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YoBob's avatar

Any insights on living in (retiring to) a place like Spain?

Asked by YoBob (12798 points ) July 13th, 2011

Ok, I’m still several years away, but close enough to be pondering the form my retirement will take.

I have heard stories of people who happily retire to other countries to enjoy a lower cost of living and generally more relaxed lifestyle. It is my understanding that in some locals one can live like royalty on what would be considered a modest income here in the States.

Anyone out there have any practical advice to share on living in Spain?

What is the cost of living relative to the US?

What about things like basic medical service for foreign nationals?

Any barriers to citizens of other countries owning property, living there indefinitely, etc….?

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6 Answers

poisonedantidote's avatar

Ok… I’m going to the gym in a moment so I don’t have a lot of time, but I will come back later and give you a much fuller answer.

Here in Spain life is good, but this place can chew you up and spit you out if you are unlucky. I can’t even count how many people I know that have come here to retire or set up a business, and have had to go home with their tail behind their legs.

Regarding the cost of living, I know that we have some things that cost less here, and some things that cost more. For example, specialist audio equipment in USA could cost $100 and here $400. Some things go up in price, some down.

The average wage is around €1200.00 a month, and people can live on that no problem here.

The barriers for you to live here or own property are almost non existent, however, the housing market here is full of corruption, so if you want to buy a house here you need to be extremely cautious, otherwise you may find you end up buying a place that was built without planning permission, and that you now owe the government a lot of money.

Anyway, I’m going to the gym, then to work, but list for me all your doubts and questions, and I will answer them in detail when I get back.

YoBob's avatar

Thanks @poisonedantidote

I’m not sure I have any particular questions/concerns. Never having lived anywhere other than Texas I’m not really sure what I should be asking about.

There is the general economy. I believe Spain uses the Euro so it’s pretty easy to figure out the exchange rates. However, that doesn’t give one a picture of actual cost of living. How much different is the cost of living someplace like Barcelona as compared to some quite little village within commute distance of a larger city?

If one’s income comes primarily from mutual funds and securities listed on American stock exchanges, are there any practical problems with accessing your funds? Are there any taxes associated with “foreign investment income”?

I have heard that Spain rates pretty high in the general quality of available medical care. What about medical services and medical insurance for foreign nationals?

Also, what about general attitude to foreigners? It would kind of suck to re-locate to a place expecting to enjoy a happy retirement only to find that the locals view you as another one of those damned foreigners.

Oh, one other question comes to mind. Can you get good Scotch and/or Tequlia in Spain? ;)

Hope your trip to the gym went well! I’ll be doing the same in a couple of hours.

poisonedantidote's avatar

The general economy is terrible at the moment. It is slowly recovering, but most people are in a bad way. However, those who do seem to be making money seem to be making gigantic amounts of it.

The only real difference between living in a city and a small town will be rental and housing prices, and if you are close to a farm, maybe vegetables will be a touch cheaper in the small town.

As for accessing foregin funds, you will need to prove that they are not earnings, otherwise the government wants 18% of anything you make. Other than that there should be no problem accessing funds.

If you want a good idea of what it’s like, Imagine USA in the 80’s, thats what It’s like here. I don’t mean people are all walking around listening to bananarama and carrying mobile phones around in backpacks, what I mean is we are about 20 years behind the USA in terms of being greedy, capitalistic, and beurocratic. In my town, they have only started putting speed bumps in roads the last couple of years, and they only just introduced health and safety features at work. So you may find, that when it comes to your money, and getting funds from overseas, that the banks don’t quite know what to do when you walk in. However after a couple of times they should get the hang of it.

As for healthcare, I would say it’s one of the best in the world. I have never had to wait more than 2 hours to see a doctor, ever. However, as you have never paid in to the Spanish health care system, I can’t tell you for sure if they will cover you or not. I will have to ask when I go talk with my doctor tomorrow. My instinct tells me you will not be covered, however, private health care is fairly affordable, and superior to the government health care.

The general attitude to foreigners is very negative, specially if you are black or dark skinned. However, If you learn a few Spanish sayings, and invite everyone round for some cheese and wine, they will treat you like family. If you keep your self to your self and dont socialize, they will dislike you.

As for tequila and scotch, the tequila here is all trash, cheap imported stuff that is used as a gimmic in bars. However, If you can afford it, you can get your hands on some excellent scotch. My boss keeps a big stockpile of 21 year old scotch, it is very expensive, but it goes down like honey, but, be prepared to pay about $400 a bottle (75cl)

I best get changed and go to work, Ill cya later, if you have any more questions just ask.

YoBob's avatar

YIKES! $400 a bottle for scotch and no decent Tequila to be found?!?!?!? Don’t know if I could survive such hardships… ;)

Perhaps I could become Spain’s premier importer of affordable single malt scotch and decent Tequila?

As for cheese and wine. It is my intent to have a small vineyard. I am a rather talented home brewer who also dabbles in artisan cheese making. Learning the art of making cured ham is also on my “bucket list”. As I understand it, Spain is the right place to learn that particular craft.

ml3269's avatar

Spain is full of nice people and full of idiots… like in all places on that planet… I live on a small Island in the mediterranean sea… 25% of europeans (non-islanders), almost 10% of people coming from outside the EU… functioning without crisis. Expensive in living but worth it.
Before installing youself and your life in any other place or change of country/state travel to that place of your choice and let it work on you.

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