Healthplan Spain


Woman checking her list Checklist For When Moving To Spain Expat Tips

Moving anywhere is always a mammoth job, but if you are moving to Spain, or anywhere abroad for that matter, the mammoth task becomes a gargantuan one. It’s not the physical side of course – that remains pretty much the same wherever you go, it’s more the organisational side of things. The problem is of course that once you have “upped sticks”, if you do find later on that you’ve forgotten to take care of something, it can be much more difficult to try and do it remotely, from a foreign country. So, in order to help you not to forget anything before moving to Spain, here’s a checklist that you can use to cover your bases. 

Create Your Own Individual Checklist

Although on the face of it you might think this is some sort of “cop out”, it’s not. If we were to try and compile a checklist to cover every possible eventuality, it would probably stretch from here to the moon. So, first things first, take some quality time out; sit down quietly and without any interruptions, and think about all the things that happen automatically, and that will continue to do so, unless you purposely stop them; things such as:

  • Accommodation: (12 months before moving day) Decide on whether you will be buying a property in Spain or whether you will renting long term until you buy your own property. Now (2015) is a good time to buy in Spain with property prices at an all time low. Saying that, it is always prudent to rent before buying just in case things do not work out and you need to move back again. If you are buying, make sure you use a reputable currency broker who will normally offer you much better exchange rates than your bank.
  • Spanish Schooling: (12 months before moving day) If your moving to Spain with young children you will need to give plenty of thought to the issue of schooling. In Spain you have two main options which is a state run Spanish school or a paid International school. There are pro’s and con’s for both. Things to think about are the cost of an international school in Spain which may set you back somewhere in the region of 4,000 to 10,000 Euro’s per year per child. Also, the older a child is the harder it is for them to integrate into a Spanish school, especially if they do not speak the language.
  • Language: (12 months before moving day) Don’t forget that Spain is a foreign country and that they speak their own language. Yes, there are UK ex-pat communities in many places, but if you don’t speak any Spanish whatsoever, you’ll find yourself in difficulties, especially when dealing with the local authorities. So, take a language course (even if it’s one you do at home – there’s plenty of options on the internet), and also, get yourself a good phrasebook. Or read our page on essential Spanish phrases you should know.
  • Pets: (6-12 months before moving day) If you’ve got any pets, then you need to: (a) make sure that they have a pet passport, that it is up to date and that your pet has had all of its jabs. Next you need to consider how they’re going to travel; in with you if you’re driving; in the aircraft if you’re flying, or with a special per courier. If you’re going to use a courier, then organise it well in advance, and coordinate it with our own travel arrangements.
  • Car: (6 months before moving day) If you are a driver, you may want to consider whether or not to take your current vehicle to Spain. It can be quite expensive to register (Matriculation) and you will also need to find extra money for the transportation of the vehicle. Many removal companies can do this for you but It can work out to be quite costly. Another thing to remember is that the Spanish drive on the right, which means cars there are left hand drive. Driving a right hand car in Spain is not ideal and may prove a little difficult. 
  • Removals: (3-6 months before moving day): It is most likely that you will moving some of your belongings with you, so one of the very first things you need to do is to hire a removal company to transport your belongings to Spain. Contact between 3 to 5 companies and get the best quote that you can. Also make sure that your items are fully insured and that the company has a good reputation and solid references/testimonials. You will also want to make sure that the delivery of your belongings coincides with your arrival in Spain. So don’t arrive two weeks before your furniture or you may have to stay in a hotel.
  • Finances: (3 months before moving day) Any standing orders or direct debits that you might have. The best way of doing this, (so you don’t miss anything) is to go over your bank statements. But don’t just check the last 3 or 4 months – go back a year. Some things get charged annually and can easily slip your mind until it’s too late. There’s nothing more frustrating than finding someone’s taken money out of your account and then you’ve got to start chasing them to try and recover it. There may of course be some things that you might want to keep – such as a fee for an internet publication for example. It’s just a case of going over everything and carrying out a review as to whether or not it’s something you’ll find useful to receive once you’ve relocated to Spain.
  • NIE Number: (3 months before moving day) It’s also a good idea to get your Spanish NIE number in place before you arrive in Spain. Your NIE number is your own individual national ID number. Everyone has one who is resident in Spain – even the locals have their own version. You’ll find that if you want to do any financial transactions (like buying a car for instance); you won’t be able to even start the deal without your NIE number.
  • Pack and Declutter: (1-3 months before moving day) As every inch on a removal truck will cost you money, it is wise to go through all of your belongings and throw out any items that you will no longer be needing. Be ruthless, as removal costs are not cheap and you could save yourself quite a bit of money in the process.
  • Medical Care: (1-3 months before moving day) Last, but by no means least you’ll need to consider how you’re going to get medical assistance (should you need it) once you’ve moved to Spain. You must at least have an EHIC card (European Health Insurance Card), which you can obtain from the NHS in the UK. This entitles you to free emergency medical care in a participating EU country such as Spain, but is no longer valid once you are a full time resident. Be warned though, Spain has recently announced budget cuts to the tune of 20 Billion Euro’s which will hit medical care and education. They have also indicated that foreigners may lose their right to any form of medical treatment in Spain. This is why it is so important to make sure that you have private health insurance cover in place when living here. We at Health Plan Spain have a number of policies on offer to fit your personal circumstances and budgets. See a list of our policies here
  • Check Passports: (1-3 months before moving day) Although you can renew your UK passport while living in Spain, you may want to check that it has not expired prior to your departure. We wouldn't want you to miss that flight now would we?
  • Notify: (1 month before moving day) Whenever you move, whether at home or abroad there are always many people and companies you will need to notify to update your information or to cancel your contracts. A month or so before you move, make a nice long list of everyone that will need to be informed including the inland revenue, credit card companies, bank, utility companies, schools, and store cards. If you are employed you may also want to let your employer know!
  • Mail Redirection: (1 month before moving day) In case you forget to cancel all of your subscriptions or forget to notify someone, it is a good idea to redirect your post. Royal Mail in the U.K allows you to redirect to a foreign country via air mail. Three months should be sufficient for you to tie up any lose ends.
  • Return Library books and cancel magazine subscriptions: (1 month before moving day) If you have loaned any books from your local library, you will need to return this prior to moving. You may also want to arrange the cancellation of any magazine or newspaper subscriptions that you may have if they are no longer required.
  • Spanish Utilities: (2 weeks before moving day) If you will be moving into a new home, it is a good idea to make sure those utilities such as water and electricity are switched on prior to your arrival. You don’t want to turn up only to find out that you are going to have to spend the next few days chasing up the utility companies. A lawyer in Spain will normally help you do this or a local Gestor.
  • Suitcase Contents: (2 weeks before moving day) Think about the clothes you will want to take with you. Spain is warm and hot for most of the year so make sure that the items that you take reflect the climate you will be moving to.
  • Local Currency: (2 weeks before moving day) You don’t want to turn up in Spain unable to locate a cash machine so now would be a good time to get some local currency. You may also want to check with your bank that your current debit and credit cards can be used abroad.
  • Run Down The Food: (2 weeks before moving day) At this stage in the process you will need to start running down your food cupboards, freezers and fridges. You can generally take some foods with you but they normally have to be sealed. If you do have any foods that you will not be taking and no longer need, you could always give them to a family member or neighbour.
  • Meter Readings: (day before moving day) A good practice is always to take gas and electricity meter readings prior to your moving. This would normally be done a day or two before you go.
  • Disconnect Utilities: (day before moving day) Make sure that when you leave the gas, electricity and water have been turned offer. This may depend on your own personal situation and whether you are currently a tenant, are the owner and will be renting it out or whether you have sold the property prior to moving abroad.

This covers most of the important points that you need to consider when moving to Spain. But most important of all – do your own checklist, and be as thorough as you can.

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