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RESIDENCY PERMITS

How much money do Americans need to become residents in Spain in 2022?

If you're a US citizen who is looking to move to Spain but you’re wondering if not having a job will influence your chances of obtaining residency, here’s how much money you need to have saved up to be allowed to live in the country in 2022.

Madrid sunrise
Madrid, the Spanish city where most US nationals live. Andres Garciía/Unsplash

Michael Douglas, Ernest Hemingway and Ava Gardner are among the most famous Americans to have fallen in love with the Spanish lifestyle and made “España” their home away from home.

And while not everybody is lucky enough to have a Hollywood bank account, and immigration policies are stricter than they once were, US citizens can still obtain residency in Spain even if they’re not coming to work.

This article is therefore geared to US citizens who have either not landed a job in Spain yet, are not planning to work, study, do business or invest in the country and are not intending to obtain residency through having Spanish family roots or an EU partner.

The main focus will be the non-lucrative residency permit and any other option available to Americans for obtaining residency through financial means.

What is Spain’s non-lucrative residency permit?

A non-lucrative visa is an authorisation that allows non-EU foreigners to stay in Spain for a period of more than 90 days without working or carrying out professional activities, by demonstrating that they have sufficient financial means for themselves and, if applicable, their family.

In Spanish it’s called a “visado de residencia no lucrativa” and it’s often referred to as a retirement visa, as this is the best option for retirees from non-EU countries who want to move to Spain.

Photo: Juan Marroquin/Pixabay

It is however available to third country nationals of all ages who can prove they have the financial means, and is also a good option for US citizens who want to first travel and get to know Spain better for a year before starting work, as it allows for an easy conversion to a work permit.

Spain’s non-lucrative residency permit is a temporary residence visa which lasts for one year.

The first and second residence renewals last for two years each, after which five years of residency will have been obtained and therefore the possibility of applying for long-term residency, which last for five years.

After ten years of residence in Spain, US citizens can obtain Spanish citizenship, although they will technically have to renounce their American nationality in the process.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about applying for Spain’s non-lucrative visa

How much money do US nationals need to show to get Spain’s non-lucrative visa?

This is a trickier question than it may seem as there are often discrepancies in what constitutes “sufficient financial means” between Spain’s regions, provinces and even the Spanish consulates and embassies from which foreigners apply for the visa (you apply from the US, not from Spain).

Spain’s Royal Decree states that sufficient financial means “will not exceed the level of resources by which social subsidies are granted to Spaniards or the amount of the minimum Social Security pension”.

The Spanish government is referring to the IPREM, an indicator that in 2022 will rise to €579.02 ($654 with the current exchange rate) per month, just under €20 more than in 2021 and €50 more than in 2020.

The standard financial requirement for non-lucrative visa applicants is 400 percent of the IPREM: €2,316 ($2,615) per month.

So for a US national wanting to apply for the non-lucrative residency permit for Spain for the first time (it lasts one year), the amount they need to prove is €27,792 ($31,390), more than €600 than for those who applied in 2021.

For every family member included in the residency application it’s an extra 100 percent of the IPREM you need to prove you have: €6,948 ($7,847) for the year.

So if an American couple is applying, it’s €34,740 ($39,237) annually in savings or a monthly income through investments, pensions or other assets or €2,895 ($3,269) a month.

For a US family of three it’s €41,724 ($47,126) of available income a year; for a family of four it’s €48,708 ($55,014) and so on, adding €6,948 ($7,847) for each family member.

If you’re renewing your non-lucrative visa for the first and second time, bear in mind that you will have to prove you have 800 percent of the IPREM as the renewed residence permit is valid for two years.

For an individual, that amounts to €55,584 ($62,780) that they can prove they’ll have available.

If you have that plenty of capital available, you may want to consider if Spain’s golden visa is more suitable for you, and if you don’t, consider Spain’s business visa or new offering for startups, investors and digital nomads.

READ ALSO:

Remember that the above figures are to be used as a reference, given the disparities in judgement of how much money constitutes ‘enough’ by the different immigration offices across Spain and Spanish embassies and consulates abroad.

Photo: Spain’s Foreign Ministry

Balcells Group, an immigration law firm based in Spain, states that “depending on which consulate you apply in (for example in Washington or Moscow), the minimum amount is much higher” as the initial visa application has to be done in the country of origin or where you currently reside.

“There isn’t an exact amount given by Spanish authorities but from my experience it’s upwards of €30,000, although the figure can vary,” Margaret Hauschild Rey, an immigration lawyer for Madrid-based English-speaking law firm Bennet&Rey, told The Local.

“Obviously the more assets you can prove the better.”

The documentation required as proof of income can also vary, but many consulates require a recent bank account certificate, statements from the past six months and on occasions credit cards or property values can also be presented.

READ ALSO:

Are there any other important factors Americans should be aware of?

Aside from being able to prove a reliable, ongoing source of income and substantial savings, keep in mind that you will have to take out comprehensive private health insurance which offers the same cover as Spain’s public healthcare system.

“What they haven’t always necessarily factored in before committing to residency in Spain is how difficult it can be to obtain private health cover that’s well-priced or even available, especially for seniors or those with pre-existing health conditions,” Hauschild Rey told The Local.

This must be with a Spanish medical insurance company, be at least one year long and offer full coverage with no co-payments.

READ ALSO: What are the best private health insurance options in Spain for foreigners?

“Many foreigners are also unaware of the tax implications that come with spending long periods of time in Spain,” Hauschild Rey added.

“Spanish authorities consider you to be a tax resident if you spend more than 180 days a year in the country.

“Our advice is to speak to a fiscal adviser who is familiar with the tax systems of both Spain and the US – whenever possible – if they want to get a full picture of how taxes and fiscal responsibilities compare.

Although you can’t work in Spain with a non-lucrative visa, you will be able to invest in shares or businesses in Spain as an extra means of income, but remember these will be subject to capital gains tax.

Obtaining Spanish residency through this permit also allows Americans to visit all other Schengen countries in Europe without the need for a visa.

There is one other way that Americans can obtain residency in Spain through having sufficient financial means: buying a property worth €500,000 through the scheme called “Residencia por adquisición de bienes inmuebles en España” known in English as the Golden Visa scheme. 

For more information on requirements and documentation for the non-lucrative visa for Americans, click here for consular advice from Washington and here for Los Angeles, but check the consulates map above to find out which one you should process the application through.

Keep in mind that each Spanish consulate in the US could have its own set of requirements (apart from different markers for what constitutes sufficient financial means), so make sure you find out before beginning the application. 

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Member comments

  1. Thank you so much for increasing your content for US expats and expats to be. It’s very much appreciated!

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MOVING TO SPAIN

REVEALED: The cheapest and most expensive areas to buy or rent in Valencia

If you're thinking of a move to Valencia, you should know that the eastern city is renowned for its relatively cheap cost of living compared to other big cities in Spain. So where are the cheapest and most expensive 'barrios' (neighbourhoods) to rent or buy a home?

REVEALED: The cheapest and most expensive areas to buy or rent in Valencia

The Mediterranean coast, climate and diet. A city with history, charm, and bustling with life. Valencia has it all, and that is why so many foreigners make it home.

In fact, over 100,000 foreigners have made the eastern Spanish city their home in recent decades, and for good reason.

But what’s the situation when it comes to renting or buying a property?

Before diving into our neighbourhood property guide, let’s have a look at the big picture and see how Valencia stacks up against other Spanish cities. 

Buying a property in Valencia in 2022 costs an average of around €1,839/m2, which means that if you buy a 80/m2 apartment, it would cost you around €147,000.

That’s cheap – in fact, if we compare the average prices in Valencia to Madrid and Barcelona, you’ll realise just how affordable Valencia can be if you know where to look.

Let’s take, for example, Valencia’s most expensive neighbourhood, l’Eixample, in the city centre, which on average costs €3,024/m2 to buy.

That’s quite a bit more than the city-wide average (in barrios further afield the average is around just €1,400/m2), but pales in comparison to the Salamanca district of Madrid (€6,149/m2) and the Sarrià – Sant Gervasi area of Barcelona (€5,228/m2).

Valencia’s affordability is one of the main reasons why so many foreigners have flooded the market in the last two decades.

More than four out of five foreigners in Valencia (82 percent) believe that housing is affordable in the city, compared to 41 percent globally, according to the annual Expat Insider Survey published by InterNations which recently ranked Valencia as the best city in the world for foreign residents.

READ ALSO: Living in Spain: Why Valencia is officially the best city in the world for foreign residents

And renting is cheap too – international cost of living calculator Numbeo found that Valencianos fork out just 27.7 percent of their monthly budget on paying rent.

Before we continue, it’s worth noting that due to rising inflation in Spain and a lack of available properties in Valencia itself, rent and sale prices have increased, keeping in mind that the data in this article is from February 2022, before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

But we know that by general standards Valencia’s is fairly affordable – but where are the most and least expensive neighbourhoods in the city? 

Cheapest neighbourhoods to buy a property in Valencia

According to Spanish property site Kasaz.com, these are the cheapest Valencian barrios to buy in 2022:

  1. Rascanya is the cheapest place to buy an apartment in Valencia. In the north of Valencia and bordered by better known barrios such as Benimaclet to the east, La Saïdia to the south, and Benicalap to the west, Rascanya is really cheap to buy – on average, buyers pay around €1,133/m2.
  2. L’Olivereta comes in at number 2. Located in the west of the city but just a 15 minute walk from downtown, prices in L’Olivereta average out at around €1,302/m2 but it varies quite a bit within the neighbourhood itself. L’Olivereta is home to five neighbourhoods and prices vary depending on where you are: La Fontsanta €862/m2), Tres Forques (€1,017/m2), Soternes (€1,387/m2), La Llum (€1,415/m2), Nou Moles (€1,456/m2).
  3. Jesús district was a historically industrial neighbourhood, and despite many years of housing shortages, prices have stayed low: buyers there pay on average €1,355/m2. However, having 5 neighbourhoods, prices may vary depending on where you are: Sant Marcellí is the cheapest neighbourhood (€1,214/m2), followed by Camí Reial (€1,238/m2), L’Hort de Senabre (€1,306/m2), La Creu Coberta (€1,353/m2) and La Raiosa (€1,453/m2).

    An official map showing Valencia’s city’s neighbourhoods. Map: Valencia City Hall
  4. Benicalap – the fourth cheapest area in Valencia is one of its oldest. Benicalap dates back to 1238 and it even existed as a separate municipality until it was eventually annexed by the city of Valencia in the late-19th century.

    Located in the northern part of Valencia, Benicalap averages out at about €1,408/m2, but within the district are a few neighbourhoods within which prices vary quite a bit. Ciutat Fallera, for example, is very cheap (€1,006/m2), but Nou Benicalap is much pricier, with averages of €2,148/m2.

  5. Patraix – a family friendly area just 3km from the city centre, prices to buy average €1,437/m2.

    READ ALSO: Moving to Valencia: A guide to the best neighbourhoods to live in

Cheapest neighbourhoods to rent in Valencia

  1. Favara – sandwiched between Patriax and Jesús is the small barrio of Favara in the south of the city, where renters on average pay just €6.03/m2 – the cheapest rate in Valencia.
  2. The Torrefiel neighbourhood of Rascanya comes a close second, costing on average just €6.47/m2 to rent.
  3. San Antoni is Valencia’s third cheapest neighbourhood- up in the north of the city and neighbouring Rascanya – where rents average €6.67/m2.
  4. La Llum – on the western outskirts of Valencia lies La Llum, where renting is also a very affordable €6.86/m2.
  5. San Marcelino – a small neighbourhood belonging to the bigger barrio of Jesús, San Marcelino is an old working class area with cheap rents – €6.95/m2 on average.

Renting or buying in Valencia’s old town Ciutat Vella is logically more expensive. Photo: Al Elmes/Unsplash

Most expensive neighbourhoods to buy in Valencia

If money’s no object to you, here’s a quick breakdown of the most expensive parts to buy in Valencia. See a more detailed sub-neighbourhood by sub-neighbourhood breakdown list over at 7televalencia, which includes both the most expensive and cheapest barrios, but be warned, it’s in Valenciano!

  1. L’Eixample – €2,876/m2 – Upscale L’Eixample is filled with wide, leafy streets lined by department stores and posh brunch spots. Pricey, but trendy.
  2. Ciutat Vella – €2,859/m2 – The old town, or casco antuigo in Spanish, is stuffed to the brim with gothic cathedrals and cobblestone side streets. This is the ‘heart’ of Valencia, and living amongst such hustle, bustle, and history comes at a price.
  3. El Pla del Real – €2,487/m2 – Known by some as Valencia’s nicest district, El Pla del Real is full of green spaces and parks, and is a great place to bring up kids.
  4. Campanar – €2,082/m2 – Campanar’s canal walks and vineyards give it a village like quality right in the middle of the city.
  5. Extramurs – €2,062/m2 – Bordering the old town, Extramurs central location mean it’s pricey and brimming with life – the barrio is home to some of Valencia’s best tapas bars and very popular with students. Top tip: visit the university’s botanic garden for an escape from city life.

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