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Moving to Spain for Your Retirement

Monday, November 14, 2022
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Retirement brings about new opportunities to move and explore new countries that you may have been fascinated with over the years. For those of you who are looking to move to a different country, consider retirement in Spain. It offers many benefits for Americans who choose to spend their golden years in the country including a low cost of living, great climate, and world-class infrastructure.

Apply for a Spanish Residency Permit Before You Leave the US

Yellow and red stairs of the Spanish town in colors of Spanish flag

You may not know this, but if you plan to be in Spain for 90 days or less then you would not need a visa. Also, you can extend your 90-day period by going to the foreigners’ office or police station - do this at least three weeks before your 90 days come to an end. 

However, if you wish to stay long-term, you’ll need a residency card. You would have to start the process for this in the US before you leave for Spain. When you receive an official stamp on your passport from the Spanish consulate you can move to Spain. To qualify for this residency card, you would need to show that you have 25 000 euros in your bank account. The purpose of this type of card is that you will have time to apply for a visa and become a citizen of Spain.

Apply for the Golden Visa

One visa which is beneficial to apply for is the Golden Visa. This is achieved by buying property in Spain. It is also a pathway to getting your permanent residency. You do not need to be in the country to get this visa, but you would have to renew it after a year, and every two years until you can apply for permanent residency. Then you must sell your property in Spain so that you can qualify for your Golden Visa status. You can live in Spain with the Golden Visa, and the price of the property has to be a minimum of 500 000 euros.

Buying a property in Spain as a non-resident will require you to get a bank mortgage. This is a straightforward process where you can request pre-approval from a bank even before you find your property in Spain. It is strongly recommended that you speak to a mortgage broker who can advise you on the whole process as well as help you find the best deal. 

Another recommendation is that you do a lot of research before you go to a bank to get a mortgage. This is so you can find hidden fees from the bank and not get caught off-guard. You should also speak to a professional about the tax situation in Spain so that you also know what you are getting yourself into in that regard.

Some Information About Taxes in Spain

A man with his hair up in a jacket standing in front of a bright red wall, posing for the camera

One of the things that you should be made aware of is that the sales tax in Spain is fairly high. This is called the Impuesto Sobre el Valor Añadido (IVA). It is equivalent to the VAT in the United States. Items in Spain include the tax fee on the prices. However, property tax in Spain is fairly low, so this is a bonus when it comes to applying for the Golden Visa.

When you move to Spain, and you are still working then you would have to file a Spanish income tax return. This comes into effect when you have lived in the country for six months to a year and you earn more than 22 000 euros. This also applies if your income comes from the United States.

Luckily, there is a tax treaty between the United States and Spain. This means that when you file a US tax return, which you would have to do, you will not be taxed twice. You must speak to a financial advisor so that you know everything about taxes in Spain, as mentioned before. This is essential to make your retirement life in Spain easier, and even less stressful.

Average Retirement Cost in Spain

A small Spanish village by the sea, ideal for a peaceful retirement

Retirement, as you know, is about having your money stretch out as far as it can go. And it can go quite far in Spain where the average spending is about $25 000 a year, or even less. This is one of the reasons that Spain is one of the highest retirement destinations for American retirees. Another thing to keep in mind when looking for a place to live in Spain is that the further from the city, the cheaper the cost of living usually is.

Why Do Americans Want to Retire in Spain?

An elder couple holding hands enjoying a walk through the forest together

Besides the low property taxes and cheaper cost of living, many Americans opt to retire in Spain because it has a huge ex-pat and foreign retiree community. These types of communities are usually along the Mediterranean coast as well as in smaller inland towns. Depending on what type of climate you prefer you can opt to settle in the country’s cities such as Valencia, Seville, or Barcelona for a warm climate. If you prefer the cool side of life you can aim for the north coast of the country.

A favorite spot among many American retirees would be the Costa Tropical which is the quietest and most authentically Spanish of the Mediterranean coasts. This city is found between the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Mediterranean seas, obviously. The highlight of the area is the climate and beaches and there are also many activities to do such as scuba diving, and exploring inland Andalucia, Granada’s Alhambra, and the Alpujarras. You can also pay a visit to the Nevada National Park for some fresh air and a walk to take in the landscape.

Tips for Living in Spain

A man and his granddaughter are looking out of the window, and he is sitting in a chair while the granddaughter is next to him with her hand on his arm

When you are living in Spain, it would be a wise idea to learn some Spanish - you’ll need to know enough of the vocabulary to get by. There are not many English-speaking people in the country unless they are of school age. Learning a new language can even be a new hobby. You can get better with time, certainly while living in the area where the language is most prominent. This helps a lot.

You may have heard that Spain has Siesta. This is when everyone in Spain has a huge three-course meal, wine included. Afterward, they take a nap for 20 minutes. The whole event lasts for two to three hours daily, and it can be from 14:00 or 15:00. This is an important piece of information as the entire country (or so it feels) stops during Siesta - the shops shut down and reopen once everyone wakes up. This also impacts dinner time, which is around 22:00, far later than the average American dinner time.

Moving to Spain with Shyft

A shot of architecture in Spain with a stream running down the middle and people walking around during the daytime on either side of the stream

Getting your paperwork in order is a gateway to moving to Spain, as you figured. You may have experience in moving from one place to another, even one country to another. You know what goes into the organization of a moving process. There is a better way to organize your move, and that is by using AARP® Moving Services powered by Shyft.

Shyft will organize your entire move for you. Shyft also gives you comprehensive coverage tailored to your moving needs. While also finding you the best international moving companies to take on your moving project.

You can learn more about AARP® Moving Services powered by Shyft on the website or you can contact them at 1-888-838-5981. 

A representative from Shyft, your dedicated Move Coach, will contact you at the time that you want to be called. This is done through the easy-to-download, and free mobile app called Shyft Next. The app works both on iPhone, and Android. This first meeting with your Move Coach is a video call through the app. Here is where you can see and hear the person who will help you through the Shyft moving process. It is also during this call that your Move Coach will create your inventory list. All you have to do is to take the Move Coach on a “Virtual Tour” of your current home.

Three people walking arm in arm down the sidewalk of Madrid enjoying the sun in the city

When this initial call is completed you will receive your inventory list within half an hour. This list is 95% accurate and you can make it 100% accurate by adding or removing certain items. When you are satisfied with your inventory list you send it to your Move Coach. They will take the list, along with only your moving details to Shyft’s secure move board. This is a platform where vetted, and experienced moving companies can bid on moving gigs such as yours.

When this bidding process has ended, Shyft will collect three or more moving quotes and information from different moving companies. All this is sent to you. You decide which international moving company is the best choice for you.

Shyft is also on call with you seven days a week. If you have any concerns, or questions, or would like to hear how the moving process is going, you can contact Shyft. If you are an AARP member when you will get a discount up to $250 on your move when you use Shyft’s services.

You can use Shyft to do the entire organization of the moving process for you and your family. This can help you start your Spanish retirement on the right foot. You will be saving money, and decreasing your stress level before you even get to Spain. It is a win-win if you move with Shyft.

A man having a video chat with his friends on his mobile while sitting outdoors wearing headphones and having a cup of coffee at a cafe