The Spanish culture is significantly different than that of other EU countries, offering a far more relaxed environment, free from the pressures of the UK, as well as liberation from its continually overcast skies and depressing climate. It is wise to spend some time over here in a rented property before committing to the complete move to Costa Blanca, allowing you to get used to the of the lifestyle, which generally, is one of procrastination and relaxation (expect to spend hours over meals with Spanish friends, and don't worry if it takes a while to fix things). However, for most people the short delays and relaxed culture is exactly what they came for, away from the strict, pressurised lifestyle of the UK, not to mention the weather and the beauty, particularly in the Costa Blanca region of Spain.
For living in Spain, you will need a residence permit, and if you plan to work, a work permit. If you do not plan to work while here, you may stay here for up to 6 months before you are legally required to obtain proof of residence. To complete an application for permission to live in this country, you will need to visit the Policia Nacional (National Police)'s local station, with 4 passport-sized photos, your actual passport, along with a photocopy, proof of income (through a bank statement displaying your savings, or other means) and the deeds for the property in which you wish to live.
To obtain a work permit, you will first need a work contract with a minimum duration of 6 months, all the documentation required when you applied for permission of residence, and you need to apply for a NIE (Foreigner Identification Number).
Also, bear in mind, that if you are bringing a car not registered in Spain, it should be registered in Spain within 6 months, with an Impuesto Especial (Special Tax) of 12% of the car's ready-reckoned value, payable by residents of the EU (does not apply to those from countries outside the EU). Cars that are right-hand drive will also need to pass road-worthiness tests, issuable from ITV (MOT equivalent) centres.
Once you have moved in
First of all, a registration step, termed "Empadronamiento" must be carried out. This involves entering your details on the municipal register (padrón municipal), a list of residents at your local town hall, once you are living in Spain.
State health care in Spain is of a higher standard than the NHS in Britain, and health care is free for EU citizens. British immigrants will be able to use the form E111 to obtain health care.
Social security is easy to obtain in Spain. Go to the Social Security office with a passport and one photocopy. The general forms are filled in, to identify you personally, with name, date of birth, address etc. You will not require an NIE card or a job to obtain it. Whether you are employed or self-employed, you will be required to pay into social security, which in the case of working for someone else, will be deducted along with tax from your salary. If you are a pensioner from an EU member state, and are registered in that country for social security, then you are entitled to it in Spain automatically.