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MOVING TO SPAIN

Reader question: Can I be a non-resident for tax purposes with Spain’s non-lucrative visa?

The non-lucrative visa is one of the most sought-after methods third country nationals such as Americans, Chinese and now UK nationals use to be able to spend more than 90 days at a time in Spain. But does it involve having to become a tax resident?

Reader question: Can I be a non-resident for tax purposes with Spain's non-lucrative visa?
A British bar in Benalmadena in Malaga province. Photo: Jorge Guerrero/AFP

Spain’s visado no lucrativo – colloquially referred to as the retirement visa in English-speaking spheres – is the preferred means for non-EU nationals with sufficient savings/income to get around the 90 out of 180 days rule. 

As the name suggests, your time and business in Spain has to be non-lucrative, so it’s not for people who intend to study, invest or work, but rather those who have the financial means to take care of themselves and their families, as well as their health costs. 

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

So if you’re not working in Spain, surely you don’t need to pay taxes in Spain, right?

Surprisingly for some perhaps, you actually do. Spain’s non-lucrative visa is a residency visa, so you have to spend more than 183 days in the country for it to remain valid, especially if you want to renew it after the first year (the first visa lasts one year, the next two renewals last two, and after five years you can apply for a long-term visa). 

If you remain longer than 183 days in Spain, you are officially considered a tax resident.

Therefore, you have to pay income tax on your worldwide income and you should check if there are double taxation agreements between your country and Spain. 

If you buy a property in Spain, and especially if you let it out for part of the year, you will also be subject to tax. 

READ ALSO: What are the pros and cons of Spain’s non-lucrative visa?

It’s true that you could technically use this visa to spend more than 90 consecutive days but fewer than 183 and therefore not be considered a tax resident, but this isn’t a scheme that will necessarily work out for you in the long run. 

Keep in mind that Spanish migration officials will have a record of your visas and they may question why you keep having to reapply for the non-lucrative visa from scratch. 

If you want to spend more than 90 consecutive days in Spain without becoming a tax resident, Spain’s golden visa may be a better option for you, if you can afford it. 

This usually involves buying a property worth at least €500,000, and if you spend less than six months in Spain you will only have to pay taxes on your assets in Spain and won’t lose your residency either given your sizable investment (you’ll have to visit Spain at least once a year). 

However, spend more than half a year in Spain or have the main core of your economic activities in Spain and you will be subject to paying tax on your worldwide assets and income.

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MOVING TO SPAIN

How to find temporary accommodation in Spain when you first arrive

One of the most common questions people moving to Spain ask is where they can rent temporary accommodation while looking for somewhere more permanent. This can be particularly tricky, but we've found some of the best places to look.

How to find temporary accommodation in Spain when you first arrive

So you’ve sorted out your visas, you’ve done all your packing and have either sold or moved out of your home, but when you arrive in Spain you’re not exactly sure where you’re going to stay.  

Of course, it’s not the best idea to sign a contract ahead of time for a more permanent place before you’ve actually seen it in person. Photos don’t always accurately represent what the house or apartment looks like in reality and you won’t really be able to get a feel for the neighbourhood without being there. 

On top of this, rental scams are rife in some places in Spain, particularly in the bigger more popular cities like Barcelona. Often people will place an ad (which usually looks too good to be true) and get you to wire over a deposit to secure it in advance, but here’s the catch – the place doesn’t usually exist.

This is why it’s important to never hand over money to secure a place to live in Spain before you’ve actually seen it in person and you can get the keys as soon as you sign the contract.

But, finding a place to live in a new country can be difficult and it can take time, so while you look for somewhere, you’re going to need temporary accommodation for a couple of months. This can be tricky too because often temporary accommodation is geared towards tourists and you’ll be paying tourist prices too.

While Idealista and Fotocasa are two of the most popular sites to look for accommodation in Spain, when you only want somewhere for a couple of months, there’s no point looking there, as most places will have yearly contracts.

Keep in mind with short-term rentals for a couple of months, you’re going to be paying higher than the average monthly rent, however, for this, the apartments are usually fully furnished, including kitchen utensils, wi-fi already connected and offer you the flexibility of shorter contracts.

Short-term rental agencies

Specialised short-term rental agencies are the best way to go, which will allow you to sign contacts for less than the typical one year. These types of agencies are usually found in Spain’s big cities that are popular with foreigners, such as Madrid and Barcelona.

Trying searching in Spanish too by typing alquiler de temporada or alquiler temporal plus the name of the city or town you’re looking in. This way you may be able to find places that offer better value. 

Barcelona

In Barcelona, check out aTemporal an agency that started up precisely to fix the problem of trying to find accommodation in-between tourist accommodation and long-term rentals. They rent out apartments for anywhere from 32 days to 11 months.

ShBarcelona is another agency that specialises in these types of rentals and have properties all over the city.

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

Madrid

In Madrid, try DFLAT, which was created by two professionals from the Instituto de Empresa University after discovering the difficulties professionals and foreigners found when looking for an apartment in Madrid. Sh also has a good branch in Madrid.  

Valencia

In Valencia, Dasha Living Space has both short and long-term fully furnished flats available and  Valenvi Flats also offers rentals for between three and six months.

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

Airbnb

While the nightly rate of Airbnb apartments is typically too expensive to rent for a couple of months, you may be able to find some deals. Often when you input dates for a month into Airbnb, you’ll find that several places have a monthly discount offered. Also, some owners will do a deal for a couple of months. If it’s winter for example and they know they’re not going to get many tourists anyway, they may be willing to negotiate.

Vrbo

Like Airbnb, the properties on Vrbo are rented out directly by the owners. While the site is also mainly focused on tourists, some owners may negotiate outside of the tourist season.

Housesitting

If you’re willing to try something a little bit different, then housesitting could be the way to go. This is where you live in somebody’s house for free, in exchange for looking after their pets and their property.

Often people only need someone for a few days, but sometimes you’ll see house sits available for a month or longer. This is perhaps a better option for those who are flexible on where they might want to live and are trying out a few different places. It’s also better for those wanting to live in smaller towns or villages rather than the bigger cities, as there are fewer postings for these popular locations. Trusted Housesitters and Mind My House are good options. 

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