10 Commandments For Expats Moving To Jávea

We can think of many reasons to live in Jávea:

  • Jávea, or Xàbia (in the Valencian language), in the Northern Costa Blanca, is an exclusive coastal town nestling between the capes of San Antonio and La Nao.
  • If you’re planning to move to Jávea, you’re in great company. About 27,000 people live in Jávea, of whom around half are Spanish and the other half are foreign nationals. Many Brits live in Jávea – about 29% of the population – and you’ll find many expat groups.
  • It also has international private schools, Xàbia International College and Laude Lady Elizabeth School (LES), for students aged two to 18.
  • Jávea benefits from a superb all-year-round climate with around 320 days of sunshine.
  • Indeed, Jávea and the Costa Blanca are among the healthiest places to live, according to the World Health Organisation.

Wanting a better quality of life, Michelle Hughes, owner of VillaMia, took a risk and gave up her good job in Wales to move to Jávea with her son. Eleven years on, she has her own business. But it is not as easy as some people expect, so here are some helpful tips from the estate agent…

1 – Learn the language

Yes, you can get by with little or no Spanish but it is important to try. There are various private and group classes available. If you join a group class, you will get to meet new people and, once you have some understanding, it will make everyday life easier when shopping, banking, asking for directions, etc. Also, it is worth contacting the Town Hall for information on subsidised lessons.

Some people find it easier than others but trying is what counts and apps such as Duolingo are something everyone can do from home in their spare time.  Once you know the language you can interact with the Spanish and a good starting place is Spanish bars.

VillaMia staff are fluent in Spanish as well as other languages including German, Russian and French.

2  – Learn to love admin

Nothing is straightforward when it comes to paperwork here. It will probably take longer than you expect and best to be prepared with extra copies of everything.  Most importantly you need a ton of patience – to keep yourself sane!

To rent, initially you only need your passport and an address but you may need a NIE (national identification number) once you move in to open a Spanish bank account to pay the utility bills. However, we can guide you on this and never be afraid to ask for help.

For entry into Spanish schools, again there is quite a bit of paperwork. We can put you in touch with people who can help with this and all other paperwork and translation. When you come over bring copies of paperwork such as birth certificates for the whole family, passport and marriage certificate if applicable.

If you need help with residencia, changing driving licences to Spanish and tax advice, get in touch with Impley in Jávea –www.impley.com

3 – Think carefully about what you will do for work

As a small coastal town, finding long-term work in Jávea can be a challenge especially if you don’t speak Spanish. Don’t expect to be able to come over and find work straight away – unemployment is high in Spain. If you are planning on setting up your own business or buying an established one, make sure you speak to a professional about the legalities and taxes, etc. Many people don’t realise that if you are self-employed you have to pay social security each month which doesn’t take into account your earnings – you pay the same amount each month regardless of what you earned. To be legal, you may pay out 250 euros a month before you make a cent. Before you move here, work out an estimated budget you need to live on and check you can survive and have enough for at least a year. To find work you need to be proactive and make sure you don’t fall into holiday mode.

4  – Accept that Spain is different

Accept that Spain – like any new country – has its own social norms and learn to adapt to them.

For example, if you are given an estimated time for an appointment (say with a plumber coming to your home) – treat it exactly as that, an estimate – which leaves you nicely surprised if they arrive on the dot. You will soon get used to the mañana attitude.

However, VillaMia can recommend trades people that we have worked with and are efficient, such as 100% Plumbing www.100percentplumbing.com

Driving is different too. Do not expect drivers to use indicators but do expect them to cut you up on a roundabout and even just stop on a zebra crossing or a roundabout for a chat or to get out of the car. The driving legislation is different so take time to read up on this to avoid fines!

The Spanish do take siestas so do not expect everything to be open in afternoons. If you live in a complex you may not be able to use the communal pool during that time.

The list is endless, but another thing is Spanish traditions. There will be fireworks, fiestas, bull running and health and safety isn’t like the UK.

July and August in Jávea are also very busy and it can get frustrating trying to park.

Remember you are not in the UK so take the bad with the good and embrace the Spanish lifestyle.

5 – Renting a property is a good start

If you are moving over for the first time it may be better to rent in Jávea rather than buy. This gives you the chance to figure out where you want to be living, (do you want to be within walking distance of the beach, for example?) and what kind of living space suits you most. There is plenty of opportunity to rent different kinds of properties here to allow you to get a feel for the area.  There are also winter lets available so you can come over for a few months to check you are happy living in Spain. VillaMia can help you get a wonderful winter let, so get in touch.

6 –  Currency exchange

Rather than using your bank for international bank transfers (for example to pay a deposit on a rental) set up a currency exchange account. They are free and will save you money on transfers, giving you a better rate. VillaMia can recommend Foreign Currency Direct – www.currencies.co.uk  

7 – Try the local food

Jávea has plenty of expat supermarkets, particularly aimed at the British, but it is always worth trying out the local food. This doesn’t mean you have to spend a small fortune dining in local restaurants, either. Simply having a good mooch around markets and Spanish supermarkets will give you an idea of what’s on offer. In restaurants there is often a menú del día if you want a few courses or tapas are always a great alternative to try new things such as calamari.

8 – Don’t forget safety

Jávea is generally a safe place and there are many women living here on their own when their husbands are working off-shore. You still need to be aware and not leave valuables on display in a car and make sure your property is locked up when you are out or during the night. People are more relaxed and you will see children out late at night and going up and down the Arenal on scooters and bikes. Children in pools or the sea have to be watched every second as well – many public pools don’t have lifeguards and many villas with private pools don’t have a security fence around the pool.

Think about health care as well and make sure you are covered if there is an accident. You may benefit from getting private health care. VillaMia can arrange quotes from Axa if you need an idea of costs.

If you want an alarm or security lighting in your rental, then worth speaking to Jávea Alarm Systems – www.javeaalarmsystems.com – or for extra security locks, Carl Barclay on www.locksmithspain.net

9-  If you don’t know something, ask someone

If you are unsure about anything. It could be a dish on the menu, which fish to buy in the market, how to cook the local vegetables, who is the last person in the queue, why fireworks are going off at midday, then ask someone. Ask the stallholder in the market, or the person standing next to you during a fiesta. Start a conversation with a stranger! The Spanish are only too willing to tell you all about their food, customs, fiestas, and culture. You’ll get a much more interesting answer than Google will give you too!

10 – Enjoy yourself!

Jávea is a beautiful town and there is so much to explore in the local area and further afield. There are various groups and clubs for a wide range of activities for all ages such as tennis and dance to drama and zumba. The scenery is stunning and people are constantly moving over, so there will be others in the same situation of moving to a new country and wanting to make friends.


VillaMia has built up an excellent reputation and has a frontline office in Jávea and a multilingual team. If you are thinking of moving over or taking a winter let in the area, please get in touch on the details below:-

VíllaMía Office

Avenida Libertad 9H
Jávea (Arenal)
03730 Jávea,
Alicante, Spain