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A Guide To Spain - The Lifestyle

Living in the Sun - International Property Sales

Information kindly provided by Living in the Sun -


The Lifestyle
Living in Spain means waking up to warm, sunlit mornings, enjoying the heat of the day and then settling down to aperitifs and dinner outside on the terrace. Swimming in the sun heated pool at dawn or midnight. 
New experiences, friends both British & Spanish and a slower pace of life, away from the hustle and bustle of daily working routine.  A round of golf in the morning, perhaps, at one of the excellent courses. Good food and wine, sometimes cooked at home or enjoyed, inexpensively, at the local restaurant, then back to your Spanish villa to contemplate the lazy pleasures of the next sunlit day.

Tipping Tax/legalities Sport/Hobbies
Driving Festivals/B.Holidays Shopping Media



Regional food in Spain is as varied and delicious as its many wines. Restaurants in the tourist areas often cater for the “chips with everything” brigade, but real Spanish cuisine is a gourmet’s delight. Prices compare very favourably with British restaurants, and for home catering, markets abound and provide varied and inexpensive foods of excellent quality.

Throughout Spain, meals are often enjoyed quite late. Typically, you wander out to a bar to meet friends for tapas at around 9:00 p.m., then progress to a restaurant much later. Tapas are small nibbles such as flavoured scrambled eggs, chorizo (sausage), ham , spinach with chick peas, baby squid, fried whitebait ('bocarones'), fresh anchovies, shrimp, mushrooms with garlic, and deep-fried meat balls.

Shellfish abound, and particularly good value is zarzuela de mariscos, a mouth watering selection of seafood served on a large plate. In cooler weather, the Spanish meet in restaurants known as horno asadors ('roasting ovens'), in which lamb and suckling pig are specialities.

Spanish wine is good and reasonably priced. Take a look in any Spanish supermarket and you will find an enormous range of red, white, rose and sparkling wines, not to mention sherries and brandies.

Look for wine bottles marked “denominacion de origen” and you will not go far wrong. Rioja is particularly good.

Breakfast is generally a light meal, but in areas used to British tourists, bacon and eggs will be available.


Some hotels and restaurants include a 5% charge on their bills on top of IVA. It is customary, however, to add a tip of between5 and 10% depending on the service you received and the size of the bill. (The higher the bill the smaller the tip). Taxi drivers usually get a tip worth 5% of the fare and in bars some small change is adequate.

VAT in Spain is known as IVA. The standard rate of 16% applies to the vast majority of goods and services.

It’s advisable to take income tax advice before moving to Spain. as paying Spanish income tax can be advantageous as there are more allowances available than there are in many other countries.

Importing Possessions

When you come to Spain from outside the EU to take up residency, the Spanish government grants you the privilege of importing your household effects and personal possessions free of customs duty. This privilege is a one-time grant and is available to those who take out an official residencia. You do not have to purchase property in order to justify this privilege, but you will have to show a residence permit. You also have to make a prior deposit, which will be returned to you. Duties on importation from other EU countries no longer exist. If you have purchased a holiday home or second residency and want to import furniture for this you do not need to become a resident. All you need in this case is a so-called vivienda secundaria exemption and you will have to make a deposit, which will be returned after two years.  

Importing Your Pet

To import your pet you need to get a health certificate issued by a veterinary authorised by the appropriate ministry in your country. This certificate must be issued not more then 15 days before you enter Spain. Secondly you need a certificate of vaccination against rabies, which should have been given between one to twelve months before entering Spain. Lastly you need a certificate stating that the area where the animal is normally kept is free of animal diseases. Usually you can get this from the agriculture ministry. These certificates should be authorised and stamped by the Spanish authorities in your country, for which they will charge a small fee. Your pet can be flown over in the hold of an aeroplane or alternatively you may prefer to drive from England, via the tunnel, with your pet, so you need not be separated on the journey.

Become Resident or Keep Tourist Status

Legally any foreigner can stay in Spain up to 90 days as a tourist. If you wish to stay longer than 90 days you would have to apply for a permanencia, however you can only get one per year. When you stay longer than 6 months per year in Spain you should apply for a residencia. If you are a non EU citizen and you wish to apply for a residencia you should apply for a visado de residencia from the Spanish consulate in your country. There are various advantages and disadvantages when you become a resident, but we think it best if you have these explained to you by your legal adviser.


Sports facilities in Andalucía vary considerably depending on the town or area, but are excellent in the major cities and resort areas, although sparse in more rural regions and villages. Municipal sports complexes, known as polideportivos are located in the larger towns/cities and there are many private country clubs, sports centres and gymnasiums, most of which allow guests to use their facilities. Several of the larger hotels on the Costa del Sol also have gymnasiums that are available for private membership.

All community developments or urbanisations have swimming pools, and many also have tennis courts and other sports facilities. The cost of participation in sports, overall, is reasonable when compared to most other European countries.

Obviously, the sports facilities on the Costa del Sol are tourist driven, particularly regarding golf and water sports. Is is the climate of course that makes all the outdoor sports so popular.

Golf - Perhaps the most popular visitor Sport in Andalucia - courses abound, and all of really high quality.

Tennis - There is no shortage of places to play tennis in Andalucia.

Polo - The most important place in the Andalucia Polo calendar is the Summer Tournaments at the Santa Maria polo club in Sotogrande.

Skiing - Winter pastime in Andalucia's Southern Alps - Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Adventure Sports - Rock Climbing, Caving or Speleology, Paragliding, Microlighting, Ballooning.

Motoring - Everything from Formula 1 to small rallies both on and off road in which the enthusiast can take part.

Motorbiking - Everything from the World Motorcycle Championship to small rallies both on and off road in which the enthusiast can take part - Motor biking activities in Andalucia

Mountainbiking - Acres and acres of open ground. A biker's paradise.

Rural Sports and Pastimes - Walking, Horseriding, Hunting, Shooting, Fishing, Birdwatching, Camping.

Watersports - Andalucia has over 800km of coastline, both Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Sailing, Motorboating, Rowing, Canoeing, Windsurfing, Surfing, Snorkeling, Diving, Deep sea fishing.

Boating & Yachting- The cleanliness of its waters and the warm climate make this coast a popular place in which to enjoy watersports.



Drive on the right - and carefully. The English always see the continentals as being crazy drivers, though the Spanish are not as mad as Parisians !. Spanish drivers can be impatient so you will need a cool head but generally speaking driving in Spain is a largely pleasurable experience. 

It is easy and relatively cheap to hire cars in Spain. Speed limits are 120kph (75mph) on the expressways (autopistas), 100kph (62mph) on other roads and 60kph (37mph) in built up areas. Seat belts are compulsory.

Officially you cannot drive a foreign plated car in Spain forever. The maximum time of use per annum is 6 months and, in theory, for the other 6 months you need to park the car in a garage. Checking is very lax, however.

EU members can drive in Spain on their foreign driving licence without an international driving licence. Non-EU members have a real advantage when they buy a car on tourist plates and stay as a non-resident. They do not have to pay the 16% IVA (VAT) and neither do they have to pay the Spanish special vehicle registration tax of 12% - 28% saved.  

Europeans can avoid paying the 12% special registration tax. When buying your car all you have to do is request this and the car will be fitted with a tourist plate, rather then a full Spanish plate. You will have to renew this plate every year, which will cost you approximately 25.000 pesetas. You can repeat this as many years as you want. Buying a car on Spanish plates can save a lot of complications and has certain advantages, such as being easier to resell and coping with payment in Euros. The rules are that you have to have a residency or own a property or be able to present a certificado de empadronamiento (certificate to show that you are a registered inhabitant of the community). If you are a non-resident driving through Spain, you may find that the Spanish police are empowered to demand payment on the spot for any traffic violation you commit. They will impound your vehicle, if you are not able to pay up. This is all legal as their orders are to ensure that the fine will be paid.

Car Insurance - under Spanish law, motor vehicles and trailers must be insured when entering Spain. Green cards are not usually necessary. Third Party (responsabilidad civil obligatoria or seguro obligatorio) is the minimum legal requirement. Third Party, Fire & Theft responsabilidad civil obligatoria, incendia y robo) Full Comprehensive(todo riesgo)- this is only usually available for vehicles up to 3 years old.

Driver & passenger insurance (seguro de ocupantes) is usually optional in Spain and can be added to your policy This allows the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident to claim for bodily injuries, including compensation for incapacity to work or for compensation to beneficiaries should he be killed.

Insurance premiums in Spain are amongst the lowest in the EU.


Fixed Public Holidays

1 January

New Years Day

6 January


19 March

San José

1 May

May Day/Labour Day

25 July

Santiago Apostol

15 August

Feast of the Assumption (not banks)

12 October

Spanish National Day

1 November

All Saints

6 December

Day of the Constitution

8 December

Immaculate Conception

25 December

Christmas Day



Shopping is a delight in Spain – big cities and tourist centres offer interesting boutiques and department stores with original fashion designs and gifts. Food shopping is simply fun with a vast range of high quality but inexpensive fresh fish, meat, fruit and vegetables in small shops and at the many colourful markets, which form part of Spanish daily life.

British newspapers arrive early in the day, particularly on the Costa del Sol, so you will be able to keep up with the latest news from home.

Sky satellite television can easily be installed in your home or you may prefer to visit one of the bars showing major sporting events etc to join in the fun over a drink.

Mediterranean International broadcasts, in English, on Channel 51.

Spectrum Radio broadcasts, in English, on 105.5 FM


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