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Why Spain is One of the Most Popular Countries for Emigrants

It is estimated that Spain currently has 7.3 million foreign-born residents. Thus, Spain is one of the most popular immigration countries in Europe. Why Spain is the place to which so many people emigrate will be explained in more detail in the following blog entry. But this much should be said in advance - there are many different reasons.

Spanish flag blowing in the wind under the sun
Spanish Flag

Facts and figures

Especially since the 1970s, it became apparent that Spain is a very popular immigration country. The economic boom that began in the late 1990s only reinforced this trend. People from lower-income countries came to Spain, attracted by the job opportunities there, especially in construction, hospitality and agriculture. But even when the economic boom leveled off, people did not emigrate again. On the contrary, there has been no decline in migrants in any year since, but rather a steady growth. In 2018, for example, immigrants in Spain still accounted for 12.8% of the population, and by 2021 they already accounted for 15.4%. Of the approximately 7.3 million immigrants living in Spain today who have acquired Spanish citizenship since 2009, about 60% are from Latin America. This stems from the fact that the Spanish economy, job situation and security in Spain is often better than in most Latin American countries and immigrants often already know the Spanish language.

The 10 most common countries of origin for immigrants in Spain include: Morocco, Romania, China, Italy, the United Kingdom, Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, Portugal, and Bulgaria.

Causes and reasons for migration Spain

Migration can be due to various factors, both in the migrants' country of origin and the destination. Some of the main causes of migration to Spain are:

  • Economic reasons: Many people choose to migrate to Spain because of the better economic prospects and job opportunities. This is especially the case for migrants from less developed countries or countries with high unemployment. In addition, there is currently a great shortage of skilled workers in Spain, which is why the labour market offers many options in certain industries. The Spanish labour market in the tourism sector is very interesting and promising for multilingual talents. Also, in agriculture, the food processing industry, especially fruit and vegetable specialists are in demand. But also scientific specialists (especially in IT) and craftsmen are desperately sought.

  • Political reasons: People may be fleeing political crises, wars or persecution in their home countries and are seeking protection in Spain. Although there are disagreements in politics in Spain from time to time, as in most countries, Spain is nevertheless a politically stable country with a well-functioning parliamentary monarchy.

  • Education: The quality of education in Spain as well as the range of higher education programs attracts many international students. There are also various international schools in Spain, which are known for their particularly high quality education.

  • Family and social networks: Many migrants already have relatives or friends in Spain who facilitate the migration process and provide emotional and social support. But even if there are no contacts in Spain yet, it is very easy to make new contacts in this country.

  • Social life: Spaniards are sociable and like to be among people. What makes Spain special is the work-life balance, so you have plenty of time for family, friends and leisure. The country is known for its vibrant and exciting nightlife. People in Spain love to go out in the evening and meet other people for a drink or a meal.

  • Sexual freedom: homosexuality and queer and other alternative lifestyles are much more accepted in Spain than in other countries around the world. Spain is considered a liberal country in dealing with homosexuality. Marriage for all was already introduced in Spain in 2005, so Spain was one of the first three countries in Europe with this regulation. This is also a reason for many people to emigrate to Spain and enjoy their personal freedom. Even today, homosexuality is forbidden in 66 countries of the world and is even punishable by death in 12 countries.

  • High Quality of Life: People in Spain generally often feel comfortable because of the mild climate. Locals are often friendly and open and actively approach tourists. Emigrants receive assistance in various areas in Spain, which generally increases the quality of life.

  • Weather and Climate: Overall, the warm maritime climate can often have a positive effect on mental and physical health. Good weather also has an impact on mood. Spain has different climate zones. In general, the country has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild winters. The center of Spain has more of a continental climate with hot, dry summers and cold winters. The north has a more Atlantic climate, so it is a bit wetter and colder throughout the year.

  • Beaches: Spain has more than 6,500 kilometres of coastline and 2,000 kilometres of beaches. Many of these beaches are popular vacation spots. If you emigrate to the coast of Spain, you will always have the picturesque beaches right at your doorstep.

  • Low cost of living: In the less touristy areas, away from the metropolitan areas, the cos of living is relatively low by European standards. However, this strongly depends on the region. In the countryside, the cost of living is low, while in big cities, the cost of living is around the European average.

  • Delicious and healthy food: Spanish Mediterranean cuisine is known and loved all over the world. The special thing about the Spanish Mediterranean cuisine is the variety in cooking. Due to the proximity to the coast, there are many fish dishes. In addition, many dishes are prepared with vegetables, are healthy and contain many important nutrients and minerals. Compared to other countries, the dishes also tend to be low in calories and light.

  • Culture in Spain: The culture and sights in Spain are breathtaking. Basically, you will find culture, history and art in many corners. There are also different travel options and landscapes that you can explore. Traditional Spanish celebrations and festivals are also very popular among the locals and tourists. Here, expatriates can experience the Spanish culture first hand. There are traditional celebrations, festivals and rituals in every Spanish region.

  • Healthcare: The healthcare system in Spain is well structured. There is a choice between a private and public health care system. Compared to other European countries, the public health care system is very good, and basic care is free. Private health insurance is also very affordable, unlike in many other European countries.

  • Safety: Spain is considered a very safe country overall. Pickpocketing does occasionally occur in large cities. However, more serious offenses and violent crimes take place less in Spain in a worldwide comparison.

  • Passport: Furthermore, Spain has, next to Germany and Italy the "2nd best passport" in the world. This means that with a Spanish passport you can enter 190 countries without a visa. This is another reason why it can be attractive to obtain the Spanish passport.

  • Digital nomads: Since December 2022, the visa for digital nomads has been introduced. This special visa also applies to family members, i.e. spouses and children under 18. It allows foreigners to work in a home office from Spain for an employer or clients outside of Spain. This type of visa is very attractive to many people and has since attracted even more immigrants to Spain.

Life as a pensioner

Because of the previously mentioned benefits, more and more retirees are moving to Spain to enjoy their retirement in this beautiful country. Pensions in many countries are getting lower and lower. The cost of living and rents are constantly increasing. Those who retire today must have made adequate provisions or lower their standard of living. In many countries, only a few people are able to maintain their accustomed standard of living in retirement. Therefore, many retirees decide to enjoy their well-deserved retirement in Spain by the sea and under the sun. There are a growing number of retirement communities or retirement villages in Spain. Retirement communities in Spain offer a wide range of amenities and services that allow seniors to live an active and fulfilling life. Even at an older age, many offerings make it easy to socialise, which is why many retirees ultimately choose Spain as their new adopted home.


In summary, it can be said that Spain is a beautiful place to live and emigrate to. However, emigration should not be rushed. First, the place of emigration should be chosen wisely. Because Spain is a very diverse country and the nature and the climate within Spain differ a lot depending on the region. Furthermore, there are many Spanish regions where the cost of living and rents are very low and other, more popular areas that offer luxury options. However, finding an apartment in metropolitan areas such as Madrid or Barcelona can be very difficult. Also, the rents there are considerably higher than in the rest of the country. There are several things to consider. For example, the question of a visa or the maximum length of stay, tax regulations, health insurance, social security, which documents are needed from the home country and much more.

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