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The Best Places to Live in Spain 2023

Martha Lott

Written by Reviewed by Dave Sayce

3rd Jan 2023 (Last updated on 28th Feb 2023) 5 minute read

The best place to live in Spain is Madrid.

Ahead of arranging shipping and removals to Spain, you'll need to decide which area of the country you’d prefer to live in. Where you live can make a massive difference in all aspects of your life. This is why choosing the best place for you is important.

From the average cost of living in Spain to what to do in your spare time, there’s a lot to consider before committing to the move.

If you’re thinking about joining the 309,000 UK ex-pats currently working, retired or studying in Spain, here are the best places to live in Spain.

This article will cover the following:
  1. 1. Madrid
  2. 2. Barcelona
  3. 3. Alicante
  4. 4. Malaga
  5. 5. San Sebastian
  6. 6. Valencia
  7. 7. Seville
  8. Compare Removals to Spain
Where is the Best Place to Live in Spain?

Spain is a beautiful and fantastic place to live. With some beautiful major cities to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to live in Spain. Here are the top 7 locations:

  1. Madrid
  2. Barcelona
  3. Alicante
  4. Malaga
  5. San Sebastian
  6. Valencia
  7. Seville

1. Madrid

Where else would we begin but Spain’s capital, Madrid? It's one of the best cities to live in Spain. Madrid is the hub of culture, business and world-famous nightlife.

Attractions in Madrid that pull in tourists include the famous Gran Via, the El Rastro market and the Templo de Debod. The city offers many historical and architectural sites.

When it comes to living in Spain, Madrid isn't the most expensive option of the Spanish cities. In comparison to living in Barcelona or San Sebastian, it's cheaper for real estate. While Madrid isn't the cheapest area to live in Spain as a whole, it provides excellent quality of life, and there's plenty to do.

Figures show there are an estimated 10,000 British ex-pats living in Madrid. This is quite a high and concentrated figure. This is likely due to the position the city plays in the economy of Europe and the ample job opportunities available.

2. Barcelona

If you think of the main cities in Spain, Madrid and Barcelona are usually at the top of the list. Barcelona has always been popular with UK tourists. This is due to its generally warmer weather all year, position on the Eastern Mediterranean coast and relaxed way of life.

The city holds many gems when it comes to attractions, including the world-famous Sagrada Família, Park Güell and La Rambla. Barcelona is found within Catalonia, an area with a unique culture.

Due to its popularity, Barcelona is one of the most expensive options to live in Spain. The rental and sale prices are within the top three most expensive in Spain. However, when you compare the cost of living to cities within the UK, Barcelona is relatively affordable.

The data collected from Numbeo shows that the cost of living in Barcelona is 20.91% lower than living in London (with rent included).

3. Alicante

When it comes to the best place to live in Spain for ex-pats, the city and surrounding area of Alicante is a popular option. Based in the South of Spain, it has great weather.

The city is famed for its stunning palm tree-flanked boulevards and shopping streets. It has great sandy white beaches and many historical sites.

Alicante is one of the most affordable places to live in Spain. When comparing Alicante to Barcelona on Numbeo, rent prices in Barcelona are 76.47% more, which is a significant difference.

The popularity of Alicante is clear with the sheer number of ex-pats that have moved to the area. According to Expat Network, there are around 450,000 foreign residents in the area. This is the highest ratio in Spain.

4. Malaga

Malaga is much loved by expats. It's primarily home to Brits looking to retire to Spain. Like many of the popular areas on the south coast of Spain, Malaga is loved for its favourable climate, great food and drink and relaxed approach to life.

Other key benefits of living in this area include Malaga Airport which is the third largest in the country. It also has incredible beaches and a high-quality level of public transport.

After Alicante, Malaga is one of the cheapest places to live in Spain. When compared to living in London on Numbeo, the average rental price is 67.35% lower. This lower cost of living provides better access to a higher quality of living.

The British population of Malaga is at a similar level to those in Alicante. There are roughly 2,200 currently living here according to the Express.

5. San Sebastian

San Sebastian is a popular city based in the Gipuzkoa region of Spain. Although this city doesn’t benefit from the warmer weather experienced in the south, it still offers an incredible quality of life.

Occasionally referred to as a mini Paris, the city contains breathtaking architecture and is rich in history. It’s famous for its pintxo which is best experienced in the Parte Vieja.

For those that like a drink or two, the old city centre holds the record for having the highest concentration of bars in the world. If you have children there several international schools to choose from.

San Sebastian is popular with ex-pats, although not to the scale of Alicante and Malaga. The Nomad Today states that roughly 0.19% of the British population of Spain is located there.

6. Valencia

Valencia is a popular area to live in for those that love great food. They hold the famous Falles festival every March. The city sees many ex-pats visit and move there to experience the Spanish culture. There's a particular focus on art and architecture.

For those looking for a city that sits in the mid-range cost of living, Valencia is a great contender. Rent in the city is 27.70% lower than in Madrid based on Numbeo research.

Valencia is another area that's home to many ex-pats. However, it's not as densely populated as Malaga. Yes Valencia estimates that around 1,500 British ex-pats have decided to call Valencia their home.

7. Seville

Seville is set back from the sea but is located close enough to the south coast to still enjoy the warm weather. The cost of living in Seville is similar to Alicante and Malaga, which is reasonably low.

The city is famed for its historically rich architecture as well as its way of life. This includes interacting with friendly ‘sevillanos’ and eating lots of tasty tapas.

The average rent in the city is around 71.61% lower than in London. The average price of groceries is lower by 22.12%. This lower cost of living is just one of the many reasons why so many Brits have decided to move here.

Compare Removals to Spain

If you're moving to Spain from the UK, you will need to choose a suitable removals company. Here at Compare My Move, we can place you in contact with up to 6 different international removal companies that can assist you with your move.

Whether you're moving to Madrid, Costa Blanca, or even Costa Del Sol, our team of trusted and verified partners are on hand to help. They are all verified and experts in this field, so you can rest assured that your move will go successfully.

Martha Lott

Written by Martha Lott

Having guest authored for many property websites, Martha now researches and writes articles for everything moving house related, from remortgages to conveyancing costs.

Dave Sayce

Reviewed by Dave Sayce

Owner & Managing Director, Compare My Move

Dave Sayce is the owner and managing director of Compare My Move and has over 10 years of experience in the house removals industry.

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