Opening a bank account as an expat in Spain

Some months ago I asked the Forum for advice on settling in Spain. We have been winding down our life since then and are now ready. This week we are in Asturius, house hunting! It has been unpleasant and depressing. Estate agents are not knowledgeable about procedures for non residents from the EU when purchasing property and some are just lazy and incompetent. 
Does anyone know what the procedure is? Do we need to open a bank account in Spain first? How does one do that from across the border? The banks here seem to open only 3 hours a week! We plan to buy cash. 
Would anyone recommend renting a place for a short while first to get a feel of the place? I am currently not "feeling" it here. Too many abandoned houses and dying towns with no life, not to mention bureaucracy!  
Can  someone please tell me we are making the right decision to want to move to Spain? 
@lmanyoni55 definitely rent before.. I was in Spain did March 4 and as lovely as the experience,  I decided not to buy property abroad afterall. Heard from other expats and decided that I'm trying to simplify my life and all of that will definitely complicate my life..taxes, drivers license, repairs, doctors if I need any.. 

I'm back in Santa Fe and plan to visit but not buy.
@lmanyoni55  If you already have a bank account in an EER/EU county, it is illegal to demand from you having a Spanish bank account.  If any organisation requires this, you can report the IBAN discrimination to the regulator. Here is an explanation. … rcement_en Some organisations still demand it. You can inform them about the fact that this is discrimination. You can easily get a Spanish IBAN with your phone, for example via bunq. You don't need to go to a Spanish bank office
I'm looking to buy a holiday home in Spain. 

The additional fees are extortionate. Agents are unregulated compared to U.K.  

I read about a agent in Tenerife who extorted over €1,000,000  from clients, and Tenerife police/Fraud squad were completely uninterested. 

The lack of sold prices available to buyers makes buying in areas you don't know very difficult. 

I'm watching the market in Los Cristianos at the moment because prices don't seem to reflect rental income. 

I'm going out for a month to see if things are even moving at asking price. 

When I think about the additional taxes/fee's (10% of asking price) and lack of information available to buyers. Gibraltar is becoming more and more attractive. 

If I was moving permanently, it would definitely be Gibraltar. I wouldn't consider Spain in the current climate. 

Bureaucracy, drivers licence, Healthcare and the general apathy towards Brits post Brexit would make it unbearable for me. 

We are currently renting in Spain but have many friends who have bought property recently. There is no easy way of doing this on your own. And you shouldn't - many properties are still being sold without the proper documents and this creates a nightmare for the buyer. Best advice, get a good real estate lawyer. He can:

1. Check all the documents before you sign anything

2. Most of them can also do all the paperwork (very complicated if you've never done it before) for your NIE number (Foreigner ID number) which is a requirement if you want to buy real estate in Spain. 

They are not cheap but I can guarantee it is money well spent! Hope this helps.

Having read your post I get the impression you are,  at the very least, having second thoughts about spain. I've lived here 35 years and I really don't recognise the spain you describe.

May i suggest to give a lot more thought to the idea 

Re banks.    When you say banks are only open for a very short time, you have clearly misunderstood the situation. My bank CajaMar opens Monday to Friday at 8.30 and closes at 2 pm.  I don't think that is exceptional. They also have all the normal online, cash access using ATM's, telephone banking, etc.   

Good luck 

First rule when you move to Spain, rent first for at least 6 months, that give you the opportunity to look for a house without rushing about.

Regarding opening a Spanish bank account, I haven't yet, I've got an internet bank account with Wise where you get a very good exchange rate (I came to Spain from the UK) and a very small charge for large transactions of 28 cents which I used to buy a car, you get a Visa debit/credit card for cash withdrawals at ATM and shopping etc.

Hi! I think he means that many banks refuse to operate with cash after 11 am, in the office. They point at the ATM and leave you to yourself. Certainly unkind but very common. 


Sorry that you're not enjoying your house-hunting experience!

We have a home in Spain (Elche, Alicante) and we enjoy it a great deal. You can definitely live a very nice, relaxing life here.

But the post-Brexit immigration challenge does put a damper on it for Brits trying to move now. I'd suggest maybe it's better to sort out the immigration issue first (commonly the no lucrativa visa, or NLV) before making a decision. But, equally, many folks prefer to find their dream home in the sun and then sort out residence after (or not even bother, as we still get 90 days visa-free with UK passports). I think we kinda jumbled them together, the third option. :-)
House hunting itself is always a bit stressful, but if you want to make the move, you just persevere. You can look in different areas, or pick different agents, or reassess your budget and/or type of property you want to look for. Or just take a break on the beach for a couple of weeks, until you're ready to face it again. :-)

Moving to another country, and buying a property, both involve time, effort, money, and negotiating bureaucracy. It's always easier to stay back home, and not deal with any of it. So it depends on why you want to move, and how much you want to move! :-) And, also, it pays to keep in mind that this aggravation/bureaucracy is just a temporary headache... once you have your residence, and you've bought your new home, it's relatively smooth sailing.

To buy a property, the first thing you need is your NIE. (You can get this independent of doing any residence applications.)

I think you might be able to get away with not having a bank account, but it's probably recommended to get one. We opened an account at Sabadell... transferred our funds to it (from the UK)... then paid the seller from this account, at the appropriate time.

I think you'll find most of the banks want you to be resident already. But a few will open it just based on your NIE and your UK passport. That was what Sabadell did for us (it's called a non-resident's account, and they charge us extra for it).

@lmanyoni55 2 words: Costa Brava!!!


My real estate agent introduced me to the director of the bank allowing me to open an account and obtain a loan!  He walked me through all of the steps and it was painless and rapid.  My home is near Mataro, in Arenys de Mar and real estate is booming here.  If there are empty buildings, flats and abandoned places at or near where you want to buy you need to leave there immediately.  

There are many great apartments and homes for sale in this area. I bought my apartment in 2015 and it has Increased in value by  174% …

If you need some assistance, just message me on what's app (***. I'd be glad to assist you!  


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You don't need an attorney or gestor!  The notary public is the person who reads the documents and allows or disallows a property to be bought or sold!  You don't need to sign anything until you are invited to the notary's office in signature day.  If the notary says the documents can be signed then you sign and it is done with.  If after, by misfortune. There is a discrepancy, the NOTARY is responsible by law. 
As others have mentioned, it makes sense to rent before you buy, for a number of reasons.  1) Getting things like bank accounts, NIE, etc in order 2) Learning about the place so you are ok with your selection 3) Easy to move should you decide to.
For me there's a particular economic evaluation that pointed me in the direction of renting.  Let's assume you buy someplace that costs Eu 200k, as an example.  In my case, I would pay cash.  That cash would come out of investments that have been earning, on average, 7.5% over the last 10 years.  So, the money I've earned, per month, on that Eu 200k is (7.5% * 200k) is Eu 1250.  

Can I rent a place for that amount, or less?  Absolutely.  In fact, we are living in an apartment that is valued (when it is listed) for Eu 425k and we pay Eu 1200/month 

This does not take into account the appreciation of the apartment; but I haven't seen very much appreciation over the last 3 years.  That absolutely could change, with the increasing inflation.  Still, I find it desirable to be able to move without having to wait a long time for a property to sell.  They don't seem to sell very fast here 
@BlueMoonx47 has taken the best route. 

Most forecasts for the Spanish market are not great. 

Real risk of losing serious money over the next few years with interest rate rises and recession across Europe. 

Even U.K. price rises are starting to slow and prices have softened in some areas. 

I was looking for a holiday home initially in Alicante. I switched to looking at the Balearics and Tenerife after reading that they were not as badly effected by the last market crash. 

Decent 1 bed apartment in Los Cristianos, Tenerife is €200,000-€250,000 according to listings on idealista. 2 beds 320,000-€400,000.

Looking at rental values, that just doesn't make sense. 

Idealista/Rightmove say that values dropped 8.6% across the Canary Islands last month. 
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