Spain boasts a rich history and culture, as well as delicious cuisine and well-known tourist sites. This country is a vibrant and diverse destination that will leave you with unforgettable memories, whether you’re drawn to the lively streets of Barcelona, the rich history of Madrid, or the tranquil beaches of Alicante.

However, even though Spain is an excellent country to settle down in because of its pleasant weather, low cost of living, reliable public transport system, nice people, and abundance of festivals, there are a few things you need to know before you start packing.

You don’t want to make the same mistakes that many people do while moving to Spain. In this article, we’ll look at the seven biggest mistakes people usually make when they are moving to Spain so that you can avoid them and settle into your new life there smoothly and with minimal fuss.

Here are the seven mistakes that you should avoid making if you are thinking about settling in Spain –

1. Not Even Learning Basic Spanish

Not Even Learning Basic Spanish

More than 90% of Spain’s population speaks and communicates in Spanish, which is the country’s official language. Even though you may be able to just get by in popular tourist destinations and major cities with your ability to speak English, you will find yourself at a significant disadvantage in a lot of situations and other places where you’ll require a certain knowledge of Spanish to get by. Going to the bank or seeing a doctor is something for which you’ll need to know Spanish. 

In addition, this is the language used in all official and legal documents, as well as by the vast majority of businesses and educational institutions. If you plan on moving to Spain in the near future, whether for studies or business, you should begin learning the language soon.

There are over 400 million native Spanish speakers around the world. Spanish is the second most spoken language even in the United States, which shows the importance of getting a head start on learning Spanish as soon as possible. A language school, online classes, textbooks, tutors, or even different mobile apps can help you achieve your goal.

Check out these 4 Quick and Simple Ways to Learn Spanish in 6 Months.

2. Insufficient Financial Planning due to Underestimation of Living Expenses

Insufficient Financial Planning due to Underestimation of Living Expenses

The cost of living in Spain is lower than in most of Europe, though it does vary from region to region. Based on a site called ‘Numbeo’ that compiles data on the cost of living in various countries, the average cost of living in Spain is 31.6 percent lower than in the United States. When compared to the United States, rent in Spain is 54.3% cheaper on average.

While these figures may tempt you to move to Spain without giving it much thought, there are other considerations to make and expenses to prepare for. The cost of housing, transportation, groceries, medicine, and medical care, all can be quite expensive. Also, the cost of living in Spain’s major cities like Barcelona and Madrid is higher than in the rural areas, as well as the average cost in the country.

Let’s compare the cost of living in Barcelona and Alicante as an example.

The usual rate for a one-bedroom flat in Barcelona’s city center area is €1,085.43, with a three-bedroom going for €1,764.73. Meanwhile, in Alicante, a one-bedroom flat in the city center area will set you back €656.67, while a three-bedroom will cost you €1,025 (source).

The cost of living in these two places is drastically different, and your monthly rent will change depending on the place you choose to settle in. Still, compared to other European countries, renting in Spain is more affordable.

When it comes to healthcare, it is free for the public and available to the residents of the country, making the Spanish healthcare system widely regarded as among the best in the world. According to ‘Internations’, the reason behind this is that the nation’s social security contributions made by its citizens and workers help to partially subsidize the public healthcare system.

But there is a problem. If you’re a non-resident of Spain or a tourist, you can’t receive these medical benefits. However, new residents can still apply for a SIP card and have access to Spain’s health care system. The possession of a SIP card, which provides access to the Spanish healthcare system, is dependent on a person’s legal residency in Spain, employment status, and other factors. But to submit your SIP application, you must first acquire a valid NIE number. 

So, do some independent research to find out the differences between the living costs of different regions of Spain. It will allow you to set aside money for unexpected costs and build a comprehensive budget.

3. Neglecting to Obtain Proper Documentation Like Visa, Work Permit, Resident Permit, NIE, or TIE

Neglecting to Obtain Proper Documentation Like Visa, Work Permit, Resident Permit, NIE, or TIE

Let’s start with the NIE, meaning “Número de Identificación de Extranjero,” which translates to “identification number for foreigners.” Every person who is not a citizen of Spain but is working or living in Spain must have a unique NIE number. The NIE begins with a letter, then has seven numbers, and ends with a letter. For example, S-4206969-N.

The NIE is a unique identifier for non-Spaniards in the country. Other than facilitating transactions with the Spanish Tax Office, purchasing real estate, and completing a mountain of paperwork, it can assist you with a variety of legal and financial activities, such as opening a bank account and filing taxes. It is actually required for any and all financial and professional transactions in Spain. 

To submit an NIE application, you’ll need to make an appointment at a Spanish police station. This is all that is required to apply for this crucial document. However, you’ll require some documents while submitting the NIE application, which includes a form called EX15 in Spanish, a passport with your visa stamped, a completed Modelo 790-012 form, and payment of the associated tax at a bank or ATM. Your NIE will then be processed within the following days, at which point you will receive an A4-sized white paper with a number on it.

Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero, or TIE for short, is a card issued to non-European Union (EU) citizens living in Spain that acts as proof of residency and contains all of the applicant’s identifying information. Applying for this document is as straightforward as applying for an NIE; all you need is a valid work or residency permit, as well as your NIE number.

4. Not Taking Bureaucracy Into Account

Not Taking Bureaucracy Into Account

Although relocating to a new country can be very exciting, it also comes with obstacles, like waiting for your legal documents to be processed.

The most common mistake people make when moving to Spain is to underestimate the complexity of the bureaucracy. A lot of people agree that the Spanish bureaucracy is among the slowest and worst in the world, and many even compare it to “living in a nightmare.” This kind of reaction comes due to the fact that the processing of important documents takes not only months but also years at times.

This is even more difficult for those who are not citizens of the EU. 

In addition, the Spanish government is not very accommodating when it comes to processing things, either online or in person. This means that it will take longer than you’d like to acquire the required paperwork.

When you are going to apply for a document, like a residency or work permit, make sure you have other necessary documents ready to go before you submit your application so that you don’t need to submit other additional documents later, prolonging the process even more. You’ll need lots of tolerance and compassion in that situation.

It’s the only way to get the paperwork you’ll need to legally stay in the country, so you really don’t have an option.

5. Not Making Housing Arrangements Before Arrival

Not Making Housing Arrangements Before Arrival

Another common mistake that newcomers make is failing to find a permanent residence in Spain before their arrival. This is because the vast majority of people prefer to witness a property in person before making any final decisions or financial commitments.

Since you will be permanently moving to Spain and not going on a short trip, it’s better if you rent an Airbnb for the first month.

In this way, you will be able to get the monthly discount provided on Airbnb and have more time on your hands while looking for a more permanent housing solution in Spain.

6. Avoiding Spanish Culture and Ignoring Culture Shock

Avoiding Spanish Culture and Ignoring Culture Shock

Culture shock is a normal experience for expatriates wherever they settle, and moving to Spain will be no different. However, it’s for the best if you embrace Spanish culture, as otherwise, you will be at risk of isolation, misunderstanding, and not making any human connections. 

If you are feeling lost or uneasy in a new culture, you may be experiencing culture shock. One of the instances of what may come as a shock to people who are new to Spain is the meal schedule of the Spanish people, as compared to other countries, they eat at very different times of day.

While most people in Spain eat breakfast shortly after they wake up, especially between 8 and 10 o’clock in the morning, like the people of other countries, things start to get different when it comes to lunchtime. They typically don’t have lunch until after 3 o’clock in the afternoon. If you’re used to eating a light breakfast, waiting until 3 o’clock in the afternoon to have lunch will be a big change because you’ll be ravenously hungry by then.

Moreover, they eat dinner at the same late hour as lunch. Dinner time for Spaniards is typically about 10 p.m. Eat a large snack between lunch and dinner if you think you’ll get hungry again around that time.

In order to quickly adapt to the local customs, traditions, and way of life, it is crucial to be aware of such cultural shocks. This will allow you to try new things, interact with the locals, and gain a deeper understanding of what makes Spanish culture so special.

Since you’ll be in Spain for a long period of time, taking the time to get to know the local culture will help you feel more at home there, form a deeper connection with the place and people, and ensure that you don’t miss out on any opportunities that might make you regret it later. 

It’s important to make an effort to familiarize yourself with Spanish culture and adopt some of its customs in order to show proper respect for the country’s rich heritage. This will also help you meet people and adjust to your new home in Spain.

7. Not Researching About the Country Properly Beforehand

Not Researching About the Country Properly Beforehand

Finally, not conducting proper research before moving to Spain is one of the biggest mistakes one might make, especially when it comes to the culture, language, customs, and legal requirements of the country. Furthermore, it is important to know about healthcare, education, work, housing, and the cost of life prior to arrival. 

Even if it’s exciting to move to a new nation, you should still prepare yourself for the possibility of facing troubles there if you don’t do your homework first. That’s why it’s important to do your research before moving to Spain or anywhere else, as it will provide you with the fundamental knowledge you need to make a smooth transition and settle in quickly. If you’re not sure where to begin, research the legal requirements, such as visas, work permits, and residency permits. Knowing these is the first step of moving to Spain, as these are essential things when it comes to settling in the country. 

There is a high possibility that you will be rejected if you do not submit these legal documents. You can foresee possible problems, plan for them, and make better judgments about where to live, how to earn a living, how to spend your money, etc., if you do your homework. Finding a good place to live, getting hired, and keeping your finances in order are just a few of the many areas where research can be very useful.

You can avoid unpleasant shocks, adapt to Spanish culture more quickly, and make the most of the chances presented to you in your new home by devoting some time to research.

To fully embrace the Spanish lifestyle, getting to know the local cuisine is key. Begin your culinary adventure with our Top 10 Vegetarian Foods in Spain and savor the tastes that await you in your new home.

Final Words

It is not easy to leave the place you have known all your life and leave everyone you have ever known to move to a new country and start a new life there.

But many of us still do it with new hopes and dreams and in search of a new beginning and a better life. However, as exciting as the prospect of moving to a new country sounds, it comes riddled with a lot of issues to tackle.

If you aren’t careful enough, then you can get entangled in a lot of problems, which will affect your joy and enthusiasm. That’s why it’s important that you don’t make the aforementioned mistakes while moving to Spain so that your new life in the country becomes comfortable and convenient.

Taking care of these issues will also help you settle in right away and happily continue your life in the beautiful country. 

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