Where are the best places in Spain to set up a business aimed at foreigners?

If you have dreams of starting a business in Spain aimed at other foreigners, here are the best regions do it in and your potential target markets.

nerja spain
The Málaga town of Nerja is very popular with Swedish nationals who choose to move to Spain. Photo: Martin Vonk/Unsplash

Spain is very popular relocation destination, with foreigners making up around 12 percent of the population.

Even though many of them move here to improve their quality of life, there are plenty of newcomers who decide to start their own business here rather than try to get a contract job.

If you have dreams of starting a business in Spain aimed at other foreigners, here is some inspiration. 

If you want to sell fried breakfasts to the British, move to Alicante  

Everyone knowns that Spain is popular with Brits, but which regions do most of them live in? There are believed to be over 360,000 Britons living in Spain, with that number expected to increase before the Brexit transition period is over in December 2020. According to Spain’s national statistics agency, Alicante is the region favoured most by the British with over 69,000 calling it home.

There are in fact several towns in the area where the number of British people outnumber the number of locals. So, if you want to move to Spain and open up a business selling the best full English breakfasts around, then you might want to think about one of these towns: Poble Nou de Benitachell, where half of the town are British; San Fulgencio, where a third of the 8,000 people there are from the UK; or the small village of Daya Vieja, where a whopping 60 percent are British.

Alicante: Photo: Vicente Viana/Pixabay

If you want to sell Guinness to the Irish, move to Barcelona

The Catalan capital of Barcelona is home to the biggest concentration of Irish nationals in Spain. There are many different Irish groups and clubs in the city, so you can be sure to feel at home. The city already has many Irish pubs, so you’ll be in good company setting up a business to cater to the Irish population.

Barcelona of course offers a great lifestyle, with beaches and mountains within the city, plenty of art and culture, and a lively nightlife.

Barcelona. Photo: Joaquin Aranoa/Pixabay

If you want to sell imported candy bars to Americans, move to Madrid

Madrid is the most popular area to live in for Americans. Figures from Spain’s national statistics agency show that the Community of Madrid is home to more Americans than any other autonomous region in the country. It is estimated that over 10,600 Americans live there. This is more than a quarter of all American citizens in Spain. Madrid is also one of the few places in Spain where English speakers are more likely to be American than British. Americans in the capital actually make up 40 percent of the English-speaking population.

So, if you have dreams of setting up an American supermarket, importing everything from Butterfingers and Jolly Ranchers and Kool-Aid to Pop-Tarts, then Madrid would definitely be the Spanish city to do it in.

Madrid. Photo: Surya Namasté/Pixabay 

READ ALSO: What’s it like to set up a bed and breakfast in Spain?

If you want to sell preserved fish to the Swedish, move to Nerja  

If you’re thinking of setting up a company importing and selling pickled herring, cured salmon and crisp breads, then the place to go is Nerja. Nerja is a municipality in the Costa del Sol, in the province of Malaga. The town of Nerja itself has several sandy beaches, as well as a vast cave complex.

Move to Nerja and you’ll be close to all the popular Costa de Sol resorts, as well as the cultural capital of Malaga. The Swedes make up the second-largest foreign population in Nerja and many have bought second homes there. You’ll also find many Swedish groups and associations there to sell your products to.

Nerja. Photo: Manolo Franco/Pixabay

If you want to start a stroopwafel café for the Dutch, move to the Valencia region

The Valencia region is very popular with Dutch nationals, with more of them buying homes there than in any other region of Spain. The coastal area of the Costa Blanca is where most of them choose to settle. The second most popular region for Dutch is Andalusia, where there are also a lot of Dutch companies.

You could choose to set up your café, selling homemade Dutch-style caramel waffles in popular towns such as Javea, Dénia, Villajoyosa or even Alicante.

Costa Blanca
Costa Blanca. Photo: Alex Gresbek/Pixabay

If you want to open a German beer garden, move to Torrox

The Andalusian municipality of Torrox, lies to the west of Nerja and sits approximately half way between the cultural cities of Malaga and Granada. Move to Torrox and you could be spending weekends in Malaga admiring art or weekends in Granada exploring the Alhambra or gorging on free tapas.

Torrox is the most popular place in Spain for Germans with more than 3,000 residents. It is estimated in fact that around 15 percent of Torrox residents are German. There are many German businesses in the area, so you won’t have any problem fitting in, if you want to market your products to the Germans. Torrox even has its own Oktoberfest each year, so it could be the perfect spot if you’ve ever dreamed of opening a beer garden selling steins of beer and pretzels.

Torrox. Photo: Ernesto Perez/Flickr


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Your questions answered about Spain’s digital nomad visa

Spain's long-awaited digital nomad visa is finally available, but there is still much confusion about it, so we've answered all your burning questions.

Your questions answered about Spain's digital nomad visa

Spain’s Startups Law, which also introduced a new digital nomad visa, was approved at the end of 2022, but didn’t come into force until January 2023 and all the details are only just now being revealed. 

From how much money you need to your tax obligations and if you can bring family, members, here are all your questions answered. 

What are the financial requirements to apply for the visa?

You must prove that you earn 200 percent of the SMI or Minimum Interprofessional Salary. The current minimum wage in Spain is €1,000 per month (across 14 payments) or €1,166.67 across 12 payments.

Keep in mind though that the minimum wage is currently being re-evaluated and is likely to go up to €1,082 (across 14 payments) per month in the near future.

This means that currently, you must be able to show that you will have an income of at least €2,333.34 per month or €28,000 per year, but it is likely this will increase. You can prove this amount either with job contracts, invoices or bank statements.

Can I bring family members with me on the visa?

Yes, you are permitted to bring partners and children with you to Spain on the digital nomad visa.

In order to add a family member, however, you must prove that you have an extra 75 percent of the SMI or minimum wage. This currently equates to an extra €875. For each additional family member after this, such as children, you will have to prove you have an extra 25 percent of the SMI, currently €291.66.

READ ALSO: Ten of the best cities for digital nomads to move to in Spain

Do I need private health care?

You must also make sure that you have either private or public health insurance, simply getting travel insurance with health coverage is not enough.

The Spanish government mentions the option of getting public health insurance instead of private cover, but it is not yet clear whether this means that you will have to contribute to the social security system or be eligible for the convenio especial – the public pay-in scheme.

Do I have to have any professional qualifications? 

You must prove that you either have professional qualifications or a degree relating to your job or that you have at least 3 years’ experience working in your field. 

How long is the visa valid for?

The visa will be valid for an initial period of one year, however, it can be renewed for up to five years. After that, if you want to continue living in Spain, you will be able to apply for permanent residency.

Does the visa give me access to travel around the EU?

Yes, once you have your visa and you’re in Spain, you will be able to apply for a residency card. This will allow you to travel throughout the EU during the time that you’re living in Spain.

Keep in mind though, it won’t give you the right to work or live in other EU countries, but you will be able to go for short breaks. 

How long do I have to stay in Spain for the visa to be valid?

Many digital nomads choose to split their time between different countries. If this is your case, and you want to split your time between back home in the US or the UK for example, you must make sure you stay in Spain for a maximum of 6 months per year for your visa to remain valid.

Do I have to pay tax in Spain?

Yes. If you stay longer than 183 days, then you will be considered a tax resident in Spain. This means that any money you earn while working in Spain, even if it comes from clients or companies abroad will be taxable.

However, the digital nomad visa grants you tax benefits, such as being able to pay the Non-Residents Tax Rate (IRNR) rather than the regular progressive income tax (IRPF) that Spain’s resident workers pay.

Non-Resident Tax was previously only applicable to non-residents such as second-home owners, but an exception has been made for digital nomad visa holders even if they spend more than 183 days a year in Spain and are therefore technically fiscal residents.

IRNR is generally 24 percent in Spain but this will be reduced to 15 percent for digital nomads and remote workers, as long as you earn below €600,000 a year.

This favourable tax rate will be available for four years, if you choose to renew your visa.