Blog Post


Vivir en España: How to Move to Spain as an American 

Vivir en España: How to Move to Spain as an American

Nearly 5.5 million people are living in Spain as expatriates, about 50,000 of them are American. It makes the country one of the most desired countries in Europe to immigrate to.

If you’re planning on moving, there are a few things you should do to prepare yourself. First, read this guide on how to move to Spain as an American.

Learn the Language Bit by Bit

English goes a long way in Europe, but it’s by no means the native language of Spain. A large portion of the population will understand you. But prepare to raise a few eyebrows if that’s all you speak.

Start practicing your Spanish about six months before you move. As an English speaker, that’s about how long it’ll take you to get an intermediate understanding.

It’s also important to learn the Spanish dialect. Latin-American speakers have a very different language, from the idioms to the way things are pronounced. Most Spaniards will get the gist, but a lot of the colloquialisms fail to translate.

Get Ready for the Cuisine

The biggest shock to your system will be the food. It’s very different from American cuisine.

Spain is a coastal country, so its food is heavily seafood-based. If you’re living in a landlocked state now, you may have a hard time adjusting. That’s not to say they don’t use meat, but it’s certainly not a normal ingredient.

Heavy starches aren’t a big staple of a Spaniard’s diet, either. There’s lot of asparagus, artichoke, and other greenery.

Sorry, meat ‘n’ potato lovers.

How to Move to Spain as an American Legally

As an American, there’s a little bit of red tape to cut through before you can move to Spain.

You’ll need to get a residency visa. These are obtainable through a Spanish consulate in the United States.

To get a permanent visa, you’ll need some proof of identification. Take your birth certificate, passport, and a Real I.D., if you have one. You’ll also need a reason for your residency before they’ll approve of it.

The whole process can take up to 3 months, so don’t hesitate.

Get an Apartment First

Before you buy that mega villa on the vineyard, live in an apartment. As an American, living in Europe — and especially Spain — is going to be a culture shock.

If you don’t like it, you won’t be tied to any long-term assets. Get a six-month lease. Spain and the EU offer short-term residency visas that last half a year.

Save Some Money

If you don’t have a job lined up, start saving some money now. The average income in Spain is $10,000 less than it is in the US.

They have a cheaper cost of living, but don’t expect it to be entirely offset. Your future job will be paying significantly less.

If you do have the money, choose Marbella for your future neighborhood. It’s the luxurious region of Spain.


There are a few things you should consider before moving. Knowing how to move to Spain as an American will save you from culture shock and potential financial jeopardy.

Learn the language and get ready to test your tastebuds. Consider apartment living before making the plunge.

Are you interested in moving to Europe? Check out our other articles on emigrating as an ex-pat.

Related posts