The Kingdom of Spain is the second largest country in Europe. It is a developed country, a founder member of the European Union and a member of the United Nations. Due to its mild winters and sunny summer climate it is popular with holiday makers and increasingly with retirees. The capital city is Madrid and the official language is Spanish although English is understood in the densely populated coastal tourist areas. The currency is the Euro.
Spain is a beautiful country to live in, with a high mountainous interior, ancient Moorish castles and strongholds, and beautiful cities which are known for their culture and architecture. Spain’s economy is centered upon tourism, industry and agriculture. Its economy is now suffering due to the collapse of the property bubble during which low interest rates had led to a huge demand for holiday homes and apartments which had rocketed in price. This has now ended, leaving properties unfinished or unsold and people defaulting on their mortgages. For those moving to Spain, the opportunity to rent or buy real estate at the present time at bargain prices is a big plus.
Currently there are an estimated 4.5 million foreign residents in Spain from Morocco, Ecuador, Romania, Colombia, the United Kingdom and France. Immigrants are drawn by the historic links with South America, the climate, cheap flights, the openness of its borders and the demand for labor in the agricultural sector. With unemployment at a record high of 17.5% in early 2009, jobs are likely to be scarce for those moving to Spain in search of employment. Work visas are not required for EU residents, but other paperwork may need to be completed to comply with Spanish regulations.
Spain has always been a culturally diverse country. Most Spaniards are Roman Catholic and the country has many fine cathedrals and churches. The cuisine in Spain is heavily influenced by its seafood which is readily available. Rice dishes, thick soups, hams and olive oil are staple ingredients. Wines are produced throughout Spain and are very cheap and delicious. This is another attraction for foreigners looking to move to Spain, along with the lower cost of living than the rest of Northern Europe.
Healthcare is generally good in the cities and it is free to all those with a social security number through employment or self employment. For British citizens Spain has a reciprocal agreement with the UK, however an E111 certificate is required to prove eligibility. For US and Canadian residents additional health or travel insurance will be needed but costs are low.
Pets are permitted to be brought into Spain with the correct certificates. Cars and furniture can be imported using an international removal company but furniture is much cheaper in Spain, and it may make financial sense to buy new.