A Realtor’s Insights For US Expats Moving to Spain
Enjoy this guest article by Lisa McIntyre, an American real estate agent specializing in buying property abroad. As a fellow traveler, we’re excited for her to share her helpful insights into why moving to Spain as a US expat could be your next adventure in life!
If you’re considering leaving the US for a life abroad, moving to Spain with its old world charm may be the perfect fit for you. An expat life in Spain gives expatriates the highly coveted European Union residency with a cost of living that’s far more down to earth than other popular EU destinations.
For many Americans, moving to a country like Spain where centuries-old architecture fills the villages, cities, and countryside and world-renown art fills museums, the multifaceted cultures and diverse landscapes can feel unattainable. For others, Spain is a logical next step in life’s great adventure. It’s a culture that gloriously prioritizes working to live, not living to work – with mid-day siestas and an afternoon Sangria, it’s hard to find reasons not to move to Spain.
If you’re thinking about a hop across the pond, you’re going to want to read the rest of my article on “A Realtor’s Insights For US Expats Moving to Spain”.
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Popular Destinations for Working Expatriates and Retirees Moving to Spain
Above Image – A charming street in Valencia’s historic neighborhood, El Carmen.
Barcelona draws the most people, and is Spain’s most popular travel destination. The city is known for its unusual, neo-gothic architecture, medieval gothic quarter, and lively beach scene. Barcelona is the capital of Caitlan that borders the Mediterranean Sea, and is a proud city with a rich and storied history.
Sevilla, the capital of the Andalucía region in western Spain, is the product of centuries of conflict that resulted in a fascinating, multicultural society. Sevilla is known for its otherworldly Moorish architecture and considered the birthplace of Flamenco dancing.
Located in the center of Spain is its bustling metropolis of Madrid. It has all the cosmopolitan appeal of New York or London, with the artistic flare and passion of Paris. Home to the country’s best museums and highest rated restaurants, Madrid is a place to see and be seen.
San Sebastian sits in the Basque Country on the northern coastline at the border of France and Spain. Known for its beautiful beaches, decadent pintxos (tapas), and gothic architecture. The city boasts a world-renowned culinary scene, with a variety of Michelin-starred restaurants serving up mouth-watering Basque dishes.
Located right on the Mediterranean Sea and well connected to the rest of Spain by plane and train, Valencia has become one of the top cities for expats moving to Spain. Yet it tends to be overlooked by most American expatriates, still giving it a hidden-gem vibe. It provides a wonderful quality of life that is even more affordable than most of cities in Spain. Add to that its year-round, sunny climate, beautiful historic center, and friendly, Valencian culture, and it’s easy to see why it’s becoming more discovered as a great option for US expats moving to Spain.
Spanish Visa Programs for US Expats Moving to Spain
Above Image – The charming outdoor kitchen of a gorgeous finca for sale in Javea, Spain near Valencia.
Spain offers several visa options, such as the Non-Lucrative Visa, the Digital Nomad Visa, and the Golden Visa.
Spain’s Golden Visa
Those seeking to buy and own land in Spain may qualify for Spain’s Golden Visa Program. The program grants residency to non-EU nationals who make a significant investment in the Spanish economy by buying a property of at least €500,000.
But, it’s important to be aware that the EU is phasing out Golden Visa schemes. Already, Ireland and Portugal have ended their Golden Visa programs, and Spain is likely next. While a decision has not been confirmed, it is a major polictical topic at this time and is being strongly proposed by the leading parties in government. So if you’re thinking of applying for Spain’s Golden Visa, do it sooner rather than later.
Spain’s Non-Lucrative Visa
The Non-Lucrative Visa is the most common among US expats retiring in Spain because it applies towards those who no longer need to work. To qualify, non-EU citizens must show that they have a certain amount of money set aside in their bank, which is 400% of the IPREM annually. For 2023, the IPREM is €600 for one month.
So it is approximately €28,800 for the year that an American would need to show that they have set aside as the primary applicant. If you have additional family members moving with you, a 100% of the IPREM must be set aside for them as well, which in 2023 is €7200 per family member.
Spain’s Digital Nomad Visa
It is exciting that at the beginning of 2023, Spain finally launched their Digital Nomad Visa. It allows for non-EU citizens to have Spanish residency and work remotely, as long as no more than 20% of the income is from Spanish companies. There are also tax benefits involved and a spouse and children are included within one application.
Spain’s Digital Nomad Visa can also be applied for once you’re in Spain with a tourist visa. The authorities will extend the tourist visa when you show you have submitted the Digital Nomad application. Even immigration lawyers here in Spain are encouraging applicants to apply from within Spain because you will automatically get a 3-year residency card rather than a 1-year residency card that you then renew for two years.
Buying & Owning Land in Spain as US Expats
Above Image – An enchanting doorway in the old town of Javea.
Even though Spain’s Golden Visa may be ending soon, the Spanish government is still eager to attract foreign investors and buyers. The process of purchasing a home in Spain is relatively straightforward and begins with obtaining a Número de Identificación de Extranjero (NIE). This is a Foreigners Identification Number that serves as your identification for all fiscal activities in Spain as an expat. You can apply for the NIE yourself or enlist the services of someone with a Spanish Power of Attorney.
With this important document in hand, you’ll be one step closer to making your Spanish dream home a reality. Opportunities range from quaint village homes to expansive luxury single family homes on a few acres of land that lie just outside of town. Finding the perfect home in Spain takes serious local knowledge. Use a real estate agent with knowledge of the Spanish housing market, the international second home and resort property market, and who loves to work with expatriates.
Takeaways for US Expats Moving to Spain
Above Image – The impressive El Retiro Park in the heart of Madrid.
It is possible to move to Spain to enrich your lifestyle. Fall in love with the old-world charm and stunning natural beauty of the Iberian Peninsula. No matter where you settle in Spain, you’ll be captivated by the rich culture, delicious cuisine, and warm hospitality of the Spanish people.
From the vibrant cities of Madrid and Barcelona to the smaller coastal towns of Valencia and Malaga to the pueblos blancos (white villages) — Spain has something for everyone. You can spend your days exploring ancient castles and historic landmarks, lounging on sun-kissed beaches, or hiking in the breathtaking mountains. With a relaxed lifestyle, affordable cost of living, and excellent healthcare system, Spain is the perfect place to call home.
Ready to Find Your Home in Spain?
Let us plan a Spain Scouting Trip for you, incorporating insider knowledge and helpful experts like Lisa McIntyre, all while enjoying the local culture to find that special place to live in Spain.
Written by Lisa McIntyre
Real Estate Agent - Lisa McIntyre Real Estate
With over thirty years of real estate sales, marketing, and property management experience Lisa is a local leader and international advocate for Corcoran Perry & Co. Though she has called Denver home, her understanding of the housing market is in no way limited to the Mile High City. She’s traveled the world and is committed to helping adventure seekers globally with their real estate investments. Learn more and connect with her at LisaMcIntyreRealEstate.com.