Latin American countries often make the top of the list when digital nomads rank their favourite locations. But despite being a Latin country itself, Spain is often overlooked in these discussions. Meanwhile, Spain is filled with too many sun-kissed beaches and historical towns to count. 

As one of the most popular nomad destinations in Europe, Spain has recently brought forth a digital nomad visa. This visa will not be the focal point of this article, but it serves as a reminder that Spain’s infrastructure for digital nomads is at a much higher level than the rest of Europe, particularly Western Europe, while also possessing all the regular infrastructural benefits that a Western European nation provides.

From the cosmopolitan charm of Barcelona to the historic grandeur of Madrid, and the southern charisma of Seville, Spain offers a range of experiences that appeal to diverse tastes and lifestyles. However, as with any new adventure, choosing the right Spanish city as your base requires careful deliberation and informed decision-making.

This article will give a digital nomad an overview of all the important considerations you should make when considering Spain as your next destination. In addition to the best cities, I will cover significant logistical issues like finding an apartment and budgeting in this country.

Digital Nomad Spain
Digital Nomad Spain

Is Spain good for digital nomads?

You shouldn’t ask whether Spain is the right fit for you as a digital nomad. The answer is obvious: yes!

Rather, you should dive deeper and consider which region or city is the right fit for you.

Spain offers a rich tapestry of experiences and opportunities. However, the final decision rests on individual preferences and tolerance for factors such as summer heat and bustling city life.

Spain’s geographical location and excellent transportation infrastructure make it an ideal base for nomads seeking to explore other European destinations. For instance, living in Barcelona not only provides immediate access to the beach and impressive mountains, but also offers cheap flights and short train rides for weekend getaways to places like Sitges, Lloret de Mar, or even Madrid. We’ll drill down more on the best cities a little later.

Of course, we need to talk about work, the primary concern for every digital nomad. My experiences in Spain testify to the robust and reliable internet connectivity across its major cities, which is imperative for those of us whose livelihoods depend on being online. You’ll find no shortage of co-working spaces, cafes, or even beach-side locations where you can work uninterrupted. Spain far exceeds most countries in this regard. Particularly in major cities and beach destinations that cater to English-speaking tourists.

The one thing that could really ruin your experience is the weather. While Spain’s climate is generally pleasant, summer temperatures in Madrid and Seville can be stifling. Many digital nomads, including myself, found Barcelona’s coastal climate to be more forgiving during the summer months. That said, Barcelona will be overloaded with tourists that time of year.

5 Reasons You Should Go To Spain

1 Variety

Spain is a country that, remarkably, offers an experience for every kind of traveller. For the city dweller, there’s the bustling metropolis of Barcelona with its high-energy nightlife and dynamic arts scene, or Madrid, the heart of Spain, brimming with historic grandeur and a pulsating social scene. If, like me, you’re a nomad who enjoys tranquillity and natural beauty, the southern city of Seville, or the coastal charm of Valencia and Malaga, provide opportunities for a slower pace of life. And for those drawn to the mysteries of history, Granada and Cordoba, steeped in centuries-old culture, beckon with their rich tapestry of the past. Such a wide array of options ensures that no matter your preference, Spain can cater to your needs.

2 Robust Infrastructure

Spain has a strong infrastructure that supports the digital nomad lifestyle. The high-speed and reliable internet is a blessing for remote workers. There are plenty of co-living and co-working spaces and coffee shops that not only offer excellent Wi-Fi but also serve as social hubs where you can meet fellow nomads. Add to this a well-connected public transportation system that simplifies commuting, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic work-life balance.

3 Affordable Living

Despite its richness in terms of lifestyle and amenities, living in Spain doesn’t empty your savings completely. Compared to other Western European countries, the cost of living in Spain is reasonable. Of course, cities like Barcelona and Madrid can be on the higher end, but with a bit of frugality and smart choices, a comfortable lifestyle is achievable even in these cosmopolitan cities. You’ll find that the prices for accommodation, food, and leisure activities in smaller cities or towns are quite agreeable for the value you get too.

4 Culinary Delights

As a fervent gourmet, I can’t overstate the gastronomical delights that Spain offers. Each region in Spain boasts its own unique culinary tradition. From the iconic paella and tapas to the delightful churros, your taste buds are in for a treat. Dining in Spain is not just about the food—it’s an experience that often includes long, leisurely meals with friends and a vibrant atmosphere that only enhances the culinary journey.

5 Easy Access to the Rest of Europe

Lastly, Spain’s strategic location and excellent transportation links make it an ideal base for digital nomads. Living in Spain allows you to easily explore other parts of Europe. Whether it’s catching a quick flight to Paris, hopping on a train to Portugal, or taking a weekend trip to Italy, Spain’s connectivity makes it an excellent launchpad for your European adventures. 

And if you can’t decide which Spanish city to venture to, you can always split your trip between a handful of places that intrigue you.

The Devil’s Advocate: 4 Reasons to Avoid Spain

1 Inconsistent Service

Spain has a lot to offer, but consistency in service is not its strong suit. This ranges from the speed and efficiency of public services to the responsiveness of property managers or landlords. As a foreigner, navigating these inconsistencies can prove to be an exercise in patience. The infamous ‘mañana culture’ might add charm to the Spanish way of life for some, but for digital nomads with deadlines and tight schedules, it can be quite exasperating. If I need my phone fixed, I need it today. Not tomorrow, next week, or next month.

2 Overcrowded Tourist Hotspots

Popular Spanish destinations like Barcelona and Madrid, while offering a wealth of experiences, suffer from over-tourism. The inundation of tourists, especially in the summer, can often dilute the authenticity of these cities and make them feel too commercial. The locals can be less than amicable towards tourists, and prices in these areas are inflated due to high demand. Similarly, beach hotspots that cater to British tourists might not possess the same friendliness that Spain is reputed for.

3 High Summer Temperatures

Spain can get swelteringly hot in the summer months, with temperatures in cities like Madrid and Seville often soaring above 40°C (104°F). Not only can this make outdoor activities less enjoyable, but the heat can also have a draining effect on your productivity. Moreover, air conditioning isn’t as widespread or as potent as you might expect in such a hot country, particularly in older buildings or budget accommodations.

4 Language Barrier

Although English proficiency is improving in Spain, especially in the younger generation and in large cities, there is still a significant portion of the population that only speaks Spanish. This can make everything from ordering food to sorting out official paperwork more challenging if you do not have a basic understanding of Spanish. However, if you see this as an opportunity rather than a hindrance, it can serve as a great incentive to pick up a new language!

Of course, if you already speak Spanish like me, then this critique need not apply. If anything, it makes their culture far more accessible, which is one of its biggest pros.

Entry into Spain

Entry into Spain is largely determined by the nationality of the individual and the duration and purpose of the visit. If you’re just going on a tourist visa, you’ll almost certainly get 90 days to explore the country.

European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss citizens: They can enter Spain for any reason, including tourism, business, studies or to live, with just a valid passport or national identity card. No visa is needed for any length of stay.

Non-EU/EEA citizens: The entry requirements depend on the duration and purpose of the visit:

Short-term stays (up to 90 days): Citizens of many countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Brazil, can enter Spain for tourism or business purposes without a visa, provided their stay does not exceed 90 days within 180 days. They just need a valid passport.

Long-term stays (over 90 days): Non-EU/EEA citizens planning to stay in Spain for more than 90 days will generally require a long-term visa, often referred to as a national or “D” visa. This applies regardless of the purpose of their stay, whether for work, study, or retirement.

The type of long-term visa needed depends on the purpose of the stay, for example:

Work visa: For those who plan to work in Spain.

Student visa: For those who plan to study at a Spanish institution.

Golden Visa: For non-EU/EEA citizens making a significant financial investment in Spain.

Retirement visa: For retirees with sufficient income or savings.

Non-lucrative visa: For those who have enough savings or regular income to support themselves without needing to work.

Note that this is a general summary and the exact requirements can vary. For example, the UK’s relationship with Spain and the EU has changed due to Brexit, and UK citizens may face different requirements than those outlined above. Also, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there may be additional restrictions or requirements in place for entry into Spain.

For the most accurate and up-to-date information, it’s best to check the official website of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs or contact the nearest Spanish embassy or consulate.

Digital nomad visa Spain: What You Need To Know

A 90-day tourist visa in Spain really doesn’t cut it. If you want to experience Spain to the fullest, a year or 3 in this country is in order.

Thankfully, Spain has a digital nomad visa. It is designed for foreigners intending to live in Spain as a resident, working remotely for a company located outside of Spain, using solely computer and telecommunications systems. The applicant can be self-employed and work for a Spanish company provided that this work doesn’t exceed 20% of their professional activity.

The eligibility criteria for this visa are rather stringent. It includes having an undergraduate or postgraduate degree from a reputed institution or at least 3 years of work experience in the current field of activity. The applicant also needs to apply for an NIE number prior to their visa application.

Family members like the spouse or unmarried partner, dependent children, and dependent relatives in the ascending line who form part of the family unit can also obtain the visa.

Application requirements include a national visa application form, a recent passport-size photograph, a valid passport, a criminal record certificate, proof of residence in the consular district, proof of the representative’s identity and capacity if applicable, payment of the visa fee, and health insurance.

Specific requirements for international workers include proof of working for at least 3 months for a foreign company, a certificate issued by the Government Companies House, and documented proof of financial means.

For family members, documents proving the family relationship with the worker and financial dependence and civil status of adult children are needed. For relatives in the ascending line, documents proving they are in the investor’s care are required.

Once approved, the visa must be collected in person by the applicant or their representative within 1 month. The visa will be valid for a maximum of 1 year or the same validity as the authorization granted to live and work in Spain.

What it’s like to be a digital nomad in Spain

Whether you’re going for 1 month or 1 year, know that I am ecstatic that you’ve decided to stay in Spain as a digital nomad. No matter where in the country you go, I think it’s pretty unlikely you’ll be disappointed.

So let’s jump into the nitty-gritty of planning your day-to-day life as a nomad in Spain!

When is the best time to come to Spain?

Spain’s appeal as a travel destination is year-round due to its diverse regional climates and numerous festivals and events. However, the “best” time to visit really depends on what you’re looking for from your trip.

Remember, Spain is a country of festivals. Depending on your interests, you might want to plan your visit around a particular event, like the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona in July, or the Tomatina tomato-throwing festival in Buñol in August.

Spring (March to May): The weather starts to warm up across the country, but it’s not yet as hot as the summer can be, especially in the south. Spring is a great time to visit for outdoor activities and sightseeing. Also, the famous Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebrations occur in the spring, particularly in Andalusia.

Summer (June to August): This is the peak tourist season, particularly along the coast and on the Spanish islands, such as Ibiza and Mallorca. The weather is hot, sometimes reaching into the 40s (Celsius) in the south. It’s a great time for beaches and nightlife. In the north (like in the regions of Galicia, Asturias), temperatures remain more moderate, making it an excellent choice for those who can’t handle the heat. That said, I would say that any time but July or August is the best time to visit Spain.

Autumn (September to November): The weather cools off, and the summer crowds dissipate. This is a particularly good time to visit cities like Madrid and Barcelona or to explore regions known for their autumnal beauty like La Rioja, which is also famous for its wine production. Also, it’s a good time for hiking and outdoor activities.

Winter (December to February): In most of the country, winters are milder than in Northern Europe or North America, although it can get quite cold in the central part of the country. You’ll find winter sports in the Pyrenees and Sierra Nevada. Meanwhile, the south, including Costa del Sol and the Canary Islands, still enjoys relatively warm temperatures. Also, cities like Seville, Granada, and Valencia are less crowded, making it a great time to enjoy Spanish culture and history.

Finding Accommodations in Spain

Searching for a short or medium-term stay in Spain is not nearly as challenging as it is in some destinations.

Airbnb and Booking.com are popular choices for tourists and travellers. They offer a wide range of accommodations, from individual rooms to entire apartments or houses. But you should be aware that the convenience and wide selection come at a cost. The price to quality ratio on these platforms can sometimes be high, comparable to what you’d expect in more expensive countries like the US.

One of the most annoying things about finding apartments on these platforms? Ensuring that they are actually suitable for remote work, and livable for a months-long stay.

Most rental sites have posed major problems for me, and I know I’m not alone. If you want a more consistent solution, we’re in the process of curating a large database of digital nomad apartments in Spain and beyond. Enter your name and email below to get access to them as soon as they’re released.

For more budget-friendly options, Idealista, a local property listing site, could be your best bet. It lists an extensive range of rental properties throughout Spain. But there’s a catch, the platform is predominantly in Spanish, and so is the communication with the owners. So, having Spanish skills will certainly come in handy here. Keep in mind is that landlords in Spain usually require a deposit upfront, typically equal to one month’s rent. This is a standard practice to cover potential damages and is generally refunded at the end of your stay, provided the property is in good condition.

So, while Spain’s rental market might seem daunting at first, a bit of research, some negotiation skills, and a dash of Spanish can go a long way in finding a suitable place to stay.

Internet Speed in Spain

In terms of mobile internet, Spain ranks 60th worldwide, offering average download speeds of 38.00 Mbps and upload speeds of 10.03 Mbps. The average latency for mobile connections is 34 ms.

For fixed broadband, Spain performs significantly better, ranking 9th globally. Users can expect to experience impressive download speeds averaging 185.65 Mbps and upload speeds of 138.19 Mbps. The latency for fixed broadband is lower at an average of 12 ms.

Hence, Spain has a solid internet infrastructure, particularly for fixed broadband connections, making it suitable for tasks that require substantial bandwidth, such as video conferencing, streaming, and large file transfers. While mobile internet speeds are considerably lower, they should still be adequate for most common mobile tasks and some professional needs.

Food Options in Spain

Spain offers a tantalizing array of food options that can suit every taste and budget. The diversity and richness of Spanish cuisine, coupled with the affordability of food, make eating in Spain a delightful experience. Whether you’re a fan of home-cooked meals or love exploring local eateries, Spain’s food scene will never disappoint.

Like the country itself, Spain’s cuisine is incredibly diverse. It’s a smorgasbord of flavours that ranges from the cool refreshing gazpacho in the south to the hearty fabada in the north. Spanish food is a reflection of its geography, combining simple ingredients into dishes of astonishing depth and flavour.

One of my personal favourites has always been paella. This iconic dish hailing from Valencia is a symphony of saffron-infused rice, meat (often rabbit, chicken, and duck), and seafood. The delicate balance of flavours and textures is a culinary delight. Then there’s jamón ibérico, a type of cured ham produced mostly in the southwestern region of Spain. The texture and flavour are out of this world, making it a must-try for any food lover.

Don’t forget about tapas! These small, appetizer-sized dishes are an integral part of Spanish food culture. From patatas bravas (spicy potatoes) to gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp), there’s a tapa for every taste. They’re typically enjoyed with a glass of local wine or beer, often in the company of good friends.

Cost of food in Spain

When it comes to grocery shopping, Spain boasts an impressive array of fresh produce, high-quality meats, and an excellent selection of cheeses and wines. Given the abundant selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, alongside quality meats, a monthly grocery bill for a single person could range between 200-400 Euros. This estimate could vary depending on how much meat is consumed and the quality of produce you purchase. Spanish markets are a treat to explore and offer some of the freshest ingredients you can find.

Eating out in Spain can also be a very affordable experience. A typical meal at a restaurant could cost you around 10-15 Euros. And if you’re on the move or want a quick bite, there’s a wealth of street food options available. From bocadillos (Spanish sandwiches) to empanadas (stuffed pastry), street food items can be as low as 3 Euros, though they typically cost around 5 Euros or more depending on the item and the location.

Cost of SIM card in Spain

A SIM Card in Spain will cost you upwards of 10 Euros per month. Mobile connection is generally reliable but inferior to what you’ll get on broadband.

Best cities for digital nomads in Spain

Without further ado, here is the list.

  1. Barcelona
  2. Madrid
  3. Valencia
  4. Granada
  5. Seville
  6. Malaga
  7. Bilbao
  8. Alicante
  9. Palma de Mallorca
  10. Las Palmas, Gran Canaria

You’ll notice that the cities in the Canary Islands don’t rank highly here. While these places are nice and tend to be warm year-round, I find that the area is a little overhyped and overly touristy. You might have less difficulty finding fellow nomads here, but this isn’t what I’m looking for personally anyways. 

Barcelona

The main reason to go: A cosmopolitan city with a vibrant startup and tech scene, Barcelona offers a mix of history, culture, and beach lifestyle. Its rich architectural heritage, buzzing nightlife, and diverse culinary scene make it a magnet for digital nomads and tourists alike.

Cost of living: Barcelona is probably the most expensive major city in Spain, That said, Barcelona’s cost of living is considerably lower than many major cities in Europe. On average, you might spend around €2500-4000 a month, including rent.

Infrastructure: Barcelona is full of coworking spaces, coffee shops with free Wi-Fi, and excellent public transportation.

Nomad Presence: Barcelona has a significant digital nomad community, thanks to its favourable climate, high quality of life, and solid tech scene. One somewhat-maligned aspect of Barcelona that will work to your advantage is the transient nature of the city’s population. Most people are eager to make fast connections.

Barcelona Nomad
Barcelona Nomad

Madrid

The main reason to go: As the capital city, Madrid offers an exciting cultural and social life with numerous art museums, theatres, and restaurants. The city is also known for its nightlife.

Cost of living: Similar to Barcelona, expect to spend around €2500-4000 as a nomad, including rent.

Infrastructure: Madrid has numerous coworking spaces and cafes ideal for remote work. The city has a comprehensive and reliable public transportation system.

Nomad Presence: There is a strong community of digital nomads and expats in Madrid, thanks to its vibrant social scene and numerous networking opportunities.

Valencia

The main reason to go: Known for its excellent weather, beautiful beaches, and the iconic City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia offers a relaxed lifestyle. It’s also the birthplace of paella!

Cost of living: Valencia is more affordable than Madrid or Barcelona. You can expect to spend around €2000-3000 a month, including rent.

Infrastructure: You’ll find a good selection of coworking spaces and coffee shops for digital nomads. Public transportation is efficient and affordable.

Nomad Presence: Valencia has a growing digital nomad community due to its affordability, lifestyle, and beautiful surroundings.

Granada

The main reason to go: Known for the stunning Alhambra Palace and the free tapas culture, Granada offers a rich historical and gastronomical experience.

Cost of living: Granada is one of the more affordable cities in Spain, with an average monthly cost of living around €1000-1200, including rent.

Infrastructure: While smaller than other cities, Granada still offers a decent number of cafes suitable for digital nomads.

Presence of other nomads: There’s a smaller but friendly and growing community of digital nomads in Granada.

Seville

The main reason to go: Famous for its flamenco, fiestas, and historic landmarks like the Seville Cathedral and Plaza de España, Seville offers a quintessential Andalusian experience.

Cost of living: Seville is affordable, with a monthly cost of living estimated to be around €1500-2500, including rent.

Infrastructure: Seville offers a variety of coworking spaces and cafes ideal for remote work, and public transportation is quite reliable.

Presence of other nomads: Seville’s digital nomad community is small but growing, with many drawn by the city’s culture, weather, and affordability.

Seville Nomad
Seville Nomad

The Final Word on Spain

The allure of Spain’s rich culture, sumptuous cuisine, vibrant cities, and world-renowned beaches makes it an unrivalled digital nomad destination. Whether you’re drawn to the bustling urban life of Madrid and Barcelona, the sunny shores of Valencia, or the historic charm of Seville, Spain offers a diverse range of experiences catering to every taste.

While costs can vary, Spain generally offers an affordable cost of living compared to many Western countries. And the robust infrastructure, with plenty of coworking spaces and cafes equipped with reliable internet, makes it a comfortable place for remote work. If anything, it’s the gold standard for European digital nomad destinations.

This guide was only a brief introduction to what the digital nomad life looks like in Spain. If you want to know more about specific regions, we’ve linked some blog posts on cities like Barcelona and regions like the Canary Islands to help you decide the best destination for your nomad trip.

¡Buena suerte y disfruta España! 

Comments

Leave a Reply

Sign In

Register

Reset Password

Please enter your username or email address, you will receive a link to create a new password via email.