10 Tips To Make Retiring To Spain An Absolute Success

Ten essential tips for those planning on retiring to Spain - how to make your relocation successful and enjoy your life in retirement

Are you dreaming of retiring to Spain and looking for ideas and inspiration to make your retirement everything you want it to be? These tips will help you make your Spanish retirement as perfect as possible.

Our 10 top tips on retiring to Spain are here to help you to get your plans underway.

We’ll start by looking at how to get your plans for your Spanish retirement underway. Next, we’ll be looking at the all-important question: Where in Spain should you retire to?

As we get older, healthcare moves up the priority list, so we’re going to tackle that one as well.

To really enjoy retiring to Spain, you’ll need financial security. We’ll look at what you can do to ensure your pension keeps financially sound and your savings and investments are all safe and secure.

So, whether you’ve just started planning or you’re already packing your belongings and just about to start your new life in Spain, let’s jump straight in and get your ideal Spanish retirement underway.

1. Plan ahead when retiring to Spain

Most of us aren’t that old when we start our retirement planning. Let’s face it – 60 is the new 50. We’re still in the prime of our lives.

However, retirement does have that certainty that we are going to get old, so it’s best to consider some of the implications and make sure we’ve planned for a few more wrinkles and creaks.

Good access to local medical services might be a million miles from your mind right now, but some time into your retirement and you may find the intervals between your regular MOT are getting somewhat shorter, and a well-equipped local medical facility will become as essential as the corner shop.

So, take heed! If living the dream for you is retiring to Spain somewhere up a remote mountain where the only neighbours are goats – just take a few moments to consider how you might get back down the mountain in 10 – 20 years’ time. 

Future proof your retirement. We all hate to think of it, but medically things tend to break, fall off and stop working as well as they used to when we grow older.

For UK citizens planning ahead is crucial as a lot has changed post-Brexit: there are different immigration, taxation and healthcare rules in Spain for non-EU citizens. You can find out more in our Living In Spain After Brexit guide.

2. Don’t be tempted to move too far off the beaten track

Whilst the thought of escaping from UK’s less predictable climate and landing up in a sunnier country might be all that’s keeping you going as the winter nights draw in and TV shows get even worse, you’ll be surprised just how much you will miss some aspects of your life back in old Blighty once you do move to Spain.

 Retiring to Spain - Costa del Sol
Costa del Sol in Southern Spain – heaven for expat retirees

Grandchildren Alert!

The children have grown up and left home, you can finally plan without a thought about what children may or may not need. Think again!

We’ve already mentioned the quality of TV in the UK, it might not be too long before children come back onto the agenda.

You may not have them yet, but plan for grandchildren. Don’t panic though, they’re so much easier than your own children. You can play with them, have as much fun as you want and then hand them over as soon as the nappy region gets a bit funky.

You’ll love those little critters and want to enjoy their company, so, again, future proof your retirement to Spain and make sure wherever you choose to live you’re within comfortable reach of international transportation links for family visits and a well-equipped water park.

The good news for those moving to Southern Spain and the Costas is that these are all areas well serviced by airports and water parks.

3. Make sure your healthcare needs are covered

Actively begin looking at health insurance options in Spain.  

If you’re going to be beyond retirement age when you end up living in Spain you will be covered by a reciprocal agreement between the UK and Spain for your basic healthcare needs.

Tip! Our ‘Living In Europe After Brexit‘ page provides post-Brexit updates, information and links to official resources to keep you up to date.

However, if you’re retiring early or want more than just access to basic healthcare, you will need to look at health and medical insurance. 

The sooner you search out a suitable policy the better, as some insurers refuse to cover anyone over a certain age unless they have already been paying into a policy for a certain amount of time.

As mentioned, you will be entitled to some healthcare in Spain once you reach the age of entitlement, as things stand at the moment.

4. Take care of your family and estate – make a will

Sorting out your will is one of the most important things you need to do when retiring to Spain.

Make sure you have a local will in Spain that covers all of your assets in that country. You will also need one in the UK if you still have British assets and you will need legal advice to make sure your affairs are properly dealt with.

Do not leave it until it’s potentially too late to get your wills sorted. No matter what age you are, get your will completed so that your family does not have the additional stress and trauma of sorting out your estate should you die.

The laws of succession in Spain differ from those in the UK. If you don’t have a will stating your intentions, your estate may not be dealt with as you would have wished.

5. Learn Spanish!

Retiring to Spain is far more than a move to a warmer location – it’s all about making another country your home. 

You will get so very much more out of your new life abroad if you make an effort to learn the lingo.  You will be able to appreciate the local culture and customs more, you will meet more people and have a better chance to make more friends.

What’s more, you’ll show those around you that you’re committed to your new life and this will make them far more accepting and welcoming.  You gain a new skill to boot, and you can show off to friends and family when they come and stay.

6. Get an accountant to optimise your taxes

Most articles about buying a property in Spain will tell you to get a lawyer of course, but few will tell you to get an accountant.

However, the tax system in Spain can be very complicated especially when you bring property taxes and foreign earned income into the mix. 

A good accountant will help you make head and tail of the taxation system and protect you from paying too much.

7. Embrace the Spanish way of life

The ways and pace of life in Spain are different from what you’re used to.  Chances are this is one of the main reasons you’re contemplating retiring to Spain in the first place.

Retire to Spain
Long lunches outside with a gorgeous sea view – that’s the ultimate lifestyle

However, many people fail to grasp what that will actually mean to them.  You need to be aware that life slows right down, you’ll literally get nowhere fast if you try and rush and you’ll come up against a brick wall if you try and rush others.

Be ready to feel lazy initially, and then be ready to embrace long lunches that take until the late afternoon to finish.  You’ll soon wonder how you survived without a siesta!

8. Rent before you buy

You need to try the lifestyle before you commit to it. Don’t rush yourself into buying a property in a particular area until you’ve spent some time there and made sure it’s your cup of tea.

Once you’ve retired you’ll have all the time in the world to get to know Spain.  

Enjoy your relocation, and invest some time getting to know the different regions of Spain that you’re interested in. 

Travel around, meet local expats, and stay for long holidays in different places. If there is a location you definitely like, rent first to make sure it suits you best – get a little taster of what your life will be like if you buy a property there.

By taking this approach you are far more likely to succeed in retiring to Spain and making your move a smooth and easy experience.

9. Winter-proof your home

Sounds ridiculous? – Not at all.

Winters can get quite chilly in Spain and the best way to spend a cold winter evening is to stay warm and comfortable in a cosy living room with a glass of wine and good company.

So, do get central heating installed in your villa or apartment.  Split air conditioning units are not sufficient in the dead of winter.  Ignore anyone who tells you otherwise!

10. Do your due diligence before improving your property

If you decide that you want to renovate a property in Spain or improve on a home you’ve already bought,  permission is often needed from the local council for even the most insignificant building work.

retire to Spain
Spain is full of tempting properties with character and stunning views

If you can, find well-recommended architects and builders who will make the whole process simpler for you by applying for this permission on your behalf. 

When you get a quote, make sure you find out whether VAT is included and bear in mind that it is normal to have to pay about 50% upfront before building work commences.

Don’t take a chance on an unknown builder, get good recommendations from trusted sources and insist on seeing examples of their work.  If they’re a good builder they’ll be proud to show you what they’ve done before!

Final thoughts on retiring to Spain

Retiring to Spain can be a fantastic experience if you plan everything ahead, do your research and make sure that all the important issues and questions are addressed on time.

Before you even plan, read our detailed Living In Spain guide which covers every possible aspect of your Spanish retirement: health, money, pensions, property, locations, etc.

You will appreciate all the effort and time it has taken when you can sit back and relax on a sunny terrace of your wonderful Spanish home and truly celebrate your retirement!

You might find helpful:

  • Living In Spain – all you need to know to plan your move to Spain: the cost of living, housing, paperwork, visas and residency, banking, utilities, taxes, etc.
  • Best Places To Live In Spain – the best and most popular expat locations in Spain.
  • Planning & Organising Removals To Spain – How to save time and money on organising removals to Spain: your removals options, how long they take and how much they cost, shipping pets, etc.
  • Haven’t found what you were looking for? Contact us or comment below with your question and we’ll do our best to help.


  1. We are selling our house in the Uk in April 2022 and are wanting to retire to Spain we have decided what area . The problem we have his we are 67&64 and these new rules since brexit are going a bit over our head understanding the full process of buying a house in Spain could you recommend that we see a solicitor or lawyer to help in the process of relocating any advice would be helpful ,we do have a pension adviser who we will be talking to. Thank you Mr Carl McGuigan

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