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Sun, Sea and Selling Houses – Everything You Need to Know Before Buying a Property in Spain

Posted by Maria on 15/04/2023

As Season 6 of the cult Channel 4 programme ‘Sun, Sea and Selling Houses’ is about to go live, we’re excited to take you behind the scenes of our family business and share what it’s really like to ‘live the dream’ – along with answering the most frequently asked questions from our clients during the series.

As the owners of Micasamo, we moved to the Murcia region of Spain with a young family and understand the vision families have when they decide to move abroad. It can be a scary road to navigate and has been made slightly more tricky since Brexit.

But… we’ve done it, we’re thriving, and we can guide you through the process – and help you avoid the potential pitfalls – by answering every question you could possibly think of.  

More than that, we’re invested in helping you enjoy every minute of the journey by ensuring you have ALL the answers you want and need before deciding to buy a property in Spain.

We’re going to dive in with the top three questions clients asked during Season 6 filming and then follow up with a few more common concerns, to ensure you have as much knowledge as you need to consider whether or not a move to Spain is right for you.

Let’s begin…

Sun, Sea, and Selling Houses

The legal process

Without a doubt, this is one of our most frequently asked questions: What is the legal process when buying a property in Spain?  

Let’s consider the main obstacles:

  • you might not speak Spanish
  • Spain has completely different laws and legal requirements
  • the Spanish business culture is unique.

These are all obstacles that the team at Micasamo are here to remove from your path so you can enjoy your journey towards property ownership in Spain.

We know you need peace of mind to guarantee your property purchase is safe and secure, with access to all the advisors you need for a smooth, legal purchase. 

We’re pleased to say that we’re ahead of the game, having already anticipated this question in a recent blog article that gives you all the information you need: The Buying Process Made Simple With Micasamo.

Don’t just take our word for it; see what Kate had to say after buying a property with us in March 2022.

“[The Micasamo team] guided us through the whole property purchase process from start to finish. Always attentive and always on hand for advice.”

‘Hidden’ costs in addition to the purchase price

With the right support and guidance there should be no ‘hidden’ costs, but as we know, the property purchasing process in Spain is a little different. So, for absolute transparency, you should factor in between 10%–15% additional costs for taxes and fees on top of your property purchase price.

This is what these costs are made up of:

  • Property tax varies from region to region but you can expect to pay between 8%–11.5% in taxes on a property purchase in Spain, with additional costs applying to a new build property rather than a resale (a property that has been sold at least once before).
  • Notary fees – charges for preparation of the title deeds and witnessing the signatures.
  • Land Registry fees (Registro de la Propiedad) – payable once the purchase has been completed, to officially record the property in your name.
  • Legal fees for using the services of a lawyer.
  • Banking and Administration Services (Gestoria) – a range of services, e.g. transfer of utilities to your name and tax payments.
  • Mortgage fees if you are financing your property.

It’s also worth noting that, in Spain, the seller usually pays the Estate Agent Fees.

Our top tip would be to shop around for the best currency transfer rates, which can significantly impact your overall costs.

young happy family sitting in consulting office, making property purchase

Healthcare in Spain

The Spanish healthcare system (Sistema Nacional de Salud) is considered one of the best in the world and all citizens and residents have access to it.

As a British citizen living in Spain, you must register for healthcare. Once you have your social security number, you can access the Spanish National Health System in the following ways:

  • If you are employed or self-employed (autónomo) by making social security contributions.
  • If you are of legal pension age in the UK, you can get free health care by filling out an S1 form and registering with the Social Security office.
  • If you are not pensionable or employed, you can pay into a low-cost public health insurance scheme called Convenio Especial. You can apply once you’ve been resident in Spain for a year. The costs are currently €60 per month if you are under 65 and €157 for those over 65. This option gives you full access to the Spanish state healthcare system.
  • In some cases, you can use a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).
  • If you’ve been a resident in Spain for five years or more, you can apply for permanent residency. This will give you access to state healthcare on the same basis as a Spanish citizen. 

You may need to have private healthcare cover when you first move to Spain, to show the Spanish authorities that you’re covered in case of emergencies. It can take several months for the registration process to be completed!

Other frequently asked questions

  1.  How much does it cost to live in Spain?

For a long time, Spain was considered a cheap place to live, hence the number of expats that decided to make it their home.  

For day-to-day living, food, and eating out, we still say it’s cheaper than living in the UK, especially if you live and eat the Spanish way. Shopping for delicious seasonal fruit and vegetables in smaller shops, buying locally-sourced fish and meat, enjoying free tapas, and making the most of the menus del día are all great ways to make your budget go further. 

Also, utilities and bills (such as council tax) tend to be much cheaper across most of Spain.

For more detailed information, read our recent article on the cost of living in Spain compared to the UK?

  1.  Do I need residency to live in Spain?

The short answer to that, since Brexit, is ‘Yes’.

If you want to make Spain your permanent home, it’s important to know you can only stay for a maximum of 90 days without residency.

There are alternative options, including visas, for those buying a property, making other investments in Spain, or working remotely – which we can advise you on.

If you’re planning on moving to Spain to retire or don’t have any plans to work, you’ll need to apply for a visa and show that you have sufficient funds and guaranteed means to live on.

  1. Can I apply for a job?

Yes, you can, providing you have a residence visa or valid Spanish work permit.

Finding work in Spain may be a challenge, as it currently has one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe, so it’s worth considering alternative options – like working remotely, or starting up your own business (autonomo) – before you take the plunge.

Beautiful woman with short hair sitting at the terrace on a sunny day working from home using laptop
  1.  Do I need a Spanish driving licence?

If you move to Spain on or after 16 March 2023 you can still legally use your driving licence from your home country for up to six months. 

During this time, you will need to exchange your UK licence for a Spanish one, without being subject to any additional requirements, such as taking a driving test. 

  1. What are Spanish schools like?

We moved to Spain with our young family – a toddler to teens – and tried various methods of schooling, from an International school to homeschooling during the Covid lockdown. Our youngest child currently attends a local Spanish school and thoroughly enjoys it.

We appreciate the anxiety you might feel if you’re considering a move to Spain with children; therefore, you might like to learn more about the process in our article, Moving to Spain with Children.

mother and son visiting new school

Our children settled really well over here, pretty quickly, and it’s far nicer standing on the sidelines of a football match with blue skies overhead and warm sunshine than hiding under an umbrella cheering the kids on in the rain with your wellies covered in mud!

  1.  Do you have any information on couriers?

Yes, we do, as we appreciate how important it is for some people to be able to bring their own furniture and treasures with them from the UK. 

We’ve ‘been there’ and know that moving to a different country and setting up a new home can be daunting. This is why we provide a Micasamo after-sales service, which anticipates your needs long after the property sale is complete. 

These services include ongoing support from professionals who have made a similar move and can help you navigate systems you’re not used to, including installation of TV and internet, transfer of utilities and couriers.

  1.  Is it easier to buy a Spanish car or bring your car from the UK?

One thing to note is that used car prices in Spain are typically higher than in the UK. However, cars tend to last longer because of the climate, warmer weather and less rain – and they have the advantage of being left-hand drives.

If you want to bring your car from the UK to Spain, it must be re-registered onto Spanish licence plates as soon as possible to be compliant with Spanish motoring laws. Officially you have 60 days to do this.

We suggest using the services of a Gestor, who will be able to register your car correctly and legally for a small fee and advise on necessary insurance and taxes you’ll need to pay. The registration typically costs around €500, depending on your specific circumstances, including the age, make and state of repair of your vehicle.

Any more questions?

Sun, Sea, and Selling Houses Shooting Day

Watching ‘Sun, Sea and Selling Houses’ inspires many people to take a leap and realise that buying a new home in the sunshine is possible. 

Beyond the brilliant blue skies, sunshine and fun you see on the TV, it’s our job to ensure that when dealing with our clients, they get the ‘full picture’ of what it’s like to buy a property and live in Spain.

We don’t believe in ‘pushy selling’. It’s never just about the sale for us. We fully understand that, for most people, purchasing a property abroad is a big deal and a once-in-a-lifetime event.

So, if you have any burning questions that haven’t been answered in this article, please contact us and ask! Our friendly team is here and ready to help.

Don’t deny yourselves a great future

As we said earlier, we love living in Spain with our family – it’s one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.  

We’ve lived in some beautiful places all over the world, but we’ve always come back to the Murcia region and consider it home.

Now, we’re taking you behind the scenes and have the chance to show you that we’re living a ‘real’ dream as we share our day-to-day family life and business life on screen.

We made it happen, and if you’re ready to take the next step to find your dream home in Spain, we’ll be right by your side, ensuring you enjoy an exciting experience from start to finish – made safe and secure by our expertise and professional advice.

Contact us

Get in touch today so we can help you start your exciting adventure to property ownership in beautiful Spain.


By: Maria Olmos Garre

Hi, I'm Maria I was born in Spain and I love to tell people about the incredible lifestyle here. I hope you enjoyed this article. If you want to talk to us about the content you would like to see more of then please email me directly!

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