For members


Everything that changes about life in Spain in 2022

There are plenty of both positive and negative changes to expect for those living or spending time in Spain in 2022. Here are the most important ones you should be aware of.

A Spanish flag flutters as a woman wearing a face mask walks in Madrid on April 2, 2020 amid a national lockdown to fight the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. - The coronavirus death toll in Spain surged past 10,000 after a record 950 deaths in 24 hours, with the number of confirmed cases passing the 110,000 mark, the government said. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Apart from 2022 hopefully being the year when Spain and the world put a stop to the Covid-19 pandemic, there are plenty of other changes expected for the new year. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

Covid restrictions and face masks

The return of some of the old restrictions over the Christmas season, most notably the face mask outdoors rule, has many Spaniards wondering if it’s worth picturing a time without Covid rules in place.

Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias has said the outdoor face mask requirement is only “temporary” and some regions have set dates for the end of the Covid health pass rule for daily affairs in mid-January. 

Obviously it’s impossible to predict how restriction-free Spain will be in the year to come, with the Omicron variant proving that it’s better to expect the unexpected, but it seems that for at least the start of 2022 some limitations will be in place.

Once Spain’s sky-high infection rate drops, capacity limits and earlier closing times for the hospitality sector will no doubt be scrapped but face masks in indoor spaces look likely to still be a rule in Spain in 2022.

Covid health pass changes 

Twelve of Spain’s 17 regions currently require a Covid certificate to access bars, restaurants, hospitals, events and more depending on their rules. 

It’s a measure that’s only been introduced for daily affairs in Spain in December after consistent legal opposition from Spanish judges over the summer, who deemed the document requirement to breach fundamental rights. 

As mentioned earlier, some regions only have the legal umbrella to keep the Covid health pass for domestic matters in place until mid-January, and it remains unclear whether regional governments will scrap the measure once cases drop or if they’ll keep it in place to pile on the pressure on the unvaccinated.

What is for certain is that Prime Minister Sánchez and the country’s regional leaders have agreed to adopt the recent proposal by the European Union that from February 1st 2022, the EU-wide Digital Covid Certificate will expire nine months after full vaccination.

After a booster shot, the validity of Spain-issued and other EU Covid health passes will be accepted and extended without a set limit.

You can read more about it in the link below. 

READ MORE: How the rules of the EU Covid certificate for travel will change from February

Covid vaccination targets

Spain may have reached the milestone of 90 percent of its population over 12 vaccinated against Covid-19, but for Sánchez the emphasis should continue to be on vaccinating rather than imposing restrictions.

The main focus for 2022 is booster shots, with the Spanish government setting itself the following vaccination target for the coming weeks as part of its action plan:

 – 80 percent of people aged 60 to 69 with a booster shot before the end of 2021.

 – 80 percent of people aged 50 to 59 years with a booster shot by the end of January 2022.

 – 80 percent of 40-49 years with a booster shot in the first week of March 2022.

Spain is in fact lagging behind in seventh position in the EU ranking when it comes to this reinforcement dose, having not yet confirmed when people in their thirties or younger will be eligible for it.

The national government did however approve a milder dose of the Covid-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 two weeks ago, and Spanish health authorities have included this group in its self-described “ambitious” goals

  • 70 percent of children aged 5 to 11 with their first dose in the week of February 7th.
  • 70 percent of children aged 5 to 11 with their second dose in the week starting on April 19th.

Electricity price rise

Although life does tend to get more expensive every year, the stratospheric rise of electricity costs in 2021 has been unprecedented and the forecast calls for more of the same in 2022. 

On December 21st, the Spanish government extended the period of tax discounts from electricity bills until April 2022.

How much of a difference this will make to consumers remains to be seen, as the wholesale price of electricity is expected to double in 2022, from an average of €110/Mwh in 2021 to € 223.50/Mwh in 2022, based on prices for the first quarter of the new year.

Big changes for travel to EU and Spain

There are two changes coming up for travel in and out of the European Union in 2022 that non-EU citizens such as Brits, Americans, Australians and Canadians need to be aware of.

1: EES – Entry/Exit System

This doesn’t change anything in terms of the visas or documents required for travel, or the rights of travellers, but it does change how the EU’s external borders are policed.

It’s essentially a security upgrade, the current system that relies on border guards stamping passports and calculating the length of stay of individuals will be replaced with an electronic swipe in/swipe out system that will register more details such as immigration status.

2: ETIAS – European Travel Information and Authorisation System

This is relevant only to non-EU citizens who do not live permanently in an EU country or have a visa for an EU country.

Citizens of many non-EU countries including the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have up to now been able spend up to 90 days in every 180 in the EU or Schengen zone without needing a visa – the so-called ’90 day rule’.

From 2022 this will change – people are still entitled to spend up to 90 days in every 180, but the process will no-longer be completely admin free. Instead, travellers will have to fill out an online application before they travel.

Once issued, the authorisation lasts for three years, so frequent travellers do not need to complete a new application every time but it must be renewed every three years. Each application costs €7, but is free for under 18s and over 70s.

READ MORE: Passport scans and €7 fee – What will change for EU travel in 2022

Property prices up

The increase in demand, the comparatively small pool of pandemic-proof residential properties available in Spain have, together with other factors, caused house prices to grow by 9.5 percent over the course of 2021. 

Most Spanish real estate experts agree this scenario will be largely replicated in 2022, with estimated price increases next year going from 4 percent to 10 percent. 

READ MORE: Spanish property news – Buying in 2022

New Startups Law for foreigners 

Spain’s new Startups Law hopes to attract foreign companies by making it easier for startups to choose Spain by giving them tax reductions. 

It also aims to entice foreign remote workers and digital nomads to Spain by creating a new special visa for them. 

“This law will put Spain at the forefront in the creation of these companies,” said Second Vice President and Minister of the Economy, Nadia Calviño, adding that it comes “at a time when there are more and more entrepreneurial digital nomads and investors who can work from anywhere in the world”. 

Although the law will still have to go through another round of government approval, sources from the Ministry of Economic Affairs indicate that it will finally be passed by the summer of 2022.

READ MORE: Tax cuts and visas – Spain’s new law for startups, investors and digital nomads

Life to be more expensive in 2022

As is the case with electricity and properties, the cost of other popular goods is expected to rise in Spain in the new year as the highest inflation in three decades drives prices up.

The causes are the same as across the globe: a shortage of supplies, the microchip crisis, the rise in oil prices and the increase in the cost of raw materials.

According to a survey published by the Bank of Spain, 60 percent of companies plan to raise the price of their products in 2022.

Cars, mobiles, beer, avocados, bread, olive oil and eating out are all expected to cost more in the new year in Spain.

2022 the year of the 4-day work week?

In early 2021, the Spanish government announced it would provide €50 million in funding to 200 companies who tested out the effectiveness of a four-day working week.

The aim of this would be to see if productivity and wellbeing can be increased within a shorter four-day work week, whilst maintaining employees’ wages at the same level.

Spain’s Labour Minister Yolanda Díaz has announced that in 2022 her department will carry out the reform of the law which allows for a shorter work week and more flexible working hours, subject to “complex” negotiations with business associations and unions.

“We want people who want to be mothers and fathers to be able to do so and in conditions of dignity, so that we don’t have to choose between a career and seeing our children,” the minister said last September.

Changes for self-employed workers  

If you’re an ‘autónomo’ (self-employed worker) in Spain, we’ve got a specific article which details the most important changes you should be aware of that will come into force next year, from imminent tax rises to the financial aid available from regional and national governments.

READ MORE: Self-employed in Spain: the key changes to expect in 2022

Changes to driving laws

The Spanish government has recently published the country’s new traffic laws which are due to come into effect mostly on March 21st 2022. 

Here’s a rundown of the major changes and fines, from the new rules for overtaking to the stiff penalties for holding a phone at the wheel.

READ MORE: Driving in Spain – the new rules and fines in 2022

Vehicle registration tax

On January 1st 2022, Spain’s Registration Tax will also increase, which will make 40 percent of new vehicles 5 percent more expensive, on average €800 more than in 2021.

Spain’s vehicle registration tax (impuesto de matriculación) is a once-off sum which is paid when you buy a new vehicle, a rate which varies depending on the vehicle’s emissions.

Better conditions for temporary workers

On Tuesday December 28th, the Spanish government approved its labour reform for 2022. 

The legislation includes protections for temporary workers, severance pay, retraining funds and a whole host of other measures designed to lessen precarious work in Spain. You can read about it in detail in the link below. 

READ MORE: How Spain plans to empower its precarious workers

New Housing Law

Back in October, Spain’s left-wing coalition government agreed on the country’s Housing Budget for 2022 and with it big changes to the country’s property laws.

This includes rental price freezes, a tax on empty homes, more public housing, a €250 monthly rental allowance which you can read about more closely here

The proposed new legislation still has to be approved by the Spanish Cabinet in January 2022 and lots of questions still have to be answered and so far it has received plenty of opposition from right-wing parties PP and VOX.

A mediator for divorce proceedings

Spain’s Procedural Efficiency Law will go up for debate in the Spanish Parliament in 2022 and advocates for mediation and arbitration as a mandatory procedure before filing for any divorce or inheritance litigation. 

In other words, the aim is to make it easier to solve conflicts outside of the courts and lower the bureaucratic burden.

If an agreement is not reached by these independent and neutral figures who seek a good solution for both parties, then a legal claim can be filed, the draft law proposes.

No more pay phones

After 93 years of existence in Spain, the days are now technically numbered for public telephones in the country. 

In mid-November, Spain’s Council of Ministers approved a decree which removes the payphone public service requirement from Spanish legislation from 2022.

Although the green, grey and blue Telefónica payphones are a piece of nostalgia for many who have lived in Spain for a long time, they’re now falling into disrepair, they don’t have the visual appeal of the UK’s red phone boxes and only 20 percent of Spain’s current population of 47 million people has ever used one.

READ MORE: 2022 to spell official ‘adiós’ for Spain’s public payphones

A deal for British licence holders?

On December 21st, the UK ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott announced he had requested another extension to the validity of UK licences in Spain past the looming December 31st deadline, adding that “I’m expecting them to grant this extension before the end of the year”.

Even though this would potentially give UK licence holders in Spain more time to legally drive in Spain post-Brexit, what this group would prefer would be a deal regarding the easy exchange or recognition of their driving documents without having to sit their driving test. 

According to Elliott, “negotiations are progressing” regarding a licence exchange deal. 

These talks have been going on for all of 2021 with three extensions allowing for discussions to continue, but it’s hard to envision a scenario where there won’t be an agreement – or confirmation that there isn’t one – over the course of 2022. 

Member comments

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


Why are Spanish homes so dark?

Despite being known for its year-long sunny weather, Spain is the EU country with the fewest homes with natural light, often intentionally. Why is it that when it comes to spending time at home, Spaniards seem to love being in the dark?

Why are Spanish homes so dark?

Spain – the land of sunshine. The country gets between 2,500 and 3,000 hours of sun per year on average, almost double the 1,600 hours the UK gets, for example.

You’d probably assume that finding a bright apartment in such a sunny country would be a piece of cake, but unless you’re renting or buying a modern home, it might be trickier than you realise.

More than one in ten Spaniards live in dwellings they feel are “too dark” – the highest percentage among all EU countries, according to figures from Eurostat.

As far as dark homes go, Spain is head and shoulders above the EU average of 5.9 percent, and higher than other nations with a high rate of gloomy homes such as France (9.5 percent), Malta (9.4 percent) and Hungary (7.7 percent).

At the other end of the brightly lit spectrum, it’s no surprise to see that countries with cloudier skies and darker winters such as Norway, Slovakia, Estonia, Czechia and the Netherlands have homes that let in plenty of natural light, and yet Spain’s sun-kissed Mediterranean neighbours Italy and Cyprus do make the most of the readily available light.

Dark homes are almost twice as common in Spain as the EU average. Graph: Eurostat.

So why are Spanish homes so dark?

Is it a case of hiding away from the sun, and keeping cool during the summer months? Or is it something else? 

Apartment blocks

The vast majority of Spaniards live in apartments as opposed to houses, often in tightly-packed cities with narrow streets.

In fact, in Spain 64.6 percent of the population lives in flats or apartments, second in the EU after Latvia (65.9 percent.)

By contrast the EU wide average is 46.1 percent.

By nature of apartment living, Spanish homes tend to get less sunlight.

Depending on whether they have an exterior or interior flat, they might not actually have a single window in the flat that faces the street.

If the apartment is on a lower floor, the chances of it receiving natural light are even lower. Internal patios can help to solve this to some extent, but only during the mid day and early afternoon hours. 

why are spanish homes so dark

A dark, narrow street in the centre of Palma de Mallorca. Photo: seth0s/Pixabay

Hot summers

During Spain’s scorching summer months, there’s no greater relief than stepping into a darkened apartment building lobby and feeling the temperature drop. 

In southern Spain, and in coastal regions, Spanish buildings were traditionally built to protect against the heat and hide away from the long sunny hours. White walled exteriors and dark interiors help to keep homes cool.

It’s often the case that bedrooms are put in the darkest, coolest part of the apartment, sometimes with just a box-window to allow for a breeze but no sunlight.

Spaniards’ obsession with blinds and shutters

Spain is pretty much the only country in Europe whose inhabitants still use blinds (persianas), even during the colder winter months.

In this case, rather than it just being down to keeping homes cool during the sweltering summer months, their usage is intrinsic to Spain’s Moorish past and the fact that they provide a degree of privacy from nosy neighbours. By contrast, northern Europeans with Calvinist roots such as the Dutch keep the curtains open to let in natural light and because historically speaking, keeping the inside of homes visible from the street represents not having anything to hide. But in Spain, the intimacy of one’s home is sacrosanct, especially when the neighbour in the apartment building opposite is less then ten metres away.

Keeping the blinds or shutters down also has the advantage of making it easier to have an afternoon nap (the siesta, of course) or to sleep in late after a long night out on the town. 

In any case, it seems hard to believe for some foreigners that many Spaniards are happy to live in the dark whilst spending time at home, regardless of whether they’re sleeping or not. 

A byproduct of this? Dark, gloomy homes.

why are spanish homes so dark

Spaniards aren’t fans of airing their dirty laundry, at least metaphorically speaking. Blinds have historically provided the privacy they’ve wanted from their homes. Photo: Quino Al/Unsplash

The long, dark corridors

Spanish apartments have plenty of quirks that seem odd to outsiders, from the light switches being outside of the room, the aforementioned shutters, the bottles of butane and last but not least, the never-ending corridors. 

Most Spanish homes built in the 19th and 20th century include these long pasillos running from the entrance to the end of the flat. They were meant to provide a separation between the main living spaces and the service rooms (kitchen, bathroom etc), easy access to all and better airing and light capabilities. But when the doors to the rooms are closed as often happens, these corridors become the opposite of what was intended: dark and airless.

Navigating these windowless corridors at night is akin to waking around blindfolded.

dark corridor spain

Light at the end of the tunnel? Dark corridors are a common feature of Spanish homes. (Photo by Josep LAGO / AFP)

Are Spaniards rethinking their dark homes?

Times are changing, and modern designs are experimenting with more spacious, light-filled, open-plan apartments, especially as the Covid-19 lockdown forced many Spaniards to reconsider their abodes. 

It’s also increasingly common to see property ads stressing that the property is diáfano, which means that natural light enters the home from all sides.

However, the vast majority of Spanish homes are still gloomy for the most part, often intentionally.

A combination of traditional building styles, the crowded nature of apartment block living, the use of shutters, the desire to keep homes private, and the long windowless corridors mean Spanish flats can seem dark if you’re new to the country, and with good reason.

Ultimately, it is worth remembering that Spanish society is one that largely lives its life outdoors. Living in smaller apartments, Spaniards generally spend less time at home and more time out and about in the street.

Native to a hot and sunny country as they are, Spaniards’ homes are a place of rest, relaxation and, crucially, sleep.

Spanish people have enough sunlight and heat in their lives; they like to live, therefore, in homes designed to keep cool and dark.

READ ALSO: Why are Spanish homes so cold?