Moving to Spain from the US

Thinking of moving to Spain? ¡Felicidades! (Congratulations!) You’ll love life here, from the delicious ham, wine, and paella to the hundreds of gorgeous beaches and plethora of stunning buildings that grace this sunny, fiesta-filled nation.

Whether you’re moving to Spain alone, or moving to Spain with a family, we’ve got you covered – right through from healthcare to where you should live.

We can also offer you free quotes for shipping your possessions. If you fill in this form, you can see how much moving your life to Spain would cost.

Garachico town in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

Garachico in Tenerife is one of the most beautiful towns in the nation  

7 quick facts about Spain

  • There are 48,225 American expats in Spain
  • In Spain, the tooth fairy is a little mouse called Pérez, who exchanges teeth for gifts
  • Expect to have lunch at 3pm, and dinner around 9pm
  • People in Spain live around five years longer than in the US, on average
  • It’s a Catholic majority nation
  • The national anthem is one of four worldwide to have no words
  • It’s the second-most visited country in the world, behind France

Cost of shipping to Spain from the US

We’ve calculated the average international shipping rates for some of our most sought-after journeys from major US cities to popular destinations in Spain.

Bear in mind these are estimates only. If you’d like a more accurate idea of how much shipping to Spain will cost you, just pop your details into this form, and our suppliers will get back to you.

RouteCostDuration
New York to Bilbao$92510 days
Houston to Barcelona$1,93516.9 days
Los Angeles to Valencia$2,54124.7 days

Please note: these container shipping costs exclude typical add-ons such as door-to-door delivery, professional packing/unpacking, and basic insurance cover. Our shipping suppliers normally incorporate these services into their prices, so expect some discrepancy between the rates given here and the quotes you receive. These estimates should be used as an indication only.

The rates are sourced from WorldFreightRates.com, and are based on the port-to-port transportation of a 20ft container of used furniture worth £41,056 ($56,400) – the typical value of the contents of a three-bedroom house (according to Admiral Insurance).

The durations are sourced from Searates.com.

This information was last updated in July 2021.

Cost of flying goods to Spain from the US

While air freight is undoubtedly faster than other methods, it’s also 12-16 times more expensive than shipping your possessions, as per The World Bank – and in this specific case, shipping could save you up to $1,806.

RouteCostDuration
New York to Madrid$2,7317 hours
Houston to Barcelona$2,73110 hours
Los Angeles to Valencia$2,73112 hours

These rates are also sourced from WorldFreightRates.com.

They’re based on the airport-to-airport transportation of much lighter goods – 250kg of household goods, to be precise, worth $56,400 – from New York City, Houston, and Los Angeles to Barcelona, Madrid, and Valencia.

The durations are sourced from Searates.com.

Plaza de Espana, Seville, Spain

You'll see glorious examples of architecture in Plaza de España, Seville

Healthcare in Spain

The Spanish National Health System, or Sistema Nacional de Salud , provides universal healthcare to 99.7% of Spanish citizens in the country, as well as anyone else from the European Union.

The system, which was founded in 1986, is the 19th-best in the world according to a 2018 study published in The Lancet and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

It's open to anyone who lives and works in the country - and if your spouse and children also live in Spain, they can access public healthcare too.

However, this program only pays around half the cost of prescription drugs, and doesn't cover other medical services like dental work. If you want to learn more about the system, check out our guide to Healthcare in Spain .

Before your big move to Spain, it's wise to consider whether you'll need medical cover for when you're out there.

That's why we've partnered with Cigna for private medical insurance in Spain. With four levels of annual cover to choose from and extra modules for more flexibility, Cigna will sort you out with a plan that suits your needs.

Start building a customized plan with a free quote to protect your most important assets - you and your family.

Cost of living in Spain

Good / serviceAverage cost
A pint of beer$2.94
A monthly gym subscription$43.86
1 litre of petrol$1.50
A bottle of wine $5.88
1 litre of milk$0.92
Loaf of bread$1.17
12 eggs$2.21
Single ticket on public transport$1.65
1-bedroom flat monthly rent$673
3-bedroom flat monthly rent$1,039

(Data sourced from Numbeo)

Transferring money to Spain

Speaking of living costs, if you’re thinking of moving to Spain, you’ll probably need to convert some of your savings into euros.

However, it’s best to avoid using high street banks for this process, as you’ll usually have to pay high fees, and you won’t get the best exchange rate.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with Wise, an online international money transfer service which uses the real exchange rate, and charges low fees. How much could you save? Well, its service can be up to 8x cheaper than high street banks.

Join more than 7 million people and start using Wise today.

Working in Spain

Spain punches above its weight, with the 14th-biggest GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in the world despite being 51st in terms of size.

It’s also perfectly located on the western edge of the continent, between the US and the rest of Europe – all of which means you’ll have a great time working in Spain as an American.

Getting a work visa for Spain

After your new employer has offered you a job in Spain, they must request a work visa from the Ministry of Labor.

The Ministry can take up to eight months to process this application, but with any luck, your employer should be aware of this fact and make sure you get your work visa before long.

If you’re planning to be self-employed or a freelancer, you need to apply for a work visa at one of the 35 Spanish embassies and consulates in the US.

These visas are valid for one year, but can be renewed if you still qualify.

Be ready to provide the authorities with proof that you have:

  • Enough money to support yourself
  • The relevant skills and experience
  • The necessary licenses or registrations for your chosen industry
  • Contracts or commissions from businesses
  • A business plan (if that’s relevant)

If you want to learn more, check out our guide to visas for living and working in Spain.

Average salary in Spain

The average annual full-time salary for women in Spain is €25,417 ($29,905), and €28,717 ($33,788) for men, according to the Instituto Nacional de Estadística (National Statistics Institute).

Income tax in Spain

There are two types of income tax in Spain: personal and savings.

Personal income tax is charged on a progressive basis, with a total of six tax bands to consider for the highest earners, according to PwC.

This is a general guide, as exact tax rates will vary by region.

Income bandTax rate
€0 – €12,45019%
€12,450 – €20,20024%
€20,200 – €35,20030%
€35,200 – €60,00037%
€60,000 – €300,00045%
Over €300,00047%

Savings income tax applies to money you’ve gained from interest, dividends, life assurance contracts, and purchased annuity, as well as capital gains on the sale or transfer of assets.

There are no regional variations for this tax.

Income bandTax rate
Up to €6,00019%
€6,000 – €50,00021%
€50,000 – €200,00023%
Over €200,00026%

Job-hunting in Spain

If you need to find a job in Spain before you move, there are lots of sites you can use to seek out that perfect role.

Look through expat employment specialists thinkSPAIN and expat.com, before moving onto job-finding behemoths like the Spain-centric Neuvoo and Monster’s Spanish site.

Climate in Spain

The Spanish climate will be familiar to Americans, in that it varies enormously across the country. It’s the most climatically diverse European nation, but don’t worry: it’s still usually warm.

Temperatures very rarely dip below 40°F, even in winter, and often hit 90°F in summer – but usually not much more than that.

If you’re living in or around cities like Bilbao in the north or La Coruña in the north-west, you can expect a lot of rainfall – especially in winter – but otherwise, you should stay relatively dry all year.

You can expect sunshine, too. Spanish cities enjoy around 2,500 to 3,000 hours of sun per year – a global range that also includes New York City, Houston, and Atlanta.

Does it snow in Spain?

Yes. Regions in the north and north-west including Galicia and the Basque Country often experience snow during winter.

Snow is rare in cities outside of these regions, like Barcelona, Madrid, and Seville.

However, extreme weather events associated with climate change are becoming more common, as shown in 2021 when Madrid endured its heaviest snowfall in 50 years.

The best places to live in Spain

There are plenty of wonderful towns and cities to live in across Spain, but Madrid and Barcelona dominate the discussion, and are the most popular places for Americans living in Spain – for good reason.

Madrid: best for work

As is often the case, the capital is your best bet for job opportunities, dollars to doughnuts.

The cost of living in Madrid is relatively cheap, practically every large Spanish company has an office here, and there are countless ways to have fun with your hard-earned cash.

And unlike many major cities, there are plenty of areas of the city where the pace of life is slower, allowing you to fully relax and unwind after a day’s work. The only drawback is the lack of beaches in this central city.

Barcelona: best for students

The top three universities in Spain are in this sunny, architecturally stunning city on the nation’s northeastern coast, according to The Times.

The capital of Catalonia is also blessed with beautiful beaches and excellent nightclubs – plus you’ll feel right at home in this international hub, especially as most people you meet will speak English.

Explore the museums, the markets, and the tapas bars – and if you’re a fan of soccer, grab a ticket to see Barcelona at Camp Nou to enjoy a level of skill at least equal with Gaudi and Picasso.

Valencia: best for families

If you’re after a quieter place to raise your children, this southeastern coastal city is the perfect mix of urban and suburban, with plenty of excellent schools.

Valencia has the sandy beaches of Barcelona and the buzzing nightlife of Madrid, but combines this with a plethora of family-friendly activities – and all at cheaper prices.

You can explore nature in the gorgeous Bioparc or the 12km-long Turia Garden, and gawp at the wonders contained in the City of Arts and Sciences.

This incredible site is home to a building shaped like an eye that contains a planetarium, laserium, and cinema, an interactive science museum built to resemble a whale skeleton, a stunning sculpture garden, an opera house, and an oceanographic aquarium. Unbelievable.

Next steps

You’re now prepared to enjoy all the wonders that Spain has to offer – from its magnificent beaches and architectural creations to its delicious food and universal healthcare system.

You can take the next step by filling in this form for free shipping quotes from trusted specialists, who can move your belongings to your new home.