Source: Think Spain
WITH working from home on the rise across the modern world and given a major boost by the pandemic, the need to live close to the office is rapidly reducing – and has already been floated as a possible solution to stemming the exodus of childbearing-age inhabitants in Spain's most remote rural parts.
Based upon the notion that, as long as an office employee has access to internet and a computer, he or she can work anywhere in the world, UK-based property insurer CIA Landlord carried out a survey to see which European cities Brits would choose to live in if they could carry on with their jobs from home.
The answers were based upon various criteria, but these included being able to make their money go further and increase their savings if they were still earning in pounds sterling.
And Madrid has come out top.
Its points in favour cover regular, cheap flights to and from various destinations in the UK, a wide range of restaurants and bars with great food at a low cost, and plenty to do off duty including arts and entertainment, culture, shopping and tourism.
The only downside to Madrid, among those surveyed, was the cost of rent – the average tenant in Spain's capital pays around €990 a month, a price that can drop to a third or even less out in the provinces, even in densely-populated, lively coastal areas.
Buying property in Madrid or anywhere in Spain continues to be a much cheaper option than renting, and although tenancies are on the increase, the country has a far greater culture of owner-occupancy than the European average, with the most recent figures showing that well above 80% of Spanish homes are lived in by people who either own them outright or have a mortgage on them.
This said, the CIA Landlord study found that for British home-workers living in London, the cost of renting in Madrid did not seem particularly high to them and even represented a significant saving.
If cost of living was the only consideration, the outright winner would have been the Albanian capital of Tirana, where the average monthly rental is £270 (about €325) and a one-way public transport ticket is about £0.30 (€0.36), but other criteria were also perceived as important and Tirana ended up fourth on the list.
This said, quality, good-sized rentals in large, bustling towns, coastal hotspots and provincial capital cities in Spain – let alone those in more remote areas – are easy to find for far less than the Tirana average; see over 1,000 properties for let between €100 and €500 a month here.
The Italian capital of Rome came fifth, based upon good food, attractiveness, atmosphere, efficient public transport and plenty to do – but the high cost of takeaway food, property rent and beer is seen as a drawback.
After Madrid, British home-workers would choose the Turkish metropolis of Istanbul – highly-valued for its off-duty entertainment and shopping, food choices, attractiveness, reasonably efficient public transport and safety, it also scored highly because of its low cost of living; lower than the Spanish average, although not by a hugely significant amount, and considerably lower than that of much of Britain, especially London.
But flights to and from the UK are far less frequent than those with any Spanish airport, and very expensive in comparison, making Madrid a more practical option.
Third, after Madrid and Istanbul, was the Hungarian capital of Budapest, where the major points in favour were affordable property rent prices and good, cheap beer.
Least popular of the entire list were the city-State of Monaco, the Swiss city of Geneva, and one of Europe's smallest capitals – that of Liechtenstein, Vaduz.
Although the latter perfectly caters for those who cannot decide whether to live in a capital city or in a village in the countryside, given that it only has 5,450 inhabitants, it was found, along with Geneva and Monaco, to have the highest rent – dramatically higher than even in some of the most exclusive parts of London.
As an example, the average monthly rent price in Monaco is €3,500.
Madrid, or anywhere in Spain, really
Madrid is certainly a sound choice, especially for those who are not keen on life in a country capital as such – the general consensus is that Madrid does not 'behave' like a capital, and 'feels' like Spain's answer to Canberra, Brasília, Washington DC, Rabat or Ankara, and that those seeking a lifestyle closer to that of London, Paris or Rome would find it in the lively, colourful and cosmopolitan Barcelona.
But if a variety of arts, entertainment, shopping and good-quality eating-out options – national, regional and international – as well as all useful services close at hand and an attractive setting are the main considerations, these can easily be found in any one of Spain's 50 provincial capitals, the numerous large and medium-sized towns outside of these, coastal belts and even small towns.
Coastal areas frequently offer the cosmopolitan, multi-cultural panorama of a major city, and even small villages have at least one bar or restaurant – in fact, in 2017, Spain held the European record for the most bars per inhabitant, a hazy definition which covers everything from coffee-and-cake shops to pubs to ice-cream parlours and sit-in bakeries, including those which serve meals and snacks, with one per 169 inhabitants; as many as Denmark, Norway, Ireland and Finland combined, one for every 1,000 residents in the whole of Spain in Andalucía alone, one for every 43 people in Mogán, Las Palmas, and enough that their takings account for around 15% of the GDP.
Also, Spain is, statistically, one of the world's safest countries, with violent crime very rare even in big cities and lone women saying they feel very secure walking home alone in the dark.
It is, additionally, one of the planet's most accepting countries when it comes to diversity – homosexual or bisexual residents, different nationalities, races and religions, single parents and other 'non-nuclear' family set-ups, and transsexuals are treated as part of the furniture and do not even stand out from the crowd.
Source: Think Spain
Brits living in Spain can apply for 'non-EU residence card' from Monday if they wish, but 'green certificate' holders are not obliged to
BRITISH nationals living in Spain can apply for a non-EU 'residence card' from Monday, July 6, the General Directorate of Migration and Police has confirmed – but this is not compulsory for those who already hold the so-called 'green certificate'.
Provided for in Article 18.4 of Title II in the Brexit withdrawal agreement, Brits living in Spain do not have to apply for what is known as a Tarjeta de Identidad del Extranjero ('Foreigners' ID card', or TIE), but have a right to do so if they wish, since this photo-card document is a simple way of proving residence and showing who you are.
Article 18.4 establishes that each EU member State can opt to allow UK nationals and their families who reside permanently there before the end of the transition period on New Year's Eve to not have to request a 'new' residence document if they do not want to do so, meaning they will not have to go through the process involved.
If they do decide to a acquire a TIE, it will expressly state their condition as a beneficiary of the withdrawal agreement.
Temporary residence documents are valid for five years and permanent ones for 10, but this is in keeping with the requirement of Spanish nationals to renew their national ID cards (DNI) every few years, in the same way as most countries do with a passport.
Renewing a TIE is likely to be a simple process involving a form, photograph and a small fee.
Applications for a TIE after the end of the transition period on December 31 will be considered individually on their merits, and if the foreigners' office believes the reasons for missing the deadline are justified, it may decide to offer an extension.
The withdrawal agreement does not require Brits' physical presence in Spain before the transition period ends, in accordance with Article 11, and temporary absences from the country that do not affect residence rights, including extended absences, will not prevent Brits from obtaining a TIE.
Residence cards will have a minimum validity period of five years, and applications for permanent resident cards will be accepted provided they fulfil the requirements of Article 15 of the withdrawal agreement.
This includes having been legally resident in Spain for at least five years, even if any current residence document has not yet expired.
The five-year period will be deemed to have started when the initial, temporary certificate was issued – if indeed this has been issued.
Many British expats have been rushing to get their 'green certificates' – which do not carry a photograph or fingerprint and cannot be used to prove identity, and which are now in credit-card size rather than the original A4 version launched in 2008 – before the end of the transition period.
It is not clear whether this is essential in light of Brexit, but doing so should make the process of acquiring a TIE much simpler.
Anyone planning to live in Spain for the majority of the year should ensure they have a document proving their residence – either a 'green certificate' issued before now or a TIE – before the end of the transition period to avoid admin headaches and other problems.
The maximum time a non-resident Brit can stay in the EU after the transition period will be 90 days in any 180-day period, and a person of any nationality can only have residence in one country, meaning acquiring this in Spain will automatically imply renouncing one's residence in the UK.
There are no exceptions to the rule, meaning British nationals living mainly in the UK cannot stay in Spain – or the EU as a whole – for four or five months continuously, but will have to return to Britain until the next 180-day period; unless, of course, they acquire a working or student visa where these are appropriate.
This is a separate issue from tax residence which, in Spain, means living in the country for 183 days or more in a calendar year, not necessarily continuously, and is automatic in these circumstances, making the person non-tax resident in the UK.
Moving to Spain after the end of the transition period will still be possible for British nationals, but will be subject to third-country requirements and will not be an automatic right as it is whilst the UK is still – in all but name, at least – an EU member.
Luckily for those fearing their emigration plans or hoped-for retirement to sunny shores may have been scuppered by Brexit, the Spanish government is still keen to welcome Brits, and Spanish society as a whole is very open and accepting of all foreign nationals, having been a frequent destination for migrants for many centuries.
Today, after holding a meeting , the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs has confirmed the following; "The Quarantine will be lifted the 1st of July for International Tourists". Further to this, Spain has announced that the quarantine of tourists will be scrapped and that corridors will be agreed between the EU states for the passage of tourists. This is great news for those wishing to move to Spain and who do not currently hold residence documents. If you are looking to move between Spain and the UK in July, we strongly recommend that you reserve your move as soon as possible as there is expected to be a huge demand in capacity.
The Brexit Transition Period
Nothing will change until the transition period has ended, which is, at present, scheduled to be 31 December 2020.
During the transition period, the UK will continue to stay in both the EU Customs Union and single market, which means that things will remain the same. What this means is that up until this date, you are still allowed to freely relocate to Spain in the same way as before, with no visa required. That said, it is vital to gain Spanish residency during this period, in order to stay in Spain once the transition timeframe ends.
If you are a listed inhabitant in Spain before 31 December 2020, your rights will remain the same following the deadline. Consequently, if you are a UK resident wanting to move to Spain following the end of the transition period, it may be wise to finish this process before the 31 December deadline. Otherwise, you may experience a more problematic immigration process.
Making Your Move Permanent, Post-Brexit
Anyone who has been officially living in Spain for at least five years at the time of Brexit will be allowed to apply for a ‘permiso de residencia de larga duración’, which roughly translates to ‘permission to reside in the country’.
If you have not been resident in Spain for at least five years, you will likely have to apply for a visa to stay in the country, until you are able to meet the five-year condition.
To begin the process of applying for permanent residency, you will need to send your application to the closest Spanish Consular office within three months of your arrival in Spain, whether you plan on working in Spain or not.
Be aware that the application process is notoriously long and requires several documents. Hence, it is important to ensure you have everything you need to complete your application successfully. Initially, the consular staff must consider your application, prior to sending it to the Spanish government office nearest to the region of Spain you wish to live in.
Successful applicants will then be asked to appear at the consulate personally to collect their visa. Should your application include the right to work, you will then be advised to fill in some additional forms.
Here is a summary of what UK residents wishing to move to Spain will need to do:
Once your application has been authorised, you will be supplied with your visa within one month. You will then need to arrive in Spain within three months of your application in order for it to remain official.
If you have consent to work and you fail to register with the social security office within three months of entry, your right to remain will expire.