Madrid´s New Digital Nomads Experience

It’s over a year since Spain’s digital nomad visa was launched, so the Madrid Metropolitan spoke to our  Spain tax expert Antonio Rodriguez as well as some of the early applicants to find out how the system has worked from the practical side of living in Spain.

Spain’s digital nomad visa (DNV) allows the self-employed or those with a remote job from a non-EU country to come and live in Spain for between one and three years and then renew it for a further two.

Some people are using it in the traditional nomad sense to spend a certain amount of time in Spain and then move on to somewhere else, while others are using it to try and stay here permanently and get long-term residency.

The DNV also allows for family members to join, including spouses and children, so it can be a way for the whole family to start and a new life in Spain or simply have an adventure for a few years.

We spoke to  three digital nomads who moved to Madrid on the DNV to see how they’ve been getting on and what they’ve learned about the process.

Pamela is from American Samoa and has been working remotely for 10 years who had always had a soft spot for Madrid since coming here with her parents in the 1990s.

“Madrid sometimes gets a bad rap for being boring, but we absolutely love the museums, parks, and the incredible food scene,” she explains.

On the other hand, she goes on to explain that living here can be a challenge. “For instance, it can take months to get a TIE appointment. And since we still don’t have our TIE card, dealing with public and private institutions without it has been tricky”.

“Of course, everything needs an appointment in advance, some of which take months to secure. So it can be hard to get documents processed urgently” she adds.

Dave is from California and had  been living and working remotely in Europe, including France and Belgium before settling in Spain with a DNV  visas last year.

He decided on Madrid as his  base and are generally enjoying their new lives, but have also found lots of challenges with the systems here. “We thought Belgium was bad for bureaucratic processes, but Spain gets the gold medal,” he said.

To help her navigate them, she decided to hire a gestor to do everything for her, making them muy fácil as she describes.

Pamela also agrees that getting a gestor is the way to go. “I hired a gestor to handle my taxes because the process can be intimidating. I don’t want to mess up and have the tax people knocking on my door,” she says.

When it comes to bureaucratic processes like taxes, Caroline, also from the US and moved to Madrid six months ago with her partner and children, agrees that getting professional help is best. “I’m in conversation with a tax professional and still getting things sorted and figured out,” she explains.

“I feel like taxes are everyone’s big concern when they move here on the DNV,” she said. “When we came to Spain, we knew that taxes would look quite different than what we were used to and we were prepared for that to be a factor”.

Her biggest piece of advice for families wanting to come to Spain on the DNV is to “have more funds available than you think you will need.

Six months into their new lives here, Nikki says that she and her family absolutely love living in Madrid, but concedes that “nothing is ever perfect, no matter where you live or where you go. There are always lessons, obstacles, new things, but so much fun to be had”.

The other key factors that many digital nomads have had issues with are finding accommodation and setting up the internet, two things that are essential for living and working remotely here.

“Finding an apartment without a salary slip was a big hurdle,” Pamela says. “Landlords in Madrid are hesitant to rent to foreigners who don’t have a Spanish work contract, which isn’t possible for DNV holders like us. We had to ask a Spanish friend to be our guarantor to secure the apartment”.

Once that was sorted she also found that setting up an internet account was frustrating. “Our relocation agent had to put the account in her name since the internet company wouldn’t allow us to sign up without a TIE. On the bright side, they only took two working days to install it in our apartment, which is much faster compared to my home country, where it usually takes a week or two,” she said.

“Internet costs are quite reasonable, and the connection is pretty fast,” she adds.

Everyone agreed that learning Spanish is important to get by in their new lives here.

“Dealing with Spain’s bureaucracy definitely requires a grasp of Spanish; don’t expect people to speak English here,” Pamela  said.

“Our Spanish is getting better day by day simply by using it often in our day-to-day, but we’re still working on becoming fluent,” added Nikki.

“Despite the challenges, living in Madrid has been a positive experience for us, both mentally and physically,” – and everyone agrees on that!



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