Spain Explained

Expats in Spain: Problems and how to overcome them

Last updated on March 31st, 2020 at 10:27 am.

Living in another country is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. It exposes you to new cultures, places, often a new language, and is an incredible way to make new friends. These experiences teach you to be more open-minded, flexible and resilient, not to mention bringing plenty of fun and laughter along the way.  However, for expats in Spain problems can occur. For many, this statement comes as no surprise; after all, packing up your life and moving to a foreign country is likely to come with its challenges. However, we’re sure it’s nothing you can’t cope with. Here, we run through some common expat headaches and how to overcome them.

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1. Spanish bureaucracy

Many people in the UK complain about filling out self-assessment tax returns, ringing government call centres, or using the HMRC website. However, as many expats in Spain will attest, Spanish bureaucracy is a whole new challenge – and this is even more so the case if you don’t speak Spanish well. Lots of forms are only available in the original Spanish and several processes are meticulous and slow. 

Thankfully, the Spanish are aware of the complexity of their bureaucracy, which is why gestorías exist. Used by citizens and expats alike, these professionals can help you complete many of your documents. Equally, you can hire a financial representative to help you with your tax return. To get a recommendation for a reliable multi-lingual gestor or financial adviser, ask around in your community.

2. Finding a home

Purchasing a property abroad comes with a unique set of obstacles. The system varies across European countries and Spain comes with its own quirks. For instance, a Notary will need to approve and record documents at various stages in the process from mortgage to final sale, so you could find yourself going back and forth to their office several times. Equally, in Spain, it’s possible for backdated debt on property to pass on to the new owners. Therefore, to protect your interests and purchase property with confidence, it’s advisable to employ a reputable independent solicitor. With their assistance, you can ensure your interests are guaranteed.

3. Learning Spanish

This is an obvious one, but for expats in Spain problems with language are important. Particularly if you move to a rural area, it’s likely many of your neighbours won’t speak English. This means going about your day-to-day business might come with new challenges, like learning enough phrases to order in restaurants or do your weekly shop. However, you shouldn’t worry. Although there will be some teething problems to begin with, Spanish is easier to get to grips with than other European languages. Moreover, Spanish is a beautiful language and a delight to learn – so we’d recommend fully throwing yourself into it. With this wonderful new skill, you can make new friends and really integrate into Spanish life.

4. Staying connected to family and friends

For many, moving abroad is a big leap into the unknown so it’s unsurprising that there can be anxieties about being far away from their family and friends. Of course, some of your nearest and dearest might have trouble coming to terms with the fact that you’re leaving. However, in the age of technology, we have more options for staying in touch than ever before. Thanks to WhatsApp, Skype, email, and good old-fashioned telephone calls, there are more affordable options than ever before to stay in touch. Plus, with a beautiful home in Spain, it’s likely your friends and family will want to come and visit as much as possible!

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Expats in Spain: Problems that aren’t as big as you think

Moving to another country takes planning, support, and a good dash of courage. Sure enough, integrating into a new culture and learning a new language is difficult, but as said by many expats in Spain problems pale in insignificance compared to the rewards. Moreover, there’s plenty of places where you can find support for the more technical aspects of moving to Spain. With the help of a reliable independent lawyer and gestoría, you can navigate some of the challenges of Spanish administration. Then, all that’s left is to start planning when your family and friends can come and visit your sunny Spanish retreat. 

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Cherry Povall

26 August, 2020 12:55 pm

I am bringing a car to Spain from the UK to replace the one I have already based in Spain at my holiday home.I had help from Ex-pats six years ago when I brought the original car out. I would like to access that help again to get the new car registered in Spain.
I live in La Mata (Guardama del Segura) not far from Torrevieja and I wondered if you have details of the chap who helped before by any chance. his name was Peter. long shot I know!!
Also are you aware of any change in the regulations from Jan 1st as I am not booked to bring the new car till March in the hope that Covid19 has subsided.
I would appreciate any advice you can give me.
Thank you

Oscar Paoli

26 August, 2020 1:05 pm

Hi Cherry,

Unfortunately not sure if we have the contact details to the named Peter, sorry for the inconvenience. Nevertheless should you wish to get any further assistance in the matter please contact our partners Orke Servicios (located in Los Montesinos) who do specialize in this matter. Please find their contact details below:

Let them now you have been recommended by Ábaco Advisers.

With kind regards,

Ábaco Advisers