The Two Routes for Relocating to Spain from the UK or US

The Two Routes for Relocating to Spain from the UK or US

Have you been thinking about moving to Spain?

No matter in what stage of your life or career you might be, the vision of year-round sunshine, golden sandy beaches and Sangria on the tap might be too tempting to ignore for too long.

If you’re from the UK or US, there are quite a few hurdles in your way before you can make your dream a reality.

In this article, I will show you how to overcome those easily with a bit of help, and the two main routes you can take for making Spain your home.

What’s so Great about Living in Spain?

I had been living in London for four years, and now made Spain my home. I can confirm that what they say is indeed true – the weather does make a big impact on your overall quality of life.

Better weather conditions and better quality of life are often quoted as the two main reasons why people are willing to go through the process and overcome the obstacles until they can start their new life in Spain.

Spain is much more than sunshine and beaches though. It’s such a culturally rich country with so much historic heritage and diversity across the country. If you’re visiting Andalusia and Galicia, you might feel like you’re in two different countries.

The living costs in Spain are also considerably cheaper compared to the UK and US, but that totally depends on where you live (Madrid is one of the most expensive cities in Europe). If you have a lot of flexibility in terms of your location, you will get a lot for your money!

While life in Spain is far from picture perfect and comes with its own unique set of challenges, facing the hurdles in life is somewhat easier with a glass of tinto de verano, with the sun in your face and sand under your feet.

Granada, Spain
Sipping wine and watching the world go by in Granada, Spain

British Expats in Spain

According to the data from the Spanish government, there were over 400 thousand nationals living in Spain, with the largest portion of the expats choosing the community of Valencia and Andalusia as their homes.

It is no surprise that these two autonomous regions score so highly as they offer one of the best climate conditions in the country, along with cheaper costs of living and a relatively affordable property market.

If you have thought that Brexit would cause a mass exodus of Brits from Spain, it’s far from the truth. In fact, between the years 2020 and 2021, the British expat population increased by 7%.

So it seems like retiring to Spain from the UK didn’t become completely impossible, just a little bit more difficult.

So where exactly do most Brits live?

The top five cities for retired or working British expats in Spain are:

  1. Benidorm (no surprised there)
  2. Orihuela, Alicante (Costa Blanca)
  3. Benalmadena (Costa del Sol)
  4. Mijas (Costa del Sol)
  5. Torremolinos (Costa del Sol).

American Expats in Spain

The trends for American expats in Spain are widely different compared to their British counterparts. There are ‘only’ about 40 thousand American citizens permanently living in Spain, according to Spain’s national statistics agency (INE).

Interestingly, American expats favor bigger cities and districts like the community of Madrid, followed by Catalonia and Andalusia.

It seems that while most Brits retire in Spain, in case of American citizens majority will come to the country to work there, with their families, which is influencing the choice of location.

Sunrise at Mirador Saint Nicholas, Granada
Autumn in Spain with no rain in sight. Alhambra views from Mirador St Nicholas in Granada.

Visa Requirements & Help

The visa requirements and mandatory documentation will vary vastly depending on your personal situation.

While I won’t try to cover all in detail, here is a simple outline which will point you in the right direction, along with detailed advice from, the specialist for visa requirements for Spain.

There are two main routes you can take for living and/or working in Spain legally:

  1. Non-Lucrative Visa – allows you to live, but not work in Spain – suitable for those who wish to retire and have sufficient funds to live in the country, without the need to invest in a property.
  2. Golden Visa – allows you to live and work in Spain, but requires proof of property ownership and a few other details.

1. Spanish Non Lucrative Visa

The non lucrative visa (NLV) allows all non-EU citizens to live in Spain, if they can prove they have sufficient funds and means to support themselves and their families while living in Spain.

Who is this for?

It’s best for those who wish to retire in Spain, as under the NLV you’re not allowed to work while living in Spain. At the same time, this type of visa does not require the extensive investment needed to obtain the golden visa (investment in property in Spain).

To read more about the detailed requirements, including how to prove your funds, how much funds you need and how you can get help getting this sorted quickly and easily, check the page on non-lucrative Spanish visa requirements.

2. Spanish Golden Visa

The Spanish golden visa is perfect for those who have an existing property in Spain, or planning to obtain a property in Spain. The main requirement is that the value of the property must be at least 500k euros and no pending mortgage can’t be attached to the property.

This visa is suitable for any non-EU residents who would like to live but also work in the country, and the eligibility extends to their family too.

For the details of the property and other requirements for obtaining this visa, along with information on how you can get help getting it sorted easily, check this page on Spanish golden visa.

Making the Jump

Once you’re ready to make the jump and plan out the vision of your life in Spain, feel free to get in touch with My Spain Visa who will be happy to assist you to jump through the red tape and speed up the whole process for you.

This article has been sponsored by, but all words and opinions are my own.

Photo of author
Lucia has been living on Costa del Sol since 2020, and through her love of photography and travel, she has been documenting the best places to see in Southern Spain and uncovering hidden gems only known to locals. All the articles on Viva La Vita are written based on personal experience and local expertise.

Hi, I'm Lucia

At Viva La Vita, I will help you to discover Southern Spain like a local!

I've been living on Costa del Sol since 2020, and fill these pages with first-hand insights, personal experience and practical tips that will help you plan a wonderful trip to Spain.

Make yourself at home and find the best places to explore in Andalusia and beyond.

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