Move to Spain from Australia: Steps, Tips, and Advice

Embarking on a move to Spain from Australia is both an exciting and complex journey.
March 22, 2024
Dean Fankhauser
March 22, 2024

Embarking on a move to Spain from Australia is both an exciting and complex journey. This article is your practical roadmap, offering clear steps for obtaining the right visa, understanding Spain’s cost of living compared to Australia, exploring employment options, and adapting to the Spanish culture. Arm yourself with the knowledge to navigate this transformative experience with confidence.

Key Takeaways

  • Moving to Spain from Australia offers a more communal and relaxed lifestyle with a lower cost of living, diverse outdoor activities, and potential job opportunities for individuals skilled in the local language and certain sectors.
  • Various Spanish visas are available for Australians, including work, student, investment, non-lucrative, family reunification, and the Golden Visa for investors, each requiring specific eligibility criteria and documentation.
  • Obtaining a residence permit in Spain is essential for a long-term stay; a temporary permit requires financial means and health insurance, while permanent residency requires a five-year legal stay and proof of continuous residence.

Relocating from Australia to Spain: Key Considerations

Illustration of a family enjoying a meal together in a relaxed setting

Moving to Spain from Australia is not simply about exchanging your address; it’s about embracing a new way of life. Spain’s welcoming culture, emphasizing social interactions and family time, represents a significant change from the more individualistic approach often experienced in Australia. But don’t fret! This shift towards a more communal lifestyle could be the refreshing change you’ve been seeking.

Moreover, Spain’s diverse landscape caters to Australians with an affinity for an active lifestyle. From the snowy slopes of the Pyrenees to the sunny shores of Costa Blanca, Spain is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. So, whether you’re a fan of skiing, snorkeling, or simply soaking up the sun, Spain has got you covered.

Another factor to bear in mind is the cost of living. On average, the cost of living in Spain is generally lower than in Australia, affording Australians the opportunity for increased savings and an enhanced standard of living. This means you could spend less on your day-to-day expenses and have more funds to explore and experience what Spain has to offer.

Aside from leisure, job opportunities hold significant importance in the relocation process. The Spanish job market offers many opportunities, especially for those who have a command of the Spanish language. So, brushing up on your Spanish could open the doors to job opportunities and make your transition smoother.

Lifestyle in Spain

One of the first things you might notice when moving to Spain is the relaxed pace of life. Spaniards savor every moment, whether it’s during a leisurely lunch or a late-night gathering with friends. This laid-back lifestyle is a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle that is often associated with life in Australia.

Mealtimes in Spain might take some getting used to. Spaniards typically eat meals later in the day and enjoy socializing well into the evening. Lunch, the main meal, is often eaten between 2 pm and 4 pm, while dinner can occur from 9 pm to as late as 11:30 pm, especially on weekends. These late mealtimes, coupled with the emphasis on enjoying life’s simple pleasures, make Spain an ideal destination for those seeking a slower pace of life.

Cost of Living Comparison

One of the significant advantages of moving to Spain is its relatively lower cost of living compared to Australia. Housing costs, for instance, are significantly lower, especially within major Spanish cities where city center rent is noticeably cheaper. Living as a single individual in cities like Madrid or Barcelona can cost around €2,000 per month, while in smaller cities such as Valencia and Malaga, expenses may be as low as €1,500 per month.

In addition to cheaper housing, utilities such as gas, electricity, cooling, and garbage collection are approximately 54% cheaper in Spain compared to Australia. Public transportation is also more affordable and well-developed, facilitating cost-effective travel within the country. Therefore, moving to Spain can offer Australians an opportunity to enjoy a high standard of living without breaking the bank.

Job Opportunities

While moving to Spain offers many benefits, it’s important to be realistic about job prospects. Despite its allure, the Spanish job market can be challenging, especially due to high unemployment rates, particularly among the youth. Fluency in Spanish is often essential for employment, with many opportunities requiring a command of the language, particularly outside major cities.

However, don’t let this discourage you. Australians with skills in sectors like information technology, renewable energy, and biotechnology may find better job opportunities due to demand in these innovative fields. Additionally, bilingual Australians, fluent in both English and Spanish, have enhanced prospects, especially in fields such as international relations, aid, and development policy.

So, whether you’re looking to start a new career or continue your current one, Spain offers a diverse range of opportunities.

The Visa Process for Australians Moving to Spain

Illustration of a person submitting a visa application form at an embassy

Having discussed the lifestyle, cost of living, and job opportunities in Spain, let’s turn our attention to the process of obtaining a visa. Australians can apply for various long-term Spanish visas such as:

Grasping the specifics of these visas is key to selecting the one that aligns best with your circumstances.

For instance, if you have secured employment with a Spanish employer, you will need to apply for a work visa. If you’re planning to continue your education in Spain, a student visa will be your best option. On the other hand, if you’re of retirement age or have sufficient financial resources to sustain yourself without working in Spain, a non-lucrative visa would be ideal. Lastly, if you have a spouse, partner, or family members already residing in Spain, you may be eligible for a family reunification Spanish visa.

Regardless of the type of visa you apply for, there are certain requirements that you will need to meet. These include providing proof of sufficient financial resources, having a clean criminal background, and holding a certificate of good health. Once you’ve gathered all the necessary documents, you will need to apply for your visa at the Spanish Embassy or Consulate in Australia before arriving in Spain.

Types of Visas

When it comes to types of visas, Spain offers a range of options to suit different needs and circumstances. Australian citizens can apply for various types of temporary residence visas, such as:

  • Non-lucrative visa
  • Investment visa
  • Entrepreneur visa
  • Work permit

The non-lucrative residence visa, for instance, enables Australians to reside in Spain without engaging in any work or professional activity.

For younger Australians wishing to experience life in Spain, the Youth Mobility Program Visa allows Australian citizens under a certain age to live, study, and work in Spain for one year. And for those who prefer working remotely, the upcoming ‘International Teleworking Visa’, or digital nomad visa, will allow Australians to reside in Spain while working remotely for a foreign company.

Requirements and Eligibility

Fulfilling the requirements and eligibility criteria is a significant phase of the visa application process. For visa exemption, Australians must hold a passport valid for at least six months on entry with one blank visa page. However, obtaining a work visa can be a challenge due to the high unemployment rates in Spain and the preference for EU citizens, including EU citizens, in the job market.

Applicants for work visas need to provide the following documents:

  • Copy of their employment contract
  • Proof of professional activity
  • Qualifications
  • Financial resources
  • Certificate of no criminal record
  • Medical certificate
  • Consular endorsement
  • Proof of health insurance

In some cases, the visa application may be refused, but applicants have the right to submit an appeal for reconsideration or a judicial review.

Application Procedures

Successfully handling the application procedures is a vital stage in the visa process. Visa applications should be submitted between 6 months and 15 days before the scheduled travel date. The application process requires a valid, unexpired passport with at least two blank pages and a photocopy of the biometric data page.

Once you’ve submitted your visa application, you will receive a proof of receipt with a code to check the status of your application online. The decision period for a visa application is typically 15 calendar days but may extend to 45 days if an interview or additional documents are required.

Upon approval, the visa must be collected within 1 month, and it will be valid for 90 days.

Obtaining a Residence Permit in Spain

Illustration of a person receiving a residence permit card

Once your visa is secured, the next step is to acquire a residence permit. Australian citizens must go through specific processes to obtain either temporary or permanent residence permits in Spain. This involves meeting certain conditions during your stay in Spain and applying for a permit that corresponds to your length of stay and planned activities in the country.

For the temporary residence permit, you need to submit the following required documents to the Consulate-General of Spain in Sydney:

  • A national visa application form
  • A non-working residence visa application form (EX-01)
  • A recent passport-size photograph
  • A passport with at least 1 year of validity
  • Payment of fees

Once your application is approved, your visa will be valid for 90 days. Upon entering Spain, you are required to apply for a foreign identity card within 1 month.

For permanent residence in Spain, you must have:

  • Lived legally in Spain for five uninterrupted years, which is a requirement for obtaining Spanish citizenship
  • Demonstrated stable income
  • Possessing health insurance
  • Provided proof of continuous residence for the past 5 years and current living status

Once you’ve met these requirements, you can submit your application to the Foreigner’s Office in Spain.

Temporary Residence Permit

The temporary residence permit is a common choice for Australians moving to Spain. To acquire this permit, applicants must submit the following required documents to the Consulate-General of Spain in Sydney:

  • National visa application form
  • Non-working residence visa application form (EX-01)
  • Recent passport-size photograph
  • Passport with at least 1 year of validity
  • Payment of fees

Applicants must also demonstrate financial means at least equivalent to 400% of Spain’s IPREM, with an additional 100% for each family member, and provide health insurance that covers risks insured by Spain’s public health system or a commitment to purchase medical insurance upon visa approval. Family members, including spouses, unmarried partners, dependent children, and dependent relatives, may obtain visas alongside the main applicant.

Permanent Residence Permit

If you’re planning to make Spain your long-term home, obtaining a permanent residence permit is a crucial step. Eligibility for permanent residence requires:

  • Five continuous years of legal residence on a temporary residence permit
  • Stable income
  • Possession of health insurance
  • Proof of continuous residence for the past 5 years and current living status, such as an employment contract
  • Sufficient financial means

Once you’ve gathered all the necessary documents, including your Spanish passport, submit your application to the Foreigner’s Office in Spain. The authorities will review all documentation, and upon approval, a permanent residence card, known as the Tarjeta de identidad de extranjero (TIE), is issued, valid for 10 years.

Application Process

Obtaining a residence permit in Spain entails a few procedural steps. The applicant or the applicant's parent, if the applicant is a minor, must submit a visa application in person, and the consulate will provide a proof of receipt with a code for online application tracking. Once a visa is granted, applicants must collect their passport in person from the consulate office within 1 month of notification, and the visa will be valid for 90 days, during which they are required to apply for a Foreigner Identity Card upon arrival in Spain.

For permanent residency applications, you must:

  1. Submit your application in person at the local Oficina de Extranjeros or police station.
  2. Once the TIE card application is accepted, a stamped copy is provided with the card, which is issued within 3 months.
  3. In the case of refusal, a written notification is given, and an appeal can be submitted.

Spanish Golden Visa Program for Australians

Illustration of a person making an investment for the Spanish Golden Visa program

The Spanish Golden Visa program presents another thrilling opportunity for Australians. Established in 2013, this program was designed to boost the Spanish economy by attracting foreign investment from non-EU, non-EEA, or non-Swiss citizens. Australian investors can obtain a Spanish residence permit through the Golden Visa program by making a significant capital investment, such as purchasing real estate, investing in Spanish companies, or contributing to government bonds, with minimum investments ranging from €500,000 to €2 million depending on the asset class.

Apart from the investment, applicants for the Golden Visa must have a clean criminal record, valid medical insurance, and sufficient funds to support themselves and their dependents while residing in Spain. The Spain Golden Visa offers visa-free travel within the Schengen Area, allows inclusion of family members, has no language or business experience requirements, and does not obligate investors to reside in Spain. The golden visa application process is known for its speed, with a decision typically made within 10–20 days after document submission and investment, followed by a residence permit process taking around 30 days, and overall requiring the investor to visit Spain to extend the permit without mandating a permanent stay before or after obtaining residency.

Mastering the Spanish Language

Illustration of a person participating in a Spanish language class

Acquiring the local language is a fundamental step towards assimilating into a new country, including Spain. Mastery of Spanish is crucial for Australians, as it is essential for everyday communication and can significantly enhance job opportunities. Thankfully, there are numerous ways to learn Spanish, including:

  • Educational apps like Duolingo and FluentU
  • Spanish media with subtitles
  • Podcasts
  • Engaging in full language immersion experiences

These resources can all aid in your language learning journey.

For a more structured approach, language schools such as EF Australia provide Spanish courses in Spain. These courses are accredited for their effectiveness in teaching and offer diverse cultural experiences. Learning Spanish not only broadens your job prospects but also helps you better integrate into Spanish society, reducing the feeling of being an outsider and allowing for a more welcoming experience.

Navigating the Spanish Healthcare System

Healthcare is another significant aspect to ponder when moving to a new country. In Spain, Australians who are legally residing and employed contribute to the social security system, allowing them access to the public healthcare system. This system, which is supported by about 9–10% of Spain’s GDP, includes most medical services at no additional cost except for dental care for adults.

Spain also offers private health insurance for those who prefer it; expatriates choose it because of its benefits like better facilities, quicker services, and multilingual staff. To access Spanish healthcare services, expatriates must apply for a Spanish health card, known as the tarjeta sanitaria individual (TSI), at the local primary care center. This card is crucial for scheduling appointments, receiving healthcare services, and obtaining prescriptions at a subsidized rate.

Opening a Bank Account in Spain

For Australians, opening a bank account in Spain is a hassle-free procedure. You can open a bank account as either a resident or non-resident, with different services and fees available for each type.

To open a resident bank account, you need:

  • A valid passport or ID card
  • An NIE number
  • Proof of income
  • Proof of address in Spain

Bank account opening in Spain can often be started online, but finalizing the account setup typically requires a visit to the bank. Some options for opening a bank account in Spain include:

  • Banc Sabadell
  • BBVA
  • Santander
  • La Caixa
  • Openbank
  • N26
  • Revolut
  • ING
  • HSBC
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Barclays

These banks cater to the banking needs of both locals and foreigners, including Australians, by providing services such as bank statements.

Working Remotely in Spain

Spain provides excellent opportunities for those seeking a change of scenery, be they digital nomads or remote workers. The trend of remote work is growing in Spain, with the country poised to become a preferred destination for remote workers worldwide. Australians aged 18 to 30 can take advantage of the Youth Mobility Program Visa, which allows them to live, work remotely, and study in Spain for one year.

Investors in Spain, including Australians, have the legal right to work in the country, enhancing job opportunities and business prospects. Working for an Australian company that has a branch in Spain or seeking employment with international organizations can also serve as viable avenues for Australians to work remotely.

Cultural Adaptation: Embracing Spanish Culture

Acculturating to Spanish ways is a thrilling part of the relocation process. Spanish culture is rich in traditions, customs, and social etiquette that may be different from what Australians are accustomed to. Participating in festivals and cultural events is a great way for expats to experience Spanish traditions and integrate into the local community.

In Spain, greeting people when entering a shop or an establishment and in elevators is an essential part of social etiquette. Spaniards often have a relaxed approach to punctuality, frequently arriving up to half an hour late for social gatherings. Even dining etiquette in Spain is unique, with ‘la sobremesa’, a traditional time for relaxed conversation over drinks following a meal, often considered the main event.

Embracing these customs and traditions will not only enhance your Spanish experience but also help build relationships with locals. So, whether it’s:

  • taking part in a local festival
  • observing polite greetings
  • understanding relaxed punctuality
  • respecting dining etiquette
  • participating in ‘la sobremesa’

Embracing Spanish culture is a rewarding part of your journey, and visiting the Spanish consulate can be a helpful resource for a Spanish national.

Education Options for Children: International Schools in Spain

If you plan to move to Spain with children, their education becomes a vital consideration. Luckily, Spain is home to a wide array of international schools, offering diverse educational systems and curriculums. These schools are spread across various cities, including:

  • Alicante
  • Barcelona
  • Bilbao
  • Cadiz
  • Girona
  • Madrid
  • Mallorca
  • Malaga
  • Marbella
  • Murcia
  • Galicia
  • Valencia

International schools in Spain offer a variety of curriculums, including:

  • American
  • British
  • French
  • German
  • Italian

Most conduct teaching in English and offer language instruction in Spanish and other languages. So, whether your child is just starting their educational journey or preparing for college, the international schools in Spain offer globally-oriented education, ensuring your child receives a high-quality education while experiencing a new culture.


In conclusion, moving to Spain from Australia offers a wealth of opportunities. From embracing the relaxed Spanish lifestyle and enjoying a lower cost of living to exploring diverse job opportunities and navigating the visa process, relocating to Spain is an exciting journey. Whether you’re drawn to the rich history, vibrant culture, or allure of the Mediterranean climate, Spain welcomes you with open arms. So, take the leap, embrace the adventure, and start your new chapter under the Spanish sun.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it cheaper to live in Australia or Spain?

Living in Spain is generally 70% cheaper than living in Australia, with daycare costs being approximately 283% less.

How can an Australian get a job in Spain?

To work in Spain as an Australian, you must obtain an employment visa before starting your job. This is essential for non-EU citizens to work in Spain.

Can an Australian citizen retire in Spain?

Yes, Australian citizens can retire in Spain by becoming permanent residents through the Golden Visa Program, which offers investment opportunities in various fields, including real estate (no date).

How do I move to Spain?

To move to Spain, you will need to obtain a residency permit, rent a home, register with Social Security, get an NIE, and potentially register as self-employed if you will be working as a freelancer. This process also includes obtaining a TIE and registering on the electoral roll. Good luck with your move!

How can I apply for a visa to Spain from Australia?

You can apply for a Spanish visa at the Spanish Embassy or Consulate in Australia by filling out the visa application form, providing the required documents, and paying the fees. This should be your first step in the application process.

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