Want To Be A Spanish Resident? Here’s How Much Money You’ll Need As An American

Moving to Spain in either the short or the long term is a bucket list dream for many American citizens. But is it an affordable dream? If you don’t have a job in Spain to come to then you can still move to Spain and secure a residency permit on the basis of your financial stability and self sufficiency. Immigration policies in Spain are tough but it is still possible to live in the country as a U.S. citizen.

So how much money will you need to have saved to live in Spain as a U.S. citizen in 2024? This article is for you if you haven’t got a job in Spain and don’t plan to work, study, or invest in the country when you arrive. It is aimed at U.S. citizens that don’t have any Spanish family roots or a partner that is from the EU.

Here’s everything you need to know to become a resident. We also have a comprehensive guide to help you move to Spain from the USA with a travel checklist!

Securing a Spanish Non-Lucrative Residency Permit

The most popular visa for Americans (and other non-EU citizens) in Spain is the non-lucrative residency permit. This is a residency that you can secure through financial means, by demonstrating you have the pre-requisite amount of funds.

The non-lucrative visa is a residency permit that allows non-EU citizens to to stay in Spain for more than 90 days. If you want to stay for less than 90 days you can stay in the country without any visa at all. To be eligible for the non-lucrative visa you can’t work or carry out any professional activities whilst living in Spain. Instead you must demonstrate that you have sufficient financial means to support yourself and your family (if you are travelling with one) without working.

The Spanish term for this visa is visado de residencia no lucrativa and it is anecdotally known as a retirement visa as it is the best option for retirees from non-EU countries who want to move to Spain. But 3rd party citizens of any age can apply for and be awarded this visa. All they need to do is demonstrate that they have the financial means. For this reason it’s a great option for affluent Americans who want to explore Spain for a year without working. You could then consider converting your non lucrative visa to a work visa.

Spain’s non-lucrative residency permit is a temporary residence visa that lasts for one year. You can then renew this twice, with each renewal lasting for an additional 5 years. When you have completed this process and been in the country for 5 years you can apply for a long term residency visa which will last for 5 years.

After ten years of residence in Spain, US citizens can obtain Spanish citizenship. There are pros and cons of this. It will secure your status in the country, but you will also need to renounce your American nationality in the process, which some people are reluctant to do.

So How Much Money Will You Need To Get A Non-Lucrative Visa?

This is a more difficult question to answer than you might think. This is because you will need to demonstrate that you have ‘sufficient financial means’ and the definition of this varies between Spain’s regions and provinces. Even different Spanish consulates and embassies will tell you that you need to have different amounts to apply for the visa. You have to apply for this visa from your home country, and cannot apply for it in Spain. As a U.S. citizen that means you will complete your application in the U.S.

Spain’s Royal Decree states that sufficient financial means “will not exceed the level of resources by which social subsidies are granted to Spaniards or the amount of the minimum Social Security pension”. The Spanish government is referring to the IPREM, an indicator that in 2024 is the same as in 2023 - €600 ($651 with the current exchange rate) per month. The standard amount you will need as a non-lucrative visa applicant is 400% of this figure. In 2024 this will be €2,400 ($2,604) per month.

What does this mean in real terms? It means that as a U.S. national you will need €28,800 ($31,255) to complete your application, although your embassy may ask for a figure that is slightly lower or higher than his.

For every family member included in the residency application it’s an extra 100 percent of the IPREM you need to prove you have: €7,200 ($7,813) for the year. That means as a couple you will need  €36,000 ($39,069) annually in savings or a monthly income through investments, pensions or other assets of €3,000 ($3,161) a month. As a family of 3 you would need €43,200 ($46,884) and as a family of 4 you would need €50,400 ($54,698).

What makes things trickier is that because the renewal of this visa is for 2 years rather than 1, you will have to demonstrate double these figures at the renewal stage. This is something you need to prepare for, as many people don’t realise this when completing their application.

How can you prove your income to apply for a non-lucrative visa? The documentation required as proof of income varies but many consulates require a recent bank account certificate, statements from the past six months and on occasions credit cards or property values can also be presented.

What Other Options Are Available?

If money is no object and you have plenty of capital then you could consider applying for Spain’s golden visa. This offers more stability than the non-lucrative visa but this comes at a cost. And if you want to work or need to earn money in Spain you could also consider Spain's business visa or new offering for startups, investors and digital nomads.

What Else Do You Need To Know To Secure A Non Lucrative Visa?

The main thing you will need to do is prove that you have a reliable and substantial source of income or savings, which we have detailed fully above. But those aren’t the only requirements for U.S. citizens to secure a non lucrative visa. You will also need to pay for a comprehensive healthcare policy The policy you choose needs to offer the same cover as Spain’s public healthcare system.

It’s worth checking out the prices for this policy sooner rather than later, as while private healthcare can be affordable in Spain it can also be prohibitively expensive (or even impossible to secure) for seniors or for anyone with pre-existing conditions. The policy you choose needs to be with a Spanish medical insurance company, be at least one year long and offer full coverage with no co-payments.

You should also think of the tax implications of living in Spain. If you are in the country for longer than 180 days then the Spanish authorities will consider you a tax resident. For this reason, you should speak to a fiscal adviser who is familiar with the tax systems of both Spain and the US. This will help you to better understand the tax implications of your move. While you can’t work in Spain on a non-lucrative visa you can invest in shares and businesses. But any investments you make will be subject to capital gains tax.

Find Out More

To find out more about the non lucrative visa, the requirements or the documentation that you’ll need you can get in touch with the Spanish consulate in either Washington or Los Angeles. You will find consulates located across the U.S. that can help you to process your application.

Keep in mind that each Spanish consulate in the US could have its own set of requirements so its worth reaching out as soon as possible to make sure you find out what you need to do before beginning the application.

Are you thinking of moving to Spain from the USA? Looking to leave the USA and make an escape to the sun? Then why not get in touch with our local property experts, who are perfectly placed to help you buy the Spanish home of your dreams. We’re excited to help you make your next move your best move!

Explore our Moving To Spain As An US Expat Guide