Welcome to Spain! After, perhaps years of dreaming and months of research, you are here (or you will be shortly)! Know that you are not on your own. According to this article in the Guardian, the number of British retirees who have packed up their lives and made the move to Spain has doubled over the last 10 years (regardless, or because of Brexit). The richest and largest European generation ever, ‘the baby boomers’ are heading for the sun, quality of living and better value for money when it comes to the retirement lifestyle that Spain offers. Check out our tips on getting the best out of your new life in Spain.
Keep the research going
Don’t stop now; your research needs to continue! Things will be different immediately – these can be simple changes like the side of the road you drive on, the temperature, the length of time it takes to get even the simplest things done. Our key advice for moving to Spain? Rope in the help of people already living here – ask for advice and recommendations on Facebook of who, why, what and when. Use verified information from your consulate website, the support services via supportinspain.info or law firms which are registered with the Law Society (known as the Ilustre Colegio de Abogados in Spain).
When dealing with paperwork in Spain, the idiom “It’s not wrong, it just is” rings true. Spain is different to your birth country. It’s not a mini version of where you have come from. Everything WILL be different. Taking a deep breath, a dollop of patience and someone to translate for you will make a lot of difference to your experience of getting stuff done in Spain. And a good book whilst you are in the queue (or using your Duolingo app!)
Getting an NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero - Foreigner’s ID Number) and registering on the Padron are your first priorities. The Padron (Certificado de Empadronamiento) enables your Townhall to get Government funding to give you the best local services and offer you local and reduced price services. It also makes you eligible to vote in the local elections. Remember, depending on your country of origin, in order to obtain your NIE you will need to provide proof of insurance that lets the authorities know that you’re covered in the event of unforeseen circumstances. Caser’s Adapta + Dental Insurance meets the requirements and provides an official certificate that will be valid to submit along with your NIE application.
Spanish people are typicall very open. If you say ‘Hola’, they will likely reply. Add a smile too and your new world will start to open up. It’s not unusual for people to talk to complete strangers in the doctor’s queue, on public transport - get used to it, and see it as a perfect opportunity to practise your Spanish!
Be kind to yourself
Homesickness isn’t the domain of a child going to summer camp; it’s real and can be scary when you are older as well! As foreigners, we were all new here once, so everyone understands the feeling. Make new friends, join local groups, start playing golf, take up sports, or volunteer with one of the local charities. Find a buddy – maybe a neighbour or someone else who has the same hobbies and interests. Whatever you do, don’t stay at home alone and give in to your homesick frame of mind! Give yourself 365 days – things won’t happen overnight, so give yourself one year to settle in and feel at home. We always recommend a trip back to your home country after 3-6 months; you will be amazed how you, and your birth country mentality, have changed (in a good way!)
Wherever you live in the world, your new home is never the same as where you lived before. It sounds cliché, but you'll never fail to be surprised at the number of people who automatically assume that things will be done the same as their home country. Getting into the groove of your new country and settling into your new life make it easier by living life “the Spanish” way, where possible.
Celebrate the small wins
When the first piece of bureaucracy has been handled– celebrate. When you get your first smile from a local – celebrate. When you eat your first “Spanish” food and enjoy it – celebrate. When you had your first conversation in Spanish (and were understood) – celebrate! When you opened the curtains and the weather “turned out nice… again” – celebrate.
It’s always important to remember that moving to a new country implies change, and change can be positive and bring rewards, both professionally and personally. Give yourself time to adjust and don’t be hard on yourself. Take advantage of advice for moving to Spain, wherever you find out, it might just help save time, ease the homesickness and bring you one step closer to becoming a local. Good luck!