How Can I Legally Stay in Spain Long Term? *HINT* It’s Easier Than You Think

Living in Spain: Quick Facts

Currency: Euro

Languages: Spanish, Catalan, Galician, Occitan

Capital: Madrid

English Score

Only 22% of the country's population speaks English as a second language. However, the ones that speak English, speak well. 

Health Care

Spain ranks 10th in the World, when comparing overall quality of the health care system: equipment, staff, doctors, cost, etc. The US ranks 29th.

Quality of Life

An extremely high Quality of Life driven by low cost of living, affordable rents, low crime, and sunny moderate temperatures.

Cost of Living

Total living expenses including rent are ~46% LESS than the Cost of Living in the US

Key Summary: The Non Lucrative Visa for Spain Allows Early Retirement in Spain Without an Age Limitation.

Are you ready to Retire Early? Ready to dip your toes in the warm water of the Mediterranean? Or sip refreshingly boozy sangrias in a cosmopolitan European city? What about enjoying a mid-day siesta in a charming Old World villa? Spain combines warm sunny beaches with the ease of developed European infrastructure and a surprisingly Low Cost of Living. Spain is a dream destination for early retirement and a Non Lucrative Visa is how to make it happen.

Enjoy retirement on the coast of Spain

The 2nd largest country in Southern Europe, Spain has a vast changing landscape.There is the natural beauty of the Mediterranean beaches, Sierra Nevada mountains, and the Northern vineyards along with the rich culture, arts, and social nightlife you would expect from major European cities. High-speed train and bus routes crisscross Spain to allow for easy exploring and intra-country travel. From Madrid, you can swim on the southern coast in four hours or enjoy tapas in Barcelona in three hours. Madrid and Barcelona are the main airports connecting Spain with the rest of Europe and the World.

Live in Spain for beautiful sunsets in Barcelona

If you are from the United States and Canada, you can enter Spain Visa Free. Spain is part of the Schengen Agreement allowing short-term stays for up to 90 days out of every 180 days. That is 90 days for the ALL the 26 European countries that comprise the Schengen Area. There are no renewals or extensions allowed. You can stay for 90 days, but then you must leave the entire Schengen area for 90 days before you can return. This short-term visa works if you want to travel through the cities and get an idea of where you’d like to live long-term. Once you chose a city right for you, you must obtain a residence visa from the Spanish embassy of your HOME country. You cannot apply for a Long Stay Visa in Spain. 

For people working toward Financial Independence and Early Retirement, living in Spain can help accelerate those goals. If you have passive income sufficient to support yourself and your dependents, you may apply for a Non Lucrative Residence Visa. This is another name for a Retirement Visa in Spain. This visa does not allow you to work in Spain, so your income must come from passive sources: investments, rental income, annuities, pensions, etc.

The income requirements are a relatively low $28,885/€25,560 annually, plus $7,221/€6,390 per each additional family member. Assuming a 4% Safe Withdrawal Rate (SWR), you can retire in Spain with a retirement nest egg of roughly $722,125.  

The Non Lucrative Residence Visa is a temporary residence permit valid for two years, but is renewable, provided you still meet the financial requirements and you have lived at least 183 days in Spain each year. After five years of holding the temporary residence permit, you will be eligible for permanent residency, allowing you to live and work in Spain indefinitely. After ten years of permanent residency you may be eligible for Spanish Citizenship. Note: people born in the Philippines, Andorra, Spanish-American countries, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal, as well as individuals with Jewish Sephardic origin, are eligible for citizenship after two years.

A view of Santiago Del Teide in Spain

1) Requirements for Non Lucrative Residence Visa

  • Must apply in person in the Spanish Consulate of your home country.
  • Your Spain immigration records cannot have any irregularities. 
  • Be over 18 years old.
  • Documented proof that you have sufficient financial means to support yourself, and any accompanying family, to live in Spain without
  • Medical insurance accepted in Spain, valid for the entire duration of your stay.
  • An explanation explaining your intentions requesting this visa, the purpose, where you plan to stay, and length of your stay in Spain. The document must be notarized with a certified translation into Spanish.
  • Clean criminal record documented by the police in every country you have resided in the last five years. Apostille certification is required. An apostille is a certification that a document that has been “legalized” or “authenticated” by the Federal or State agency through a process in which various seals are placed on the records.

2) Documents Needed When Applying

  • Two copies of the visa application
  • Original and photocopy of passport
  • Medical clearance by a doctor showing good physical and mental health
  • Original Federal or State Police Background Check. Local police certificates are not accepted.
  • Proof of income: bank statements, investments, and any other source of income.
  • Evidence of Health Insurance
  • Money order or receipt showing payment of fees
  • Notarized document regarding the purpose of your stay *see details above
  • Two Passport sized photographs
  • Optional For Non-US citizens residing in the US: Alien Residence Card (Green-Card) or residence visa valid in the USA

Features and Benefits

Retire Early in Spain with a Non-Lucrative Residence Visa


  • Land Ownership Is Allowed  
  • Language Exam Not Required
  • Personal Interviews Are Not Required
  • No Minimum Age Requirement
  • Visa valid for 2 years
  • 5 Years to Permanent Residency Eligibility


  • No Dual Citizenship Available 
  • €25,560 Minimum Annual Income Required
  • Private Health Insurance Required
  • No Working Allowed
  • Visa must be renewed
  • 10 Years to Citizenship Eligibility


With no minimum age requirements, a reasonable income requirement, first-class infrastructure and health care, a low Cost of Living, and a High Quality of Life, Spain should be on the top of the list of anyone looking to Retire Early in Europe. 

The city skyline of Barcelona Spain

Key Takeaway: Warm climate, European charm, and Low Cost of Living make Spain an ideal Early Retirement destination.

If Early Retirement is in your future, you can enjoy a European lifestyle, First Class infrastructure, and some of the best food and wine around for about 50% less than the US. In Spain, you really can have it all: sunny beaches, scenic mountains, sprawling vineyards, and sophisticated cities. And, even better, living here is a fraction of the cost of the US, Canada, or the UK. Spain has one of the lowest costs of living across all of the EU. If you’ve ever dreamed of an affordable European retirement, it's time to check out Spain.

A view of the architecture in Salamanca Spain

photo credit: Miradortigre/Photopin

Next Steps: Find Out What Life is Like Living in Spain. View Our Retirement Guides For the Best Cities In Spain to Retire in.

  • Retirement Living Guides for Barcelona, Sevilla, and Salamanca coming soon. Sign up in the box below for updates.
  • View our current Retirement Guides for Medellin, Colombia and Manila, Philippines.

Useful External Websites For Legal Immigration

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How Can I Legally Stay in Spain Long Term? *HINT* It’s…

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