Practical advice for a newly landed in Spain

14 November 2017 0 Comments Category: Ali Meehan, Just Landed


Welcome to Spain!  After, perhaps years of dreaming and months of research, you are here!  Hello and you are not on your own!  For example the figures for British retirees moving here has doubled over the last 10 years (regardless, or because of Brexit).

The richest and largest European generation ever, ‘the baby boomers’ are heading for the sun, quality of living and the better value retirement lifestyle that Spain offers.  So now you have got here, a few tips on getting the best out of your new life in Spain.

Keep the Research going

Don’t stop now; the research needs to continue!  Things will be different immediately – these can be simple changes like the side of the road you drive on, the temperature, the length of time it takes to get (it may seem) event the simplest things done.  My advice, rope in the help of people here already – ask advice and for recommendations on Facebook of who, why, what and when.  Use verified information from your consulate website, the support services via or law firms which are registered with the Law Society (in Spain called the Ilustre Colegio de Abogados).


When dealing with paperwork in Spain I have an idiom “It’s not wrong, it just is”.  Spain is different to <insert name of your birth country>.  It’s not a mini version of where you have come from.  Everything WILL be different.  Taking a deep breath, a dollop of patience and (to begin with) someone to translate for you will make a lot of difference to your experience of getting stuff done in Spain.  And a good book whilst you are in the queue (or using your Duolingo APP!)
Getting an NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero) and registering on the Padron are your first priorities.  The Padron (Certificado de Empadronamiento) enables your Townhall to get Government funding to give you the best local services and offer you local and reduced price services and even being able to vote in the local elections.
Open Up

Spanish people are (in my experience) very open.  If you say ‘Hola’, they will say ‘Hola’ back.  Add a smile too and your new world will start to open up.   It’s not unusual for people to talk to complete strangers in the Doctors queue, on public transport – get used to it!

Be Kind to Yourself

Homesickness isn’t the domain of a child going to summer camp; it’s real and can be scary when you are 55!  As foreigners we were all new here once so everyone understands the feeling.  Make new friends; join local groups, start playing golf, take up sports, volunteer with one of the local charities.  Find a buddy – maybe a neighbour or someone else who has the same hobbies and interests.  Whatever you do, don’t stay at home alone and consider how homesick you feel!  Give yourself 365 – things won’t happen overnight so give yourself one year to settle in and feel at home.  I always recommend a trip back to your home country after 3-6 months; you will be amazed how you (and your feeling of your birth country) have changed (in a good way!)

Culture Shock

Wherever you live in the world, your new home is never the same as where you lived before.  It sounds a basic statement, but I never fail to be surprised at the people who automatically assume that things will be done the same as their home country.
Getting into the groove of your new country and settling in to your new life make it easier by living life “the Spanish” way where possible.
It wasn’t until the last few years that I realised why I kept bumping into Spanish people on the pavement in Spain; we tend to walk the same side as we learnt to drive!

Celebrate the small wins

When the first piece of paper is collected – celebrate.  When you have had your first smile from a local – celebrate.  When you ate your first “Spanish” food and liked it – celebrate. When you had your first conversation in Spanish (and were understood) – celebrate!  When you opened the curtains and it “turned out nice… again” – celebrate.

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