The Best Places to Live in Spain 2021
The best place to live in Spain is Madrid.
Ahead of arranging removals to Spain and starting your new life abroad, you'll need to decide which area of the country you’d prefer to live in. Much like we see in the UK, where you live can make a huge difference to all aspects of your life. From the average cost of living to what to do in your spare time, there’s a lot to think about before committing to the move.
With that in mind, if you’re thinking about joining the 309,000 UK expats currently working, retired or studying in Spain, then take a look at the best places to live in Spain.
Naturally, where else would we begin but Spain’s capital, Madrid. This city is a hub of culture, business and world famous nightlife. Attractions that pull in tourists include the famous Gran Via, the El Rastro market and the Templo de Debod, as well as a number of other historical and architectural sites.
Interestingly, living in Madrid might not be the most expensive option when it comes to moving to Spain. In reality, other cities like Barcelona or San Sebastian are equal if not more expensive. But, although Madrid is not necessarily the cheapest option, it does clearly provide an excellent quality of life.
In terms of the number of expats that live in Madrid, figures show that there’s a reasonably high concentration. In the city and surrounding area, an estimated 10,000 British expats are living there. These figures are likely due to the primary position that the city plays in the economy of Europe and the ample job opportunities for expats that move there.
If you think of the main cities in Spain, Barcelona is probably somewhere near the top of the list. This city has always been hugely popular with tourists due to its generally warmer weather, position on the coast and relaxed way of life.
The city holds a number of 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 in Spain that we explore in our guide to Spanish culture.
Due to its popularity, the city is one of the most expensive options to live in Spain. Barcelona sees rental and purchase prices of properties within the top three most expensive in Spain.
However, when you compare the cost of living to other major cities in the UK, Barcelona can appear relatively affordable. For example, the data acquired by Numbeo shows that to achieve the same standard of life £4,600 would provide you in London, you would only need £2,868.89 when living in Madrid. This is a major difference and a perfect place for those looking to move to Spain from the UK whilst on a British budget.
One of the most popular areas for Brits to move to, is the city and surrounding area of Alicante in the south of Spain. This is likely due to its more affordable nature and the year round beautiful weather. The city is famed for its stunning palm tree flanked boulevards and shopping streets, great sandy white beaches and historical sites.
Living in the city is one of the most affordable places in Spain. In fact, when compared to the more pricey options like Barcelona where rental prices are an average of 105% higher and day to day items such as groceries are 8% higher, it’s clear that you can spread your money a lot further in this city.
The popularity of Alicante is apparent with the sheer number of expats that have moved to the area, calling it home. The potential range of expat residence in the area ranges from 6.5% through to a massive 30.5% proving that it is indeed a perfect place for us Brits to live in Spain.
4. San Sebastian
San Sebastian is a popular city based in the Gipuzkoa region of Spain. Although this city doesn’t necessarily 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 stunning architecture and is rich in history. It’s also 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.
The Gipuzkoa region is relatively popular with expats, although not to the scale we see in Alicante and Malaga. In terms of concentration, roughly 0.6% to 2.6% of the British population of Spain is located there. This is likely due to the higher living costs and the year round weather not being much better than you might expect in the south of the UK.
Malaga is much loved by expats, primarily with those that are looking to retire to Spain but also those that want to work and live there too. Like many of the popular areas on the south coast of Spain, Malaga is primarily loved for its favourable climate, great food and drink and relaxed approach to life. However, other key benefits of living in this area include Malaga Airport which is the third largest in the country, incredible beaches and quality level of public transport.
After Alicante, Malaga is also one of the cheapest places to live in Spain. For example, when compared to living in London, the average rental price is 195% higher than in Malaga. This lower cost of living can provide much better access to the quality of living for those that choose to move to the country.
In terms of the British population of Malaga, these are at a similar level to those in Alicante, with anything from 19,300 through to 90,463 individual expats working, retiring or studying in the area.
Valencia is a popular area to live in for those that love great food, with their famous Falles festival held every March. The city also sees many expats visit and move there to experience the year round culture with a particular focus on art and architecture.
For those looking for a city that sits in the mid-range in terms of cost of living, Valencia is a great contender. Rent in the city is 37% lower than in Madrid and a major 52% lower compared to the average rent in London.
Valencia is another area that is popular with expats, although you’re unlikely to run into as many as you might in more densely populated areas like Malaga. Estimates show that around 1,500 British expats have decided to call Valencia their home.
Needless to say, many expats move to Seville to take advantage of the fantastic climate. However, the city is also famed for its historically rich architecture as well as a way of life that includes interacting with friendly ‘sevillanos’ and eating lots of tasty tapas.
Unlike the majority of popular cities to live in Spain, Seville is set back from the sea but is located close enough to the south coast to still benefit from the warm weather. Living in the city is similar in terms of costs to Alicante and Malaga, benefiting from a much lower cost than the rest of the country.
In fact, the average rent in the city is as much as 70% lower than in London, with the average price of groceries being lower by 22%. This lower cost of living is just one of the many reasons why so many Brits have decided to call this place home, making it onto our list of the 7 best places to live in Spain.