A Guide For People Looking To Retire to Spain from the UK

Many Britons opt for Spain as their retirement destination due to its culture and lower living expenses. However, it’s crucial to understand the distinct regulations of the UK. Prospective retirees should familiarise themselves with these nuances or seek legal counsel. This blog aims to equip you with essential information about emigrating to Spain from the UK in 2024, covering visa options, necessary paperwork, and other considerations for your relocation planning.

How Can You Retire to Spain?

The first question most people ask is, can I retire to Spain from the UK? Yes, of course. 

Your initial focus should be on understanding the impact of Brexit alterations on your retirement plans and exploring various visa options. Specifically, take into account the duration of your stay in Spain before initiating any visa applications. Should your intended stay exceed 90 days (approximately three months) within a 180-day period (roughly six months), acquiring a visa or obtaining Spanish residency becomes imperative.

Spain Retirement – Visas and Residency Permit
Luckily, individuals from the United Kingdom have the option to consider retirement in Spain, provided they possess the appropriate lawful paperwork for the accurate procedure.

The procedure comprises:

  1. Obtaining your residency authorisation within a month of your arrival.
  2. Acquiring your FNIN Number (foreigner identification tax number).
  3. Enrolling yourself at the municipal office to secure your empadronamiento certificate.

For a smoother process, the necessary documents include:

  • A valid passport.
  • Bank statements demonstrating sufficient funds to support yourself and any accompanying family members for one year.
  • A medical certificate confirming good health.
  • Proof of private health insurance until EU insurance is approved.
  • Evidence of accommodation.
  • Additional documents as required by the specific visa type.

Once you have gathered these documents, you can proceed to apply for one of the two available visas for non-EU citizens in Spain.

The Golden Visa

Spain’s Investor Visa offers residency through investments in real estate, personal ventures, or Spanish companies, alongside demonstrating financial stability for living expenses. The initial investment must be supplemented by funds equivalent to 400% of Spain’s IPREM, approximately 28,000 euros, plus 100% of the IPREM (about 7,000 euros) for each accompanying family member.

The Golden Visa provides benefits like family inclusion, streamlined paths to permanent residency and citizenship, and direct permit issuance without further residency applications. Visa holders also enjoy visa-free travel within the Schengen zone.

Non-Lucrative Visa

If you lack the funds for the Golden Visa, consider the Non-Lucrative Visa (NLV Visa) as an alternative, albeit without employment benefits in Spain. You must demonstrate financial capability to sustain yourself and your accompanying family, similar to the Golden Visa criteria: approximately 28,000 euros annually, plus an extra 7,000 euros per additional family member based on IPREM.


Upon choosing Spain for retirement, you retain eligibility for UK Pensions, the latest UK State Pensions, and pensions from fellow European Union nations where you’ve been employed. After exceeding 180 days annually in Spain, you transition into tax residency, necessitating taxes on all global assets, encompassing both state and private pensions.

Expense of Living in Spain

Based on current estimations from myspainvisa.com, an adequate retirement entails around 28,000 euros annually, translating to over 2,000 euros monthly. Alternatively, a yearly budget of 20,000 euros is viable for those mindful of expenses. Opting for locations farther from urban hubs and adopting a minimalist lifestyle can contribute to savings. 

Furthermore, Spain’s property tax rates are favourable, reflecting a distinctive valuation approach. Urban housing costs vary with location; for instance, a one-bedroom apartment in Madrid averages 900 euros monthly, but the outskirts offer lower rates, around 500 euros. 

Retirees often choose popular cities like Madrid, Valencia, Alicante, and Barcelona, despite higher living costs, while others opt for more economical regions like the Canary Islands under Spanish governance.

Best Places for Retirement in Spain

Spain provides diverse retirement options based on preferences and finances. Madrid, the bustling capital, blends tradition and culture with parks, gardens, and an efficient metro. It boasts a vibrant expat community and affordable pubs. 

Alicante, a charming coastal town, offers a small-town feel with beaches, a historic centre, and a daily central market. Valencia, balancing metropolis and beach, features a rich cultural scene and ample amenities. 

Malaga, with a pedestrian-only city centre, provides a clean, green environment, proximity to Sierra Nevada, and a relaxed lifestyle. Barcelona, a vibrant metropolis, captivates with Gaudi’s architecture, diverse culture, and Placa de Catalunya’s charm. 

Lastly, Bilbao, an industrial port turned modern hub, offers a blend of modern architecture, culture, and scenic estuary views. You can even convince yourself to move to Andorra from the UK.

Wrapping Up

Spain boasts a remarkably advanced nation with an impressive quality of life. The living expenses are considerably economical in contrast to various European counterparts. A pair can lead a content life in the downtown area with an approximate monthly expenditure of $2,000. The amiable inhabitants and laid-back way of life create an ideal environment for retirement, allowing you to enjoy your later years serenely.

Therefore, if the idea of a pleasant and sunlit retirement destination appeals to you, Spain could be a suitable choice.


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