When you retire to Spain it is sure to be a thrilling and emotional time in your life, but what about the practical matters that you need to take care of? By looking into issues such as the Spain internet and transportation options beforehand you can make this a far more comfortable switch.
The first practical issue is that of getting to Spain in order to start your new life here. This shouldn't be too much of a problem, as there are a good number of airports across the country. The busiest are in Madrid and Barcelona but most popular expat areas have an airport close to them.
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For instance, there are 8 airports in the Canary Islands and 6 in the Balearic Islands. Even better news is that a number of low cost airlines offer budget flights to Spain from other parts of Europe. You might find that flying to an airport slightly further away from your new home town lets you take advantage of a wider range of flight deals.
If you are coming here from the US then you can get direct flights to popular airports like Barcelona and Madrid. For example, it is possible to fly to Barcelona from Miami, New York and Atlanta among other options. To get to Madrid you can fly direct from New York, Miami and Washington DC, among others.
Traveling across Europe to Spain by coach, train or ferry is also possible if you prefer. These methods are obviously more time consuming but can be cheaper, as well as being an exciting way to move to a new country.
Once you arrive to Spain there is an excellent public transport system to help you get around. In the big cities of Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Bilbao you will find fast and cheap underground railway networks, commonly known as metros.
Buses and trains are present across Spain, with the big cities and popular tourist destinations generally having more regular and efficient services. However, even smaller towns are generally well served by buses.
The big discounts offered on public transport for pensioners make this a fantastic way of getting around cheaply. For example, an unlimited monthly travel pass for the Madrid metro costs a pensioner just under $14. Even without this discount, fares are typically low here for the different Spain transportation options.
Be sure to check the cost of transport for where you plan to live and the requirements for obtaining any discounts you qualify for. Normally, you just need to prove your identity and your age at the local transport office, where you will be issued with the appropriate card.
The thought of driving in a new country can be a bit scary, although it will also give you a huge amount of freedom to explore the area. People coming here from the United States, Canada or Northern Europe may take some time to get used to the different driving habits on show but it isn't too difficult to drive in Spain.
Speed limits are heavily enforced throughout Spain, with speed cameras now very common. Toll motorways have a limit of 120kph / 75 mph and dual carriageways 110 kph / 68 mph. Built up areas are restricted to 50 kph / 31mph and other types of road have a limit of 90 kph / 56 mph. Many of the new motorways charge a toll for their usage, which is fairly expensive.
Road tax, on the other hand, is relatively inexpensive here and many smaller vehicles have a cost of well under $100 per year in this respect. Motor insurance is also considered to be among the cheapest in Europe, with the usual different levels of cover such as third party only and comprehensive available.
Fuel is also reasonably priced here and costs less than in many other Western European countries. At the time of writing it costs about $1.30 per liter of gas. This is cheaper than in many parts of Europe but North American expats will find it more expensive to fill up here than at home.
You can drive using an EU license in Spain. It is important that you carry
this with you and also to ensure that your vehicle has reflective jackets and a
warning triangle in it before you set off. US drivers should get an
international driving permit before leaving home. If you plan to live here then
you will need to take the test for a Spanish driving license.
Getting set up with internet access when you retire to Spain is an excellent idea. This will allow you to keep in touch with friends and family, as well as find out information about your new home town and buy stuff online.
It is easy to get a good quality, fast broadband connection here. You might even find that you can get hooked up to free Wi-Fi in the plaza or on the beach in some parts of Spain. As for getting a connection at home, there are a few companies looking for your business. Movistar, Pepephone, Jazztel and Vodafone are some of the big names in the market.
Prices vary according to the package you take, of course. To give you an idea, a 35 Mb connection with one of these companies will typically cost you about $40 per month, with unlimited free national calls often added in to the deal.
Competition is fierce among the Spain internet providers, so be sure to shop around and ask about special deals. Right now, the cheapest offer appears to be the Vodafone deal that gives you 35Mb for about $37, although this goes up by $6 after a year. Dial up access is still available here for about $20, but the speed of broadband in Spain means that this isn't really a great alternative.
Some rural areas don't get a great internet connection, but a lot of
work has been done in recent years to remedy this. Mobile internet access is
also available throughout the country, while satellite links are sometimes a
more useful alternative to a landline hook up.