Information on Spain’s Cost of Living, Infrastructure, Climate, Residency, Health Care and Real Estate
If you are looking for a more cultured way of life, look to Spain. History, architecture, literature, art, and music are part of daily life all over this rich country. Even those looking a more active retirement can enjoy Spain—the Spanish coast is considered a golfer’s paradise.
Spain has long been a haven for European expats and has a destination to suit all types—from a single retiree to a couple with children. The key to a happy life in Spain is finding the area that suits you. If you’re a culture vulture, you may appreciate Barcelona, Seville, or Madrid. If it’s sun, sand, and sea you’re after, take a look at the Costas. If you’re looking for a green and seasonal area, the northern Atlantic coast is your answer.
In terms of services, infrastructure, culture, communication, and cost of living, Spain makes a lot of sense as a retirement destination. The country was hit hard during the financial crisis but has been fighting its way back up in the last few years, still representing good value for money.
Cost Of Living In Spain
Live and Invest Overseas offers monthly cost of living budgets (for a couple) for our favorite destinations in Spain:
Infrastructure In Spain
Spain’s train system is the most developed aspect of its national infrastructure; it’s one of the best in Western Europe. Spain also has highly developed coastal and maritime infrastructure, as the country’s economy depends heavily on merchant marine and fishing fleets. Communications infrastructure is excellent, as in most of mainland Europe.
Climate In Spain
Spain has a Mediterranean climate and enjoys four seasons, though they are not extreme seasons.
The temperature in all areas of Spain typically ranges between 70°F and 90°F throughout the year. Average annual humidity is around 80%. Mountainous regions and any area above sea level may experience cooler temperatures and lower humidity. Spain receives little rainfall per year, most regions receive less than 25 inches of rain per year.
As in any country, weather depends on your region, but generally Spain enjoys a warm, stable climate, with little temperature fluctuation from season to season.
Spanish Winter: December to February
Residency In Spain
U.S. citizens may enter Spain without a visa and remain in the country as a tourist for a maximum of 90 days per trip. If you wish to stay longer than 90 days, you need a “long-stay visa” in your passport before you leave the United States.
Like many countries in Europe, Spain grants residency to foreigners who can prove they can take care of themselves (that is, pay their own bills and not be a burden on the state). Spain offers an investment-based visa, as well, through the Golden Visa program.
Health Care In Spain
Anywhere in Spain, doctors and specialists are trained to a high standard. For major surgery and management of more serious diseases and conditions, you would need to travel to the larger towns and cities.
The Catalonia region in particular boasts excellent health care facilities. Barcelona has an especially good reputation for healthcare. There are well-trained doctors galore in this city, many of whom speak English. Consultants in every specialty can be found throughout Barcelona and the Sarrià area (close to the University of Barcelona) has a particularly high number of practitioners.
Real Estate In Spain
Spain has no restriction on foreigners owning property.
Spain has long been one of the world’s most sought-after property destinations thanks to its great weather, relatively low cost of living, and friendly atmosphere. It was hit particularly hard by the last recession and after a deep, dark downturn that kicked off in 2008, the market is finally bouncing back… and savvy property buyers have been watching closely for signs of a turnaround. Spain’s pariah status is gone and the country is awash with real estate bargains.
Now the official data on property sales show that the recovery is in progress… and buyers and investors are making their moves.
Unlike resort destinations like the Balearics (and other coastal and island locations), Spain’s big cities have diverse economies that are not reliant only on tourism.
Barcelona is a dream location, not just for the 1.6 million locals but clearly for the tourists and business visitors who flock there by the millions each year (over eight million in 2013). This is a strong short-term rental market and a great opportunity for buy-to-let investment.
Property in Madrid can appeal to tourists, expats, and locals, and this helps buttress investors in a market, which at this early stage still carries an element of risk. However, in Madrid foreign buyers make up a far smaller proportion of the market. Real estate here is dependent on Spain’s locals. Meanig a full recovery and return to growth will come to Madrid more slowly than to the tourism hotspots, like Barcelona. But when that growth does come, it will be less vulnerable to the ebb and flow of interest from fickle international buyers.
If you’re more interested in the resort towns, the Balearics are where to look. Majorca is the grand dame of the Balearics. Despite being a hotspot for tourism for so many years, when you know where to look, you’ll find that the 1,405-square-mile island has managed to cling to much of its charm.
The island gets an impressive 8 million visitors a year, mostly during high season. While this renders some beaches extremely busy, it brings some key advantages. For one, the island’s infrastructure is superb. The road network is excellent and the airport is large and extremely well connected, especially for an island of this size.
And while prices are inevitably pushed upwards by the number of visitors, they drop down to the range paid by Spaniards elsewhere in the country when you move towards the center of the island.
Overall property prices on Majorca are surprisingly reasonable, although developers tend to sacrifice space in favor of location, leaving their properties somewhat small.