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UK Expats in Spain – Top 10 Tips for Brits moving to Spain 2019

Wed, June 12th, 2019

With a warm climate, beautiful cities, stunning architecture and gorgeous countryside, UK expats agree that Spain is a great destination for relocating abroad.

Spain has it all: sunny and warm climate surrounded by the Mediterranean sea, great people, and an affordable cost of living. For new expats to Spain, or those still thinking of emigrating, it is a good idea to brush up and learn  a bit more about the local Spanish culture. Here are TVMucho’s top 10 tips for UK expats in Spain.

Cultural Shock

It will come as no surprise that Spaniards have  different customs than Brits. Natives in Spain tend to be more direct and expressive, their culture is different, so don’t feel offended if they don’t say good morning as they pass in the street. , You may find that the pace of life is slower and more relaxed than the UK, especially outside of the major cities such as the capital in Madrid. Spain is an easy going country, but   you should remember the famous term “mañana”, an expression you will hear when something needs to be done. Spaniards are quite traditional and family values are very important to them. Everyone will take Sundays off to be with their loved ones, which is a nice custom to follow if possible!Try to learn as much as you can about the Spainish culture now and you’ll feel much more at home.


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Learn about their history

As a UK expat in Spain, it can be easy to think that everyone will speak English, so you don’t have the need to learn the local language. However, it always helps you to make friends, understand important signs and become committed to your new life abroad when you get  acquainted with the local language. ou You will learn how to empathise with the locals and know when there is a delicate situation which you should avoid. It is definitely worth learning about the Spanish Civil War and the Franco era. This is a very delicate topic as it happened in recent history and had devastating effects on the whole country. Many people died and families have been torn apart. So remember, to learn these facts about Spain and uncover the country’s rich history.

Don’t be a ‘guiri’ and learn the language

This word describes  classical Northern European Tourists as Spaniards see them. It’s nice to blend with the locals, people open up and share amazing insights and advice. You never know what can fascinate you, maybe you’ll hear an old myth or something new about a local tradition. Every country has its hidden subtleties that only locals know about.

Get to know the Spanish Cuisine

The world famous Spanish cuisine is simply delicious and if you get stuck in and find some new dishes you will not regret it. Spanish food derives from a complex history related to many invasions from overseas nations.  When Spain has been invaded, new ingredients arrived and the cuisine was modified. Tapas dishes are appetizers and quite common. There are cold tapas like olives, cheese, ham and hot ones like chopitos which are battered and fried baby squids. Don’t forget the Spanish vines, they are quite famous as some of the best wines in the world. Rioja red is the most famous, but keep an eye Cava and local ones too. Don’t forget that Spain has their own coffee with their own names. A large milky coffee is called a café con leche; a short coffee with a touch of milk is called cortado, and espresso is called café solo. If you want a coffee with some alcohol, ask for a carajillo.


UK expats


NIE (Numero Identidad Extranjero or “National Identity Card”)

The NIE is a way of identifying foreigners who live in Spain. You have to have your NIE for opening a bank account, renting an apartment, ordering a telephone line, and more.. It’s easy to obtain. You need to go to the Foreigners office, get some forms (which are also available online), and fill them in. Afterwards, get the Form 790 and pay the Police fee in a Spanish bank. Once you obtain your NIE, you are set for life.

The working hours and patience

In Spain, everybody tends to start work later in the day and things close later. People tend to eat their evening meal later at night and also go to bed later. In general, people work from 9 am to 1-2 pm and then take a lunch break – traditionally known as a Siesta. After this longer rest for lunch, they work a bit until around 8 pm. You will almost certainly have to get accustomed to the long waiting lines in Spain and the fact that you can’t possibly plan to go to the bank and do two or three other minor errands in one day. It will take one thing per day, and you have to work on your patience.  Business related services such as banking and admin tasks tend to take forever to be completed. As we said before the term mañana is going to follow you wherever you go in Spain. But who cares, mañana, mañana.

Buying Property in Spain

The idea to invest in a property in Spain is seen as quite an attractive proposition to many UK expats, especially since property prices have fallen significantly over the last few years. Still, you have to be cautious. There are a lot of mistakes you can make and there are unscrupulous agents in the real estate industry who will gladly take advantage of UK expats’ lack of knowledge of property in Spain. If you are not aware of these pitfalls you should take the time to read our article “How to Buy a Property in Spain” or consider getting a good lawyer or “gestor” to help you with the purchase. They are up to date with the changes in Spanish real estate laws and usually act on your behalf with no affiliation with the real estate agents.


As you can see, Spain is a fantastic place for expats to retire. By following our top tips you can adapt, settle in and make the most of a new life in this brilliant country.


UK expats

Don’t forget the local fiestas

All of the villages, towns and cities have their own monthly schedule of saints’ days and feast days called fiestas. Fiestas are special events in the local calendar and the community takes a lot of pride in them. Numerous hours are spent on making costumes, organising processions and so on. Try to get involved or at least go and watch what life is all about in Spain. You will learn a lot.

Drive Carefully

Spain has almost double the rates of road accidents compared to Britain. If you have driven in Spain before, I am sure you know what we are talking about: crazy manoeuvres, excessive speeding and the sporadic use of indicators are just a few issues. So, keep your eye on the road and drive carefully. This is one of the biggest problems for expats in Spain.

Take a bit of home always with you

With TVMucho you can always take a bit of home with you. TVMucho provides high-quality UK television and 7 days of Catch Up. It’s highly recommended to mingle with the Spanish society but never forget your home country. For €4 per month (if you take the annual subscription of €48 per year) you can have unlimited access on all your devices (Apple, Android, Desktop, Amazon, soon ChromeCast, Miracast and Smart TVs). If you want to watch on more devices at the same time, you can also do that for a small additional fee. You can also invite your friends and earn free UK TV time. TVMucho has a special mobile layout and more than 34 UK channels. Of course, TVMucho is a legal company providing a 1-Hour per day forever free trial so you can check the quality of the service. You can sign up for a free trial here.

A final trick

Learn to enjoy the climate and get the most out of this beautiful country. Spain is five times bigger than the United Kingdom so travel as much as you can. Spain has great cuisine, so take your family or friends out for a great meal or go to one of the local fiestas and embrace their culture. Remember to relax, smile and if you have any ideas on what you would like us to write about, please comment on the post or send us an email here.


UK expats


“It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.” ― Erma Bombeck

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