The 11 Best Places To Live In Spain

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Sunny Spain is bursting with colourful culture, beautiful architecture, fabulous festivals, blissful beaches, delicious food and wine, and of course, glorious weather practically all year round.

It’s no wonder that it’s one of the most popular destinations for British expats, not to mention that it is an extremely affordable option too.

But what is the best place to live in Spain?


Here’s our guide to some of the best cities to live in Spain for English expats…

Madrid

british expats in madrid

The Spanish capital Madrid in the centre of the country is a multicultural marvel where expats feel truly welcome.

As well as friendly locals, there are British expat communities all over the city, and it’s easy to meet new people and make friends amongst the native English speakers, Spanish citizens, or other expats from all over the world.

With a first rate gourmet food scene, an abundant arts scene and thriving, leafy parks and gardens, energetic nightlife and entertainment, this city is one of the best places to live in Spain for expats.

On a practical level there are excellent medical, education, and transport infrastructures, and considering the fact that this is a European capital city, the cost of living in Madrid remains surprisingly affordable.

The climate in this effervescent metropolis is also attractive, with sunny summer highs of up to 40°C and winter lows descending to a comfortable 12°C.

Barcelona

living in barcelona

Bohemian Barcelona is home to some of Spain’s most stunning architecture courtesy of Antoni Gaudí, the infamous Catalonian architect amongst whose fantastical creations is included the as yet unfinished ‎Sagrada Família cathedral, whose gothic modernist spires dominate the Barcelona skyline.

This historic coastal city is rich with not only architectural wonders, but also beautiful parks and gardens, vibrant art and nightlife, excellent seafood, sandy beaches, quaint medieval streets and bustling markets, plus chic boutiques, restaurants and bars.

There are also plenty of outdoor sports opportunities here, including hiking, biking and kite surfing.

Situated in between the Mediterranean sea and the lower Pyrenees Mountains, the Barcelona benefits from consistently pleasant weather all year round, with the coolest winter temperatures at around 10°C, climbing to averages of 30°C during the summer months.

Barcelona is considered the capital of Catalonia, a region where the people are fiercely proud of their unique culture, and the Catalonian language is widely spoken throughout the city.

The quality of life here for expats is extremely high, and its possible to live comfortably on a relatively modest budget.

There is a great public transport system, an excellent healthcare system and plenty of education options for foreigners.


Alicante

live in alicante

This jewel of a city is found on Spain´s Costa Blanca on the South-Eastern coast, and has a wealth of attractions for expats.

It’s true that this is one of the more touristy areas of Spain, but with good reason. The coast is lined with gorgeous beaches, summers are hot and dry, and even in winter when the tourists pack up and go home, residents can still enjoy surprisingly comfortable temperatures.

Although a modern, multicultural city with plenty of English expats (the majority of people living here speak English), Alicante is a provincial Spanish town at heart, and it retains a laid back, welcoming atmosphere.

Prices here are much lower than in the big Spanish cities, and even property is very affordable here.

There are excellent English speaking schools here, plus good healthcare options and an extensive tram public transport system.

As you would expect, there are plenty of opportunities to party in Alicante and the city is renowned for its nightlife.

There are a host of culinary delights to experience too — or you could just spend your time chilling out on the white sandy beaches.

San Sebastian

best place to live in spain

San Sebastian is a sophisticated city in Northern Spain’s Basque country.

Cooler than more southern parts of the country, temperatures in San Sebastian remains nevertheless balmy, with summer temperatures having an average of 21°C and winters being warmer than the UK at about 9°C.

Locals speak Spanish and Basque, and learning the Basque language can be a fun way to integrate with the natives and make new friends.

This city is arguably one of the most attractive — and chic — in Spain, with excellent restaurants, world class shopping, eye catching architecture and long swathes of sandy beaches.

If you like a shot of glamour with your sangria, San Sebastian may just be the best place to live in spain for you.

Malaga

malaga for expats

A marvelous mix of ancient and modern, this historically and culturally rich provincial city on Spain’s southern Costa del Sol on the northern edge of the glittering Mediterranean sea boasts a subtropical climate with warm weather nearly all year round.

Yes there are beaches here, but an even greater lure for expats here is the thriving eclectic culture with year round events and celebrations, fabulous bars and restaurants, wonderful museums and galleries, stunning architecture superb shopping and the city’s uniquely charming mix of contemporary charm and old world living.

Thanks to tourism and a large expat community English is widely spoken here, and British produce can be found in supermarkets — there are plenty of expat bars and restaurants too.

There are good English speaking schools here, and thanks to the temperate climate outdoor activities can be enjoyed all year round.

Valencia

live in valencia

Spain’s third largest city after Madrid and Barcelona, the port town of Valencia nestling on the banks of the Turia River on the east coast of Spain has in recent years undergone an amazing transformation which has turned it into one of the most dynamic and desirable cities in the country.

This exciting city has been home to many settlers from the north of Africa over the centuries, and this influence can be seen in the beautiful Moorish architecture.

British expats are less numerous here than in other large Spanish cities, but despite this there are still good English schools and universities, and a high standard of healthcare, as well as good transport links, and the cost of living is low.

Valencia is famous for its Paella — arguably Spain’s most classic dish — and the markets are full to bursting with fresh and tasty produce from both land and sea.

There are a wide variety of cultural attractions, including colourful festivals, an opera house, museums and aquariums, and there is plenty here to keep expats occupied all year round.

Seville

living in seville

Relaxed, charming, vibrant, romantic, flamboyant — sun-drenched Seville in southern Spain is all of this and more.

The locals are unashamedly passionate about their history and culture, and traditional flamenco and bull fighting are still popular here.

Astounding architecture ranges from gothic cathedrals and serpentine medieval alleyways to elaborate royal palaces, and with an annual average temperature of 19.2 °C Seville is the warmest city in Europe.

The Plazas are buzzing until late into the night, and they are the perfect location to enjoy Seville’s excellent culinary scene – especially the tapas which the city is famous for.

There is pulsating nightlife here too with flamenco bars, cocktail bars, clubs and pubs to suit any taste, and the shopping scene includes everything from thriving traditional markets to upscale boutiques.

This isn’t a huge city, and that is part of its appeal. Even so, expats will find a welcoming expat community here, and the cost of living is relatively inexpensive.

Palma, Mallorca

living in palma

Away from the mainland on the picturesque island of Mallorca — the largest of the Balearic Islands — the island’s capital city Palma is far from your typical resort destination.

The climate features mild winters and hot and sunny summers, with the lowest average annual temperatures being around 9.5°C and the highest around 31°C.

The pleasant weather makes it all the more easy to indulge yourself in the delights of this idyllic island city, which has a sense of luxury and style.

The oldest part of the city boasts a magnificent gothic cathedral, quirky cafes, chic boutiques, art galleries, vibrant markets, a beautiful harbour and seafront, as well as having access to a huge and heavenly white sand beach.

The cost of living here is a little higher than some parts of the mainland — partly owing to the fact that the glamour of the city tends to attract the jet set — but there is nevertheless a small expat community to help you integrate if making your move here.

Ibiza

ibiza for expats

With a long held reputation as party central, the third largest of the Balearic islands, Ibiza, does indeed have electric nightlife, but life here has much more to offer expats than just that.

Famous music festivals aside, Ibiza has a surprisingly peaceful nature, loaded with culture, history, natural beauty, and a super laid back vibe.

Summer temperatures reach over 30°C and there is nearly no rainfall. Winter temperatures are still very comfortable averaging out at around 12°C.

Unfortunately living costs here can be high, and many expats find themselves working remotely or being self employed.

That said, there is nevertheless a large English speaking expat community here and the locals are very welcoming – plus the stunning scenery of the island is second to none.

Granada

where to live in spain

In the heart of Andalucia in southern Spain lies the magnificent medieval Alhambra Palace, a magical Moorish architectural gem, and the city of Granada’s largest tourist attraction.

But while Alhambra is sure to leave you spellbound, the rest of the city will also capture your heart. Granada is elegant and cosmopolitan, a fusion of old and new which attracts people of all ages and cultures.

Food is fantastic and cheap, the nightlife is booming, the historical features and culture are compelling, and the scenery just outside of the city is sublime.

Expats find it easy to mix with the locals, the cost of living is very affordable and being a small city everything is within easy reach.

Summers are scorching but winter temperatures can be as low as 7°C which is a little fresh for Spain, but the cool winters haven’t deterred the expats which now call this city home, and there is a solid expat community here.

Tenerife

where to live in spain

One of the Canary Islands off the African coast, Tenerife benefits from a warm tropical climate all year round with the lowest annual temperatures being a pleasant 17°C and summer temperatures are blissfully warm.

The south of the island is more touristy, with the north offering more job opportunities foe expats who wish to work outside of the tourism industry.

Tenerife is a popular destination for expats, and there is an excellent expat network on the island, which includes English schools of a good standard.

Away from the resorts in the south, the island features a dazzling landscape with mountains, rainforests and national parks.

The quality of life here is high, with restaurants, bars, cultural entertainments, a laid back vibe with a party atmosphere, and much more on offer.

However living here does come at a cost, and things can be expensive with prices more or less on a par with the UK.


Where do you think is the best place to live in Spain?


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