1. Research! An obvious one – but crucial. Visit our website at www.ukinspain.fco.gov.uk for starters. Speak to other expats, do your reading, get a balanced view. You can never do too much research.
2. Legal advice- I mention this as, like many countries, there have been issues over property development in Spain. My advice remains the same, and I cannot emphasise this enough – when purchasing property, get independent legal advice. Do not rely just on the agent or developer, however insistent they are that you do not need an independent lawyer. A list of English speaking lawyers can again be found on our website at www.ukinspain.fco.gov.uk
3. Pros …and cons- As much as I love Spain, some things may actually put you off!! If you want to check out popular coastal areas you may not want to go in peak times such as August when most of the world and his dog will also be there! This may impact your experience with potential delays on the road and restaurants etc. Not to mention the increase in stress.
4. Make a Will- Spanish inheritance rules are vastly different than UK rules. Inheritance tax is payable on practically all your wealth and is payable on whoever inherits including spouses.
5. Chill out- You will need to get to grips with this as life may not be quite as fast as the UK. Do not get impatient! Times may seem more 'general' than the UK – with morning (la mañana) merging into Siesta and la tarde (the afternoon) stretching to nightfall. Do not think taking a siesta is being lazy – it is based on spending time with family and friends – and the Spanish make up for it by staying up much later.
6. Register- It is obligatory by Spanish law to register on the padrón at the Town Hall where you habitually reside, yet many British ex-pats still have not done so. It is not, as some think, a 'big-brother' issue but is simply a way for the town hall to know how many people live in their area, so they can make available the right level of public services. See www.ukinspain.fco.gov.uk for benefits it can bring – such as discounts and voting rights.
7. Integrate- Do make an effort. It will help you fit in and the locals will appreciate it.
8. Arrange healthcare- The rules for getting state healthcare in Spain are different from those in the UK. The NHS is a residence-based system – but in Spain the system is contribution-based, which means that normally you must have paid into the social security system in order for you to get state healthcare. See our www.ukinspain. fco.gov.uk website for more info.
9. Expect bureaucracy- Remember things are done differently – and can seem bureaucratic. Expect forms, and more forms… and be ready to show every document under the sun. Ensure you understand why you are signing for something (even a savings account) as you will have no “comeback” saying I didn't understand.
10. Passport, passport, passport – so many people let it expire and forget about it. You will have to pay for an emergency document should urgent travel be required. Remember - for a full passport you really do need to make your application well in advance of departure dates.