Starting a new life in a foreign country can be a massive upheaval. For me—moving from a Nordic country to Spain, where the culture is quite different—things were really complicated. At least to start with, because I was lucky that a friend of mine, who had already made the same move years earlier, told me about an advisory service for all of the administrative procedures I was going to have to deal with.
It’s a fact that for expats, relocating for however long requires lots and lots of paperwork, and depending on the red tape in the destination country, this can become like a maze that takes a heap of time—as well as nerves of steel—to get out of.
The service my friend told me about is part of the portfolio of services that CaixaBank offers expatriates, through its HolaBank brand. This is an internal agency that offers advice to its customers on all of the necessary paperwork at key moments such as handling consumer protection complaints, conflicts with homeowners’ associations, wills, taxes or employment contracts, obtaining licences or permits, the expenses involved in buying a flat, the procedures to register with the district council, duplicates of official documents, registering vehicles… in short, the thousands of questions that you ask yourself when you’re in a foreign land. The service, which is called HolaBank Club, is provided in the customer’s own language. This was one of the things I was worried about, because making myself understood in Spanish just wasn’t possible for the first few weeks.
So, I decided to open an expat bank account at HolaBank called the Living Solutions account, and I began to discover lots of other interesting offers for expats. But in this post, I’d like to focus on the HolaBank Club services that I already mentioned. It’s important to highlight that to be able to use the service, you need to have a Living Solutions account. Bit by bit, I was guided through how to carry out each procedure—for example, changing the name on utility bills (water, electricity, gas) at the first flat I rented. Things that would be fairly simple in your own country become a total headache in a foreign one.
Another thing that amazed me was that the service was provided free of charge, and when it came to complicated paperwork, they were able to put me in touch with a partner group of specialists who offer a set 25% discount for their services. In other words, they were able to address pretty much all of my needs. And all this via a telephone number that I could call any day of the week.
Well, I for one don’t know of any similar services available for expats in Spain, so I simply can’t recommend it enough. I think that companies that are able to help you out at difficult times, such as relocations, deserve to be heard about. And when their service is good, they become essential.