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Moving to Spain | Lifestyle, Language, Education & Medical Considerations

We explore cultural considerations and offer tips on integrating, language proficiency, education, medical, transport, and what you need to know before you go to get the most out of moving to Spain. 

For expert advice on your Spain visa options, eligibility and applications, call us on 0333 305 9375 or reach out to us online.

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Language proficiency is a significant aspect of integrating into Spanish society and is crucial for visa applications and obtaining citizenship.

Castilian Spanish is predominant, alongside regional languages like Galician, Basque, Catalan, and Valencian. Learning Castilian Spanish (the standard form of Spanish) is recommended for communication across the country.

Spanish Proficiency

While learning Spanish is highly recommended for daily interactions, it’s also a requirement for permanent residency and citizenship. Applicants must pass a Spanish language test (DELE A2 or higher) for citizenship.

Language Courses

Many local schools offer Spanish courses. Regional languages like Catalan, Galician, and Basque are prevalent in their respective areas, and learning them can enhance your integration too. However, it’s advisable to begin by learning Spanish unless the prevalent language is overwhelmingly used in the area.

Language courses typically start at €50-70 a week for group sessions or similar for a single lesson with a private tutor. It is usual to sign up for a course or find a local tutor. You can self-study and enter exams yourself, but it is advised to join a course, whether casual or at a language school, to improve your Spanish quickly.

Popular language schools include Taronja in Valencia, AIL in Madrid or Malaga, Expanish in Barcelona, and Malaca Instituto in Malaga. These schools also offer intensive courses of around three weeks, which include staying with a host family to improve your Spanish speaking.

Prices average around €700 and can go up to €2000-3000 for these courses. They will also advise on language requirements for passing the Spanish language test to the A2 standard specified for citizenship. A1-C1 language tests are available.

People around a table as woman writes on paper

Medical Considerations

Healthcare System

Spain has a top-tier healthcare system that consists of public and private sectors. Understanding this system is crucial, especially if you apply for specific visas.

  • Public Healthcare is available to residents and workers contributing to social security, including those with work visas. It covers most medical services and is generally free or has minimal co-payments. If no suitable alternative is found, it is accessible after 12 months on a visa.
  • Private Healthcare is mandatory for some visa types in Spain. Many expats, particularly those on the Non-Lucrative Visa, opt for private health insurance. Particularly in the first year, when public healthcare is typically unavailable. Private healthcare ensures faster service and access to English-speaking doctors. Plans typically range from €50 to €200 per month.

Health Insurance Requirements

Comprehensive health insurance is mandatory for visas like the Non-Lucrative Visa. This insurance must cover all medical expenses and repatriation without co-payments or deductibles. Choosing an insurance plan that meets these requirements is essential for your visa application.

If you want to stress-test yourself for Spain visa eligibility or learn more about how you can gain residency in Spain, get in touch today. Call 0333 305 9375 or contact us online.


Schooling Options

In Spain, EU and non-EU minors have the right to attend public primary and secondary schools if they reside under a valid visa. Education is compulsory for children aged 6 to 16, ensuring access to state-funded education for all minors, regardless of nationality.

State Schools

State-funded schools in Spain primarily conduct classes in Spanish. While some schools may offer bilingual programs or additional language support, Spanish is the core language of instruction. This ensures that children integrate into the local education system and acquire proficiency in the language.

Parents typically need to follow specific procedures to enrol a child in a Spanish public school, including obtaining a Foreign Identification Number (NIE) and registering as residents at the local town hall. Required documents usually include passports and birth certificates. Once the necessary paperwork is completed, children can start school promptly, often within a few days to weeks, depending on administrative processing times.

Private Schools

Parents can also enrol their children in private schools as an alternative to public schools. These institutions may offer bilingual or international curricula, providing education in languages other than Spanish, such as English or other languages. Private schools cater to diverse educational philosophies and may be chosen based on specific preferences for language instruction, curriculum style, or cultural integration.

Overall, whether opting for public or private education, both EU and non-EU families in Spain have avenues to ensure their children receive a comprehensive and culturally enriching educational experience that suits their individual needs and preferences.

Getting around in Spain

Public Transport

Spain has an extensive and affordable public transport network. It includes buses, trains, and metro systems.

  • Bus tickets normally cost between €1.40 to €1.60 but are typically over €2 in major cities.
  • A metro ticket in Barcelona is €2,55 for a single ticket in zone 1.
  • For Madrid, it is €1,50 for a single ticket for the Metro Sur or Metro Este lines or €3 for a single combined ticket.
  • A monthly public transport pass in Madrid costs around €54.
  • The cost of longer train rides has also fallen over the years. The liberalisation of high-speed train travel has helped. Increased competition for publicly owned Renfe from private train providers has also driven lower fares. Now it costs an average of €35 to travel between Barcelona and Madrid by train.


If you drive, you may need to exchange your driver’s license for a Spanish one. Familiarise yourself with Spanish traffic laws. Car ownership in Spain is cheaper than in many European countries.

  • New cars are typically available from €20,000, while used cars start at €300. It is advisable to spend over €2000 for a used car at a dealership where you will get a warranty.
  • The rental car market is relatively cheap too, compared to neighbouring countries. Renting a car for €15-25 per day, €200+ a week or €800+ a month is possible. Some expats take advantage of this at first to acquaint themselves better with the car market before purchasing. Some will continue to rent a car thereafter.
  • The electric car market is immature in parts of the country, but it is a good option in bigger cities. Many of Spain’s major cities, including Barcelona, Madrid, and Valencia, have cut taxes for electric cars by up to 75%. Infrastructure is good in major cities but a little behind in other parts of Spain, so think about your geography before buying an electric car in Spain.

In compliance with Spanish law, it is mandatory to carry the following items in your car at all times:

  • ITV (MOT certificate)
  • Permiso de circulación (vehicle log book)
  • Insurance policy document
  • European accident agreement form (to be filled out if an accident occurs)
  • Driving licence
  • Two warning triangles
  • Fluorescent jacket for each occupant of the vehicle
  • Child seat(s) for children
  • Spare tyre and necessary tools for changing it

Driving costs

  • Fuel – Typically €1,60 per litre or €6,40 per gallon of fuel. Most pay €150+ a month in fuel.
  • Insurance – On average, drivers are paying €50 a month to insure their vehicle.
  • Taxes – Typically €50 to €200, but some can pay up to €300 for a Co2 inefficient vehicle.
  • Maintenance—The costs of maintaining a car depend on the model and age of the vehicle. Many choose to rent to avoid mounting maintenance, insurance, and tax costs. Typically, owners spend an average of €100 over the course of a year.

Cycling and Walking

  • Many cities have bike lanes and bike-sharing programs. If you want to purchase a used bike, platforms like eBay operate in Spain. New bikes start at around €150 and are available in cycling stores like Bikeshop and Calmera.
  • Walking is also a pleasant way to get around. Outdoor gear can be found at stores like Montana, Roca, and Decathlon.

If you have any questions about immigrating to Spain, our experienced and affordable lawyers are on hand to support you

Visa Options and Regulations

Visa Options for Moving to Spain Choosing the right visa is crucial for your move.

  • Non-Lucrative Visa: Ideal for retirees and those with independent means. Requires proof of substantial savings or steady income, typically 400% of IPREM. Health insurance is mandatory. The visa does not permit work and initially grants residency for one year, renewable annually.
  • Work Visa: This visa requires a job offer from a Spanish employer who must prove the position cannot be filled locally. It allows residency for the duration of the employment contract.
  • Entrepreneur Visa: This visa is for those starting a business in Spain. It requires a robust business plan showing economic innovation and potential job creation. The visa grants initial residency for one year, renewable based on business success.
  • Student Visa: For those pursuing education. Allows residency during the study period and may provide a pathway to post-graduation employment.
  • Digital Nomad Visa: For remote workers employed by foreign companies. Two options are a one-year digital nomad visa in your home country and a three-year digital nomad residency permit in Spain.
  • Schengen Visa: Short stays of 90 days or less within any 180-day days. Commonly sought by tourists and those exploring the possibility of relocating.

Other visas are available depending on your requirements. To best determine your eligibility, to begin your application or for support with documents, you can contact us today. Call 0333 305 9375 or contact us online.

Path to Citizenship

Understanding the path to Spanish citizenship is important for long-term plans.

  • Residency Requirements: Generally, you need to reside in Spain for ten years to apply for citizenship. This period is reduced to two years for nationals of Latin American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, and Portugal.
  • Language and Cultural Knowledge: Applicants must pass a Spanish language test (DELE A2 or higher) and the CCSE exam, which tests knowledge of Spanish culture, history, and constitution.

Income and Salary Requirements Income thresholds are important for several visa types.

  • IPREM: Used to calculate income requirements for visas like the Non-Lucrative Visa. There’s no change to the IPREM, but updates are expected.
  • Interprofessional Wage: Relevant for work visas. The minimum interprofessional wage has increased to €1,134, impacting income requirements.

Working with IAS

IAS has worked on thousands of successful Spain visa applications. We offer support and guidance throughout your application process, helping you get the results you need.

For individuals and families, we offer multiple services including advice to determine eligibility, outline processes and answer all your questions, as well as application packages to ensure a stress-free submission.

For businesses looking to incorporate in Spain or businesses looking to employ from outside of Spain, our team are experts at navigating Spanish immigration law. 

Get in touch for more information about how we can support you or your business to navigate Spanish immigration and secure Spanish residence. Call 0333 305 9375 or contact us online today. 

Get expert assistance to navigate the complexities of Spain visas and immigration rules today.

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