Moving To Spain - General Questions

Do you have a query about moving to Andalucia and buying property in Andalucia. Find out by posting questions and reading about other peoples experiences.
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Moving To Spain - General Questions

Postby Wombat1 » Wed Mar 25, 2015 1:27 pm


I have quite an extensive list of questions relating to various aspects of moving to Spain, and we would greatly appreciate any replies/tips anyone can offer:

Spanish Health System for retired ex-pats - Moving to Spain soon with my parents who are both retired and need regular health checks/treatment (cancer etc). How easy is it to access the Spanish National Health system and what are the good and bad points?

Retiring to Spain
What are the pros and cons of being an ex-pat o.a.p living in Spain?

How easy is it to have your British State Pension and/or Army/Navy pension paid direct into a Spanish bank account? Any suggestions on how best to arrange this and any advice etc?

For anyone moving to Spain, currently with limited ability to speak Spanish, does any bank stand out as being more user friendly to the ex-pat or are they all pretty much the same. Do any of the banks provide internet banking in English?

Relocating - the last few days
Any tips/advice on how to ensure that the relocation goes as smooth as possible. Some of our concerns include the final payment for our UK utilities/services, closure of UK bank account and transferring final balance over to Spanish account etc.

Private Health Care/Convenio Especial
My husband and I will need to take out Private Healthcare for a year, prior to us being able to access the Convenio Especial. We understand that the Convenio Especial costs around 60 euros per month. Are there any Spanish private health care companies that provide cover for around
60 euros per month? Also does anyone have any experience of accessing the Spanish National Health system via the Convenio Especial?

Prescription Charges
How easy it to obtain the Spanish equivalent of UK prescription medicines and what are the prescription charges?

Bus Passes
Do the Spanish provide free bus passes for retiree's as we do in the
UK? If so, are they available to expats? Are ex-pats entitled to any
other Spanish benefits once they are retired?

Currency Exchange Companies
What are the pros and cons of using a currency exchange company and
which ones do you recommend?

Many thanks in advance for any replies we receive.


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Re: Moving To Spain - General Questions

Postby IreneD » Wed Mar 25, 2015 3:46 pm

Hi Wombat

I hope your move goes as smoothly as possible. As I read an interesting article about the Convenio Especial on a blog I follow, I'll start off the responses with this link.

I know a lot of the members use Prevision Medica private medical insurance - if you put 'Prevision Medica' into 'search' (topof the page) you will get lots of helpful info.

My OH and I are pensioners and are on the Spanish Health System. We had to use it recently when my husband became very ill and we can't fault it. The biggest problem is not having a good grasp of the Spanish language, so communication could be better. I'm improving but still not what you might call fluent. Working on it! :)

To get on the system was a challenge but help from the members here and perseverance won the day. There is a long thread on it somewhere.............I'll see if I can find it. Yes, here we are - our success is on page 2 of the 3 page thread.

That's a little light reading for you. :wink:

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Re: Moving To Spain - General Questions

Postby Enrique » Wed Mar 25, 2015 5:07 pm

Hi Wombat,
Internet Banking on-line can be had in English. Best to have a Branch you can use near your location as well.

Many of us got caught up in the Halifax -> Lloyds International -> Sabadell fiasco and then found the nearest Branch was a major hike away.

Can be a challenge getting a reasonable download speed, will depend on your location.
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Re: Moving To Spain - General Questions

Postby alisonb » Wed Mar 25, 2015 5:08 pm

For the query about banking - cajamar have a website in English. Certainly around us, almost all their staff speak English and are very helpful. You speak about closing your UK account and transferring the balance to spain. My advice would be to keep it open. Since none of us knows what's in the future, it's wise to keep your options open, and if you don't have a UK bank account, and do return, it's almost impossible to open one until you've been in UK quite some time. Why it's so easy to open an account in spain and not in UK is one of life's mysteries.
Pros and cons of retirees life in spain - almost all pros. Arthritis and asthma ten times better, most popular areas have expat communities, so there's help to fit in (or not if that's what you want). Main con is unintelligible bureaucracy but your age doesn't make any difference to that. Other big con is the much higher personal taxation rates in Spain, although if an army pension is like a civil service one, it has to be taxed in UK. THere are changes afoot, but I don't think anything has been settled yet. Weigh increased personal taxation against indirect taxes being lower on the whole. Car tax, IBI (equivalent of rates) both much lower. You can even get all your favourite English foods, if you're prepared to pay for them.
As for getting your pension paid abroad, Google internationl pension centre on site. Give them a ring, all the staff we've spoken to there have been very helpful. DItto your private pension, speak to the provider.
Medicines - many available over the counter and cost seems very reasonable. If in state health systme you pay around 5% of the value of the medicine. I can only speak for the area where I live (Vinuela) but you can arrange appointments with GP on Internet, usually next day. Last time I looked cancer survival rates were higher in Spain than UK, but how much of that is down to treatment and how much to lifestyle I don't know.
Bus passes - there is a card in andalucia for over 65s which gives discounted travel on buses, but not free. On the whole, we find public transport significantly cheaper than UK.

You don't say why you are moving, as that could make a difference to how you view what's on offer here. Good luck anyway.

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Re: Moving To Spain - General Questions

Postby elusive » Wed Mar 25, 2015 8:52 pm

Sabadell have english internet banking aswell. tbh i would think most will and certainly in branch (obviously more in areas with lots of expats) they speak numerous languages. very easy to have your state pension paid direct and in many cases will get you an account with no charges. private pension wise check with your provider as some charge to send your payments to a spanish bank. if thats the case look at opening a santander uk bank account and have it paid into that as they offer free withdrawls from cashs machines in spain

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Re: Moving To Spain - General Questions

Postby Wombat1 » Thu Mar 26, 2015 8:37 am

Many thanks for your helpful replies, they will definitely keep us busy.


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Re: Moving To Spain - General Questions

Postby RichardCoeurdeLion » Wed Apr 01, 2015 4:12 pm

Will you and your OH be working?

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Re: Moving To Spain - General Questions

Postby infoseeker » Wed Apr 08, 2015 12:52 pm

I'm sure I've seen the same set of questions on another forum.
Perhaps the answers were not to the OP's liking, and he'll keep asking round all the forums till he gets the answers he wants!

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Re: Moving To Spain - General Questions

Postby chrissiehope » Wed Apr 08, 2015 1:17 pm

All forum members have different experiences / knowledge - this applies to all forums, not h
just this one. It makes a lot of sense to 'spread your net wide' when fishing for information :D
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Re: Moving To Spain - General Questions

Postby Alcala Barry » Tue Jun 02, 2015 10:55 am


Hope you are getting along ok.

UK Pensions: If you contact the Government UK office that specialises in people moving abroad you will find them very helpful indeed. Once you pass through their security questions you can then arrange for your pension payments to be made direct to your new Spanish bank. They need obvious things like address, IBAN number, BIC code etc. It can all be done on the telephone on : 0191-218-7777. Early morning seem an easier time to get through.

Pharmacy: You'll find that in Spain the local Farmacia (and they are to be found everywhere) can and will offer a lot more help and advice than the system in the uk. They can then offer prescriptions accordingly.

BANKS: Unicaja have a very good English website and internet banking with them is pretty straight forward on their site.
Santander I have found to be good as well, but their English version online is very limited.

Hope this is of some use.

Good luck with it all.

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Re: Moving To Spain - General Questions

Postby luckyjim » Wed Jun 03, 2015 7:18 pm

Bus pass. Once you reach 65 and officially live here, you can apply for a bus pass which entitles you to half price bus travel locally.

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Re: Moving To Spain - General Questions

Postby Lavanda » Thu Jun 04, 2015 4:19 pm

I would wait until after the 2017 vote in the UK on membership of the EU. You might find that most of what you learn now is subject to change - or not. The vote will be within 18 months so is now a good time to be making such a drastic change with aged parents needing healthcare? Wait if you can.

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Re: Moving To Spain - General Questions

Postby Flexo » Fri Jun 05, 2015 10:24 am

Many people recommend Santander but I have to disagree. Santander is very complicated if you are a foreigner and particularly if you do not work in Spain. I tried to set up one and it was very complicated, and after some extra problems my employer told me that I should get any other bank except Santander.

I have Cajamar now which works fine with an english website and all.

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Re: Moving To Spain - General Questions

Postby Mowser » Fri Jun 05, 2015 10:40 am

infoseeker wrote:I'm sure I've seen the same set of questions on another forum.
Perhaps the answers were not to the OP's liking, and he'll keep asking round all the forums till he gets the answers he wants!

Wombat can't have received the correct answers here as he hasn't been here since the end of March.

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Re: Moving To Spain - General Questions

Postby Mickeyfinch » Thu Jun 11, 2015 12:26 pm

Hi this is my first post so I'm gleaning information.
I am70 this year and intend retiring to Spain.we looked at Costa blanca north last year. In two weeks time we are going to look at Andalucia.many people have said to us that is area is best although I don't think any of them actually live there all the time. I'm looking for information about the climate.what is it like in winter,what are the general temperatures at that time. What about tourists slightly inland?
Do the roads clog up in summer.are property prices comparable and what about the cost of living.any other information or web addressees would be useful ,thanks.

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Re: Moving To Spain - General Questions

Postby Wombat1 » Mon Sep 14, 2015 9:09 pm

For your information Mowser, Wombat is a she not a he, and I found the replies that have been posted very informative and helpful. Unfortunately due to unforseen circumstances we had to put our plans on hold for a while, hence why I have not been on the forum, not because I didn't get the answers I was looking for.


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