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For anyone that has been to Spain on vacation, they will usually leave the country commenting on how the way of life is so laid back and so relaxed. This is mainly true, it is a very different life to that of the UK especially in the coastal towns and and inland villages.

It takes time getting used to the mañana mañana syndrome (which for non Spanish speakers means tomorrow tomorrow). What the Spanish can put off until tomorrow, they usually will. This is in no way a criticism, once you adapt you will look back on your former life in the UK and be amazed at how fast paced and stressful it actually was.

Outside of the cities most commercial activities will come to a stop from anything between 2pm and 5pm. This is due to the famous Spanish “siesta”. Although many international companies in Spain work through the siesta, the majority of shops will close for at least a couple of hours. The big stores and some of the chains stay open but most smaller shops will reopen at around 5pm and stay open later.

Setting up your life in Spain

Once you have taken the plunge and decided to relocate to Spain you will be surprised at how simple moving to another country actually is. The infrastructure in Spain has come on a long way over recent years and some of the services are actually better than those of the UK.

You will find that many areas now have international schools and superb medical facilities.

So what do you need to do? Well the best advice is to carefully plan each stage of your move. If you have already purchased a property in Spain then some of your requirements will already be taken care of.

If you are going to rent a property in Spain then you will need to have made some plans before you arrive, unless you have the luxury of staying with friends and family.

You can take out short or long term rentals either privately or via an agent. Long term lets are anything between 6 and 11 months. It is unusual to get a rental agreement of more than 11 months at a time as this gives the tenants too many rights and could be difficult to evict them if they stopped paying or refused to move. Most long-tern rental contract just renew for each 11 month period.

One of the most important things you will need when spending time in Spain, whether part of the year or all year is a NIE number. This is the equivalent of a National Insurance Number in the UK. You will need this to rent a property, buy a property, buy a car, open a bank account (although you could open an account with a passport), get a job and for many other services in Spain.

In order to apply for a NIE number you will need one of the above reasons. Gone are the days you could just apply without any reason for needing one.

To get your NIE number you will need a form from the Local police station. Once completed you must return it to the police station together with copies of your passport. In a few weeks it will be ready for collection.

You can use an English plated car but only for 6 months in any single year. If you are moving to Spain for the long term then you should really buy a Spanish car. See here for information about driving a car in Spain

How about a bank in Spain? You will need a bank account in Spain as it will make life so much easier. There are many banks in Spain that offer non resident accounts to foreigners. If you do become a resident then the choice is much wider and your bank charges will be lower.

Working in Spain is much easier if you are from a member EU country. You will find that many employers will ask you to work for them as “autonomo”. This is virtually the same as being self employed in the UK. Employers are reluctant to employ you under a contract as employees in Spain have very strong rights and it is difficult to terminate someones employment, even if they are signed off for months at a time.

Flying to Spain: There are many Spanish airports up and down the country so you will need to find out which would be the best one for your destination. Sometimes you will find there is a choice of more than one for your final destination such as on the Costa del Sol you can fly to Malaga Airport or Gibraltar Airport. The same applies to some places on the Costa Blanca (south) you can usually choose between Murcia Airport or Alicante Airport.

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