Moving to Spain - any advice?

We’re hoping to move to Spain about this time next year and although I’ve heard many positive things about the Spanish healthcare system I’m a bit anxious in light of the current economic situation…

Can anyone offer any advice about getting referred to a neurologist? I’m currently on Avonex and wonder how easy it will be to continue the treatment and if I’ll have to pay. My nearest hospital will be Malaga.

Any help/contacts would be much appreciated.



HI Lindsay,

If I can give you any advice it would be do your research throughly, Reseach medical facilites statistics etc.

We moved to Bulgaria 4 years ago and although it is not on the same par as Spain I find the climate suits me a whole lot better lol apart from this year when I have suffered somewhat.

Bulgaria itself has a very low rate of MS patients so don’t know if this is the problem or not. Not sure what the ratio rate in Spain is. I think the higher the raton then perhaps the better the facilities.

I do have a website address somewhere that does tell you I will look for it and send it to you.

I wish you all the very best and please let us know all about your journey. Keep a blog it’s a good reminder of your travels.

Hi Lindsay - there are good forums for information for the south. Expat forums can be very useful.

If you are under retirement age, you will have to take out private healthcare. It’s not that expensive - I was told that it is calculated on age, rather than infirmity.

You may be able to get into the health/social security system, but it’s down to luck.

I live in a part of Spain where there are few expats and my husband took early retirement and were very fortunate to be accepted into the local health system. We were lucky. We have younger friends who have had to work. Retirees don’t have to work and receive free prescriptions.

Your new neuro (private or not) will be able to read and write in English - but may not be confident with conversation.

The public health system and hospitals is regional. My health authority is SERGAS, which operates only in Galicia. I get my Rebif (although the neuro had to apply for funding) and all my medicines, although I pay a small percentage of the cost. For example, I have an asthma inhaler that costs 131 euros per month and I pay 3 euros for it. This will rise as Spain is suffering, thanks to the banks and speculators, so the percentage of co-payments will rise.

If you need to know anything else, please do pm me.


Hi Lindsay, I’m sorry I can’t help you, Just wanted to say do plenty research and have a fabulous new life in Spain !!! You lucky girl ! I go to Spain on my holiday’s and I feel as though my MS just disappears while I am there !!

You go and have plenty MS free times !!!

keep smiling


Hi Lindsay, I can’t give you any advice, just to wish you a lot of luck, this is something we would love to do, as when we’re on holiday there my MS seems alot better, so good for you, take care, Jean x

hi Lindsay, i moved to spain 6 yars ago. i was diagnosed with MS 20 years ago but it’s only reared its ugly head 3 yrs ago.

i am 55 and pay for my healthcare as is often the case in spain if under retirement age. - 270 euros every 3 months.

hospitals and doctors are great, cannot fault them. don’t know about obtaining your current medicine here, mine have all been prescribed since seeing the neuro. pls contact me if you have any questions and i’d be happy to help if i can.

Hi everyone I moved to the Costa Blanca 2 months ago. So far so good although the heat gets to me so no doubt our electricity bills will be high as have aircon quite a lot. When I needed a prescription for one of my meds, my neighbour gave me a GP recommendation, I called him and he just said text me what you want and I’ll issue a script. Pharmacist down the road now has it and will supply it. Obviously Avonex will be a different story. I don’t think you need a referral to a neuro. Perhaps give Malaga hospital a call - someone there will definitely speak English and ask them about neuros and Avonex. Many English people live in that part of Spain and I’m sure they will be very helpful. We have private healthcare with a company called Sanitas (a separate but sister company to BUPA). It costs about €1200 a year for 2 but we were with BUPA before so my MS was considered a pre-existing condition. Don’t know what the situation would be if you have to tell them you have MS for a new policy. Expats here have told me that if you are retirement age you can get information about prescriptions from NHS in Newcastle. The only impact I’ve seen due to economic conditions is that the pharmacists went on strike for 2 days because they hadn’t been paid by the government…obviously a bit worrying. I have found the Spanish people kind, helpful and considerate when they see me going around on my scooter or tottering along unsteadily with 2 sticks. Hope I haven’t rabbited on for too long! Good luck and enjoy Karen

Well, we lived in Spain for 9 years and my husbands condition (cramps etc) got so bad, that we returned to UK to find out what was wrong with him. We had private MRI scans, x-rays, the lot. in Spain. Never got a diagnosis. After 3 months back in the UK he got diagnosed with MS.

Well, we might have had the wrong private doctor. One thing you have to have is a translator, when you go to hospital or a doctor. And they cost money, they are not supplied by as the are here. I am sure the Doctors speak English, but we found them to be very arrogant and patronising.

End of story, we would never go back to Spain.

But I wish you all the luck in the world

Gitte xx

PS. And whatever you do, don’t buy a propery without very intense research of the legal sides.You must have seen the reports on TV about houses beeing bulldozed down, because the new mair decided he didn’t like houses on rural land. He just changed the local law. Or the previous mair was corrupt and went against the law by giving building permission on rural land. And as a foreigner in Spain you are beeing ripped off even by the solicitors.

Just a quick note - if you are diagnosed already, you get to see a neurologist. You won’t be sent to a general internist.

Spain is a huge country - Gitte’s experience wasn’t ours, but we live in the north. There is no problem with houses being bulldozed as most people buy old properties and do them up. Our experience has been nothing but positive, but it has been tough going.

Whatever happens - you will need to learn some Spanish. It took me about 5 years of studying at home and I was still rubbish - but after moving here, it took me a year, with the help of my lovely neighbours. My GP doesn’t speak English, so that was a quick learning curve. If you get an English national who teaches Spanish, just learn enough to get by at first. Shopping Spanish, medical Spanish, car Spanish and the local terms for stuff. It makes a massive difference.

The DMDs are supplied by qualified nurses who work for the various pharma companies.

Sorry, going on too long, but if you move to Spain, your experience will be much better if you avoid the huge developments and try to live where there are few expats.

I can’t express how much living here has saved my quality of life, but my MS is so much better here that I feel like a normal person again. I was housebound in the UK but not here. I love it to bits. I go to my neighbour’s house each day for coffee with the other neighbours. It took a year to catch up with the conversation, but since then, my life has been a delight and a joy.



Thank you to everyone who took the time to reply to my post about moving to Spain - I really appreciate the advice. Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding and for not replying to everyone individually but I went on holiday shortly after posting the message and then came home to some family problems which have taken priority…

I perhaps should have mentioned that I speak fluent Spanish and have lived in Spain and Venezuela so I’m not worried about the language barrier. My parents have a house in Andalucia where we plan to settle so we are well aware of the issues of buying property.

My concerns were more around getting a neurologist and ensuring I can still get my medication. For those of you who had advice around this I will contact again when I can.

Best wishes to you all and to those of you still living abroad - keep enjoying the sunshine, we haven’t got any here!


Hi Lins, I live in Andalucia but inland near Ronda. Still undiagnosed but going thought the test process at the moment. I have to say I am having treatment via the Seguro social because I worked here in Spain for many years before this hit. I fall under Ronda hospital but the Costa del Sol has a really good reputation and some Neuros also offer private clinics. They don’t seem to be leaving any stone unturned. If you didn’t speak Spanish my gut feeling would be to tell you not to come because sometimes there are just not the words to describe how you are feeling, but if you want to bounce anything off me, feel free. Xxx

Hi, I have just joined the community, I live in the UK but I’m moving to southern Spain in the next month or two. I have s blue badge which will expire after I move, will it be a problem to renew it in Spain ? Thanks in advance .