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Moving to Spain From Ireland? Here’s What You Need To Know

Posted by Aya on February 27, 2024

A Irish couple filling in various documents for a Spanish visa

More and more Irish residents are packing their bags and heading south to soak up the Spanish sun. With its warm climate, laidback lifestyle, and lower cost of living, Spain offers an appealing escape. If you’re caught up in this wave of migration or simply daydreaming about it, you’ve come to the right place.



Picking up and moving to a new country comes with its fair share of challenges and opportunities to consider. From visas and permits to opening a Spanish bank account, there are many boxes to check before calling Spain home. 



This comprehensive guide breaks down everything you need to know before moving to Spain from Ireland. We’ll cover the essentials of securing Spanish residency, finding housing, understanding the tax implications, and more for a smooth transition to life in España!


Visa & Spanish Residency for Irish Citizens


As an Irish citizen, you can enter Spain without a visa and stay for up to 90 days. For longer stays, you’ll need to apply for Spanish residency. The main types of residency permits are non-lucrative and residence permits for work.


The types of visas:


  1. Tourist Visa: For short stays (up to 90 days), Irish citizens can enter Spain without a visa. However, for longer stays, a residence visa is necessary.
  2. Residence Visa: This is for an extended stay. It’s advisable to start the application process from Ireland, providing you have all required documents like proof of income, health insurance, and a clean criminal record.
  3. Non-Lucrative Visa: If you’re not planning to work in Spain, this visa allows you to reside in the country for more than 90 days for reasons other than employment. To get a non-lucrative visa, you must prove you have sufficient financial means to support yourself and any dependents. This usually requires showing regular income or savings of at least €27,000 per year. 
  4. Work Visa: A work visa is crucial for those wanting to get into the Spanish job market. Your employer in Spain will typically assist you in this process.


Submit your residency application with supporting documents at the Oficina de Extranjeros in Spain. The process takes around three months.


Healthcare System Registration

New residents in Spain over the age of 18 must register for state healthcare under the Convenio Especial scheme. This provides access to doctors, hospitals, and prescription medications through the Social Security system.


You’ll also want international medical insurance to cover any major treatments not included in state healthcare. Some private Spanish health insurance companies offer plans specifically for expats.

Two important aspects to take care of when you move to Spain: 


  1. Empadronamiento: This is registering your residence in your local municipality, a prerequisite for accessing public services, including healthcare.
  2. Social Security System: Once you’re registered, you can access the public healthcare system by contributing to the Social Security System. Alternatively, private health insurance is also popular and provides additional coverage.


Tax Considerations

If you become a tax resident in Spain, you must report your worldwide income to Spanish tax authorities. Foreign income over €60,000 may also be subject to Spanish taxes.


Other things to factor in are inheritance and gift taxes, which are higher in Spain compared to Ireland. Capital gains from selling property in Spain are tax exempt after two years of residency.


Consult an international tax advisor to make sure you’re complying with Spanish tax laws.

Housing in Spain

A family unpacking their items in their new home in Spain

Spain offers a range of housing options to fit different budgets and lifestyles. In lively cities like Madrid and Barcelona, you can expect higher rents closer to the city centres. Prices become more affordable in suburbs and rural villages.


It is common to see modern high-rise apartment blocks in urban areas, while smaller towns have traditional Spanish architecture, like whitewashed buildings with wrought iron balconies. Many choose beach destinations for the suburban community feel.


Interior regions like Andalucia, Murcia, and Galicia are gaining appeal too. Housing is more affordable in these areas, and you get authentic Spanish culture paired with striking scenery from coastal to mountainous areas.


Best-Rated Areas for Expats 

Popular expat hotspots offer high-quality housing with many amenities at relatively low costs compared to capital cities. Here are some of the best-rated areas, particularly welcoming for expats:


  • Costa del Sol: Known for its stunning beaches and sunny climate, it is a popular choice for expats seeking a coastal lifestyle. It blends modern amenities and a relaxed atmosphere.
  • Barcelona: A cultural hub, Barcelona is a top choice for those who crave a cosmopolitan lifestyle along with unique architecture, rich history, and diverse neighbourhoods.
  • Valencia: Valencia strikes a lovely balance between affordability and quality of life. The city is known for its green spaces and thriving cultural scene.
  • Ibiza and Mallorca: For those enchanted by island living, Ibiza and Mallorca offer picturesque landscapes and a sense of community at a slower pace of life.


Wherever you decide to call home, give yourself time to view multiple rentals or properties for sale during your transition. Hiring a relocation agency can simplify the housing search, and they can provide more in-depth area comparisons to help match your preferences.

Cultural Integration & Community Life 

A group of friends laughing in a Spanish restaurant over tapas

Overcoming the Language Barrier

While you’ll find that many Spaniards in larger cities speak English, learning Spanish will go a long way towards integrating into everyday life. Take up an intensive language course in Spain to learn the vocabulary and grammar structures faster.


Use language apps such as Duolingo during your daily commute, and don’t be afraid to test what you’ve learned with Spanish speakers. You’ll find people are very supportive when you put in the effort. Having some key phrases memorised can help break the ice when meeting locals.


And when all else fails, use gestures, smiles, and pictures to help overcome any language gaps. Be patient with yourself on this journey rather than expecting to be fluent right away.

Understanding Spanish Culture

Spanish culture moves at a relaxed pace, so you’d better start adjusting to later dinners and longer socialising sessions. 


Keep in mind:


  1. Sundays tend to be reserved for family time, so many businesses will be closed.
  2. Greetings include one kiss on each cheek.
  3. The afternoon siesta is more than just a nap; it’s a cultural institution. Many businesses shut down for a few hours in the afternoon, allowing locals to rest and recharge.
  4. Spaniards are known for their love of socialising. Join in the tapas tradition, where small dishes are shared among friends, encouraging a sense of community.
  5. Spaniards are generally warm and friendly, but they also value personal space. Be mindful of personal boundaries, especially in public spaces.
  6. Get involved in local festivals and traditions. From La Tomatina in Buñol to the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, these events can offer you a glimpse into the heart of Spanish culture.
  7. While the siesta might suggest a relaxed attitude, punctuality is still valued. Arriving on time, especially for social gatherings, shows respect.


Making friends may require proactively organising plans until you’re fully established in a community. Some of the easiest connections can come through joining places that host shared interests like sports leagues, cultural clubs, or neighbourhood groups.

Logistics of Moving & Arriving in Spain

A couple packing luggage for moving to Spain from Ireland

Transporting Personal Items

When moving your belongings overseas, sea freight shipping containers are often the most cost-effective option. Just be sure to plan three to four months in advance for transportation and customs clearance.


Check baggage size and weight allowances with your airline to avoid hefty fees. You may also ship vehicles separately on a roll-on/roll-off cargo ship.


Leaving some valuables in storage back home can provide peace of mind against losing cherished items during the move. Reputable self storage facilities will protect these contents against damage or theft.

Setting Up Household Services

Start by applying for NIE (Número de Identidad de Extranjero, which translates roughly to Foreigner Identification Number) and Empadronamiento certificates at your local National Police station in Spain. These register your address to access other services like internet setup, bank accounts, and healthcare.


You can trade an Irish driving licence for a Spanish one without taking a test. Be sure to update your details with transport authorities promptly after you’re settled in with your residency admin.


Notify the tax authorities within three months of moving in and register to vote in Spanish elections if you’re interested. Set up utilities like electricity, gas, and waste collection through certified providers who will follow up with a compulsory equipment safety inspection.

Make Your Move to Spain From Ireland Stress-Free

 A Wm. O’Brien self storage facility

While relocating abroad can feel overwhelming, thorough preparation along with reliable partners will make the process of moving to Spain from Ireland go much smoother. 


Moving is a whirlwind of activity; sometimes, you need a temporary home for your belongings. Self storage provides secure, long-term protection for the possessions not making the trek over right away. Wm. O’Brien Self Storage offers secure units in easily accessible hubs across Ireland. 


Get a free quote for stress-free storage you can rely on!