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Moving to Spain?

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Jacques Paillard

Living in Spain, from France

"At the InterNations Events, I didn't only enjoy dancing the night away at some great venues, but I also got to know some great friends. "

Katharina Berbner

Living in Spain, from Germany

"Thanks to InterNations, I found a good language school for expats to take intensive classes in Spanish and socialize a bit more. "

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Spain at a Glance

Moving to Spain

With over 8,000 kilometers of beaches, Spain is one of Europe’s favorite vacation spots: no wonder that moving to Spain puts every expat in a good mood. InterNations provides you with basic information on Spain, including advice on visa requirements and public transportation.

Spain’s total population amounts to approximately 47.8 million. However, over 14% of its residents made the move to Spain from abroad. If you are also considering moving to Spain, you can find some information below that will help you find out whether it is the right choice for you!

Which Climate and Region Suit You Best?

Moving to Spain does not necessarily mean lying on the beach all day long. With a total area of over 500,000 km², Spain boasts a landscape of reddish earth dotted with olive groves, and sparsely vegetated plains. Contrary to popular clichés, you can find very arid mountainous regions in Spain as well.

Due to the country’s size, Spain’s climate differs greatly from region to region. In the Basque country, you can expect a maritime climate with cooler summers and mild winters. The central plateau offers the two extremes of scorching summers and icy winters, whereas southern Andalusia has a Mediterranean climate. Meanwhile, four rather rainy seasons are typical of Spain’s Atlantic coast.


In Spain, there isn’t a particular place where expats tend to congregate, but Madrid, the largest city and national capital, is a popular choice. The Eurozone crisis hit Madrid hard — not only in the financial sector, but also in tourism: 2013 saw a 7% drop in tourism, most of which was due to a declining number of business visitors. However, 2015 saw Spain ahead of other EU countries regarding its economic recovery, mostly due to the bounce back in the service sector. These figures are promising for Madrid as Spain’s financial hub.

If you consider moving to Spain but do not yet know where to go, the fact that a significant percentage of Madrid’s population is international may pique your interest. The cost of living in Madrid is also lower than in other European capitals such as Brussels, Amsterdam, or Berlin. Some of Spain’s best international schools for British, American, French, and German expats, for example, abound throughout the city.

Barcelona and Andalusia

Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, is another city that attracts expats from all over the world. As a port city on the Mediterranean coast, it is simultaneously considered a global city. In fact, after long hardships during the economic crisis, the first six months of 2014 saw a 7% increase of goods transported through Barcelona’s port. Barcelona, which hosts 91% of all foreign direct investment in Catalonia, was able to increase its inflows by 50% during the tough economic environment between 2007 and 2013.

Barcelona may cater more to younger expats moving to Spain, due to its popularity among European exchange students, its international flair, and largely touristic ambience — tourism makes up roughly 14% of Barcelona’s economy (2015). It’s also a bilingual and bicultural city, which may make moving to Barcelona easier for some expats.

If the weather is an important criterion for choosing your destination in Spain, the capital of Andalusia in the south might be of interest to you. Seville is a culturally rich city with a high number of annual visitors. Many European retirees, e.g. from Germany, Sweden, and the UK, choose to live along the Costa del Sol, enjoying the warm climate and the endless sandy beaches.

Flamenco, Tapas, Cerveza, and More

Almost every Spanish city offers a variety of leisure activities, such as yachting in Barcelona, enjoying an opera in Madrid, or learning flamenco dancing in Seville. Moreover, moving to Spain is definitely a good choice for art aficionados: artists such as Salvador Dalí, Gaudi, and Pablo Picasso were Spanish nationals and used their country as a source of inspiration.

After your move, a good way to immerse yourself in Spanish culture is visiting one of the countless festivals held in different cities over the year: Valencia’s famous Fallas festival in March is full of folkloric processions and fireworks while the running of the bulls (encierros) in towns throughout Spain, especially Pamplona, attract lots of daredevils every summer.


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InterNations Expat Magazine