Life is good in Spain - lots of sunshine, sea, good food, mountains and time to enjoy all of them. Before you make the move, you need to think about how you are going to fund all of this, and take advantage of the best that Spain as to offer.
EU nationals can receive their state pensions and private pensions directly into their Spanish banks, often at no cost for the transfer with certain types of bank accounts. Of course, you will be at the mercy of exchange rates between sterling and the euro, as the money will be sent using the exchange rate on that day. Rather than use your bank directly to transfer the funds, you will receive a better exchange rate by using a currency exchange company, such as Smart Currency Exchange; you will also be able to take advantage of their expert guidance on the currency markets and know when the rates are better for your payments.
If you are moving to Spain because you have been offered employment, you will probably be using your Spanish bank account a lot. It is worthwhile shopping around at the banks in your city or town, as there are several accounts available with advantages - for example, Nómina accounts are free providing you transfer a minimum amount into the account each month, usually 600€ or 700€. These accounts are also useful for pensioners. Santander Bank has a cash back scheme on current accounts similar to the one they operate in the U.K.
Arriving in Spain without a job and expecting to find one is not as easy as it once was. The unemployment situation here is far from ideal, with around 23% of the population currently without work. As an EU citizen, you have the right to work in Spain, but nowadays, most employment offered is on short term contracts, with little job security. Certainly, if you speak Spanish as well as English, plus another language or two, you will have a better chance of finding work. Teaching English is one of the most popular jobs, but to work in schools, both public and private, you will need certain qualifications.
Many expats survive working for other expats. You should be aware that you will need to register yourself as self-employed, and will have to pay a high amount into the Spanish social security system every month, whether or not you earn enough to cover it. You can “opt out” for short periods, but will pay a fee to rejoin.
Employers will often pay for your social security, though you will have to contribute too. In this case you are eligible for free medical care, but people who retire early or who are of employment age and not employed will have to pay for private medical insurance, which can be expensive. Pensioners will be able to access all medical services free of charge. (This is actually paid by the British Government, who reimburses Spain).
While you can eat and drink at reasonable cost in Spain, you will have to contribute towards the cost of prescriptions. The amount you will pay depends upon your income, so could be between 10% and 40% of the actual cost of the medicine; pensioners also pay this.
Utilities in Spain are paid by direct debit monthly, bi-monthly or every quarter. You will need to keep enough money in your current bank account for these costs, as there are financial penalties if you fail to pay on the due date. This applies to everyone: employed, self-employed or retired.
There are lots of extras you might not think about - annual car tax (much lower than in the UK), insurances, annual property tax (IBI) for homeowners and all things to do with Internet, mobile phones, and television/cable. The latter is more expensive than you will be used to in Britain, so you will need to budget for them carefully.
Overall, it is still cheaper to live in Spain than in the UK - although penalties for the late payment of bills and taxes are high and you won’t receive reminders; it’s up to you to make sure funds are transferred on time. Setting up a regular payments plan with your currency exchange company can be very helpful to automate any regular ongoing payments from the UK to Spain, and vice versa. It is vitally important that you always have enough in your bank account to cover all these expenses. Before you make the decision to move to Spain, you need to work out if you will have enough for these expenses and all other regular outgoings, factoring them into your budget from the outset. It just requires some serious planning so you can join the many thousands who are already living a comfortable and enjoyable life in Spain.