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EXPATS

Nine things to consider before moving to Spain

Marianne Calvin, a relocation expert at Moving2Madrid, talks us through the top things to consider before taking the plunge and moving to Spain.

Nine things to consider before moving to Spain
Photo: TonyMadridPhotography/Flickr

Spain’s expat community is made up of nearly 4.5 million foreign residents, and as Spain slowly emerges from the economic crisis, that number is set to increase. More and more foreigners are choosing to make a life in Spain, be it for the climate, the different pace of life or the chance to finally learn Spanish!

But before taking the plunge, there are important things to consider…

1) Learn at least basic Spanish


Photo: Leonid Tatarinov/Flickr 

When in our own countries, it is easy to take communication for granted. Be prepared by knowing basic greetings, and standard phrases (where is? how much is? please, thank you, etc). You might be able to navigate your way in English in more touristy locations, but imagine living in a less central neighbourhood and pulling your hair out at the local grocery store because you can't remember the word for lettuce! 

Do take advantage of the opportunity to speak a foreign language and push yourself. Write down new words you learn and practice using them over and over again. Remember these are learning experiences that will be foundations on your journey to becoming a true expat.

2) Know the time schedule 

The Spanish time schedule is different than that of the USA and most European countries. Most businesses are open at 10am and close at 9pm, but also close between 2pm and 5pm for the siesta. Weekends vary: while shops are open on Saturdays, a lot of other services are closed. For example, as home hunters we get requests to see apartments at the weekend. However, in Madrid we find that most agents are not reachable at the weekend so it is difficult to optimize apartment options on a Saturday or Sunday.  

As for mealtimes, breakfast is usually between 7.30am and 9.30am, mid-morning snack is at 11am, lunch from is from 2pm to 4pm, afternoon snack between is between 5.30pm and 6pm, and dinner is between 9pm and 11pm.

If you are going out for dinner, most establishments will not seat you before 8.30pm unless you are in tourist areas.  

3) Research your neighbourhoods 


Photo: TonyMadridPhotography/Flickr 

Before arriving, it's important to look into the different neighbourhoods or barrios of your chosen town or city. Important things to consider are: location in relationship to your daily commute, cost, lifestyle, and schedule.

When I first moved to Madrid, I lived in the area near Plaza de Toros because it was located on my metro commute. I realized quickly that the local community was not really in my age group and that most local establishments closed way too early for my lifestyle and schedule. Do not just choose anything. This is your new home – make sure it’s the right place for you. 

4) Know the cost of living 

Let's take Madrid as an example. The cost of living (including rent, bills, food and extra expenses) can be from €800 to €1,000 per person per month, if you're living on a student budget, to over €4,000 for a luxury lifestyle. 

Compare your monthly budget to these estimations, and visualize right now the lifestyle you can afford. Also we recommend using www.expatistan.com to compare the cost of living levels of your current city to that of your chosen destination in Spain.  
 
5) Be aware of the conditions for renting apartments

Renting an apartment in Spain is different to what you might be used to in your home country. Everything is negotiable – or nearly – depending on the market. In a rental, all the conditions depend on the agreement you reach with the landlord. When you negotiate these conditions, it is essential you keep in mind the standard rental laws (La Ley de Arrendamientos Urbanos). 


Photo: AFP

6) Be aware of the conditions of purchasing property

Do your research. Buying property in Spain is not like buying in your home country. Know what the mortgage rates are for expats, what you will have to pay in taxes and fees, what the legal limits are, and what the buying process is like. Do your due diligence of legal, architectural and financial checks. Also, it's always worth asking for the help of a professional.

7) Get a bank account 

You need a Spanish bank account to pay your bills. There is no other way around this. All service providers require one. If possible, sign up for a bank account before you arrive so that it is ready to transfer funds from your current bank. This will make everything quicker (signing up for services, rental deposits, etc). Do research on which banks operate in Spain, which have personalized representatives that speak English, and where the international transfer costs are the lowest.  

8) Look for the best phone plans 

Be ready to sign up for an affordable phone plan that matches your budget. Whether it is a pay-as-you-go plan or an 18-month contract, do your research and sign up before you arrive (with your new bank account).

9) Prepare for red tape 


Photo: Caitlin Childs/Flickr 

When you arrive in Spain, you will need to go through processes of getting or registering for basic administrative essentials like your NIE (Tax Number), social security number, medical card and padrón.

Obviously you cannot do some of these things until you arrive, but have an idea of what to expect so that you can get this done as quickly as possible when you arrive and start enjoying your new home.  

Five red tape essentials for new arrivals in Spain 

Marianne Calvin is a relocation expert at Moving2Madrid. If you are relocating to Madrid and want help with these steps or advice on renting or buying contact Moving2Madrid or make an appointment for a free consultation.

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RENTING

Renting in Spain: Can my landlord put up my rent due to rising inflation?

The war in Ukraine and record high inflation in Spain are resulting in many tenants having their monthly rent raised by the property owners. Is this legal?

Renting in Spain: Can my landlord put up my rent due to rising inflation?

We’re living in uncertain financial times where conflict, a pandemic, rumours of another property bubble and other world events make it difficult to know what’s coming next and what it will mean for our wallets. 

What can be said for certain is that most living costs in Spain are getting more expensive this year.

In February 2022, inflation reached its highest level in 33 years – 7.4 percent – and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has economists suggesting it will hit 10 percent this spring. 

One of the consequences of the rise of the IPC (CPI in English- Consumer Price Index) in Spain is that many landlords are using this general increase in costs to raise the rents of their tenants. 

With the current inflation rates, this can result in an average rise of €40 to €50 a month for renters in Spain. 

Is it legal to do this?

Yes, but only in certain circumstances.

Spain’s Urban Leasing Law allows the monthly rent paid by a tenant to be updated in accordance with the IPC.

However, this can only be done if previously agreed between tenant and landlord. It should also be clearly stated in the contract that the rent is subject to IPC changes.

In such cases, the lessor must wait for the first year of tenancy to have been completed for the IPC rise to be applied, and from then on only once a year and based on the most updated IPC amount. 

So if the tenancy contract was signed in February 2021 for example, the prearranged IPC update in the following years should also be in February.

Landlords can therefore not increase the rent several times a year or every month based on varying IPC rates.

The property owner will also have to give their tenant one month’s notice and apply the rise to the following month. This must be in writing and the landlord must state what the rent increase is and how it corresponds to correct IPC figures.

It’s important to remember that under no circumstances can a landlord increase the rent of a tenant by an amount higher than the IPC. The most updated IPC figure must always be applied.

Other indicators or reasons other than an IPC can be given by a landlord to increase the rent, but the amount they put the rent up by can’t be higher than the IPC under any circumstances.

Tenants should also keep in mind that if the IPC were to drop and they had pre-agreed with the landlord that the contract would be subject to IPC changes, they are within their rights to request a reduction of their rent.

The IPC (Índice de Precios al Consumidor) is published by Spain’s National Statistics Institute on a monthly basis and is based on the country’s latest inflation figures. You can easily check what rise or reduction applies to your property here

Spain’s Rental Negotiating Agency (ANA) has recommended that landlords don’t apply the latest so-called “war CPI” caused by the conflict in Ukraine, arguing that a large rise in rent could result in some tenants ending their rental contracts or struggling to pay.

One of the tools that tenants can use to lessen the blow of sky-high inflation is to tell their landlords that, if at all, they should apply the IPC de Vivienda (Property CPI) rather than the IPC General (General CPI), as the former is generally less volatile than the latter and Spain’s Urban Leasing Law does not specify which should be used to increase or lower rent.

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