So, you want to move to Spain?

There are many reasons to want to live in Spain. The climate is warm and pleasant. The natural landscapes are breathtaking, and with a guaranteed 22 vacation days a year, you have the time to enjoy them.

Culturally, Spanish people are kind, welcoming, and outgoing. This generosity also includes the public services offered. Spain has an affordable, functioning public healthcare system, and a safe and effective public transit system. If you live in the city, you don’t need a car! The cost of living is much lower than all of the U.S. due to these public services. Who wouldn’t want to join that?

Left Image: A public transit card – Є20.00 a month for unlimited trips within the community of Madrid.

The process of getting residency and the corresponding paperwork is the biggest downside of Spain. Paperwork in Spain can be filled with Catch-22s, and good information isn’t always available for what you need. I’ve had many situations where I entered my documents not knowing if I did anything wrong, so I will save you from that trauma and share the whole process as thoroughly as possible.

A sneak peak at the bureaucratic process in Spain

There are 4 main ways to get residency into Spain: being wealthy, convincing a Spaniard to marry you, having a specialized job/skill, or teaching English through any number of programs in Spain. Each pathway has its own pros and cons. I’ve tried the latter 3 to some extent.

1. Being wealthy: if you invest into Spanish investments (real estate or otherwise), you can get residency without permission to work. Cons: you can’t work, and you need to have a lot of money to spare.

Pros: You can finance your own visa and almost guarantee acceptance.

Cons: You can’t work, and you need to have a lot of money to spare.

2. Convincing a Spaniard to marry you. I asked my Spanish girlfriend and was told “no”. That’s Spanish for “no”.

Pros: Commitment.

Cons: Commitment.

3. Having a specialized skill/ job. This seemed to be promising when I first pursued it. I had a double major Bachelor’s and a professional job. It should have been easy, but the government is quite strict on this in my experience. They make the process long, expensive, and uncertain for the company hiring you. Not good for business, so it always fell apart for me.

Pros: For those lucky enough to be in an in demand specialized field, you can get a visa and a job in one swoop.

Cons: What type of company is willing to go through half a year of paperwork while financing a lawyer to maybe have a high quality worker when the process finishes?

4. Teaching English through a special program. If you are a native English speaker and have a Bachelor’s degree in anything, Spain wants you. You’ll get assigned as a part-time English auxiliary teacher.

Pros: It’s secure and you have support through the school and local community.

Cons: You don’t control exactly where you are placed. Not everyone loves teaching, and there is a 5 year limit on the program. After staying for 3 years though, you will have more opportunities to get residency through work.


Additionally, if you have a Spanish partner, you can apply for pareja de hecho and later on get residency through that, but it’s a very difficult process. It is almost impossible unless you have lived together in Spain for some time, have secure jobs and/or savings, and have a well documented record of your relationship. That’s why it’s important to get to Spain first through another method.

In conclusion, immigration is a long and arduous process, but it can be worth it for those that want to experience life abroad. Throughout my website, I will guide you through how I was able to obtain and maintain my residency in Spain. I will also include articles on the happy and interesting parts of living abroad as an American. Try to stay organized as you follow along. I hope you will enjoy your move to Spain!

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