As well as visas, residency applications and vehicle registrations, over the years the Upsticks team have picked up hundreds of top tips for moving countries and the steps you can take to make the process as straightforward and stress free as possible.
In no particular order, here we share our Top 10 tips to make your life easier.
IT & Technology – Your smartphone is your friend
No matter how much of a technophobe you are, upgrading your trusty mobile to a reasonably well-equipped smartphone is essential. It doesn’t have to be the latest state-of-the-art iPhone (actually it’s better if it isn’t) but if you can get a dual SIM phone, do so. Learn how to use it (it’s not just for calls and photos).
Mobile hot spots – You’ll need internet access from the get-go – learn how to use your mobile phone as a “hot-spot” for internet access anywhere. Be sure to check home country tariffs for data roaming and buy a discounted data pack if you need to.
Better still, ask Upsticks about our Lobster SIM only mobile packages for free calls between UK & Spain, plus great value data.
Cloud storage – save copies of all your documents in the cloud, so you can access them easily, with or without a printer. Speaking of which, a scanner/printer is indispensable for bureaucracy in Spain, so please don’t pack yours in your container for delivery next year. Either offload it before you leave or buy one in Spain, ideally within a week of arriving.
Take photos of everything – see cloud storage above, take photos of documents, furniture, fuel receipts, toll road payments, flight tickets, you name it – you can’t have too many photos.
Furniture & Clothes
Bring only heirlooms that you can’t bear to part with – this is especially true if relocating from the United States, where houses are much bigger than in Spain and the different voltage just causes problems with electricals. If you bring non-EU sized beds for example, you’ll struggle to replace mattresses, bedding etc and that massive (and very comfortable) L-shaped sofa just won’t fit anywhere. There’s no point paying thousands for shipping goods that you’ll either have to sell or donate when you arrive in Spain.
Don’t offload your winter wardrobe just yet – even southern Spain can get chilly in the winter, especially in the mountains, so think carefully before you say “adios” to your cold weather gear. Snow boots might be a bit over the top though, unless you’re heading for the glories of the Sierra Nevada or Picos de Europa. A hot water bottle (or three!) and furry slippers will stand you in good stead (fills the corner next to the flip flops!) and a pair of wellies is our recommendation.
Health & Wellbeing
Top-up with private health insurance – even if you don’t need private health insurance for a visa or residency application, and especially if you plan to rely on an S1 for eligibility to Spanish state healthcare, we’d always recommend that you purchase top-up private health insurance. Many Spaniards have both public health care AND private insurance, and they choose the best option for them at the time. This private cover is especially useful if your Spanish language skills need time to develop, as very few public healthcare services have English speakers (for example) although volunteer interpreters are now allowed back into hospitals in Andalucia. This also means that you have some kind of health cover while you wait for the S1 to be registered with Spanish Social Security – which can take a while.
Bring a 3-month supply of prescription medication – bring more if you can manage it and research what’s available over the counter in Spain without prescription in case you need it.
Support network – having a support network where you can vent, rant, ask daft questions or celebrate wins is absolutely key. There are some excellent, well-moderated Facebook Groups out there (we’ve listed a few below) but there are also some not so nice ones, so choose carefully.
The Town Hall where you are planning to live in Spain, especially in the coastal/tourist areas, have some amazing “Foreigner’s Groups” offering advice, signposts to sources of help, Spanish lessons and social events to start making new friends.
Sense of humour
Spain is different – it’s not your home country with better weather, and you’ll need a sense of humour to get you through inevitable delays, setbacks and brushoffs. Treat your move as a great adventure (which it is!) and keep in mind the reasons why you love Spain enough to want to live here and remember that in a couple of years you’ll look back and laugh – honestly!
This information was current on the date published.
Article last reviewed/updated 06.01.2023