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Are you an American who dreams of moving to Spain from the US? Worry no more, as this article will guide you through such a path!

Last Updated on June 11, 2024 by Maryam Siddiqui

Moving to Spain from the US is an exciting adventure that offers a chance to experience a new culture, language, and way of life. Spain is a popular destination for American expats due to its stunning landscapes, vibrant cities, and laid-back lifestyle.

However, the process of moving to Spain can be complex. This includes various visa requirements, tax implications, and practical considerations to navigate.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to make your move to Spain a success.


How Can Americans Obtain A Visa To Live In Spain?

If you wish to live in Spain for an extended period, you must obtain the appropriate visa. The type of visa required depends on the purpose of your stay, such as work, study, or retirement. 

Spain offers several visa options for Americans, each with its own requirements and application process:

  • Non-Lucrative Visa: For retirees and those who do not intend to work in Spain.
  • Golden Visa: For investors who make a significant financial investment.
  • Work Visa: For individuals who have secured employment in Spain.

To apply for a Spanish visa, you must submit the required documents to the nearest Spanish consulate or embassy in the United States. 

The application process may take several weeks or months, so it is essential to plan ahead and gather all necessary documentation before applying.

Types Of Visa To Spain

If you plan to move to Spain, you have several visa options to choose from, depending on your purpose for relocating. 

The most common visas for Americans include the Non-Lucrative Visa, Working Visa, Business Visa, and Digital Nomad Visa. Each visa type has its own set of requirements and application processes, tailored to your specific needs.

To apply for a Spanish visa, you must submit the required documents to the nearest Spanish consulate or embassy in the United States. 

The application process may take several weeks or months, so it is essential to plan ahead and gather all necessary documentation before applying.

Non-Lucrative Visa

The Non-Lucrative Visa is ideal for you if you wish to retire or live in Spain without working. 

This visa is designed for individuals who have sufficient financial resources to support themselves without engaging in any professional activity in Spain. 

You must demonstrate that they have enough funds to cover their living expenses and must obtain private health insurance. 

The specific financial requirements can vary, but generally, applicants need to show a regular monthly income or substantial savings. 

This visa is typically granted for one year and can be renewed for two-year periods.


  • Proof of sufficient financial means (bank statements, pension statements, etc.)
  • Private health insurance coverage
  • Clean criminal record
  • Medical certificate proving good health

Working Visa

The Working Visa allows you to be employed by a Spanish company. To obtain this visa, you must first secure a job offer from a Spanish employer.

The employer must then obtain approval from the Spanish Ministry of Labor. They will involve demonstrating that there are no suitable candidates from Spain or the EU for the position. 

The job offer must meet minimum salary requirements, which vary depending on the type of job and region in Spain.


  • Valid job offer from a Spanish employer
  • Approval from the Spanish Ministry of Labor
  • Employment contract
  • Proof of qualifications and experience
  • Clean criminal record
  • Medical certificate proving good health

Business Visa

The Business Visa suits you if you plan to start a business or invest in an existing company in Spain. 

This visa is aimed at entrepreneurs and investors who can contribute to the Spanish economy. 

You must provide a detailed business plan, proof of sufficient funds to invest in the business and demonstrate the potential economic impact of their business activities.


  • Detailed business plan
  • Proof of sufficient investment funds
  • Evidence of business activities and economic impact
  • Clean criminal record
  • Medical certificate proving good health

Digital Nomad Visa

The Digital Nomad Visa is a new option designed for remote workers and freelancers who wish to live in Spain while working for non-Spanish companies or clients. 

This visa allows you to reside in Spain while continuing your work remotely. You must prove they have a stable income from remote work and obtain private health insurance.


  • Proof of remote work or freelance contracts
  • Evidence of sufficient income
  • Private health insurance coverage
  • Clean criminal record
  • Medical certificate proving good health

These visa options provide various pathways for you to live and work in Spain. Each of them has their own set of advantages and specific requirements. 

It is essential to carefully consider the purpose of the move and choose the visa type that best aligns with one’s personal and professional goals.

Best Places To Live In Spain

Spain offers a diverse range of cities and regions that cater to the unique preferences of Americans moving to the country. 

From vibrant metropolitan areas to picturesque coastal towns, Spain has something for everyone.


Madrid, the capital city of Spain, is a bustling metropolis that attracts many expats with its rich cultural heritage, excellent transportation system, and thriving international community. 

The city is home to world-renowned museums like the Prado, vibrant neighborhoods such as Malasaña and Chueca, and beautiful parks like El Retiro. 

Madrid’s nightlife is legendary, with countless bars, restaurants, and clubs open until the early hours of the morning.

Additionally, the city’s central location makes it an ideal base for exploring other parts of Spain and Europe.


Located on the Mediterranean coast, Barcelona is known for its stunning architecture, world-class cuisine, and cosmopolitan atmosphere. 

The city is famous for its unique blend of modern and Gothic architecture, with landmarks such as the Sagrada Familia and Park Güell designed by Antoni Gaudí. 

Barcelona’s vibrant food scene offers everything from traditional tapas to innovative Michelin-starred restaurants. 

The city’s beaches, mild climate, and lively cultural scene make it a popular destination for expats seeking a dynamic and diverse urban lifestyle.


Valencia, situated on the southeastern coast of Spain, offers a more relaxed lifestyle compared to the larger cities.

Known for its beautiful beaches, mild climate, and lower cost of living, Valencia is an attractive option for those looking to enjoy a high quality of life without breaking the bank. 

The city is famous for its futuristic City of Arts and Sciences, a cultural and architectural complex that includes a planetarium, an opera house, and an interactive science museum. 

Valencia’s growing expat community and excellent transportation links make it an increasingly popular choice for international residents.


Alicante, another coastal city, is renowned for its stunning beaches, historic old town, and vibrant nightlife. 

The city’s mild climate year-round makes it an ideal location for those who love outdoor activities and waterfront living. Alicante’s picturesque marina, palm-lined promenades, and charming neighborhoods create a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.

The city’s international airport and efficient public transport system provide easy access to other parts of Spain and Europe, making it a convenient and attractive destination for expats.


Located in the heart of the Costa del Sol, Málaga is known for its beautiful beaches, rich history, and warm climate. 

The city’s historic center boasts a mix of Moorish and Spanish architecture, with highlights such as the Alcazaba fortress and the Cathedral of Málaga. 

Málaga’s vibrant cultural scene includes numerous museums, theaters, and art galleries, making it a hub for artists and creatives. 

The city’s lower cost of living and growing expat community, combined with its excellent transportation links, make it a popular choice for those seeking a more relaxed and affordable lifestyle in Spain.

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Consider The Cost Of Living

If you are planning on moving to Spain, you should carefully consider the cost of living when planning their relocation. 

While the overall cost of living in Spain is lower than in many parts of the United States, expenses can vary significantly depending on the specific location and lifestyle preferences.

Major cities like Madrid and Barcelona tend to have higher costs for housing, transportation, and dining out compared to smaller cities and rural areas. 

However, these metropolitan areas also offer a wider range of employment opportunities and amenities that may justify the higher expenses.

Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course50.00 €
Milk (regular), (1 liter), Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g), Rice (white), (1kg), Beef Round (1kg) (or Equivalent Back Leg Red Meat)16.74 €
One-way Ticket (Local Transport)1.50 €
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment132.44 €
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre951.55 €
Data is from Numbeo (as of June 2024).

To manage costs effectively, you should research the local housing market, transportation options, and everyday expenses in their desired location. 

Creating a realistic budget based on their income and lifestyle will help ensure a smooth transition and a financially sustainable life in Spain.

What About Taxes In Spain?

Also, you must familiarize yourself with the Spanish tax system and their obligations as residents. Taxes in Spain can be complex, and it is crucial to understand how they apply to your specific situation. 

Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Residency Status and Tax Implications:

If you spend more than 183 days in Spain within a calendar year, you are considered a tax resident. This means you’ll be taxed on your worldwide income, not just the income you earn in Spain.

  1. Income Tax:

Spanish income tax is progressive, with rates ranging from 19% to 47%. The exact rate depends on your income level.

  1. Double Taxation Treaty:

Spain and the United States have a tax treaty in place to prevent double taxation. This means that while you may have to file taxes in both countries, there are provisions to avoid paying tax twice on the same income.

Understanding how to apply this treaty to your situation is critical. 

It’s often beneficial to seek professional advice regarding taxation in Spain. That is why VIV Europe is here to help you achieve a smooth transition into moving to Spain from the US.

Opening a Bank Account in Spain

Opening a bank account in Spain is an essential step for managing your finances as an American expat. 

To open an account, you will need to provide proof of identity, proof of address in Spain, and your Foreigner Identification Number (NIE).

The process typically involves:

  • Choosing a bank and scheduling an appointment
  • Gathering the required documentation
  • Completing the application and providing a minimum deposit

If you need help obtaining an NIE, Viv Europe is here to assist you throughout the entire process!

Finding A House In Spain

Finding a suitable place to live is a crucial aspect of moving to Spain from the US.

You have the option to either rent or buy property, depending on your long-term plans and financial situation.

Understanding the pros and cons of each option will help you make an informed decision and ensure a smoother transition to your new life in Spain.

Renting vs. Buying Property in Spain

When deciding between renting and buying property in Spain, you should consider your long-term plans, financial situation, and the local real estate market. As you finally fulfill your dream of moving to Spain from the US, it’s ideal for you to decide whether or not you want to rent or buy a property.

Each option comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, making it essential to evaluate these factors carefully before making a decision.

Renting Property


  • Flexibility: Renting offers more flexibility, allowing expats to move easily if their circumstances change.
  • Lower Initial Costs: Renting requires less upfront investment compared to buying a property.
  • Maintenance: Landlords typically handle major maintenance and repairs, reducing the tenant’s responsibilities and expenses.


  • Lack of Equity: Rent payments do not contribute to building equity, meaning no financial return on the monthly expenditure.
  • Rent Increases: Rent prices can increase over time, potentially making long-term renting more expensive.

Buying Property


  • Investment Potential: Buying property can be a good investment, with potential appreciation in value over time. 
  • Stability: Owning a home provides long-term stability and the freedom to make modifications.
  • Tax Benefits: There are various tax incentives and deductions available for property owners in Spain.


  • Higher Initial Costs: Buying a property involves significant upfront costs, including a down payment, taxes, and legal fees.
  • Maintenance and Repairs: Homeowners are responsible for all maintenance and repairs, which can be costly.

Market Trends and Data

  • Rental Market: The rental market in Spain is competitive, especially in major cities. Average rental prices in Madrid are around €1,200 per month for a one-bedroom apartment, while in Barcelona, it is slightly higher at €1,300 per month.
  • Property Prices: Property prices in Spain have shown a steady increase. As of 2023, the average cost per square meter in Madrid is approximately €3,500, and in Barcelona, it is about €4,000.
  • Investment Returns: The Spanish property market has been attractive for investors, with rental yields in major cities ranging from 3% to 5%, depending on the location and type of property.

Renting a Property in Spain

Flexibility and Mobility: Renting offers significant flexibility, which is particularly beneficial for those who may not be certain about their long-term plans or are looking to explore different regions of Spain. It allows individuals to move without the burden of selling a property, making it easier to adapt to changing circumstances, such as new job opportunities or personal preferences.

Lower Upfront Costs: One of the main advantages of renting is the lower initial financial commitment. Renters typically need to pay a security deposit and the first month’s rent.

Maintenance and Responsibilities: Renters usually do not have to worry about maintenance and repairs, as these are typically the landlord’s responsibility. 

Buying a Property in Spain

Purchasing a property allows individuals to build equity over time. 

Instead of paying rent to a landlord, mortgage payments contribute to owning the property outright. 

This can be a financially advantageous move in the long term, especially in a market where property values are appreciating.

Here are the average property prices in various Spanish cities:

CityAverage Price per m2

Data are estimates drawn from AQ Acentor.

Customization and Personalization: Homeowners have the freedom to customize and renovate their property to suit their personal tastes and needs. 

Investment Potential: Real estate can be a solid investment, potentially providing rental income or appreciating in value.

Stability and Security: Owning a home offers a sense of stability and security. It eliminates the uncertainty of lease renewals or rent increases and allows individuals to establish roots in their chosen community.

Finally, Moving To Spain

If you have completed the necessary paperwork and secured your visa, you can finally make the move to Spain. 

You should plan your travel arrangements, including booking flights and arranging for the transportation of personal belongings. It is also essential to research and secure temporary accommodation before arriving in Spain, giving you time to find a more permanent home once settled.

Upon arrival in Spain, Americans must register with local authorities and obtain a residence card. 

This process involves visiting the nearest Foreigner’s Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) or police station to submit the required documents, such as the visa, Passport, and proof of address. Registering with the local town hall (Ayuntamiento) is also necessary to access public services and benefits.

As you adjust to the process of moving to Spain from the US, you should embrace the local culture. Part of such a commitment is to also learn the language and build a support network. 

Joining expat communities, attending language classes, and participating in local events can help foster a sense of belonging and make the transition to living in Spain a more enjoyable and fulfilling experience.

Practical Tips for Settling In

Once you have successfully reached your dream of moving to Spain from the US, there are several practical steps you must take. You need to ensure that you keep these in mind so you can fully integrate into your new community.

Registering with local authorities, understanding the Spanish utility system, and making an effort to engage with the local culture are all essential aspects of settling into life in Spain.

By addressing these matters promptly and proactively, you can ensure a smooth transition and begin to feel at home in their new surroundings.


Registering with the Local Authorities

Upon arriving in Spain, you must register with the local authorities to obtain a residence card. 

This process involves visiting the nearest Foreigner’s Office or police station and submitting the required documents:

  • Documents Required for Residence Card
  • Valid Passport
  • Visa
  • Proof of address in Spain

Understanding the Spanish Utility System

Understanding how utilities work in Spain is key to a smooth transition for you. 

You will need to set up accounts for electricity, gas, water, and internet services. 

Researching providers, rates, and required documents beforehand can help simplify the process of getting utilities connected in your new home.

Integrating into the Community

To fully embrace life in Spain, you should make an effort to integrate into the local community. 

Attending language classes, participating in cultural events, and joining expat groups can help you build connections and feel more at home in your new surroundings.

Attending Language Classes

One of the most effective ways to integrate into the local community is to learn the language. Attending language classes not only helps in overcoming communication barriers but also demonstrates a genuine interest in the culture.

Participating in Cultural Events

From flamenco shows and tapas tours to local festivals like La Tomatina and Las Fallas, there are countless opportunities to experience the unique aspects of Spanish culture. 

Engaging in these events not only provides entertainment and education but also opens doors to meeting new people and forming lasting friendships.

As you succeed in moving to Spain from the US, keep in mind that you need to integrate yourself into its society. A beautiful gesture of doing so is familiarizing yourself with local cultural events.

Joining Expat Groups

While integrating into the local community is important, connecting with fellow expats can also be beneficial. Joining expat groups provides a support network of people who are going through similar experiences. 

As you fulfill your dream of moving to Spain from the US, you also need to meet new people. These groups often organize social events, provide practical advice, and offer a sense of community. 

Why Are American Expats Moving To Spain From the US?

American expats are increasingly drawn to Spain for its high quality of life, rich cultural heritage, and welcoming atmosphere. 

The country’s relaxed lifestyle, excellent healthcare system, and affordable cost of living compared to many parts of the United States make it an attractive destination for Americans seeking a change of pace.

The American expat community in Spain has been growing significantly. 

According to the US Department of State, approximately 76,000 Americans resided in Spain as of 2022, a notable increase from previous years. 

Spain’s diverse landscape and climate offer something for everyone, from the vibrant cities of Madrid and Barcelona to the stunning coastal towns along the Mediterranean. 

The country’s emphasis on work-life balance, with ample time for leisure activities and socializing, appeals to many Americans. This is true, especially for those who wish to escape their home country’s fast-paced, high-stress environment.

Additionally, Spain’s location in Europe provides easy access to other countries and cultures, allowing American expats to explore and broaden their horizons. 

With a growing community of American expats already living in Spain, newcomers can find support and guidance as they navigate the process of moving and adapting to life in a new country.

Do You Need Help Moving To Spain From Us?

Now, you finally learned everything you need to know when trying to achieve the dream of moving to Spain from the US. Are you ready to pack your things and fulfill your dreams?

Contact Viv Europe for assistance as you finally reach your aspirations of living in Spain!



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