Living in Spain for Americans in 2024

What’s on this page?

1. Why is Spain attractive to US citizens?
2. Navigating the Legal Landscape
3. Cost of living in Spain vs. USA
4. More things you should pay attention to when moving to Spain
5. Integration into Spanish Society: embracing Spanish lifestyle
6. Planning for the Move
7. Conclusion

Old Europe has long attracted residents of the New World with its atmosphere and unique charm. Spain is one of the key destinations for residents of the American continent who want to move to Europe. Why is living in Spain so attractive for Americans?

Why is Spain attractive to US citizens?

Even if you have never been to Spain before, it is impossible not to hear rave reviews about its amazing nature, mild warm climate, history and culture, the friendliness of the locals, delicious food and wines. The Prado Museum, Gaudí's architecture, fiery flamenco, wines from Pazo De Villarei, seascapes and world-famous golf clubs - all this is a convincing argument in favor of the decision to move. And if you add the comfort of resorts on the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea, the luxury of the Balearic and Canary Islands, then there will be no doubts left that you have made the right decision when you decided to move.

Architecture by Gaudi

Whether you choose to live in a large city, prefer a quiet, cozy town in a rural province, or your priority is proximity to the sea, excellent conditions are offered to you in every corner that meet your ideas about a happy life. Americans, accustomed to the high pace of life and the benefits of modern megacities, do not have to change their habits, if they choose, for example, Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Malaga, Seville - proximity to a rich cultural heritage, luxury shopping centers, boutiques and restaurants will not disappoint with their choice.

Lovers of the sun and sea breeze should pay attention to the Spanish coasts of the Costa Blanca, Costa Calida, Costa del Sol, where there are 320 sunny days a year and kilometers of comfortable beaches. Water sports, golf, cycling and walking, and noisy evening entertainment will create an atmosphere of never-ending holiday. In the rural outback you can enjoy peace and solitude, local flavor, good prices for housing and organic products, and in the evening become a participant in a fun celebration.

Spanish beach

Americans living in Spain testify that they once chose this country over many other European countries, primarily because of the healthy climate and relatively low prices for essentials and services. So, a certain Shannon talks about how at one time he lived in many countries: from Thailand to Mexico. Having arrived in Spain, he also spent a long time deciding on his future place of residence, choosing between Alicante and a small town in Andalusia. As a result, he has been living in Girona for several years, has already received a residence permit and is quite happy with everything.

Navigating the Legal Landscape

Dreaming of living in Spain, any person wants to move to a new place of residence as quickly as possible, and here many Americans living in Spain note a high level of bureaucracy when obtaining a visa. Therefore, you need to be patient and also carefully familiarize yourself with the stages of the immigration process. To do this, you can use the services of an experienced lawyer, and you should contact him at the stage of making the decision to move.

Documents for applying for a visa to Spain

If an American plans to stay in Spain for more than 90 days, he must obtain a Spanish visa, since the United States is not part of the Schengen zone. Spanish legislation in 2024 suggests using one of several types of visas, which can be short-term or long-term.

Type Validity period, characteristics Note
Short-term (tourist) from 90 to 180 days;

for the purpose of recreation and tourism
Can be extended for another 90 days
Long-term visas
Work visa A Spanish employer extends a job offer to a US citizen and submits a visa application on behalf of the immigrant American immigrant must submit a resume and photo
Student visa For the period of studies

for those admitted to an educational institution, undergoing an internship
To obtain a visa, you need to receive an invitation from an educational institution, prepare a package of documents, and pay the necessary fee
To find a job After completion of training, US citizens can use it to find work You need to have funds for living in Spain as well as medical insurance
Entrepreneurial visa For entrepreneurs to run small businesses in Spain ou need to submit a business plan, have the funds for living in Spain, and have health insurance
Non-lucrative visa Popular among retirees and US immigrants who do not plan to work You need to prepare a package of documents and have enough funds
Gold (investor) visa For US citizens investing in the Spanish economy in the amount of:

- € 500,000 – in property
- € 1,000,000 – in deposits or shares;
- € 2,000,000 – in treasury bonds
Submit an application and package of documents
For family reunion For US citizens with close relatives in Spain:

- spouse;
- children under 18 years of age;
- parents over 65 years old
Submit an application and package of documents
For permanent residence For US citizens who have lived at least five years in Spain Submit an application and a package of documents

Regarding the choice of place of residence, it should be noted that this is one of the most important issues. The large area of the country, the diversity of natural landscapes, differences in lifestyle, and differences in prices for goods and services in different Spanish provinces make this choice fundamental. Therefore, when making a decision to move, you need to carefully study the information found on various Internet resources and consult with people who came from the United States and have experience living in Spain.

Spanish Villa

A visit to Spain to get acquainted with the local real estate market can greatly help in your choice. The best way to avoid making a mistake in your choice is to turn to a reliable source of information - a professional real estate agency with a wide database and market knowledge. Such an agency is, for example, the company WTG Spain, whose managers will accompany you at all stages of purchasing a home: from choosing a property to moving into a new apartment or house.

And finally, you have the visa in your hands, the accommodation has been chosen and reserved, but a lot of questions remain:

  • if you have children - what is the education system like in Spain?
  • if elderly parents are traveling with you - will it be possible to get health insurance for them?
  • if you drive a personal vehicle - can you use a US driver's license?

It is worth briefly dwelling on these aspects of living in Spain.

The American education system occupies a leading place in the world, and it just makes sense when an immigrant from the United States places high demands on the level of education his children receive in Spain. Secondary education for children under 16 years of age in Spain is compulsory and free. However, many US immigrants prefer semi-private or private schools for their children, with tuition fees ranging from € 800 to € 8000 per year.

Spanish institutions of higher learning

It should be noted that the ratings of many Spanish universities are in high global positions. Tuition fees up to bachelor's level are € 750–2500 per year, master's level are € 1000–3500 per year. The cost of living in Spain vs. USA for an American studying at a Spanish university is quite affordable and amounts to € 900-1200 per month, which is significantly less than in America.

Health insurance is not compulsory in Spain, just like in the United States. But its advantages are obvious, and the level of medical care here is one of the best not only in Europe, but also in the world. The Spanish health insurance system includes public and private components. State insurance can be obtained by residents and working non-residents.

Medicine in Spain

Insurance packages differ in the amount of insurance premiums and the corresponding range of services: from free visits to the attending physician and the purchase of prescription medications to free hospitalization and surgical intervention. The amount of insurance premiums depends on the age and health condition of the client and varies in the range of € 30 – 200.

If you are a car enthusiast, you can use your US driver's license for six months after moving to Spain. Then you will need to get a Spanish driving license. You can drive a car in Spain from the age of 18.

Cost of living in Spain vs. USA

Before moving to Spain, thrifty Americans will be sure to compare basic living expenses in the country, which include:

  • for food;
  • for accommodation and utilities;
  • for healthcare;
  • for education;
  • for the purchase of various goods;
  • for entertainment and travel.

In general, it should be said that the cost of living in Spain is significantly lower than in the United States for major expenses. According to Numbeo, living in Spain will cost 31.68% less in 2024 than in the US for the same period. For example:

Expenses US, $USD Spain, $USD
Rent of one-bedroom apartment 850 650
Utilities 160 110
Transport (monthly pass) 40 30
Meals (homemade + restaurants) 325 180

Property prices in major cities also vary significantly in favor of Spain:

City of Spain Price/1 sq. m USA city Price/1 sq. m
Madrid € 4929 New York € 8900
Bilbao € 4678 Washington € 5218
Barcelona € 4519 Los Angeles € 4800
Valencia € 2784 Seattle € 3360

When evaluating food baskets, we note a certain price advantage in Spain:

Name USA prices Spain prices
Bread (500 g loaf) € 2.7 € 1.1
Milk (1 l) € 0.8 € 0.79
Potatoes (1 kg) € 0.7 € 1.11
Eggs (12 pcs.) € 3.7 € 1.82
Cheese (1 kg) € 10.00 € 9.64
McDonald's (1 person) € 9.00 € 8.00
Dinner at an inexpensive restaurant (1 person) € 15.00 € 12.00
Dinner at a mid-price restaurant (2 people) € 50.00 € 40.00

The most popular destination in Spain for American immigrants is Madrid. According to local sources, at the beginning of 2024, about 16,000 immigrants from the United States lived in the Spanish capital;

For a permanent place Catalonia is in first place, Andalusia is in third place.

More things you should pay attention to when moving to Spain

When making perhaps the most important decision in life, about moving to another country, every person is simply obliged to collect as much information as possible about the positive and negative aspects of life in this country. In our case, you need to learn in detail about the pros and cons of living in Spain. Such an analysis may include a large number of factors, the understanding of which largely determines the success of the move. This is especially important if you are moving not alone, but with children, elderly relatives, or if you have certain requirements for living, working and leisure conditions.

Having some experience of living in Spain as an American, the previously mentioned Shannon draws the attention of newcomers to the main pros and cons of living in Spain. So, he lists the positive aspects as:

  • relatively low cost of living;
  • quality food products;
  • free kindergarten and school for children;
  • one of the best and most affordable healthcare systems in Europe;
  • the presence of large communities of emigrants;
  • high level of security;
  • several options for obtaining a visa;
  • favorable climate;
  • rich history and culture, etc.

The disadvantages of living in Spain as an American are as follows:

  • low salaries;
  • difficulties in finding a job;
  • different from the American lifestyle, including the rules of the working day, which includes a siesta;
  • knowledge of Spanish is required;
  • bureaucratic problems;

Integration into Spanish Society: embracing Spanish lifestyle

For a modern person, the process of integration into a new community is important. After all, even if you have good housing, a job and a decent income, you can feel discomfort from the new environment, which over time can develop into rejection. To avoid this, you should try and do your best to learn more about the culture. First of all, it is Spanish. Knowing it at a sufficient level will immediately eliminate many unpleasant circumstances. Trust that friendly Spaniards will appreciate your efforts to communicate in their language.

Spanish society

If you are looking for social circles only among immigrant communities, then this is the wrong solution to the issue of assimilation into a new environment. Be sure to try to establish contacts with the local population, and there are many options for this:

  • colleagues;
  • neighbours;
  • classes in sports sections;
  • meeting people while walking or cycling, including those having pets, etc.

Without losing your national identity, but maintaining it in the society of your fellow countrymen and thanks to the means of communication, you need, if possible, to become part of your new environment. By expanding your circle of contacts, you will certainly be enriched with new knowledge and experience. Many things will become interesting and exciting to you, and then some specific manifestations of an unfamiliar way of living in Spain can be accepted calmly and with understanding.

Planning for the Move

In order for moving to a new place of residence to become a pleasant event, you need to thoroughly prepare for it and do the following:

  • plan your departure date, study immigration procedures;
  • ensure that all necessary documents are available;
  • explore the possibilities of renting or purchasing housing, evaluate different regions of the country for further residence, try to select real estate options that meet your requirements;
  • plan a budget, including contingencies. Have enough funds for the time of arrangement;
  • start learning the language early;
  • order transport for transporting your belongings;
  • find an immigrant community, network to get support and advice from people who have previously emigrated to Spain.

The city of Seville in Spain

Moving from one country to another is a big step, but with the right preparation and planning, it can be an exciting adventure and an unforgettable experience.


When moving to Spain, do not lose optimism and keep thinking about your dream coming true. You will live in a beautiful country and enjoy the sun, sea, warmth, beautiful nature and delicious food. The undeniable advantages will be affordable prices, a relaxed lifestyle and access to the greatest masterpieces of history, culture and architecture. With the move, you will begin a new chapter of your life, so do not let doubts cloud your decision, meet the changes with confidence in your own abilities.


What are the visa requirements for Americans moving to Spain in 2024?

Americans can stay in Spain for up to 90 days without a visa. For longer stays, various visas are available, including a Golden Visa when investing a certain amount of capital in the Spanish economy.

How does the cost of living in Spain compare to the USA?

Generally, the cost of living in Spain is lower than in the USA, especially in terms of healthcare, education, and housing. However, this can vary significantly depending on the region.

What are the biggest challenges for Americans living in Spain?

Challenges include navigating the Spanish bureaucracy, learning the language for better integration, and adapting to the Spanish pace of life and business hours.

Can Americans find work easily in Spain?

Finding work can be challenging, especially for those who do not speak Spanish. However, there are opportunities, particularly in teaching English, the tech industry, and service sectors. Networking and having in-demand skills can improve job prospects.


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