If you have a long-cherished dream of retiring to Spain, it’s vital to understand that this is still possible either before the transition period ends on 1 January 2021 or after. The retirement visa should be easy to apply for, and affordable health insurance is increasingly available. However, it will certainly be easier and cheaper before the transition period ends.

Three months is still plenty of time to find a wonderful property that meets your needs and complete the purchase. Alternatively, you can rent a home for now and buy at your leisure next year.

You do, though, need to get the ball rolling as you will need to invest some time in getting paperwork in order both in the UK and in Spain.

Your first step in buying a Spanish home should be to read our guide, Your Viewing Trip. It includes checklists to help you stay in control, and all the questions your estate agent should be able to answer.

By biting the bullet for retirement now you will enjoy many advantages. Even if you are buying a second home with a view to retiring in Spain later on, it would be expedient to look at what is available in your preferred area this autumn.

Let’s look at what is to be gained by putting things in motion for a move this year.

A healthy lifestyle

Three quarters of our readers said they wanted a healthier lifestyle in Spain. Outdoor activities are not just possible, but a pleasure in Spain all year round. Sports like golf, petanca, cycling, sailing and hiking are all popular, of course, as is having a quick dip in the Med before your morning coffee. Every weekend in the winter seems to have an energetic event on your local costa – a half marathon, triathlon or sponsored swim.

Your healthy and active retirement in Spain

Many of Spain’s seaside towns have long, flat promenades which encourage people to take daily exercise. You can always pop into a beachside bar for a coffee for a break if it gets really warm. Shady tree lined avenues, ramblas and coastal paths also permit you to spend a lot of time in the fresh air. Sitting on your terrace or in your garden with friends for a BBQ is quite possible all year in the more southerly parts of Spain.

Most towns have fresh food markets every day, where you can buy locally sourced produce and good quality meat. There is an abundance of fruit and vegetables in season, which is undoubtedly the best way to enjoy them. Who needs strawberries in December? You can probably find those strawberries in the supermarkets but it’s always healthier to choose items that are in season and they will also have travelled less time than, say, buying green beans from Peru in October. What’s more, they taste better!

As a UK pensioner you can have free access to the Spanish Health Service, which is one of the best in the world – but you will need to become resident to do that before 31 December 2020. This is still possible but you will need to apply before the end of the year.

Life in the sun

For the less energetic, just enjoying being out in the sun, soaking up all that vitamin D with a cold cava in hand is healthier than a British pub (especially right now!).

Are you ready for a new hobby?

Spain has more sunshine than any other European country. On average the Costa del Sol enjoys nearly 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, which is double that in the UK. It has more sunshine than the Algarve, Tuscany or Crete. Mallorca comes second in the sunshine stakes in Spain, a beautiful island as well.

Obviously, regions and geography allow for variations but Spain really is the sunniest overall. That makes you smile, feel good and brightens your day.

Travelling to Spain

For a full-time retirement in Spain you will need Spanish residency from 2021. However, for a part-time retirement where you live there for less than half the year and stay ‘resident’ in the UK, no visa will be required.

Fortunate, then, that you can travel to your second home in Spain so easily. Spain has really good communications with the rest of the world for all 12 months of the year. Even if your local airport has reduced flights or no flights at certain times of the year, there are numerous “main” airports that will get you to and from your destinations in the UK, Europe and beyond. Many other European sunspots have plenty of flights in the late spring and summer but fail miserably when it comes to off-season travel!

Making friends

One advantage of moving to Spain is that millions of British and English-speaking people have done just that before you. You should have a well-established local community who speak your language – and that includes businesses too. You won’t need to panic if you don’t yet speak any Spanish! Having said that, it’s a great idea to enrol in classes once in Spain so that you can involve yourself in local society as well.

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There are plenty of clubs and associations around Spain for British people. The U3A is an international organisation which welcomes people from 50 years upwards. It offers a wealth of activities from mahjong to cycling, history to bird watching and plenty of outdoor activities. Walking groups are popular, as are golf (of course!) and petanca (boules). Whatever your fitness level you will find something that you can do and enjoy.

Since there are officially 300,000 British people in Spain (without doubt there are thousands more who are in the process of applying for residency), you won’t have problems meeting people and finding some that become friends. You just need to be open to new faces, new opportunities.

Keeping legal

Many people, quite understandably, are worried about the legal processes in Spain. How different are they from the UK? Can I trust a lawyer? What about inheritance laws? Is buying a property complicated? What guarantees do I have?

It’s easy to buy in Spain this summer or autumn, so long as you have some help. Click here to meet your ‘Golden three, the lawyer estate agent and financial experts to make it happen

The short answer is yes, these days you can buy with confidence in Spain. Moreover, Property Guides can help you: we can introduce you to reliable and honest lawyers who will be able to guide you through the journey, speaking and writing in English. Please contact us here for information and introductions.

Cost of living

As a retired person, financial outgoings are of great importance. Many will be on fixed incomes and no one wants to find themselves overreached. Spain offers excellent value for your money when it comes to buying a new home. This autumn is very much a buyer’s market with bargains to be found due to the virus pandemic.

Our Cost of Living Survey 2020 shows that for a basket of goods covering 12 countries, Spain came the 4th cheapest overall and the second cheapest for groceries, just behind Greece.

Your pension will go further than in most other countries and you have all the advantages outlined above, many for free – sunshine, healthy living and making new friends. If you are keen to retire to Spain, start looking for properties and apply for residency (you can only do this once you have registered for an NIE number but you don’t have to be in Spain to do it as your lawyer can do it for you.)

About The Author

Sally Veall

During her many years in Spain, Sally has moved several times, bought property, sold property, let out an apartment to tourists and currently rents an apartment. She says: "20 years as an expat have taught me many things and given me wonderful experiences, laughter, tears, friends and a very tolerant view of life. I have never regretted it, even in difficult times. I cannot imagine living any differently."

Spain Buying Guide cover

The Spain Buying Guide is a free, independent resource to help anyone who is looking to buy property in or move to Spain through each critical stage of their property buying journey.

Set up to help our readers avoid the many complexities and pitfalls of buying property in Spain, the guide takes you through each stage of the property buying process, with practical recommendations from our experts who have been through the process themselves.


  Understand Brexit
  Find your property
  Ask the right questions
  Avoid losing money
  Avoid the legal pitfalls
  Move in successfully

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