Logistics of moving to Spain from the USA

Hi! My name is Dayna & I'm planning on retiring in Spain (Mallorca) in the next year or so—sooner if Spain implements a Digital Nomad Visa—that way I'd be able to continue to work for my current employer remotely & then retire while in Spain. I'm looking for direction on whether it's worth the money to hire an immigration lawyer—the logistics of relocating to Spain (with my cat) seem overwhelming right now. Any personal anecdotes or direction would be greatly appreciated. 
Hi Dayna,

Welcome to expat.com, thanks for your nice introduction! 1f603.svg

The very first thing that I would suggest you do is to read the Living in Spain guide. Many articles might be of your interest, such as:
and more!

Then if you have questions, feel free to post them on the Spain forum.

Cheers,
Vero
expat.com team
Thank you Vero. 
Yes, I had read those articles prior to posting on this forum; in fact, I've scoured & devoured every website & article available on the trials & tribulations of moving overseas, & there is some valuable info out there, however I'd now like to hear some anecdotal stories from ex-pats that have already “been there/done that”. 
My family and I moved to Spain in 2016, under a non-lucrative visa.  We used an immigration lawyer to help in this process.  After some time, I considered whether or not I could have done it on my own, and the answer was "yes".  
What the lawyer did for us, and my comments on whether we could have done this ourselves:
1) Pointed us to the correct forms.  This is actually fairly well explained on government sites, and from others who have undergone the same procedure
2) Setting up a bank account, in Spain.  I haven't really looked into this but I think that this is something one could easily do while on a visit to Spain; which may be necessary in order to overcome the proof of residency requirement (see below)
3) Obtain NIE.  Everything I've heard, although I haven't done it, is that this can be easily done, oneself, with an appliction in country being the easiest.  Again, another reason for a visit.
The next item below, satisfying proof of residency, was something we did on our own with no contribution from the lawyer

Establishing residencey (rental contract):
For me, the most problematic part of the process is that they require proof of residency, ie, a rental contract, as part of the application.  The money spent on rent from the time of signing, to the time of visa granting, was 5 months for us.  That was wasted money, from my perspective.  But I was ok doing it, considering it just a "cost of getting a visa".

When we were thinking about moving to Spain, a family friend recommended Valencia to us; she went to University in Castellon de la Plana.  So, we made a short trip there to confirm that it was all she said.  While on that trip, we rented an apartment. 

In retrospect, as Spanish leases have only a six month minimum, I would have leased the absolute cheapest place I could have found, and then once we arrived, canceled that lease and found someplace more to our liking.  I would have saved quite a bit. 

Maybe others in the forum know of other workarounds, like a long term lease on an Air BnB that would satisfy the residency requirment. 

In retrospect, I don't regret using the lawyer, as they helped lower the stress of the process.  Primarily by answering questions about how to do things, and take care of the NIE and setting up of bank account.  But I think that, with a bit more research, one could do those things themselves. 

Regards and good luck on your move
Hello Fellow Expats!
    Actually I am not one yet but I thought that I have now gained enough experience along the way toward submitting an NLV application to respond to BlueMoon's right on time post. From Atlanta, Ga. USA, I would use the Miami Consulate in Fla. Anything I now know, I learned from reading fact requirements on that website, which sometimes seemed a little vague & ambiguous to me.
    My initial reaction was...well I can do this alright. Then I find that despite multiple numbers provided, plus emails & invitations to ask for help, that I was not hearing back from the Consulate. Then I read in the forums - rolling eyes & laughter assumed - that NO consulates call you back EVER!  So, learning that, combined with reading on the website that 46+% of applications are stopped in process for simple mistakes that we make ourselves, I began to allow fear & trepidation to creep in.  Just don't allow this!
    I hired an immigration solicitor in Spain. I chose a woman-owned firm recommended on an expat website. This, because I feel that women often try harder in business & I was pleased with the initial emails. Well, I was assigned a case worker, a pleasant English speaking gentleman. What a bloody mess that deteriorated into. He consistently gave me inaccurate information, for which he apologized in writing more than once. He advised such things as submitting my Visa applications digitally. Well, not at the Miami Consulate. He then told me that I would have to make an appointment in order to submit the application. Well, not at the Miami Consulate. "This" must be translated but "that" does not. Three months of financial records will suffice instead of a year's worth, as stated in the website. He would dismiss my information as not required, while I would be reading it off the website. Of course there was the initial fee before any of this "legal work" began. 
    In the end when I dismissed him, I had lost 5/FIVE! weeks wherein not the first page of application was filled in. No translations were provided on what I was then finding with some of the required forms. This delay brought us into mid-Spring. I mention this only because where I live, the airlines will not fly a pet during the months of May - Sept. for reasons of the heat. So I am actually now months behind plan date.
    Then I tried American immigrations lawyers but none would touch my case. I understand that I was asking them to work within Spanish law, which was not what they offer, so no foul there. My last shot was a Spanish immigration lawyer in the U.S. who met with me, charged me, of course & then provided not the first answer to the written questions I provided him. He soon became "out of touch".
    So, Dear BlueMoon & others, I am doing this myself. Of course I had to begin again to remain within the 90 stipulation but Hey, I have all sorts of bad experience now to fortify my efforts. Uncertainty was replaced by motivation, all fears quelled by annoyance & determination to get it done. I am no success story yet. I am waiting on health care, hopefully confirmed this week & then I will submit the application by mail....the ONLY way the Miami Consulate stated from the beginning that submission would occur.
I am hopeful & if anything holds up the process, then I guess I deserve it because there ain't too much I haven't read, heard or learned through this trying time. Right now, I am thinking that we can do it ourselves just fine!
Best wishes & safe travels to All,                      Brooks
@BlueMoonx47 
Thank you BlueMoon.
That helps a lot: I figured that it might pose a dilemma that one has to have an address
in order to qualify for a visa, and that it would likely be a very temporary living arrangement
until I find a long-term lease in my desired place . The added twist will be my cat: I'm finding
very few places that take pets at all, and those that do favor dogs (due to misconceptions
about cats I imagine). 
@PBM016newga 
Yikes!
Thanks Brooks.
Yes, it sounds as though if one is extremely thorough, it can be done without legal assistance.
I've read of some people using agencies (not sure if it's allowed on this forum to cite names--you can DM me),
but there is one agency that has received many good reviews for their assistance in walking folks through the
application process, and I might consider using them when the time comes.

Good luck & keep us posted please!
We moved from the US to Spain with a cat 4 years ago. We did the visa process ourselves. It was a lot of work, and at times stressful. But if you have a good consulate it helps a lot. We used the consulate in Chicago and they were great. They did return phone calls, which is unheard of. The process of getting the cat here was a bit tricky, but I think that was mostly because we travelled in the winter.