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Moving to Gibraltar: What Every Expat Should Know

Gibraltar is, in many ways, a place born from fairytales. A British Territory located on the Iberian Peninsula, Gibraltar is commonly referred to as “the rock” by people who know it. When you consider that the Rock of Gibraltar is the territory’s most famous landmark, it’s easy to see where the nickname started. A looming 1,398-foot high limestone mass that towers of the settlements below it, the Rock of Gibraltar gives the area a majestic and unique feel that captures many of the people who visit the area. Known for its small size, devastatingly beautiful scenery, and friendly people, Gibraltar is a unique and friendly location that promises a high quality of life and no shortage of adventure. If you’re considering moving to Gibraltar, here’s what you’ll need to know to make a smart transition.

Why Move to Gibraltar? Top 10 Reasons to Move to Gibraltar:

If the iconic landmark or stunning beauty weren’t enough to convince you, these ten reasons to move to Gibraltar are compelling in their own right.

1. Gibraltar has some of the most interesting histories in the world
Did you know that some scientists believe that Gibraltar is where the last Neanderthals lived and died? Carbon dating evidence shows that the species was living in the area roughly 24,000 years ago, and new studies are being conducted all the time. This unique history exists no place else on earth.

2. Gibraltar has Europe’s only population of wild monkeys
Gibraltar is home to more than two hundred macaques. While the monkeys are the only wild ones throughout all of Europe, they’re better to observe than they are to interact with. Each year, dozens of people are treated in hospitals as results of run-ins with the macaques. With this in mind, feel free to visit the monkeys’ favorite hangouts if you move to Gibraltar, but don’t get too close!

3. Gibraltar was where John Lennon and Yoko Ono got married
In 1969, Lennon and Yoko Ono took a plane to Gibraltar, where they got married. Many Lennon fans have since visited the area to commemorate the iconic couple.

4. Remote work is standard in Gibraltar
If you want to move to Gibraltar and work remotely, you’re in luck. Approximately 12% of the country’s workforce works in remote gaming. The country offers low taxes, plenty of remote companies, and a high population of remote workers, all of which makes it an expat’s paradise. 

5. Gibraltar remains very British
One of the 14 overseas British territories in the world, Gibraltar shares borders with Spain but feels very British. This means the area boasts plenty of British features, like red mail boxes, fish and chips pubs, and shopping stores you’d see throughout other British territories.

6. Gibraltar is tiny
While this could be a good or a bad thing depending on how you look at it, Gibraltar is small. The area is only 2.6 square miles wide, and much of the land within that area is dedicated to Gibraltar’s massive rock. The smallness of the area creates a close-knit community that thrives on shared values, although it may be too small for some people.

7. Gibraltar is multi-lingual
If you move to Gibraltar, you’ll find that most people in the area speak three languages: English, Spanish, and Llanito, which combines the two languages into a unique dialect known only to the region. The road signs and relevant documents are generally in English, although expats who know some Spanish will have an easier time adjusting here than those who do not.

8. Gibraltar is one of the world’s richest countries
Despite its small size, Gibraltar is one of the world’s wealthiest countries, and people who move here will find themselves enjoying a high quality of life. There are no VAT taxes, the corporation tax is minimal, and personal income tax is small. This allows people to enjoy a high quality of life in this tiny area.

9. Healthcare in Gibraltar is free
Healthcare in Gibraltar is entirely free, and both British and E.U. nationals can take advantage of the comprehensive system. Residents of Gibraltar are also entitled to access the free healthcare system, which is known for its quality service and short wait times.

10. Gibraltar is a stone’s throw from Spain
If you’ve always wanted to explore Spain, Gibraltar is a good place to start. The area is so close to Spain that many people cross the border back and forth several times each day. This makes for a simple commute and a comfortable launch pad from which to explore the neighboring country.

Getting a Visa to Gibraltar

If you’ve decided you want to move to Gibraltar, the first thing you’ll need to do is secure a visa. Fortunately, this is relatively straightforward.  Gibraltar’s government website had additional information on who does and does not need a visa to visit the area, and it’s always wise to check this before you begin your visa application or moving process. Keep in mind that, even if you obtain a visa to enter the UK, you may need a separate visa to enter Gibraltar. All visa applications should be sent directly to the British Embassy in your area, or any British Diplomatic Visa issuing station. This helps ensure accuracy and expediency of your visa processing and can streamline your trip to Gibraltar.

Finding a Rental in Gibraltar

When it comes to finding a rental in Gibraltar, your best bet is to hire an experienced property management professional. In addition to the fact that these professionals have their pulse on the difficult and limited rental market in Gibraltar, they can also help you find a property that suits your needs and your price all at once. Because Gibraltar is a small area, finding rentals there can be difficult, and you’d be wise to leave yourself plenty of time to prepare if you’re interested in moving to the area. Finding an ideal rental can take weeks or months, and it may become stressful if you’re not adequately prepared for the process. With this in mind, hire a real estate agent as soon as your paperwork is finalized, and don’t wait to start the Gibraltar property search. It will streamline the process and help ensure that you find exactly what you’re looking for in the timeframe you need it. Keep in mind that, in Gibraltar, as in so many places, flats are rented as either furnished or unfurnished, but that an unfurnished flat often includes no furniture, fixtures, or appliances. If you rent one of these, you must be prepared to furnish it entirely when you move in.

Best Places to Live in Gibraltar 

Since Gibraltar is so small, it doesn’t have defined cities and towns like many other areas do. Because of this, people often choose between a selection of neighborhoods and areas to live in. Many of the “neighborhoods” can be broken down into apartment complexes, some of which offer amenities like pools and workout areas and some of which do not. Since Gibraltar is so small, everything there is stacked, and much of the housing comes in the form of high-rise apartments and condo complexes. Each of these little micro-chasms has a unique feel, community, amenities, and stigmas, and locals of Gibraltar will be happy to tell you all about which communities are the most desirable, and which are the least. No matter where you choose to live in Gibraltar, though, are several benefits to having a home in this tiny but closely-knit community. For one, Gibraltar offers proximity to Andalusian culture, and many expats enjoy its nearness to the sea, and its many ancient roots. In fact, the sea is a central attraction for many expats moving to Gibraltar. People in the area commonly enroll in diving courses, join a yacht club, or take long swims on some of the area’s more mellow beaches. Canoeing is also standard, and it offers a wonderful way for people of Gibraltar to get out and see the area’s rugged coastline. What many people don’t know about the area of Gibraltar is that there’s only one way in and out. The main road crosses the runway of the city’s one airport, and expats who aren’t prepared for this reality often find it a bit shocking. While the airport runway closes the road when a plane is taking off or landing, it’s still a unique experience that few cities have in their approaches.

Beyond the entrance, Gibraltar has many unique features. Since the housing developments are close together, Gibraltar communities are often friendly ones, with plenty of nice neighbors to get to know. What’s more, since the cost of living in Gibraltar can be expensive, many expats report that cooking communally and eating together with large groups of friends is common. In addition to being a cheaper alternative to dining out, this is also an excellent way to get to know your neighbors and can help streamline the process of making friends. While there is minimal public transit in Gibraltar, the bus system that runs along the coastline is very functional, and it’s easy for expats and locals alike to commute on it, although it is wise to be advised that the frequency of busses can vary widely. Because of this, many Gibraltar residents have a car, as this makes commuting easier and more reliable.

Pros and Cons of Moving to Gibraltar

While Gibraltar has many outstanding qualities, it has cons just like any place else. With this in mind, consider the pros and cons of moving to the area:

Pros

Natural beauty. Between The Rock and Gibraltar’s many other attractions, there’s no doubt that the area is beautiful, and expats typically find that, once they arrive, they don’t want to leave. The sea, green hills, and picturesque little towns make Gibraltar a place rich in natural beauty.
High quality of life. Gibraltar is a wealthy nation, and the quality of life is high here. This means that expats who move to Gibraltar may find themselves better off than they were in their home countries.
Friendly people. Gibraltar is a friendly nation, and expats feel welcomed and accepted here. This makes for an easy transition and a healthy circle of close new friends.
History. Gibraltar has unique global and local history, and history buffs from near and far will love exploring the area and taking advantage of its numerous attractions and historic stops.
Plenty to do. While Gibraltar may be small, there’s plenty to do. The unique, British culture makes it easy to find great places to eat, drink, and dance and art shows, cultural attractions, and festivals are common.

Cons

Political tensions. Since the U.K.’s exit from the European Union, tensions between Gibraltar and Spain have increased. This can mean frequent border closures, uncertain times ahead, and strained relationships with Spanish nationals.
High cost of living. While the quality of life in Gibraltar is high, so is the cost. Expats will likely pay more here than they did in their home nations, and this can be alienating for many people.
Small area. Gibraltar is small and, for some, this can feel claustrophobic. While there’s plenty to see, do, and explore in the area, some expats prefer a larger home area.

Gibraltar: A Beautiful Place to Move

Gibraltar is unique in many ways. In addition to being tiny and impossibly green, it boasts a unique set of global and cultural histories and stands out as an individual area on the fringe of the earth. Known for its British influence, gorgeous scenery, and stunning Rock, Gibraltar remains a popular destination for expats from around the world and stands out as one of the prettiest and most exciting expat destinations around. From its rugged coastline to its friendly people, ample remote job opportunities, and unique place in the world, Gibraltar is a small area that offers lots to love, and expats who find themselves in this little hamlet are virtually guaranteed not to regret it.