People who have property in Spain fall into one of two groups – resident or non-resident. You are a non-resident here if you live less than 183 days in Spain – and these don’t need to be consecutive days.
However, there is perhaps another group within the non-resident category; those people that are semi-resident and live in Spain during the winter. They could hardly be described as tourists, they are not officially resident but live in a kind of no man’s land in between.
It’s understandable why people would want to do this. For those people who have retired and live in northern Europe the milder winter weather of Spain is a definite attraction. In most coastal regions it is rare, even in the coldest months, to see snow.
It might still be chilly during the winter but most days the sun shines and it’s not raining. Put this in contrast to the weather in the north of Europe where you are likely to be snow bound, the temperatures stay well below freezing for months on end and there is very little sunlight. Which would you prefer?
Thousands of people every year take the decision to live in Spain during the winter time. Many of them may have operated this cycle every year and have become used to its foibles. We share with you our tips for long term stay in Spain.
Enjoy the better weather
Living in Spain during the winter brings a number of benefits. Of course, the weather is milder and you can take part in so many different activities. It makes a terrific amount of difference to be able to sit outside and eat, take a walk or ride a bicycle in the middle of winter without getting a frozen jaw.
Many people find that the winter ailments they have in their home country disappear during a winter spent in Spain. Rheumatism, arthritis and breathing problems can all be alleviated by the milder climate. The opportunity to take more outside exercise makes a difference too.
It can also be cheaper to live in Spain. It’s true that electricity prices have risen recently and it is not as cheap as it once was, however, with lower heating bills and the opportunity to enjoy a menu del dia for as little as 6 or 7 euros, a retired person can generally find that their money will go further whilst their quality of life is better.
Avoiding the summer
With all these advantages to living in Spain during the winter, why wouldn’t you want to stay there in the summer too? Of course, many people do, but many residents find that they much prefer the winter to the summer. In summer it can be very hot and touching around 40º. This heat is oppressive for some people and the crowds can make it worse.
It’s not true of all parts of Spain, but some places are mobbed in July and August. And not just by foreigners. Spanish people generally like to holiday at home and are just as keen to visit their own coast as someone else’s. This can mean that certain areas become very busy indeed at this time of year and those with alternatives in their home country may choose to ‘absent’ themselves at this time.
What about your property when you’re not there?
However, if you are someone who has decided to live in Spain during the winter you will also benefit from the fact that in many areas accommodation is most easily let during the summer season. If you do have your own property here and vacate it in June, July, August and September, you should have no problem finding people to rent it, if you want to.
If you don’t rent out your property whilst you’re away then you will need to consider whether you employ someone to help look after it and maintain it. Even if you decide not to do this you may well want someone to get it ready for your return. If you are leaving your property for long periods you might want to consider the kind of security you have and perhaps introduce an alarm if you don’t have one already.
Of course, there is another alternative to either renting out or paying for someone to take care of your property whilst you’re away. Many people choose to let family and friends use their property during the summer. This can mean that your family gets maximum benefit from the property, particularly if you have younger family members who want the hustle and bustle and summer madness that you’re so keen to avoid.
Less red tape
Another big advantage of only living in Spain during the winter is that you don’t have all the paper work to do that comes with being a resident here. You can maintain your current tax, health care and other arrangements in your home country. All you will need is an NIE which is your foreigner’s identity number. Other than this you can continue to hold the paper work you have already, including your European driving licence.
There will be decisions to make and tasks to do, but far fewer than if you’d taken residency. For example, you will need to consider how far you go on making it a real winter home. Do you invest in the internet? What do you do about transport? You will need to consider carefully whether you buy a car, rent one or manage without.
All in all, it is a very attractive option and one that many foreigners put into action year after year. If you used to think you can’t have the best of both worlds, maybe this is one time you can.