Thursday, 26 September 2013

Moving to Spain

Some Key Issues

This is not intended to be a definitive list but I come across so many problems amongst UK nationals in Spain which can be put down to poor or even no planning. Even though there are costs, to get professional advice is almost always cheaper in the long run.

1.    Research
In the internet age there are huge numbers of resource waiting to be read. However, I always ask you to consider who is giving you the information. Beware of vested interests!

The more independent information you can gather, the better. The archive to my blog or my website are based on my own experiences but I encourage you to look at other resources. Financial Pages in Spain

2.    Know your area before you move
If you’ve been somewhere on holiday, and loved it, do you really know it? From my experience many people move on that basis and only then begin to know the place. It’s part of your initial research really.

I found the British Embassy in Madrid very helpful and follow them on Twitter (@ukinspain)

3.    Consider ‘Rent before you buy’
My Estate Agency friends and contacts will tell you I’m wrong because there are so many bargains to be had! I still think this caution is good advice and I’ve written about it before Rent before you buy in Spain

If you do buy, the research and knowing your area are even more important.

4.    Take health very seriously
Spain has one of the healthiest lifestyles in Europe and generally has excellent medical facilities. You must remember that whilst a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) covers you as a tourist, once you settle in Spain, you need to register locally. This procedure can be different according to area so you need local information about health services and facilities

5.    Work out your finances including tax
I apologise if this seems obvious, but based on my INBOX, it doesn’t happen often enough!

Choosing a Bank is often an early decision. It can be a problem if you choose the wrong one. Personally, I prefer Internet Banking but it doesn’t suit everyone. Whether you can speak Spanish is another key issue, as the local service you get can vary. Another reason to ask around and see which one gets the most positive comments. There is no ‘best’ or even ‘worst’ bank but local knowledge is, in my opinion, key.

Getting Professional Advice for which there is no substitute is also very important. I often refer people to advisers that I have checked out or my contacts have recommended. After 11 years experience, in Spain, I’ve learned only to recommend the very best advisers.

Tax is vital and often misunderstood. Some people have said to me (in summary) ‘I thought it would be the same as in England’, that’s so, so wrong. From my own experience the starting point is that it’s always different from the UK! Especially in the early days and vitally if your Spanish is poor, you need a Fiscal Representative, mainly to help with the endless paperwork. It maybe a service your solicitor could provide but if you need specialist tax advice please Email me.

6.    Get independent legal advice
If you were buying a house in the UK, chances are you’d choose your own Conveyancing Solicitor or one recommended by a friend. That should apply in Spain too, but buyers seem happy to accept the recommendation of the builder – he’s not independent or even on your side – he’s the builder’s solicitor

Your solicitor, knowing your situation, is also the best person to advise on a Spanish Will which you do need

If you don’t know a solicitor, please ask around or I will recommend one if I know a proven one in your area. Certainly in your early days in Spain, you need an English-speaking legal adviser. Email me for a recommendation.

7.    Put your UK affairs in order
In many respects it’s the mirror image of what you need to do in Spain. I would however suggest in particular that you tell the tax authorities. If you don’t then HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will chase you for years to come. Timing your departure can also be beneficial in having a tax-free year, if applied correctly. Email for more information.

The Department of Work & Pensions need to know of the change in circumstances whether or not you are retired and should be informed. You should also tell your local authority and GP.

8.    Don’t become isolated
Even if you get to know many British expats, learning Spanish can really help your life in many respects. I’ve always found the Spanish very tolerant even if you only try to speak their language.

Courses are widely available and always of value

There is much more information on many subjects in my BLOG ACHIVE but the following are especially recommended;

Offering better rates and service than the banks, internet facility available 24 hours per day.

If you live in Spain, should your savings be in the UK. It’s worth considering.

Serious reasons to move to Spain but my light hearted review

David Goodall
Financial Pages in Spain