Relocating to Spain from the UK – Top Tips on what to pack and what to leave behind

Almeria Port

One question we get asked a lot at Upsticks when helping clients with the visa and residency process for relocation to Spain is what they should (and shouldn’t) pack to take to their new home in the sun.

We’ve seen some great general advice like “bring just your passport, patience and an open mind” or “only bring heirloom items that you can’t bear to part with – leave the rest” which is absolutely true but a bit low on detail.

The cost of transporting your “goods and chattels” can be high, so being clear about your priorities is a must. Here are Upsticks top tips:

Number One – think about your accommodation first

If you have bought your own home, then you’ll probably know exactly what you need to bring in terms of fixtures, fittings and furniture – but what about those familiar items you have around you that mean “home”? Will your favourite armchair have a space? Will your wall art or ornaments make you smile, or will they look wildly out of place? Only you know the answer to that, and having familiar items around you will help you settle in more quickly

If you’re going to rent instead, then remember that many rentals in Spain come furnished so you can be a lot more ruthless with what you choose to leave behind. That L-shaped sofa may not even get through the front door, never mind fit in a lift/elevator to your apartment on the ninth floor – if there is a lift/elevator, of course.

If you’re renting with the intention to purchase a property of your own at some point, is there a storage facility nearby that you can use? Does your transport company offer storage?

Bringing those little knick-knacks that make a house a home is probably even more essential in a rental – choose them carefully.

Number Two – geography

Are you in the north of Spain with clear seasons, snow in the winter, rainy spring and toasty summer? Or are you down south where summers are fiercely hot and winters surprisingly chilly. Research the climate in the area you plan to live and bring furniture to suit. 

The further south you go in Spain, the more time you’ll spend outdoors, so bring your patio set and barbeque – if they don’t suit, you can always sell them on platforms like Wallapop, or local Facebook Buy and Sell Groups.

Note about beds – Unless your bed is an heirloom handcrafted by an ancestor or you have a bespoke orthopaedic mattress that cost a month’s salary, leave these behind. If you’re in a rental and don’t want to sleep on their mattress, buy a topper. Be careful of sizing when buying bed linen; especially pillows and pillow cases, and 100% cotton is a good investment as it works for winter and summer.

Number Three – dress code – what to wear

As a general rule, “bring your best, leave the rest” works well. Natural fabrics like cotton, linen, silk, wool are multi-seasonal – leave the synthetics behind (polyester is just not worth it). Offload those business suits, ties and office wear; pack your smart shirts and chinos and casual jackets instead. Think floaty dresses and bermuda shorts rather than bodycon and high heels. For the Imelda Marcos wannabes out there, three pairs of high heels is all you’ll need, the rest of the time you’ll be in wedges, flats or flip-flops (chanclas in Spanish). Oh yes, most Spanish houses have tiled floors so slippers/house shoes are essential and you’ll find wellies surprisingly useful.

Number Four – white goods, gadgets and technology

Special note about voltage – Spain (and Europe) use 220-240 volt, 50Hz, the voltage in the U.S.for example is 110V, 60 Hz so you’ll need to use a transformer (converter) for US appliances.  Wherever you are coming from, be sure to check that the items you are planning to take with you will work in Spain.


The single most important thing you can bring with you to Spain is an all-in-one printer/copier/ scanner with spare toner cartridges and paper. You’ll need hard copies of all kinds of documents, and being able to scan and print your own will save you loads of hassle.

Android not Apple – sorry Iphone fans but Spain is geared to Android, not IOs and this applies to all kinds of apps for public administration like healthcare, vehicles/traffic etc as well as banking, transport services and especially if you want to get a Digital Certificate.

Entertainment – don’t bother shipping your TV, smart TVs are very good value in Spain and the larger retailers like MediaMarkt, Carrefour and El Corte Ingles have a wide range to choose from. El Corte Ingles offers good guarantees and will deliver too. 

Your Alexa will work in Spain but you may need repeaters if you’re in an older house with thick walls and ceramic floors. 

White goods and kitchens – If you’ve recently bought a fridge, freezer, washing machine etc then by all means ship them to Spain (you can use a plug adaptor, see note about voltage above) but if your white goods have seen better days, leave them behind and buy new when you arrive.

Be careful with the double-width American-style fridge freezers – it’s rare to get big kitchens in Spain so they may end up in another room.

Tumble dryers – this is a 50/50, as some people love their soft towels and the convenience but when it takes less than 2 hours to dry a full load in the summer sun, we can’t see the point of these energy-guzzlers

If you’re moving to a rental then you’ll get what you’re given – if your landlord will let you replace some kit with your own items, you may be asked to pay for storage (trastero in Spanish). This isn’t such a bad thing because few rentals will have the latest energy efficient models installed (old fridges cost a bomb to run by the way) but shop around for storage facilities as some cost more than others. Remember that you’ll need to leave the rental as you found it, so keep track of the inventory.

If you are a keen cook or baker, then bring as much of your kit as you can – saucepans with handles are hard to find (no idea why) as are deep roasting pans, but there are some top quality frying pans available and the Spanish “plancha” or flat grill is fantastic for meat and fish.

Number 5 – the first three months

Even if you’re moving to the holiday home you’ve owned for years and you know the local area well, it will take time to settle in and find your way around so it’s a good idea to have a couple of “bits and pieces” boxes of things you can’t do without.


“Open first” box/suitcase – think about what you would take on a fortnight’s self-catering holiday and put it in here – clothes, washbag, travel plugs and chargers, basic condiments and tea/coffee, travel kettle, treats and biscuits, laptop, whatever you like. 

If your removals are delayed, having this box with you means you can “keep calm and carry on “ while you wait.

If your goods arrive on schedule, fantastic, but that’s a lot of unpacking and at least you won’t have to rummage through all the boxes to find the kit to make a cuppa.

Medication – ask your doctor for a three month supply of regular medication – this should give you enough time to source a replacement/equivalent in Spain. Remember to keep them in the original packaging and get a letter from your doctor too.

You could also stock up on basic medicines like Ibuprofen, Paracetamol, multivitamins, antihistamines etc (again keep them in the original packaging) until you can find a preferred pharmacy, parafarmacia or herbalista (health shop a bit like Holland and Barrett that sells supplements)

Documents – while original documents should be kept with you, have a complete file of hard copies of them too, stored in a safe place. You can also upload these to a Cloud Storage facility like DropBox, Google Drive or OneDrive. As well as identity documents like passports, you should keep copies of birth/marriage certificates, tax documents, property deeds, medical records, dental/optical prescriptions, inventory of goods you are shipping, financial/banking records, insurance, vehicle documents and wills/inheritance information.

Rules and Regulations:

There are rules about what you can and can’t bring with you when moving to Spain; here are some useful articles with more information:

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