5 Years In Spain – How Long Can We Stay on the Non Lucrative Visa?

It’s been 5 years in Spain!  Exactly 6 years ago the seed was planted.  Alan and I were chatting over dinner and I brought up the idea of us quitting our jobs and traveling for a year.  Alan’s first reaction was “You are crazy!”.  Okay, so tell me something I didn’t already know.  I let him digest the thought and showed that others were successful with the process and we could be too.

Living 5 Years In Spain - How Long Can We Stay on the Non Lucrative Visa?

The seed sprouts

That seed was left to germinate for a while and after a few weeks, the idea didn’t seem so crazy anymore.  We went from wanting to travel for a year, to traveling around in an RV, to living in South America and finally deciding to live in Spain.  You can read all about our decision to move to Spain below:

In 2012 we received approval for 1 year

This was us 5 years ago!  We were in Washington DC picking up the visa to begin our new dream lifestyle.  Of course at the time, we were planning on 1-2 years.  We didn’t even have a vision of being able to make it last longer or even wanting to.  That said here we are 5 years later living in Spain.

Living in Spain - how to apply for the Spanish Resident Visa

We have manage to design the lifestyle that suited us and one we had only dreamed of.  Just from pure desire and drive, we have managed to stretch our budget and come up with creative ways to make money to keep it all going.  This summer we were faced with yet another decision.  Do we want to apply for the renewal again?  Of course the answer was Yes!

Spain is home!

The kids were just 7 and 10 when we arrived and now Spain is home to us.  The kids are settled, independent, curious and allowed to be kids!  They have full run of the town and we all feel very safe and accepted here.  This is where we have our roots and the kids have their childhood home.  So, there wasn’t too much family discussion on whether or not we should apply for renewal.

We filled out all of our paperwork, but this time we qualified to apply for the long duration Spanish residency!  This renewal was a special one, and if approved, it would be for 5 more years!  Previous renewals were only for 2 years.  We followed the procedures to renew and visited our local Extranjero office (Foreigners office).  We’ve gotten to know all of the agents over the years and each time they are amazed at how much the kids have grown.

Do you know Alan & Heidi?

We love chatting with them at the office and letting them know what we’ve been up to.  They also have received a bit of a Wagoners Abroad trickle effect.  You see over the years, we have helped hundreds of families move to Spain.  Little did we know that there would be over 35 moving to the Costa Tropical area as well.

Some of them are families, singles, and couples (mainly American), but other countries as well.  Some have stayed for a few months and moved to other areas, several have come for a year and moved back to their home country, while others are still living in the area and loving life.  No we aren’t responsible for all Americans in the area, but we can claim a few.  All of this to say, the team at the foreigners office has noticed the influx as well.  Apparently they even ask newcomers if they know Heidi and Alan.  Ha!

Okay back to the renewal story…

The Outcome

We are officially approved to live in Spain for 5 more years!  The bonus is that we are also now allowed to work!  It’s party time!

What does all of this mean?

It means we can legally live in Spain for 5 more years and even go get a job at McDonald’s if we want to!  Well, I don’t think we will be rushing down to McDonald’s, but the doors are open for us to start knocking.  Ultimately we like the lifestyle we have designed and we would prefer to keep working remotely from home either on our own businesses  (Wagoners Abroad & Almuñécar Info) or perhaps for someone else.

We are officially approved to live in Spain for 5 more years!  The bonus is that we are also now allowed to work!

As far as living in Spain for 5 more years, well we don’t know how long we will be here.  It is just good to know we can stay here, if we want to.  Lars is now in 10th grade, which is the final year of obligatory school in Spain.  He plans to continue with the final 2 years for college prep and ultimately attend university somewhere in Europe.  At the moment he has his eyes on Amsterdam, but we still have a couple more years to look at all options.  Anya is in 8th grade, so 5 more years would be ideal for her to complete school through 12th grade and then determine where she would like to go to university as well.

The doors are open

The best part about it all is that we don’t need to have it all planned out.  We created this lifestyle to be fluid and flexible and change to meet our needs.  So at the moment the doors are open and welcoming us to remain in Spain for 5 more years, and that is the open-ended plan.

With Grandma Linda at the AC Marriott Hotel in Malaga. We are officially approved to live in Spain for 5 more years!  The bonus is that we are also now allowed to work!

Thanks for following along on our journey and stick around for more exciting adventures.  If you have any remote job opportunities or business ideas you want to share with us, just let us know!

This entry was posted in Expat Planning, Spain, Travel Planning and tagged , , by Heidi. Bookmark the permalink.

About Heidi

Heidi has a passion for travel and has been exploring the world with her husband and 2 kids, since August 2012. She's visited more than 50 countries and loves to write about their family adventures, mishaps and costs. She has been an inspiration to others wanting to live their dreams. Her travel tips, planning posts, cost breakdowns, accommodation, and product reviews are also very popular. Her current home base is in Spain. Any post on this site may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, there is no extra cost for you and we may receive a commission.

16 thoughts on “5 Years In Spain – How Long Can We Stay on the Non Lucrative Visa?

    • Hi, Thanks so much. Yes, it actually is a little longer. 🙂 We arrived in August, so it is a couple of months over. We just wanted to wait for our “approval” before we jumped for joy.

  1. Congrats on five years! We’re just in the process of our first renewal, after one year- it’ll be nice to not have to deal with this for another couple of years.

    • Thanks Paul! Yes, it is nice not to have to worry about it for a while now. The first renewal is an exciting one too. How long do you guys plan to stay? We are hoping to get up your way sometime before summer, so we’d love to meet up.

  2. Congratulations and we love hearing your story. We will be visiting Spain next May for 3 weeks as potential Christian missionaries. We live in Florida and have already read about the culture in Spain/Europe when it comes to the Bible and Christianity. Any thoughts or comments? Thanks again and best of luck!

    David & Catherine

  3. I love following your adventures. Presently I’m in Madrid with 2 friends for about 3 weeks. This is my 4 th visit to Spain and 3rd time “living” in Madrid, my dream city. Our daughter attended university here for two years in nursing and completed her degree in the US. I was hoping she’d marry a Spaniard and we’d have to move here (:) ) . Not to be.

    I’d love to live here at least for a year. We have grown children and grandkids so living here for a long time
    isn’t realistic. I’m very happy for you all.

    • Oh thanks Pamela. It sounds like you get to visit Spain often, so that is wonderful. Having family back in the US is the most difficult part about living abroad, so we completely understand. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and let us know if you ever make it south to our neck of the woods. Enjoy your visit in your dream city of Madrid!

  4. Congratulations. So great to hear you get to stay on… ‘living the dream’. We are planning our 2nd trip to Spain at Christmas time, can’t wait until we can make it a permanent trip.

  5. You guys are a great inspiration for a dream that can be realized! We really enjoy your postings and blog and I am just starting to get organized after buying your book. My wife and I have a September 2019 target arrival date. Can you tell me, after five years, do you have any other locations in hindsight you might have rather ended up then almuncar?

    • Hi Ahren, Congrats on making the decision to move to Spain! Are you planning to be in Spain for a limited time or open ended?

      After 5 years we are still happy with our choice, as it is right for us and achieving the lifestyle we desire. If we were to move, we always have Valencia in the back of our mind. That said, living in a bigger city doesn’t give our teens as much freedom as they have here in our town. We allow them to pretty much go anywhere in town with their friends and we have no worries. I don’t think we would feel the same with them in a bigger city. At this point the kids have lifetime friends and this has become their childhood home, so they don’t want to move anywhere. Also, we seemed to have attracted many of our readers to move our area as well, so that is an interesting an unanticipated twist for us. No matter how we slice and dice it, this area offers sea, mountains, outdoor activities, mild winters, easy access to airports and so on. We just love it and it is still a typical Spanish town.

      We know of many other great areas around Spain, as not only have we traveled quite a bit over the 5 years, but we did an 8 week road trip around Spain. During that road trip, we were also somewhat scoping out other areas to see if we would like to move. We fell in love with many areas, but still came back to our town for us! We loved Oviedo, San Sebastian, Salamanca, Valencia, Calpe, Estepona, and a few others. It all depends on what you are looking for and how you want your daily life to be. We do offer consulting helping people determine areas to live. I hope that helps. 🙂

  6. We are one more American family that you’ve helped move to Spain. THANK YOU! My question concerns obtaining your Spain Permanent Residency after 5 years. With your one year travel in Asia combined with your trips back to the U.S., how did you overcome the condition that states you can’t exceed 10 months of being absent from Spain within the 5 year period?

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