similarities among different regions in Spain. So do not get anguished in anticipation of cultural shock.

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In some Spain regions, you do not need to learn the language; however, in other areas, you will face inconvenience if you do not know at least the basic conversation in the local language. So, it is advisable to learn the basics of the local language so that you can visit and consult with a physician or shop at stores.

Moreover, it is improbable that you will find a translator to ease things out for you. In some regions, the number of people who understand English is significantly less. Spaniards do not generally learn another language, so do not expect them to speak English. So, it would help if you learned basic Spanish before visiting the place.

The difference in Rules and Regulations Across Regions

As you already understand and appreciate the cultural and linguistic diversity in Spain, this also means that rules and regulations may also vary across different regions. So, what we advise is that to learn about them. Also, you should keep any tools to find out more about those nuances.

Ease of Travelling

If you are from the UK, then you will reach Spain in two and a half hours by air-route of traveling.

Extensive Paperwork for Residency

The process of getting a residency is a hassle, as it involves piles of paperwork. The reason is that online form submission is still not in a broad practice in Spain, and for that reason, you will have to hand-fill the different types of documents and forms. Additionally, this may also require you to visit several administrative departments to get several kinds of papers. So, this process might get daunting and tedious for you. There is an intricate system of bureaucracy at every level of governance in Spain.

Bureaucratic Culture

Con: You must have heard you the bureaucratic culture in any organization impedes efficiency and creates problems and hassle for those who interact with them for their work. You will find plenty of bureaucratic culture in Spain. This is where things get done more slowly compared with other countries, such as the UK.

This is a place where paperwork is more in practice than online submissions. So, a lot of times, you will experience that doing simple things takes longer in Spain. You will need more patience when availing services in Spain, as the bureaucratic culture will be cumbersome, require more effort from you, and take more time. Expect yourself to be patient in all such circumstances and keep your cool.

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The August Month

Do not plan to get things done during August in Spain. This is when the climate Is mots hot in the country, and for that reason, this is the favorite time for Spaniards for taking vacations. So, several businesses discontinue their work at this time and shut their shops. This can indeed become a hindrance in several tasks that you might have planned for this month. It is best to prepare for this month differently, to not get disappointed later.

Vegetarian Food

cons spanish residency

There are some pros and cons of Spanish residency if you happen to be a vegetarian.

You will find several shops in Spain that sell different types of vegetables. There are ample vegetables and vegetable shops everywhere in Spain, so you can get any fresh vegetables any time you want.

The problem is that you will still not find enough vegetarian restaurants in Spain. So, if vegetarian food is your choice, or if you want to have a more balanced diet, you will most likely have to cook that food yourself, as there are very few restaurants that offer vegetarian food in the country.

Before You Travel to Spain-Keep These Things in Check

Visa Requirements

If your country is not in the EU, then in several cases, you will require a visa to travel to Spain. To get the visa, you will have to fulfill specific requirements, such as providing proof of finances. You will also have to appear for an interview in front of the visa officer. If you have an active employment offer from a company in Spain, you must make sure that you know the relevant visa details.

Buy a Health Insurance Plan

Before visiting Spain, you must purchase an insurance plan for yourself. There are several private health insurance policies in Spain, and you should search about which method suits you the best. We also suggest you hire a consultant to guide you about the same.

Don’t Sell Your Property or Close Your Bank Accounts

When moving to Spain, if you intend to live there permanently, you might think about selling your property and closing your bank accounts in your home country. This is not the best option, as you should be sure about your intentions of living in the new country permanently. This is what you will learn the best when you will relocate to the new location. For that matter, you should alternatively rent out the property in your home country and keep your accounts intact.

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Carefully Choose Lawyers, Real-Estate Agents, Gestor or Accountant

If your plan is to relocate to a new country, you will have to avail yourself of the professionals’ services mentioned above. You may want to hire a lawyer who undertakes to complete legal work for you. To get the right people to work for you, get recommendations from family, friends, or other locals.

Alternatively, you may search on several ex-pat forums to find out about the same. These are also valuable sources of information where you receive advice from others who had been in a similar situation.

Living in Spain-What to Expect and Do?

Buying Accommodation

If you plan to buy a living area in Spain, our best advice will be to first live on the rented property for six months before deciding to purchase real-estate for living. This will give you time to decide whether permanently shifting to Spain is the right decision for you. This way, you will also be sure about relocating to a particular location in the country. Some ex-pats move inland only to realize that living on the coast suits them more and vice versa.

Tax Liabilities

You are responsible for paying tax in Spain if you have lived in the country for more than 183 days of the year as you become a resident in the country, according to the present policies. After becoming a resident of the country, you are responsible for paying different taxes, such as the capital gains tax, income tax, and wealth tax, to name a few.

You must make sure that you thoroughly research the relevant types of taxes that will become applicable to you. Otherwise, you may consult a legal advisor or accountant to learn about your tax liabilities.

Get an NIE Number

Suppose you plan to undertake any financial transaction in Spain, such as that for purchasing a car or buying a house, you should get an NIE number at your earliest. If you live in Spain long-term, then getting an NIE number is inevitable, so you should get it soon as possible. You should consult from a professional service to learn more about them.

Immerse Yourself in the Culture

We already highlighted how Spain has a diverse culture and languages. But this is something that will increase your exploration spirit, making you plan several trips across the country. What we advise you is to integrate yourself into the new culture. This means, ideally, you should learn a few phrases of the local language and get to know about the people in your nearest surroundings. Learn the language so that you can conveniently go shopping, ask for directions, and so on.

Understand When They are Not Rude

It is a norm in Spain not to say Thank you and sorry that frequently. This can be uncomfortable for you if you come from the UK or any other place where uttering these words is typical. So, this should not make you perceive Spaniards as rude. This is just their norm, and there is not a specific reason for not doing so. But it is still acceptable if you keep using “por favor” and “gracias” in Spain, as people will not be concerned about it if you do so. What you should understand is that it is their culture not to use these phrases frequently.

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Driving in Spain

Learn about the difference between driving in Spain. Before embarking on to drive in Spain, familiarize yourself with the markings, roads, and road signs. You will have to drive the car on the right side of the road in Spain, as all Spaniards do so. We suggest that you practice the new modes of driving in Spain, with friends or a guide, and practice a few trips. After practicing sufficiently to drive on the right side of the road in the new environment and conventions, you should start to drive in your routine.

Learn the Norms of the Place

Relocating to Spain should not be a cultural shock, as the place is warm and friendly for the expats living in Spain and tourists. But you may experience how several things are done differently in Spain, and this is what you should not take as a shock; instead, you should know that those are the same things just being done differently.

Generally, the shops in Spain stay closed from 2 pm to 5 pm for siesta. This is just their culture, their way of doing things. You will also find out that the Spaniards are calm and relaxed most of the time; you will not see them impatient or in any hurry. You will also find out that it is common for people to stop their vehicle chatting with someone, even when other cars wait behind them. This is normal for them, though it may seem out of routine to you. But you should learn to experience life their way soon.

Learn About Your Eligibility for Spanish Residency

Your eligibility and chance to obtain the residency of Spain depends on a variety of factors. Here we help you learn where you stand in the queue for getting Spain’s residency and what you can do to increase the possibility of getting it.

Your Present Nationality

If you are from Europe or UK, then there is a higher chance that you will receive Spain’s residency because Spain is a member of the European Union (EU).

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If You are Living in Spain

If you presently live in Spain, then your eligibility for Spanish citizenship or residency will be based on the time duration you stayed in the country. You can apply for residency if you have lived in Spain for five years. If you have resided in Spain for ten or more years, you are also eligible to apply for the country’s citizenship.


You may apply for Spain’s residency sooner if you are married to a Spanish citizen or if you are the child of a citizen of Spain.

Citizenship versus Residency-Pros and Cons

There are some pros and cons of Spanish residency in comparison with Spanish citizenship.

You have two options to choose from if you have lived in Spain for ten years. You can either apply for citizenship or residency, and you should know which route is the best for you. Here we have highlighted some of the main differences between them.

Spanish Residency

This document is more accessible than citizenship. The main advantage is that with this document, you can still retain citizenship of your home country. For any reason, you may still want to keep the nationality of your home country. But Spain is a country that does not allow dual nationality. Though some countries in the world allow dual nationality, Spain is not one of them. This means that if you become a citizen of Spain by getting Spanish citizenship, then your citizenship of your home country becomes invalid.

If you want to preserve your status as a national of your home country, then the best option is to apply for Spain’s residency. Residency in Spain entitles you to almost the same benefits as that of Spanish citizens, but with certain conditions, the most important of them is financially supporting yourself and your family. The financial resource does not necessarily have to be a salary; it can also be a student scholarship, pension, or other independent means. Moreover, you will have to provide evidence of an official private or public health insurance policy.

Residency in Spain entitles you to benefit from the social services and benefits offered by the country. With this residency, you can move to other countries in the EU for three months.

Though you will have almost the same rights as the citizens of Spain if you have residency in Spain, you will be subject to certain conditions.

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Spanish Citizenship

If you get Spain’s citizenship, then you have the same rights as other Spaniards and EU citizens. You can cast a vote in the European elections and move freely across the EU as well.

If you get Spain’s citizenship, then you will have to give up the nationality of your home country. Your passport and nationality will get replaced by the Spanish passport and nationality. It is also more difficult to obtain citizenship of Spain than the residency of Spain.

Brexit and the Residency Process in Spain

The good news is that Brexit has not affected the residency process for UK nationals living in Spain. Several migrants from the UK in Spain were wary of the new changes in the international climate, the Brexit in particular, that was sure to affect the residency policies.

However, in March 2019, the foreign minister of Spain announced that Spain would grant residency rights to over 400,000 citizens of the UK who live in Spain. He also underplayed the event of Brexit, mentioning that it is not a big deal. Some forecasters say that the nationals of the UK in Spain may require to apply for a foreign identity card soon. However, there is not formal news regarding the same to clarify this matter.

The only change is that the British nationals in Spain will have to apply for Blue Card in the future, as this is a process for all non-EU countries, which now applies to UK citizens. So, this is something that those relocating from the UK to Spain should particularly prepare for now.

Application Process for Residency of Spain

When applying for Spain’s residency, you will have to submit proof of finances for supporting yourself and your family. You will also have to provide evidence of a genuine private or public health insurance policy. Alongside this information, you will be required to submit a valid passport, proof of lawful residence in Spain; this can be a rental contract or a mortgage.

Moreover, you will have to submit a medical certificate, criminal record certificate issued by the relevant authorities in your country of origin, proof of health insurance, and proof of present marital status.

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Application Process for Spanish Citizenship

If you have stayed in Spain for ten years and opt to apply for Spanish citizenship, you must know that this process is more tiring and vigorous. You will have to fulfill all requirements that are due for applying for Spain’s residency. Additionally, you will be required to show that you tried to integrate with the Spanish people somehow, for instance, by learning the Spanish language or by partaking in social activities and community events unique to the Spanish way of life.

You can complete your application at the Civil Registry at the location you inhibit in Spain. If your age is between 14 and 18 years, you will have to complete the form with legal support. Individuals under the age of 14 apply via a legal guardian. The processing fee for citizenship application is between 60 Euros to 100 Euros. This fee is non-refundable, which means that you will not get it back even if the application gets rejected. You will also incur additional charges to get any other documents or certificates for your application, so we recommend you set aside 200 Euros for this process.

Exceptions to the 10 Year Rule

Refugees can apply for citizenship after a stay of only five years in Spain. Moreover, individuals from Portugal, Equatorial Guinea, the Philippines, Andorra, Spanish-American countries, and Sephardic origin can apply for citizenship after two years of their stay in Spain.

Those born in Spain to parents who are not residents or citizens of Spain are eligible to apply for citizenship in just one year after their stay in Spain.
A person married to a Spanish citizen can get citizenship after living in Spain just for one year. A widower can also get Spanish citizenship under the same conditions.

The disadvantage of Tax Residency

Tax residency means that the foreigner in Spain who has this status will have to pay all the taxes that the residents must pay; still, they are not considered the country’s residents. So, they pay those taxes as non-residents.

Visa Process for Non-European Union Citizen

To initiate getting the visa for Spain, you should first apply for the tourist visa category. The tourist visa allows a stay of three months in Spain. While living in Spain on your tourist visa, you can still apply for other types of visas in Spain, such as the entrepreneur visa or the student visa. After staying in Spain for three months on a tourist visa, you can apply for a residence permit which will allow you to stay in the country for another year. You can renew the residence permit every two years.

The Golden Visa Option

This is a visa for investors or entrepreneurs. To get this visa, you should pledge to make an investment worth 500.000 Euros or higher in Spain, which enables you to buy property and several assets in the region that amount to 500.000 Euros or more. This is a permit that allows you and your relatives to work and live in Spain legally. The condition for you and them is that you all must fulfill the expected age labor regulations.

Moreover, you will not have to visit the country more than once a year with this visa. You can also travel to other countries in the Schengen region with this visa. The difference is that you should realize a significant investment in Spain to be eligible for this visa. So, this is a visa option, particularly for entrepreneurs. This visa is an easy route to the residency of Spain. This entitles you to bring your family to Spain. You do not have to stay for a particular duration in the region every year. You do not have to stay for six months to get this visa renewed.

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Though this visa does not require you to be present in Spain for all the duration, if you want to gain citizenship via this route, you must eventually live in Spain for a minimum of six months in that duration of ten years. Additionally, you must also fulfill additional requirements, one of them being knowledge of the Spanish language.

This is an easy route for acquiring the citizenship of Spain. You also do not have to be present in Spain for the complete duration of your stay. However, if you want to get Spain’s citizenship via this route, you should be present in Spain for at least six months from the duration of ten years. Not only that it makes you entitled to stay and work in Spain, but it also allows your family the same privilege.

This visa is for investors and entrepreneurs. This means that you can only get this visa if you invest worth a minimum of 500.000 Euros in Spain.

I hope that you will make the best decision for yourself in choosing your travel or relocation destination. Contact our team of experts to get answers to any of your further queries regarding the visas and application processes.

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14 thoughts on “Pros and Cons of Spanish Residency

  1. Sharleen Moran |

    Hi there,

    I am currently living in SA and married to a spanish citizen. We have been working in SA and contributing to a pension scheme for the past 34 years. My husband’s dad has a caseta in the La Coma,Piccasent. My kids just finished a degree in Education and is also Spanish citizens. My husband would like to go back to Spain as his dad is getting old (85). I am not sure if we will be able to and would like to get in contact with someone regarding the possible implications financially in doing this.

    1. Anna - Lawyer of My Spain Visa |


      One of our lawyers will contact you to answer your questions about spanish residency.


  2. Alan Waterhouse |

    Hi I am applying for none lucrative visa I’m on a state pension approx 11000 euro a year, will I be taxed on this
    I’m 67 years old, have savings of 200k

    1. Anna |


      You should speak to the person who has done all the paperwork for your spanish residency


  3. David Gribbin |

    Hi We own a property for approx 15 years using it for holidays only, We are now considering residency. My question what would be the best option Non Lucrative route or ?

    1. Anna |


      One of our lawyers will contact you to answer your questions about the Spanish Residency.



    Dear Sir/Madam,
    I am a 74 year old single female who would like to relocate to Spain. However, I only have about 19,000 Euros Pension but I have about Β£90,000 in savings. Would I still be able to move to Spain?

    1. Anna |


      One of our lawyers will contact you to answer your questions about Spanish residency.



    I’ve owned a property in Tenerife for the past five years. I have a residencia and pay non-residents tax. I now wish to become a resident so I don’t have to worry about the ’90 day’ issue. Can you please advise on costs for this procedure and what you charge. Thanks.

    1. Anna |

      Hi Mrs. Sandra,

      one of our lawyers should be in contact with you shortly for your questions about Pros and Cons of Spanish Residency.


  6. Jim Dolan |

    I own a property in Spain and will spend my time in both countries. As long as I don’t exceed my stay in Spain, is it better for me not to take out Residencia? I also own a Spanish registered car
    I pay tax in the uk and I have been accepted for Residencia, but thinking of backing out know.

    1. Anna |

      Hi Jim,

      one of our lawyers should be in contact with you shortly for your questions.


  7. Dereck |

    Thank you for all the information. I am thinking of obtaining the Spanish nationality, since my partner is Spanish but I wanted to be well informed, could you advise me to obtain it?

    1. Anna |

      Hello Dereck,

      One of our lawyers will contact you to explain all the advantages and disadvantages of obtaining Spanish nationality.


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