For many years, Spain has been one of the favourite countries for those from the north of Europe, especially the UK, looking to buy a property in a (sunny) foreign country. This popularity continues to this day: at a recent event in Britain about purchasing a home abroad (A Place in the Sun in Birmingham), two thirds of those who sought information and advice from the Foreign Office (FO) representatives said that Spain was their top choice of destination; indeed, more than 12,000 homes have been bought by British citizens in Spain in the past three years.
Helpfully, the FO has different information and advice available for those contemplating a move to Spain and cities such as Barcelona. First is their 'How to buy property in Spain' checklist. This includes details of the Spanish legal system concerning property purchase, where to do advance research, a checklist to follow before completing any acquisition as well as specific information about different types of property, such as timeshares and coastal properties.
There is also an FO video (YouTube) offering help for those wanting to buy a flat or house in Spain: click here to watch it.
For a general guide to the process, they have a 10-point list of useful tips for ensuring a smooth move abroad, which we reproduce here:
1. Do your homework: Research your destination, visit forums and expat community resources to help get a feel for the area.
2. Read up on local laws & customs: Familiarise yourself with local regulations and customs, don't get caught out because you haven't done your research. Visit www.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo for more information.
3. Don't rush into buying abroad: Take time to visit the area and other properties nearby, don't be rushed into decisions and ensure you are familiar with local protocol.
4. Seek independent legal advice: Don't feel under pressure to use your property developer's or estate agent's contacts, check out the gov.uk website for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's English-speaking lawyers lists—it is vital that your legal advisor understands the law in the country you intend to move to. Visit this web for the list.
5. Plan for your health: Once you permanently leave the UK, you are no longer entitled to medical treatment under the NHS or via a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Be sure to take out health insurance and if you are staying within the European Economic Area (EEA), read up on the S1 form (previously the E121 form). For more useful information, visit this NHS web.
6. Consider your long-term financial requirements: Read up on the impact moving overseas may have on any benefits or retirement income you received. Be realistic about your living costs overseas; don't assume they will be the same as at home. Do you have a plan B if things go wrong? Visit this web for more information
7. Read up on tax regulations: Be sure to research the taxes that will be applicable to you in your new home (as well as back in the UK) once you have moved abroad at this Revenue & Customs website.
8. Know the costs: Don't forget to take into account exchange rates and potential financial implications of moving overseas.
9. Tell us you're leaving: You need to notify the Social Security Office, HM Revenue & Customs and the Department of Work & Pensions that you are moving overseas, as well as your GP. For a full list of who to contact, click here.
10. Integrate: An essential part of a successful move abroad is integrating into the local community. Try not to isolate yourself and do make an effort to learn the local language, this will play an important role in helping you settle in to your new home.
Once you've made the decision to head abroad, the FO also has a document aimed with help for Britons living in a different country (but much of it is also relevant to other nationals). This includes information about Healthcare in Spain, information on benefits available to British nationals and driving in Spain, and residency requirements in Spain.
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