Moving to Spain: 10 Packing Don’ts

No one expects you to make the move to Spain with a single suitcase, but pack too heavily and you’ll find yourself regretting it come moving day. And we’re talking from two people who moved to Spain in the era when two suitcases were a free perk of cross-continental flights!

But what should you pack for a move to Spain? What can you buy to free up some luggage equity?

A good rule of thumb when deciding how many bags to bring is to test that you’ll be able to transport everything by yourself (no carts, no escalators and no friends!). If you can’t make it out the door with all of your luggage solo, you’ve definitely overpacked.

Having trouble paring down in preparation for your move? Here are 10 definite packing dont’s to get you started:

  1. DON’T bring bulky sports gear to Spain like bicycles or snowboards. Unless you’re an avid skier, diver or rock climber who has specifically researched and requested a placement in Spain based on your hobby, chances are you won’t be doing any of these activities on a regular basis. Plus, you can always rent gear or buy it cheaply on sites like Wallapop or Mil Anuncios.
  1. DON’T bring business attire to Spain. Most of those moving to Spain won’t be working an office job that involves carrying a briefcase, so leave your ties and pencil skirts at home. And remember, in the unlikely event that you’ll need to suit up, clothes in Spain are reasonably priced.
  1. While we’re on the subject of clothes – ladies, DON’T bring stilettos. Unless you’re an expert at walking long distances in high heels down cobblestone streets, we’re willing to bet you’ll be going out in flats. Can’t stand the height difference? Bring a pair of wedges or buy a cute pair of heeled espadrilles on arrival. You’ll want to look fashionable, but spare yourself the agony of bailing on a night own because you can’t walk!
  1. DON’T load down your suitcase with full size bottles of your favorite products, be it shampoo or peanut butter. Trust us, you’ll be fine without it and can use mail order for you addiction to Jif.
  1. Want to bring small appliances to Spain? DON’T burden yourself with hair dryers or electric shavers. The wattage and plugs usually won’t match up and as a result you’ll be left with a useless device; worse, you’ll blow a fuse and fry your machine. Wait and get a new one in Spain or even consider splitting the cost of sharable items such as flat irons to cut down on costs.
  1. DON’T bring an animal in Spain! We’re not saying it’s not possible, but it’s not advisable for you or your furry friend. Bringing a pet to Spain will not only mean getting it micro chipped and potentially risking quarantine on arrival, but will also mean more problems finding a place to live that’s pet friendly. If you can’t bear to leave Fido at home, check out the advice on Facebook’s active Madrid Pet Lovers Group.


  1. DON’T cram your suitcase with sheets and towels. Most apartments in Spain come fully furnished and many will include them for you. If your apartment doesn’t or the idea of used sheets simply doesn’t appeal to you, wait to buy once you’re in Spain. IKEA and Carrefour are great for cheap household items.
  1. DON’T bring expensive jewelry. While Spain is generally safe, petty theft is rampant – even your flatmate could nick it! If you can’t bear to leave it at home, consider taking out insurance on the piece. If you are the victim of theft, be sure to file a police report in Spain.
  1. DON’T weigh yourself down with a hardback copy of War and Peace, or any other physical books for that matter. We hope you have lots of downtime to catch up on the classics, but consider investing in an eReader to save space! You can also meet other people by offering up book exchanges, and there are many English language bookstores in Spain – or at least small sections in bookstores. Plus, if you’re registered with an empadronamiento, you can use public libraries for free!
  1. DON’T forget to bring any medicine or medical information that you may need. While chances are the Mediterranean lifestyle and your low-stress work life will have you feeling healthier than ever in Spain, you should bring any scripts, or at least the generic name. Knowing the contents and active ingredients can will allow pharmacists or other medical professionals to prescribe you something similar. And don’t forget that Spain is a modern, European country, so you can get antihistamines, ibuprofen and other medical basics to stock your botiquín (first aid kit).

Want more tips to make your move to Spain a successful one? With over 500 copies already sold, our 130+ page eBook Moving to Spain: A Comprehensive Guide to your First Weeks Teaching English in Iberia, is your one-stop source on moving to and working as an English teacher in Spain. We’ve compiled 18 years of experience into an easy-to-read, sporadically funny but ultimately info-packed eBook that details everything from arrival paperwork to Spanish traditions y muchísimo más.

Moving to Spain COVER 2015 English

We’ve worked overtime to push up our release of  Moving to Spain!  And there’s even a printable packing list included!

We’ve beefed up the contents and added a few extras so that you can make your move to Spain as smooth as possible. You can purchase Moving to Spain right now for 10 euros. Sign up for email updates and look out for special promotions on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Any other packing conundrums or items you wish you’d left at home? We’d love to hear them!

Author: Cat Gaa

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  1. I really can’t believe you wrote don’t bring your pet. What do you expect people to do with their pets? Seriously?

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Katie,
      Lots of people who are only planning on living in Spain short-term can find temporary homes for their furry friends. The cost, paperwork and finding lodging which allows animals in Spain is a big drawback for many, but if you’re willing to put in the effort then by all means don’t leave your pet behind!

      Post a Reply
  2. That could be interesting to have a similar article about “10 Packing Do”

    Post a Reply
  3. I’m not moving to Spain but having visited for 10 days to Barcelona, I can attest to these tips. Way too much luggage and nothing like what we have in the States to help us transport it, namely escalators up and down public transportation. You live and learn.

    Post a Reply
    • Yes! Madrid is trying to make their public transportation more handicap friendly, but they still have a long way to go for elevators, escalators and the like. I can imagine that Barcelona is the same!

      Post a Reply
  4. This is so awesome! I’m eternally impressed by how you’ve grown Como Consulting to fill a huge need!

    Post a Reply
  5. On the bit about not bringing pets, I was wondering about pet friendly housing. Microchips and quarantine are not an issue, but my wife and I will be moving to Sevilla for 2 years and we have no choice but to bring our three dogs (and wouldn’t live without them anyway!). It is admittedly hard to find rental housing that allows all three dogs even here in the States; will it be possible in the Sevilla area based on your experience? Are there any homes with yards etc that are more appropriate for dogs? We are okay with living in a more rural area away from the city center. Thank you.

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Jack,
      While it will definitely be difficult finding housing that allows for pets it is not impossible. However you are correct in that looking to live in a suburb of Sevilla with a yard so the pups can play outside would be best. We’d suggest Tomares, Bormujos, Espartinas, Camas, Mairena and Montequinto as they are all on the metro line and a quick jump to the city centre. Good luck!

      Post a Reply


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