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Moving to Spain

Are you planning to move to Spain? Discover the prices for an international move and the steps to take to settle in Spain. Like many Irish people who have fallen in love with this country, it is important to prepare your journey well before moving to Spain from Ireland. To make your move a smooth process, we prepared a guide for you.

1. Decide where to move 

Most international relocations have a predetermined destination, whether it is motivated by a new job opportunity or a change in the children’s new school. If you are moving for other reasons and curious to explore your options, here are the top five cities in Spain.


Barcelona stands out as a top pick for young adults, offering warm weather, delicious cuisine, vibrant nightlife, numerous art galleries and museums, beautiful gardens, and a growing expat community. Additionally, it’s a hotspot for entrepreneurs and digital nomads due to its career opportunities. Even though living costs, particularly rent, can be high, there are budget-friendly neighbourhoods such as El Clot and Sants that provide alternatives.


Madrid is a prime choice for those seeking a vibrant social life. As the capital of Spain, it offers a constant array of new experiences, from restaurants to theatres, museums, and nightlife spots. While living costs are high compared to other cities, housing prices are relatively lower than in Barcelona.


Valencia is ideal for families, offering beautiful and spacious housing options on a smaller budget. Its abundance of parks, gardens, and playgrounds make it perfect for family outings, with most places easily accessible by public transport or walking. Valencia generally provides a more affordable cost of living compared to Barcelona and Madrid, making urban life accessible to families on a budget.


Málaga appeals to a diverse range of individuals, from students to families, with its unique cuisine, lively nightlife, and year-round festivals. It has excellent transportation connectivity, including an airport, and offers lower housing costs, making it an attractive option for those seeking affordability without losing out on quality of life.


Alicante emerges as a top destination for expats, offering favourable weather and stunning beaches. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and affordable living costs, including housing and groceries, it’s a popular choice for international movers seeking a comfortable and budget-friendly lifestyle.

2. Cost of living

You are probably already aware of Spain’s lower cost of living when compared to Ireland, which may be a key factor in your decision to move there. Even if you live in the city centre, renting or purchasing a home can be reasonably priced. 

Below, you will find price comparisons for certain items:

Restaurant€10 menu€30 menu

3. Search for a new home

The price of housing in Spain will be relatively cheaper than in Ireland. However, you can still see price fluctuations between cities with higher demand throughout the year. That is why it is recommended that you begin your search three to four months in advance of your move, especially if you are relocating to a larger city. 

Below is an estimate of the market prices charged:

CitiesStudio1-room apartment3- rooms apartment
Barcelona €1100€1400€1700
Malaga €700€1300€1500

4. Find a moving company 

I miss a little connecting sentence here, like Now that you know where to move to and found a new home, it’s time to plan the move.

What is the cost of moving to Spain?

The cost of moving abroad depends on the volume of your items and the distance between your old and new home. The average price range for moving to Spain from Ireland is estimated between €1,500 and €6,000.

Every moving company has a different pricing largely depending on your destination within Spain and the transportation method of your choice: a removal to the Canary Islands, for example, or to Gibraltar will have a higher cost than other cities. 

Cost of international removals from Ireland to Spain

Below, you will find an estimate of the costs based on the distance and volume of international removals from Ireland to Spain. Prices can also vary depending on the additional services you will require. 

In addition, you can save around 30% on the total price if you opt for groupage transport (+ or – 1 week).

House SizeShipping Container Via SeaCost Via Air freight
1-2 Bedroom Flat1300 € – 1900 €2600 € – 3200 €
3-5 Bedroom House2000 € – 2300 €3800 € – 5400 €

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5. Prepare for your move to Spain

A few weeks before your move, you’ll likely need to cancel your current rental and utility contracts, any subscriptions, shut down your bank account or open a new one in Spain, settle outstanding bills, and arrange for post-mail forwarding, among other tasks.

In our moving house checklist, you can find all the necessary steps and paperwork that need to be completed before you make your move. Once you’ve completed these tasks, arrange for shipping your belongings to Spain, and then you can hop on a train or plane to your new destination!

6. Learn your visa requirements 

As an Irish citizen and EU passport holder, for visits less than 3 months, you don’t require a visa to enter Spain or a certain passport validity requirement as long as it is valid throughout your stay. However, for citizens from Northern Ireland, it will be necessary to obtain a specific visa based on the purpose of their move to Spain called  ETIAS starting from January 2024.

For stays of more than three months, Irish and EU passport holders must register in person at the Immigration Office, which typically takes three months to process.

In case you are considering obtaining a Residence Visa, it is recommended that you begin the application process while in Ireland and prepare all necessary documents ahead of time. If you do not intend to work but plan to stay for more than 90 days, you are eligible for a non-lucrative visa, which requires proof of sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay. And finally, Irish citizens who want to work in the Spanish market can apply for a Work Visa, which is typically sponsored by their employer.

7. Register to your new address

Register at the Irish Consulate

When you arrive abroad, it is beneficial to register with the Irish consulate in the district of your place of residence. Irish citizens are not required to complete this registration, although it is recommended. This will allow you to participate in local elections and ensure your safety in the country.

Register at the town hall (Empadronamiento)

For longer stays than 3 months, you will need to obtain your social security number. Register with the municipal census (empadramiento) at the town hall of your place of residence. 

With your empadronamiento certification you’ll be able to apply for your NIE number (tax number), buy a house, get health insurance, etc.

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8. Register to pay taxes in Spain 

Your taxes will depend on your living situation when registered either in Ireland or Spain. If you work in Spain, you will be considered a resident and subject to income tax. The tax treaty signed between Ireland and Spain specifies the conditions in order to avoid double taxation in matters of income and wealth tax.

If you plan to stay in Spain for more than 3 months, you must obtain your NIE (Número de Identidad de Extranjero), a unique tax identification number. This document is required for many procedures, including work, property acquisition, and banking. The NIE number is now valid for indefinitely and can be acquired at the police station or Immigration Office.

9. Apply for health insurance

Having valid health insurance is a legal requirement in Spain. If you work in Spain, you and your dependents will have free access to public healthcare because you will pay social security contributions from your salary every month. To benefit from the healthcare services, simply apply for your health card (Tarjeta Sanitaria Individual).

If you’re from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you can use your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) for the first 3 months. After that, you’ll need to apply for Spanish public health insurance.

10. Open a Spanish bank account

Opening a bank account in Spain will be very useful because you’ll easily be able to pay rent, withdraw money, pay at shops and restaurants, and transfer money to friends in Spain or within the EU with zero to minimal costs. Online banks are also quite popular in Spain, as they offer free services.

To open a bank account, you will need an identity document and your NIE number. However, you can also open an account as a non-resident, meaning you won’t be subject to Spanish income tax if your main residence is in Ireland.

11. Exchange your driver’s licence

Irish and EU citizens can keep their original licences and drive on their current driving licence as long as it is valid.

Spain also allows foreign driver’s licences to be exchanged. If you wish to exchange your driving licence for an equivalent Irish driving licence, you must do so within 10 years of your driving licence expiring at the Directorate-General for Traffic (DGT). Failure to do so within this timeframe necessitates taking the Spanish driving test.

12. Get your pets ready for the move 

If you intend to relocate to Spain with your pet, a European Union pet passport allows pets to travel between EU countries and contains information such as the pet’s microchip code, rabies vaccination record, owner contact information, and issuing veterinarian. It can be obtained from any licenced veterinarian in the EU and is valid for life if rabies vaccinations are current.

If your dog or cat is travelling “non-commercially,” they must fly within five days of their owner. If you are unable to meet the 5-Day Rule, the move can still be completed, but it will be considered a commercial move, which raises costs and alters the EU import requirements and timeline. 

Ready to Move to Spain?

To avoid paying more than needed for your international move, compare companies to find out which one offers the best price and service. Use our matching system to find the best company for your international removal and easily organise your move to Spain at the best price! The quote request is free of charge and with no obligation!

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