Americans Moving to Spain: Guide

Moving to a new country can be an exciting yet challenging experience. If you’re an American planning to move to Spain, this comprehensive guide will help you navigate the process and get settled in your new home.

  1. Visa and Residency Requirements

As an American citizen, you can stay in Spain as a tourist for up to 90 days without a visa. However, if you’re planning to live and work in Spain, you’ll need to apply for a long-term visa and residence permit. Common visa options include:

  • Work Visa: You’ll need a job offer from a Spanish employer and the necessary work permit.
  • Student Visa: If you plan to study in Spain, you’ll need a student visa and an acceptance letter from a Spanish educational institution.
  • Non-Lucrative Residence Visa: If you have sufficient financial means to support yourself without working, this visa allows you to live in Spain.
  • Golden Visa: This option is available for those investing a significant amount in Spanish real estate or businesses.
  1. Finding a Place to Live

Popular cities for expats in Spain include Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, and Málaga. Consider factors such as cost of living, job opportunities, and lifestyle when choosing a city. Research different neighborhoods and visit potential areas before making a decision.

You can find housing through local real estate agents, online classifieds, or expat forums. Renting is common in Spain, and it’s a good idea to rent before buying property. Be prepared to provide proof of income, references, and a deposit.

  1. Healthcare

Spain has a high-quality public healthcare system, which is accessible to residents through the national health insurance plan. As a legal resident, you’ll need to register for healthcare coverage. You may also opt for private health insurance for additional benefits and shorter wait times.

  1. Learning the Language

While many people in Spain speak English, especially in tourist areas, learning Spanish will significantly improve your experience. Consider taking language courses or participating in language exchanges to practice your skills.

  1. Adapting to Spanish Culture

Embrace Spanish customs and traditions to feel more at home. Learn about local etiquette, such as greeting others with a kiss on both cheeks and taking a siesta (afternoon nap). Enjoy Spain’s rich culinary scene by trying local dishes, such as tapas, paella, and churros.

  1. Opening a Bank Account

To manage your finances in Spain, open a local bank account. You’ll need a residence permit or NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero), proof of address, and your passport. Research different banks and their fees before making a decision.

  1. Transportation

Spain has a well-developed public transportation system, including buses, trains, and metros. Consider purchasing monthly passes for cost savings. If you plan to drive, you can use your American driver’s license for the first six months, after which you’ll need to obtain a Spanish driver’s license.

  1. Working and Networking

To find work in Spain, you can search online job boards, join professional networks, or attend local networking events. Keep in mind that the job market can be competitive, and fluency in Spanish is often required.


Moving to Spain can be a life-changing experience. By understanding visa requirements, finding housing, learning the language, and adapting to the local culture, you can make a smooth transition and enjoy all that Spain has to offer.