Moving to Spain from the USA
What’s on this page?
1. Visas and residence permits, documents for relocation
2. Buying real estate
4. Jobs in Spain
5. Studies in Spain
8. Driving in Spain
Undoubtedly, you made the right decision about moving to Spain from the USA.
If you are tired of the high pace of American life, then the measured pace in Spain with the ‘compulsory’ siestas, leisure walks and intimate conversations over a glass of wine made you think about changing your place of residence in time.
Here are the main reasons why you should do it:
- Spain is one of the most developed countries in the European Union;
- world cultural center with a long history;
- the geographical position of the country guarantees 320 sunny days a year, a wonderful climate, many kilometers of sea coasts;
- the hospitality of the locals;
- developed infrastructure of cities;
- high level of security;
- modern medical care;
- comfortable life in retirement;
- one of the best cuisines in the world.
Next, we will suggest the algorithm of actions for those who consider moving to Spain from America.
Visas and residence permits, documents for relocation
1. It may be necessary to proceed gradually and spend a vacation or holiday in Spain first in order to see for yourself the benefits of immigrating to this country. If you plan to stay in Spain for no more than 90 days, then you will not need to open a visa until May 2023. Starting in May, due to the introduction of the ETIAS visa-free regime, for a short stay you will need to apply for entry into Spain no later than 72 hours before departure. This permit will be valid for 3 years.
2. If you plan on moving to Spain from America for a long period, then you need to obtain a visa. Under Spanish law, there are several types of visas, each of which deserves a separate description.
|Type of visa||For whom||How to issue||Notes|
|Student||For studies, internship, or conducting research||
1) Receive an invitation for studies / internship or apply 3 months before departure;
2) Prepare and pay for a visa application with a package of documents;
3) In case you are denied, it is possible to re-apply
There are three types of visa:
Schengen - 90 days;
Short-term - 180 days;
Long-term - more than 180 days
|For job search||Having a student visa allows you to stay in Spain to look for work after completing your bachelor's / master's degree||
1) Apply after obtaining a bachelor's / master's degree;
2) Have means for living;
3) Get health insurance
|Visa is valid for 12 months and is non-renewable|
|Work visa||For US citizens who received a job offer from a Spanish company||The company is applying on your behalf. From you a resume with a photo is required. Knowledge of Spanish is preferable||
Guarantees €1,167 minimum wage, public health insurance, 30 days paid vacation.
Validity - 1 year. Can be extended twice
|For highly qualified specialists||For highly qualified specialists||The employer is handling your visa. Processing time - 10 days||
You can take your family. Guaranteed salary.
Validity - 2 years. Can be extended
|Entrepreneurial||For small business owners, freelancers||
2) Be sure to have enough finances and a business plan
|Validity - 1 year. Can be renewed 4 times|
For those who invest in the Spanish economy:
- €500,000 - in real estate;
- €1,000,000 - in company shares or in deposits;
- €2,000,000 - in treasury bonds
|Submit an application and a package of documents||
You can take your family. Includes work visa. Gives the right to obtain a residence permit, and then the right to citizenship
Validity - 1 year. Can be extended for the duration of the investment
|Non-lucrative||For those wishing to retire in Spain and for those who do not plan to work||
Submit an application and a package of documents.
It is important to have enough financial resources
|Validity - 1 year. Can be extended|
The main package of documents, in addition to the application, includes:
- a photo;
- completed visa application form;
- proof that you have financial resources;
- medical insurance;
- visa fees.
In addition, when applying for a certain type of visa, other documents may be required. For example, proof of residence in Spain, medical certificate of your health, birth certificates of children, documents confirming your investment in the Spanish economy, etc.
Buying real estate
If you are an American, moving to Spain will require you to rent or purchase real estate. Real estate in Spain has been in high demand for many years. A huge number of foreigners wish to have their own apartments for holidays, rental or permanent residence. The Spanish real estate market is very diverse, the quality and price of a property depends on many factors:
- city or countryside;
- proximity to the sea coast;
- new building or secondary market;
- the quality of the property itself: area, number of floors, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, interior decoration, having a plot available, as well as furniture and household appliances, etc.
The range of real estate prices is extremely wide, since a villa in a big city or on the coast will be many times more expensive than a house in the countryside. However, compared to the US, real estate prices are much lower. So, for a three-bedroom apartment in the center of New York, you will pay 81% more than in the center of Barcelona and 71% more than in the center of Madrid. You will save even more by purchasing similar apartments in the popular resort of Costa Blanca.
|Location||Type of property||Price, euro/sq. m|
|Madrid||Villa||3,000 - 6,000|
If we compare the cost of living in two cities in the USA and Spain, located in the same climatic zone - Sacramento (California) and Malaga, then when renting similar housing, you will need about €4,400 in Sacramento versus €2,600 in Malaga.
When choosing a property, you should prioritize, i.e. decide what is important for you: where exactly it should be located, whether you are attracted by the high pace of life or slowness, to what extent you can accept the neighborhood with the locals, or communication with compatriots is more suitable for you. As a reminder, if you purchase a property valued at €500,000 or more, you can apply for a Golden Visa.
In case of insufficient finances, you can apply for a mortgage in a Spanish bank, which will allow you to secure up to 60% of the value of the property. The average interest rate is 5-6%, the loan repayment period is up to 30 years.
Moving to Spain from America is best after you have visited different parts of Spain on short-term visits. Then you definitely will not make a mistake when buying a property.
The Spanish healthcare system is ranked 8th in the world in terms of quality. Indigenous Spaniards have access to high-quality medical care due to the well-organized health insurance system. As a US citizen, you are well aware of such a system. When moving to Spain you should have with you the receipt of health insurance, public or private.
Health insurance in Spain is not mandatory, but highly recommended, primarily to save money.
Every legally working immigrant in Spain systematically contributes part of his earnings to the social security system and receives public health insurance, which guarantees:
- free visit to the doctor;
- discounts on prescription drugs in the amount of 40-60% for those who work and 90% for those who retired.
These terms also apply to your spouse and children under 15 years of age.
For the unemployed who wish to receive public health insurance, there is the Convenio Especial system, which provides access to standard care for a small monthly payment. You can also take out private health insurance and pay a monthly premium.
Jobs in Spain
Spanish employers are focused on finding foreign workers who, in the first place, have unique qualifications, knowledge and skills that local job seekers do not possess. In this case, you will be offered excellent working conditions and earnings, you will be assisted in quickly obtaining a visa and moving.
You can look for work in American companies with offices in Spain, or in Spanish companies that are willing to hire Americans.
If you manage to find a job this way before moving to Spain from the US, you will receive an invitation letter from your employer. After that, you need to collect the necessary documents, undergo a medical examination and apply for a visa at the Spanish consulate located in your state. This process may take several months. After obtaining a visa, you can go to Spain with the right to work legally.
In other cases, we can recommend the most popular vacancies for Americans. These are the following:
- work in the restaurant / hotel business;
- real estate maintenance;
- organization of leisure;
- seasonal work in agriculture;
- teaching English.
The most popular places for foreigners to look for a job are:
To search for a job you may be advised to take the following actions:
1. Search for vacancies on specialized sites, studying the advertisements in the press in places where immigrants live.
2. If you have experience teaching English or working in the leisure or tourism sector, look for specialized companies that work with foreign workers.
3. If you are employed, ask your employer to apply to the Spanish Immigration Service for a work and residence permit.
4. You may be required to provide a certificate from the local US police from where you have lived for more than six months in the last five years.
5. You may need a conclusion from a Spanish medical institution about your state of health, the absence of contagious or mental diseases, drug addiction. Here a medical certificate obtained in the United States will be helpful.
6. You need to register with the Spanish social security system after you start working.
Studies in Spain
Spain is famous for its quality education system with a rich history and traditions. Many educational institutions constantly rank highly in the world. The United States is certainly one of the world leaders in educational systems, but for an American, moving to Spain, efforts to get a quality education will be crowned with success.
Benefits of studying in Spain:
1) high quality;
2) enrollment rates in Spanish universities are higher than in the US, i.е. increases the likelihood of admission;
3) the cost of education is on average lower than in the USA;
4) the cost of living for the period of study is lower than in the USA.
|Cost of education|
|Bachelor's programs||€750 - 2,500|
|Master's programs||€1,000 - 3,500|
|Private universities||€5,500 - 20,000|
A foreign student spends from €900 to €1,200 per month on accommodation. A student visa entitles you to work, but not more than 20 hours per week. The average salary in 2022 was €7.82 per hour, while the average salary of part-time international students was €450.
Immigrants in Spain pay taxes. The main tax is income tax, which is calculated at a flat rate of 24% on basic income and 19% on income from financial investments. If you are a non-resident of Spain, then income tax is payable only on income received in Spain.
Income tax for residents is set at a progressive rate.
|Amount of income, €||Tax rate, %|
|Up to 12,450||19|
|12,450 - 20,200||24|
|20,200 - 35,200||30|
|35,200 - 60,000||37|
Are you a resident of Spain? Yes, if:
1) you live in Spain for more than 183 days a year;
2) you work in Spain;
3) your spouse and children live in Spain.
If you are a non-resident but own significant assets in Spain, then you will be subject to wealth tax. There is also an inheritance tax for non-residents. And when you sell assets, the profit will be subject to capital gains tax.
Spain is a country of centenarians, it ranks 15th in the world in terms of life expectancy with an indicator of 82 years. The amount of pensions for Spaniards varies depending on traditional factors and the region where the pensioner lives. In big cities, the pension can be €2,000-2,200, in the provinces it can be €1,700-1,900.
If you have decided on moving to Spain because you wish to retire in this country, then you will need to prove the ability to support yourself without working. As of today, the amount must be at least €2,500 per month. The best visa option for you would be a non-lucrative visa.
Driving in Spain
Driving in Spain is allowed from the age of 18. For 6 months you can use your foreign driver's license. If it is not in Spanish, then you must have an official translation of them or an International Driving Permit (IDP). Later you will need to get a Spanish driver's license.
1. Can a US citizen move to Spain?
Yes, he/she can. To do this, you must contact the Spanish Consulate in your state to obtain a visa.
2. How can I legally move to Spain from the USA?
You can legally move from Spain to the United States by obtaining a visa that matches your plans for living in Spain.
3. What are the pitfalls of moving to Spain?
1) Lack of awareness. There are 18 autonomous communities in Spain, each of which is different from the others in climate, mentality of the locals, culture, food and even language.
2) Moving to Spain from the US, as a rule, involves looking for a job. It is better to find a job before moving. Then your employer will send you an invitation and the opening of a visa will be significantly accelerated. Finding a job once you have arrived can be problematic.
3) If you rent housing in the region of your choice before buying real estate for a certain period, then you can avoid the risks arising due to the wrong choice of future place of living.
4) About 80% of Spaniards do not know English. Therefore, learning Spanish will help you in everyday life, in finding work, and in establishing contacts with local residents.
5) Spain is slow. As a result - slow bureaucracy, long breaks in work, late meals. You can't change that, so you have to accept it.
4. How much money do you need to move to Spain?
The amount of money you need to move to Spain depends on the goals you are pursuing and the type of visa you plan to obtain.