In the second part of my blog series I tell you about the first steps, how I planned the move, the so-called NIE and how to find an apartment.
In my daily work as a web consultant I am used to planning and executing projects. So I planned my move the same way and with the same tools that I use to do a web project. This has the big advantage that you get everything done in the given time and also out of your head, so you are not afraid to forget something important. It also allowed me to integrate my relocation tasks into my daily work and I didn’t have to give them extra time.
If you have a similar job, I recommend you to see how else you plan and do your job and use the same tools. For those who don’t like it, a Trello board is probably the best choice.
The Número de Identidad de Extranjero (NIE)
The NIE is a number issued by the Spanish Ministry of the Interior. NIE stands for “Número de Identidad de Extranjero”, i.e. “Identity number for foreigners”. Citizens of the EU have an unrestricted right of residence in Spain, but without the NIE you cannot go far beyond shopping in a supermarket. The NIE is needed to rent or buy apartments, buy and register a car, order telephone or internet, open an account, take out insurance and so on.
If you want to stay longer than three months in Spain, the NIE must be converted into a so-called “Residencia” within 90 days on the spot with the police (the police are responsible for astonishingly many things).
However, the Residencia NIE has many advantages. There is a discount of up to 75% on flights and ferry tickets within the islands, which is very attractive especially in the Canary Islands, because you have six cheap destinations 🙂 Flights to the Spanish mainland are also discounted. However, the main residence for all discounts must be in Spain.
Actually, you can also apply for the first NIE directly in Spain with the police, but if you already want to rent or buy an apartment from Germany, the application of the NIE should be the first step.
This can be done at a Spanish consulate nearby and costs about 30 euros. However, the application must be submitted in Spanish. A friend of mine needed three attempts = three car trips to Düsseldorf to get the NIE.
So I took advantage of a service that was much more expensive but saved me a lot of stress. You fill out a form in the Internet and transfers the money. Then you get a form that you only have to sign and send to Spain with the original identity card. Spain is obviously the country of the originals and the certified copies.
The service I used sent me a UPS parcel label. After about ten days I received the NIE as a scan. Shortly afterwards the original with the passport was sent back to me. One just has to make sure that one does not need the passport during this time and/or has a passport if one wants to undertake air travel or has to identify oneself in the train with the identity card.
With the NIE you can then rent apartments.
Rent an apartment
Renting apartments in Las Palmas is not too difficult, but there are a few things to keep in mind. The best known rental portal is called Idealista. If you look around, you will soon notice that the apartments are rented furnished. It looks more like Airbnb than a common rental portal.
Of course, this has the disadvantage that you have to rely on the taste of the landlord’s furnishings and cannot furnish individually. I have not yet found out how to get “empty” apartments, but I suspect that they are more likely to be bought.
But the advantage is obvious, at least if you don’t intend to move to the island with all your furniture: You have one problem less and don’t have to worry about furnishing the apartment. At least for the beginning this makes a lot easier.
The rental prices are approximately 500-800 euros plus electricity for a 60-80 square meter apartment. Estimated approx. 20% under the Cologne rental prices. But these apartments are mostly very centrally located. There are also cheaper apartments, but these are rarely found on Idealista and are rather rented through relationships.
There is another thing you have to pay attention to. The apartments are often rented out temporarily over the winter, which is probably also the reason that they are all furnished. From September, the housing market becomes tight, because then people from all over Europe spend the winter there, from March/April, the situation relaxes again.
It was too risky for me to look for a flat on the spot and not find one in case of doubt. The landlords of a friend luckily had an apartment in La Isleta for 400€, which I had to rent already in May. The apartment is located on the ground floor and has a special feature that many houses have there: the corridors on the ground floor are open to the top, which means that you can hear everything and look down from the upper floors into my corridor. Privacy is not really there. But in spring I will look around for a new beautiful apartment.