Relocating to Spain

Greetings, all! My husband and I are hoping to move to Spain permanently next year. My husband is in the middle of getting his Irish passport but the waiting time could be around 2 years, so we decide to get self employed visas while waiting. We have a few questions here listed as below,

1.      Can we both teach English online as we already have been doing this and apply for autonomo visa? We both have been ESL teachers with TEFL and degrees for over five years in China n UK.

2.      How much do we need to have as a deposit to apply for it ? I searched a lot but couldn't find a definite answer for the amount of savings needed.

3.      Can our two kids attend local schools free of charge?

4.      Do we have to apply for the visa in the UK or can we apply for it while holidaying in Spain?

In the long run, we hope to set up a language school or open a supermarket. What are the options there for us?

We would be so grateful if you could help us answer the questions.

Many thanks,

Mr and Mrs Parker

Sure why not!!

Do you have WhatsApp number??

@Erick46 Thanks for the positive response. Do you happen to know the required amount for autónomo visa? Thanks. Sorry but I don't have a WhatsApp account.

@Mae Parker

Welcome to the forum, and good luck with your potential move to Spain!

If you like an easy life, just being patient and waiting for his Irish passport is a pretty good option. EU passport holders can relocate to any EU country, for any reason, with minimum formalities. Once he's done his step (for a EU Citizen Registration Certificate), it's almost as easy (and quick) to do your residence via the "family reunification" process.

I'm leaning heavily towards this as the passport is only 2 years away. If it were 10 years, I'd feel rather differently. In the meantime, you can still visit/live in Spain (using your 90 days in 180 days visa-free allowance, per UK passports), and you can still do property viewings and rent or buy a place to live.

If you really want to live full-time in Spain, starting ASAP, the other potential option is the no lucrativa visa (NLV). This is for financially independent expats who won't (and can't) work in Spain. This is applied for in the Spanish embassy in UK, and you need 400% of IPREM (approx 600 euros per month) x 12 months (just under 28k euros in savings). Or show passive monthly income outside Spain (rent, dividends, pensions, etc.). The NLV has no work authorization, so this is a controversial area... but many "digital nomads" obtain the NLV, and then work REMOTELY for non-Spanish clients. You doing online language teaching to Chinese students would be similar.

The official guidance pages are here...

certificado for him (as EU citizen)

family reunification for you (as spouse of EU citizen)

for comparison, autonomo / cuenta propio for you both (as non-EU citizens)

and NLV for you both (as non-EU citizens)


Wow, Gwyn! Thank you so much for your help! It is definitely easier if we could wait for the Irish passport, isn't it? However, we have two kids who are 6 and 9 and I am thinking the later I delay it, the harder it will be for them to integrate into Spanish schools. Having said that, we will definitely keep that option open as a plan B.

Very informative on the NLV. However, is the 28k for all of us or just one person?

Do you happen to know the amount of money required for the Autonomo visa, too? I had a look on google and I got the indication that it is feasible but we need to pay higher tax.

BTW, we cant wait to move to Spain and we are looking at Valencia and Alicante areas.

Very grateful to you!


@Mae Parker

Our place is in Elche a small Spanish city close to Alicante. The airport is actually Alicante-Elche Airport, with some useful low-cost connections with Ryanair and Wizzair. Both Alicante and Elche are very nice, and there are plenty of super beaches nearby. Elche is a more traditional Spanish place (UNESCO-listed for its abundant palm groves), rather than a tourist hub, but all the more charming for it. I thought I'd get the easy bit done first. :-)

NLV 28k is for the first applicant, and only if you are showing savings instead of monthly (passive only) income. It's extra for the 2nd (and each dependent, I think) but smaller amounts (all listed in the info pages). I don't know if you need NLV per person, or if you get NLV for hubbie, then do family reunification for you/children (which is probably easier/less expensive). It's important to note that this money isn't tied up, it's used to show you can afford to move... and after you get your NLV you can use it for living expenses or buying a property. This would let you establish yourselves in Spain before the new passport, so you can find a home and school.

Autonomo I don't know much about, other than it looks like a bit of a faff. There are members here who have applied for autonomo, but it does sound a bit time-consuming. Most do the NLV, which is a very easy option for UK retirees. The info is very detailed in the immigration page I included. The money issue is variable, because it depends on what kind of business. Remote teaching is actually quite simple cash-flow wise, so it's not like you need 500k euros of investment to get it off the ground! I'd imagine it's more like you move, and you could start working within a few days.

However, I think you'd need to write a business plan and be a bit more conservative about the timing, and allow for moving over, getting a home, getting premises, getting appropriate licenses, registering as self-employed in Spain, getting first clients. So maybe 6 months of funding for a family of 4, sufficient to cover all issues until you are both working appropriately. I believe you submit your plan and financial projections (and I'm guessing that it will be in Spanish!) to one of several specified bodies, and they will give an opinion/report which will support your visa application. I have no idea how long this takes, or how much they charge.

I think you have to have your work premises in place as part of this, so you need a rental contract for an office somewhere, or you need a rental contract for a house/flat which has a large enough home-office for you both. If this all sounds like fun, then it's definitely the most correct option for you, given your proposed work. But NLV is definitely a far easier option, and maybe an attractive way to bridge the gap until the new passport shows up. There is also a potential Digital Nomad Visa, which would be ideal for you, but despite a lot of talk, I don't think it has been officially launched yet (but you can double-check).

You should note that any visa or residence permit is issued to non-EU citizens for a short period, often only 1 or 2 years. So you have to repeat a lot of this bureaucracy in order to renew. It would be very reassuring to know that you can avoid most of it in a couple of years by switching to the EU citizen route (the registration certificate is issued for 5 years).

Also you should note that all applications, independent of their specific requirements, need you to provide proof of address (a place you own or rent long-term in Spain), proof of funds (to show you can afford to move, and pay for your family to live in Spain), and proof of health insurance (that you have appropriate private medical policies covering the whole family).

@gwynj Wow! I remember we looked at purchasing a small flat in Elche before which was almost 6 years ago.  What a small world.  I think maybe the best option is to wait for his Irish passport and like you said we could live between Spain and the UK until then. Maybe we could homeschool the kids. A few kind expats from other forums did warn me about the educational issues such as the cost, and the integration etc. We are in China ATM and really frustrated with the endless pcr covid tests and hard lockdowns. Hence, we really want to leave. However, we dont wanna move back to the UK either. A few people also said teaching English would be a bad choice for a young family because of the pay and unsocial hours. Maybe we need to earn more money and start a small grocery business for a living. Who knows?! There are so many uncertainties.  Thanks again for being so kind and having taken your precious time to offer me sound advice here! God bless you!