Could your next career move take you to sun-drenched Gibraltar? If relocating to Gibraltar's on the cards - maybe chasing the beach lifestyle or a touch of Spanish culture - there's lots you'll need to know to plan and prepare.
Pentasia has over 15 years' experience helping candidates set up new working lives in Gibraltar. Whether you're seeking to expand your global horizons, or looking for somewhere family-friendly to put down roots, Southern Spain's British Overseas Territory could represent the perfect opportunity.
In our guide to 'the rock' (Gibraltar's nickname), we'll cover:
Introducing Gibraltar as a workplace
Spanish lifestyle benefits, from climate to culture
Where to live: area profiles in Gibraltar and Spain
Money, travel, health, education and work permits
When you're ready, check out jobs in Gibraltar or register with Pentasia to apply direct to our specialist consultants.Download: Candidate Guide - Relocating to Gibraltar [PDF]
1 THE BENEFITS OF WORKING IN GIBRALTAR
Working in Gibraltar can, for many, represent an excellent career choice. Buoyant despite the background of Brexit, companies continue to grow, and the job market is thriving. Certainly, there are ample career opportunities for those considering a new working life in the Spanish sun.
Gibraltar continues to offer a lucrative base for business. The territory has a tax system that is more attractive for many companies and individuals than mainland UK. As a consequence, an increasing number of professional organisations in certain sectors have moved to Gibraltar.
Probably the best example of this trend is the online gaming industry – a field we at Pentasia know well. But there are lots of opportunities in the financial, IT, Legal and banking sectors for qualified and experienced candidates.
Whether you choose to live in Gibraltar itself, or one of the nearby Spanish coastal towns, relocation to this area is an excellent choice for those wanting a fantastic lifestyle change.
Key benefits at a glance:
Excellent careers for English speaking professionals, with little or no compromise on salaries compared to the UK.
Lower income tax.
Low cost of renting and buying accommodation in Spain compared to the UK (even accounting for the addition of a swimming pool!)
Approximately 300 days of sunshine per year.
Glorious beaches stretched across the Costa del Sol and Cadiz.
Cosmopolitan Marbella and Puerto Banus nearby.
Weekend skiing in Sierra Nevada.
Relaxed, sociable and enjoyable way of life.
Huge variety of restaurants, quality fresh food and wine.
Easily accessible to the rest of Europe with regular and low cost flights from Malaga and Gibraltar.
Duty Free Alcohol and Tobacco in Gibraltar.
Gibraltar, formed of Jurassic limestone, juts out from Spain’s South cost into the Western entrance to the Mediterranean. Known as ‘the rock’, Gibraltar is 5km (3 miles) long. Its the highest point is 426m (1,400ft) above sea level. An internal self-governing British Crown Colony, Gibraltar has given its name to the Bay and the Straits which it overlooks. Spain lies to the North and West, and Morocco – across the water – is just 26km (16 miles) to the South.
Gibraltar enjoys an average of 300 days sunshine a year: a truly Mediterranean climate. A warm, dry summer alternates with a mild wet winter. The sub-tropical sun of North Africa is tempered by gentle sea breezes.
In summer, temperatures can rise well above 30°C. January daytime temperatures usually sit around 16°C to 18°C - still quite possible to top up a tan. Rainfall is mostly limited to early or late in the year, and snow and frost is extremely rare in Gibraltar. Annual rainfall averages 899 millimetres, however year to year fluctuations are high.
A climatic phenomenon very typical of the Rock is the famous Levanter cloud. This is a dense cloud cover that forms on the top of the Rock when humid easterly winds are deflected upwards along the sheer face of its eastern side.
While Gibraltar produces its own notes and coins, the monetary unit of Gibraltar is actually UK Sterling. Sterling currency Notes issued by the Bank of England are therefore legal tender and in circulation in Gibraltar, alongside the local note issues.
The Gibraltar Health Authority (GHA) operates a Group Practice medical scheme whereby contributors to the system receive free health benefits. Should you become a contributor, all your medical needs will be met either on the Rock itself, or by providers across the border which are arranged by the scheme.
6 RESIDENCE & WORK PERMITS
Only Gibraltarians and British citizens are allowed to live and work in Gibraltar without a residence permit. Nationals from other EU member states are issued residence permits upon providing proof that they will not become a burden to the state. Non-EU citizens will find it more difficult to obtain a residence permit in Gibraltar as they must first produce a work contract, and that can only be issued if the employer can prove that no Gibraltarian or EU citizen is able or willing to do the job.
7 COST OF LIVING
Gibraltar is not a part of the customs union and therefore has duty free shopping and does not charge VAT. Cigarettes, alcohol, gas and perfumes are only some items which are bought by Spaniards and other nationalities because of the low price.
Despite the tax benefits, the cost of living can be compared the UK. Water and electricity charges are higher than costs elsewhere, and property prices are much higher than those in neighbouring Spain.
Despite the close trading links between the UK and Gibraltar, the Rock’s proximity to Spain and its economic environment also influences Gibraltar’s cost of living.
Currency: £ Pounds sterling
Rental prices (guidelines):
1 Bed: £1000+
3 Bed: £2000+
Cost of living:
Restaurant meal for 2: £70
Monthly utilities: £127
Currency: € Euros
Rental prices (guidelines):
1 Bed: £400+ (450€)
3 Bed: £700+ (800€)
Cost of living:
Restaurant meal for 2: £32
Monthly utilities: £106
8 PERSONAL INCOME TAX LEVELS 2015/16
Individuals are charged on their taxable income which is arrived at by deducting personal and other allowances from the assessable income at these rates:
First £4,000 - 14%
Next £16,000 - 17%
Balance – 39%
First £17,000 – 16%
Next £8,000 – 19%
Next £15,000 – 25%
Next £65,000 – 28%
Next £395,000 – 25%
Next £200,000 – 18%
Balance – 5%
Ordinary Personal Tax Allowances:
Single starts paying at £3,215
Spouse allowance £3,215
One Parent Family £5,290
9 WHERE TO LIVE...
Some people are lucky enough to secure a job in Gibraltar before they commit to relocating and many prospective employers offer relocation packages with free short-term accommodation. However, if you are making your own arrangements it is advisable to consider your living location carefully.
Gibraltar has much in common with its next door neighbour Southern Spain, but it also has a fascinating history of its own, as well as special climatic conditions, its own particular geography, and a unique culture. The fact that Gibraltar is a self-governing British Crown Dependency makes it a popular choice for expats. However, living in Gibraltar can be expensive, with an average 2 bedroom flat costing between £1,000 and £1,500 per month to rent.
Schools: English curriculum, free to Gibraltar residents. Fees of around £3,000 / term apply to non-residents.
Healthcare: Free healthcare for those employed and paying tax in Gibraltar. Entitlement and dependents details via Gibraltar Health Authority (GHA): gha.gi/patients-visitors
For many, the option of working in Gibraltar but living in Spain is preferable. Yes, there is a commute across the border to contend with. However, this is offset by lower house prices. Plus, the arrangement allows you to experience the culture, food and language of Spain but work in the vibrant business community of Gibraltar. To give you a rough idea of living costs, each of the location overviews below includes an estimated cost of a two bedroom apartment.
Schools: Spanish-speaking, free to Spanish residents. Some offer assistance to non-Spanish speaking children. International schools available in Sotogrande, Marbella and Malaga.
Healthcare: Reciprocal free healthcare for those employed and paying tax in Gibraltar. Details: gha.gi/patients-visitors
La Linea is just over the border from Gibraltar and is a convenient choice for relocation: it’s just 10-20 minutes walking distance to the central areas of Gibraltar. This commercial/industrial district is packed with local shops and amenities, whilst still being accessible to the more cosmopolitan and picturesque towns further along the coast.
Typically the cost of accommodation is lower than in Gibraltar but slightly higher than the regional average due to its convenient location which saves Gibraltarian workers the expense of car ownership. A typical two bedroom flat would cost €600 to €800 per month.
Santa Margarita is an ideal place to live with a family. It’s the largest residential development in the region and is quiet and friendly. The properties are typically Mediterranean in style with spacious gardens and magnificent views of the Strait of Gibraltar, surrounded by carefully maintained green areas. The border is either 10 minutes drive or a vigorous 20 minute walk away, or there’s a frequent bus service. Rent of around €600 to €800 per month would secure a house here.
Sotogrande is an exclusive, naturally beautiful area favoured by top executives, the rich and famous. Rents are high here – a two bedroom apartment can range from €900 to €2,000 per month (including shared pool, of course.)
Stunning sports facilities, golf courses, polo fields and a famous marina on your doorstep add to Sotogrande’s benefits, if your salary allows. Sotogrande is a 20 minute commute from Gibraltar.
Manilva is 30 minutes drive to the East of Gibraltar and is a surprisingly under-developed and picturesque part of the Costa del Sol. You can live in the pretty white village of Manilva, the fishing port of Sabinillas or the lively marina of Duquesa where there are lots of places to eat, drink and enjoy the Spanish lifestyle.
As this is a traditional Spanish area, you’ll only pay €400 to €600 per month to rent a two bedroom apartment, usually including a shared pool. Your salary will certainly stretch a lot further here.
Estepona is a pretty seaside town with fantastic wide beaches and a Spanish small-town character. There are lots of amenities, bars, cafes and restaurants serving good Spanish food at reasonable prices as well as smart beach bars and big supermarkets selling international brands.
Estepona is a great choice for those with children as it’s a very family-friendly place. A 40 minute commute from Gibraltar, rental prices for a 2 bedroom apartment here range from €450 to €800 per month, usually including a shared pool.
There are lots of other options for accommodation including private villas, houses, townhouses and duplex apartments. Also, on the other end of the scale, many people choose to share with friends or new colleagues or rent a room, helping to save costs in the first few months of relocation. Flat Shares are advertised in local Gibraltar and Spanish newspapers, websites, and on many company intranet sites. There are also budget hotels and B&B´s in La Linea which can offer temporary accommodation from approximately £25 per night.
10 GETTING THERE
Gibraltar is easily accessible by air through both Gibraltar Airport, or nearby Malaga Airport – around an hour and a half away. British Airways and Easyjet operate daily flights into Gibraltar from London Gatwick while Monarch fly from both London Luton and Manchester. Malaga is one of Spain’s busiest airports and is serviced by a range of airlines including Ryanair.
Travelling by car from the UK or elsewhere is a very realistic option. Ferries arrive at Santander and Bilbao, and the stunning drive down through Spain takes approximately 12 hours. If you choose to bring your car over, the law requires you register the car with Spanish number plates within 6 months.
If you are buying a car in Spain then you will first need to provide one of the following:
An official residency card (Tarjeta de Residencia.)
Proof that you are a Spanish home owner (by showing title deeds.)
A rental contract for a duration of minimum one year or An NIE/NIF number (Foreigner’s Identification Number) in Spain.
11 GIBRALTAR: BACKGROUND INFO
Gibraltar’s name derives from Gibel Tariq (Tariq’s mountain), itself named after Tariq Ibn Zeyad, who led the eight-century conquest of Spain. Tariq brought a combined force of Arabs and Berbers over the crossing from Africa.
Gibraltar’s unusual status was not acquired until almost 1000 years later, long after the Islamic invaders had been driven out by the Spanish. Its formation was a consequence of the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht which brought to an end the War of the Spanish Succession and gave the territory to Britain. The British interpretation of the treaty holds that the territory was ceded to them indefinitely. The presence of a foreign-owned mini-state on the Spanish mainland has been an irritant to Anglo-Spanish relations ever since.
The current Spanish position was first outlined by Felipe González, Spain’s socialist Premier, during the 1980s. González suggestion for joint Anglo-Spanish sovereignty of Gibraltar has since been refined by successive Spanish governments, allowing for possible EU or NATO involvement. The British have no major objection, in principle, to the Spanish recovering full sovereignty over the territory - provided they are guaranteed continued access to its military base facilities.
Gibraltarians, however, are less enthused. In response to the latest round of talks between London and Madrid which began in 2001 and explored in detail possible joint sovereignty models the Gibraltar government, led by Peter Caruana, organised a referendum to assess the popular mood. Taking place in November 2002 - as expected, it returned a huge majority in favour of the status quo.
A tourist hotspot with sailing, diving, fishing and more...
Known as ‘the rock’, Gibraltar contains 143 caves, over 48km (30 miles) of road and miles of tunnels. From rock touring, to sailing, diving, fishing and bird watching, visitors will be pleasantly surprised with the diverse range of attractions on offer in Gibraltar.
Located at the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula, where Europe meets Africa, visitors are also assured of breath-taking scenery, wildlife and architecture, that captures the unique flavour of this Mediterranean city. As a VAT-free jurisdiction, Gibraltar’s popularity with visitors is further enhanced by its value added shopping experience in famed Main Street.