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Seven things to know before moving to Spain’s Andalusia

Spain’s sun-drenched Andalusia is extremely popular with tourists, but foreigners thinking of settling here should be aware of the idiosyncrasies of life in this southern region before making the move.

Seven things to know before moving to Spain's Andalusia
A beautiful side street in Granada. Photo: L'odyssée Bell/Unsplash

Andalusia is big, bright and boisterous; the region of Spain that epitomises many of the Spanish stereotypes of flamenco, dry landscapes and bullfighting. 

But in truth there’s plenty more variety of scenery, history and culture in this 87,600km2 region, so much so that painting it with a broad brush can be challenging.

EU residents make up the bulk of Andalusia’s foreign population, with Britons, Swedes, Germans, Belgians, French and Romanians accounting for 275,000 of those registered in the latest census.

What makes it so popular with foreign residents? And what kind of things have they learnt about Andalusia since moving here?

It’s not just beaches and dry land

Andalusia has more than just beaches, although the fact that it boasts more than 400 “playas” should be a big allure for anyone thinking of moving to the coast.

Andalusia is drier and less green in comparison to Spain’s northern regions (Andalusia is actually home to the driest place in continental Europe, El Cabo de Gata) but there are forests on its Mediterranean side. The region also has two national parks and 22 natural parks.

And to cap it off there are the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains in Granada with Europe’s most southerly ski resorts.

So remember that a move to Andalusia doesn’t necessarily mean having to live in a dry wasteland with only shrubs growing. 

The ancient city of Cádiz has some of the best beaches in Andalusia. Photo: Pablo Valerio/Pixabay

Great weather but extreme heat in summer 

Andalusia’s mild winters are a big draw for foreigners thinking of making the move, but as you may know already, summers in southern Spain can be fairly unbearable with daytime temperatures regularly over 40C in the interior.

Coastal cities such as Málaga and Huelva have a more moderate climate all year round due to their location and sea breeze, and towns and villages at a higher altitude such as Grazalema in Cádiz province and Trévelez and Bubión in Granada can offer some respite in summer, but the cold does bite more in winter. 

You’re guaranteed around 275 to 300 days of sun pretty much everywhere in Andalusia but if extreme temperatures are not something you want, do your research beforehand as there are areas than can get surprisingly cold in winter and hellishly hot in summer.

You can submerge yourself in Spanish society 

Although Andalusia has a sizeable foreign population, they still only represent 7 percent of the regional total of 8.4 million inhabitants.

Málaga and the Costa del Sol are home to 250,000 foreign residents, most of them sun-seeking Europeans, whereas Almería, Granada and Seville also have considerable amounts of foreign residents.

If what you’re looking to do is integrate into Spanish society rather than end up in an expat bubble, there are plenty of places in Andalusia where you can do this.

Enjoying the view of Málaga, voted one of the best cities for ‘expats’ in the world. Photo: Trabajar por el Mundo By Digital Explorer/Unsplash 

It’s not the easiest place to learn Spanish

Many Andalusians have a thick accent which differs greatly from the more clearly enunciated Spanish spoken in the upper half of northern Spain.

If you’re a beginner Spanish learner, you may struggle to understand what they’re saying with the abundance of slang, their quick rhythmical speech, the disappearance of the ‘d’ and ‘s’ at the end of words and the lisp that’s common to some areas.

It will take some getting used to but if you crack the ‘andalú’ code, you’ll be able to understand pretty much all varieties of Spanish.

And don’t think you’ll necessarily be able to rely on your English outside of places such as Málaga where the level is relatively good, as a 2019 report by ABA English found that Andalusia was the Spanish region with the worst level of English.

Fun-loving character feeds into mañana, mañana attitude

Andalusians have a reputation among Spaniards for putting play before work any day of the week.

And while this is a stereotype that many ‘andaluces’ consider unfair and want to shake off, it is true that some foreigners will find the lack of punctuality, the afternoon closing hours and the slow pace with which official matters are handled a tad frustrating.

The chances are that you’re moving to Andalusia to enjoy a happier and calmer lifestyle, so even though the region isn’t renowned for being the most efficient, remember that it’s people are among the warmest, most fun-loving in Spain.

Great quality of life on the cheap

Average monthly expenses in Andalusia are around €900, below the national average.

Before the coronavirus crisis, monthly rents in the region stood at €500, €171 cheaper than for the standard rent in Spain.

It’s the second cheapest region in which to grocery shop according to the 2019 Barometer of Regional Supermarket Prices and Almería and Jeréz are among the most affordable provinces in which to food shop.

Eating out on the cheap is also easy in Andalusia, and in cities such as Granada, Almería and Jaén free generous tapas are famously served with cañas (small beers).

If it’s history and culture you’re after, Andalusia’s heady mix of Moorish and Christian architecture makes a leisurely stroll through many of its villages and towns an experience in itself. There are also seven UNESCO World Heritage site in Andalusia to visit.

In a nutshell, you won’t need to spend a lot to enjoy life in Andalusia.

Málaga, where the cost of living is higher than elsewhere in Andalusia, has just been voted the sixth best city in the world for ‘expats’ by Internations.

Who’s up for sardines cooked over a fire? One of countless delicious and healthy meals from Andalusia. Photo: Guillermo Gallivants/Unsplash

Cheaper properties but big differences between cities

The average cost per square metre for a property in Andalusia stood at €1,571/sqm in July 2020.

That’s below the national average of €1,735/sqm but there are big differences between Andalusia’s different provinces and cities.

Whereas in Málaga, Cádiz and Seville property prices are above the €2,100/sqm mark, in other cities such as Huelva, Almería and Jaén houses and apartments are going for half that price.


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For members


New rules and laws: Everything that changes in Spain in July 2021

As the month of July kicks off in Spain, we take a close look at all the important changes that come with it, from vaccines to entry requirements, new VAT charges, car devices and more.

New rules and laws: Everything that changes in Spain in July 2021
Photos: Help Flash/AFP

Delta variant expected to become dominant in Spain 

Spanish researchers and public health officials believe the Delta variant of coronavirus, first identified in India, will become the dominant Covid-19 strain in Spain over the course of July.

On June 24th, the Delta variant accounted for four percent of the cases detected in Spain, three points more than the previous week.

In Catalonia, at least 20 percent of new cases are due to the Delta variant, the region’s health official Josep Maria Argimon told reporters at a press conference on June 17th, adding that it would be “predominant” in two to four weeks.

The Health Ministry has so far only officially recorded 62 cases of the Delta variant in Spain, but several regions have reported many more cases than this. Galicia has reported 25 Delta variant infections, while Castilla y León are investigating 83 possible cases. 

The variant has also been found in Andalusia, the Balearic Islands, Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y León, the Valencian Community, Extremadura, Murcia, Navarra, La Rioja, Ceuta and Melilla.

READ MORE: How much is the Delta variant spreading in Spain?

Vaccines for thirty-somethings

In July, Spain’s vaccination campaign will focus largely on getting people in the 30 to 39 age group their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Many Spanish regions have already started inoculating those aged 35 to 39 towards the end of June, whilst Madrid has decided it will start allowing thirty somethings to book their vaccine appointments in July.

Administering second doses to those in their forties, fifties and sixties will also be a priority, especially for the latter group as only around 30 percent of the 60 to 69 age group have completed their vaccination treatment (roughly half that of people in their fifties). 

That’s in large part because the AstraZeneca vaccine has been reserved for this group and delivery delays and side-effect investigations have hampered its distribution. As a result, Spain’s Health Ministry has brought forward their second dose by two weeks. 

As of June 29th, 16 million people (35 percent of the population) have received their full vaccination treatment and more than half of the population (52 percent, 24.7 million people) have at least one dose.

To read all the latest vaccine news from Spain, visit The Local Spain’s Covid-19 section

Photo: Pau Barrena/AFP

New travel entry requirements 

July 1st marks the start of the requirement for British travellers to Spain to show proof of full vaccination or a negative PCR test.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez made the announcement on Monday June 28th with regards only to the Balearic Islands, but it has been widely reported that the requirement will apply to travel to all Spanish regions, to be confirmed in an official government bulletin on Tuesday. 

Conversely, Spain added the United States to the list of third countries that are exempt from presenting negative tests or vaccination certificates, meaning American travellers will able to visit Spain more easily during the month of July. 

To read all the latest travel news and information relating to Spain, visit The Local’s travel section

EU digital Covid pass launches

Still on the topic of travel, this digital ‘travel pass’ should make things a little easier if you’re venturing out of the country. 

The EU’s Digital Covid Certificate, as it’s officially known, launches across the bloc on July 1st, although Spain’s regions have made it available to their residents in June. 

In theory, people travelling from Spain to another EU/EEA country will be able to use their vaccination, testing or recovery certificates to get a QR code which allows for quicker and hassle-free travel in Europe. 


How to get a Digital Covid Certificate for travel from Spain to the EU

New VAT rules for imported goods

Imported goods with a value of €22 or less used to be exempt from tax, but this condition will be scrapped on July 1st across the EU. 

This means all goods arriving into Spain and other EU countries from non-EU countries will be subject to VAT, regardless of their value.

This EU-wide regulation will particularly affect businesses that import goods from outside of the bloc and people who shop online on international websites such as China’s AliExpress. 

If the goods cost more than €150 (not including transport, insurance and handling charges) you will also have to pay customs duty.

If businesses don’t register with the The Import One-Stop Shop (IOSS), the VAT will be paid by the customer when importing the goods into the EU. 

Postal or courier companies may charge the customer an additional clearance fee to collect this VAT and carry out the necessary procedures when importing the goods.

New device for cars in Spain

Back in January we reported how the warning triangles drivers in Spain have to carry in their cars in case of a breakdown are being phased out and replaced with these new emergency lights.

As of July 1st, drivers in Spain can use these DGT-approved V-16 emergency lights (luces de emergencia) instead of the warning triangles, although it won’t be obligatory to do so until 2026. 

Photo: Osram

VAT drop for electricity

The Spanish government’s bill to reduce the VAT on electricity from 21 to 10 percent in light of opposition to historically high rates comes into effect on July 1st.  

Last month we also reported how Spain’s main electricity access rates, the regulation costs of electricity which customers pay for, will no longer be frozen as they have been since 2018. 

The changes to the electricity rates means it has become more expensive to use electricity in the first part of the day from 10am – 2pm and in the evenings from 6pm – 10pm from Monday to Friday. The average times are between 8am – 10am, 2pm – 6pm and 10pm – midnight. 

READ ALSO: Spain’s new electricity rates for 2021 -the tricks to help you save up to €300 a year

July kicks off with a heatwave 

As is customary during the summer, July will bring suffocating heat to mainland Spain, with the mercury expected to hit 35 C in many areas. 

It hasn’t been a particularly scorching month of June in Spain but July is forecast to start with temperatures between 5 and 10 degrees higher than normal from Friday, the first heatwave of the year. 

That means that in parts of Andalusia and Murcia the temperature in the first weekend of July could be above 40 C. 

Photo: Jaime Reina/AFP

Ten single-use plastics officially banned

As of July 3rd, changes to the Packaging Act will come into force. 

Manufacturers will not be allowed to produce food and beverage containers made of Styrofoam from July. Furthermore cutlery, cosmetic cotton swabs, balloon sticks, stirrers, plates, bowls and drinking straws will also no longer be made from plastic.

If retailers and restaurants have remaining stocks, they can continue to hand them out so that they do not end up unused in the rubbish bin.

According to the EU Commission, the products prohibited under the law represent 70 percent of the waste that pours into oceans, posing a threat to wildlife and fisheries.

Money for staycations 

Twelve autonomous communities in Spain are offering their residents – and in some cases people from other parts of Spain-  holiday vouchers worth hundreds of euros as an incentive for them to spend their summer holidays in their part of the country.

These offers are available for the month of July, so if you want to find out more click on the link below. 

TRAVEL: Which regions in Spain are paying residents to go on staycations?