When you decide to move abroad, money becomes a very big factor in your plans. Moving to another country costs a lot of money, and you may have to live on savings for a while before you get settled.
We’ve put together some tips to help you make the most of your Euros and make your money go further in Spain…
Opening a Spanish bank account
One of the first things you will need to do when you move to Spain is to open a bank account. There are both resident and non-resident bank account options for expats, so you can open a bank account before you get residency.
To open a bank account in Spain you will usually need to take your passport, proof of address, proof of employment status, and NIE into the local branch.
If you start with a non-resident’s account you can change this once you have residency by taking a copy of your residency certificate or TIE into the bank.
When choosing a bank, it’s important to check out the monthly charges. This will differ from bank to bank but most Spanish banks will now have a monthly fee, this may be waived if you pay in a certain amount each month. Unlike in the UK, you will also be charged if you take money out of another bank’s ATM so make sure whoever you bank with has lots of ATMs in your area to avoid these charges.
If you are going to be transferring money from the UK to Spain regularly, you will want to research how much this will cost you in fees. This is important if you will continue to get paid into your UK bank account.
Banks in the UK will charge you to do an international transfer, and your Spanish bank account will most likely charge you to receive money into your account in pounds. As an example, Santander in the UK advised us that they would charge a £10 fee per international transfer and Sabadell in Spain said they would charge up to £18 per transfer received in pounds – £28 per transfer? No thank you!
Instead we use Transferwise to transfer money from our UK bank account to our Spanish one. You simply use the online banking app to pay the money to Transferwise and they send it to your Spanish account in minutes. Their exchange rates are good and they fees are really low. There are lots of other online money transfer services available that are much cheaper than the banks, this was just the one we found the easiest to use. If you’d like to try Transferwise fee free, you can use this link.
When in Spain, shop as the Spanish do! If you shop in British supermarkets you will end up spending a fortune, likewise places like Carrefour are horrendously expensive.
Supermarkets like Mercadona, Consum and Alcampo are much cheaper but it does mean you’ll have to get used to Spanish brands as they rarely sell anything ‘British’. In our opinion the Spanish brands are just as good, and we only really pop to the British supermarket for the odd treat here and there that we miss from home.
You can also sign up to Amazon.es with your usual Amazon account details to use the Spanish site and avoid high shipping charges from the UK.
If you need any household items, stationery supplies for school, a new phone charger, anything you can think of then you need to head to your local “Chino” – think Poundland or Home Bargains. Named because they are owned by Chinese families, you can find anything in these shops and for much cheaper than the local ferreteria (hardware store)
As well as buying Spanish brands, you should eat in Spanish restaurants and cafes, rather than the big names you’re used tom if you want to save money. A coffee in Starbucks for example is almost three times the price of a coffee in a local Spanish café.
Eating out in Spain can be really cheap compared to the UK, especially if you go for the Menu del Dia (Menu of the day) which can be as low as €6 for 3 courses at lunch time. Alternatively, sharing tapas can be a cheap way to try different Spanish food if you’re not hungry enough for the big meal.
Tipping also isn’t a big thing in Spain so don’t feel like you have to leave 10% or more like you would in the UK. The few cents change is plenty to leave after paying for a meal but even that isn’t expected.
Find free things to do
One of the best things about living somewhere where it’s always sunny is that there are so many free things to do in Spain. It’s nearly always nice enough for the beach, the park, and going for a walk or on your bike, all of which don’t cost a thing.
Carparks at the beach and in shopping malls are usually free as well unless you park in a privately owned carpark, so try to avoid those where possible.
Many museums are free on Sundays which is great for families looking for things to do at the weekend so it’s worth doing your research before you go out for the day.
Buy train tickets online
And finally, another good tip to make your money go further in Spain but still allow you to explore, is to buy train tickets online. This isn’t something we’ve done yet, but we’ve been told that buying train tickets at the station will include a surcharge, even if you buy them in advance. If you need to buy tickets go the official RENFE website – the earlier you book, the cheaper the tickets. You can also get some special discounts when new tickets are released.
With some careful planning and money saving tips you will probably find that the cost of every day living in Spain can be cheaper than in the UK.
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