A lot of UK expats find themselves captivated by the allure of Spain, and it’s easy to see why.
Whether it’s the vibrant culture, the relaxed lifestyle or the diverse landscapes, Spain offers a wide range of possibilities for those seeking a fresh start. This could be because you want to move to Spain permanently or because you are in the market for a holiday home, but either way, Spain has a lot to offer.
From the bustling streets of Barcelona to the tranquil shores of Tenerife, join us as we explore the top picks for UK expats looking to make Spain their new home. Discover the unique charm, cultural richness and lifestyle nuances that each city and region has to offer, guiding you towards the perfect haven for your Spanish adventure.
Popular Places to for Expats to Move to in Spain
Spain is a large country, which means that there are a lot of places to move to as an expat.
Barcelona, Torrevieja, Tenerife, Valencia, Majorca, Marbella, Javea, Palma and Granada are cities that stand out as being especially popular. These cities are among the best places for expats to live in Spain, each offering a unique blend of culture, climate and lifestyle. Fuengirola, Mijas, Alhaurin el Grande, Torremolinos and Benalmadena are also popular areas. These areas are particularly popular among British expats for their location and more affordable property prices.
Below, we have taken a look at the pros and cons of some of Spain’s key destinations.
One of the most significant advantages of living in Murcia is its warm and sunny climate, with over 300 days of sunshine per year. This can be especially appealing for individuals seeking a Mediterranean lifestyle. Murcia generally has a lower cost of living compared to other Spanish cities, making it an attractive destination for those who are looking to stretch their budget.
Murcia also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with historical sites, festivals and a vibrant arts scene. As a region, Murcia offers a relaxed pace of life, providing a tranquil environment for expats from the UK. You’ll have access to beautiful landscapes, including beaches and mountains, which adds to the overall quality of life.
Of course, there are some downsides to moving to Murcia. While this is changing, especially in urban areas, some locals may have limited proficiency in English. Unless you speak Spanish, you might face language barriers, which could impact communication and integration. Murcia has a smaller expatriate community compared to more popular expat destinations in Spain. This could affect social opportunities and the availability of expat services. Murcia may also have fewer job opportunities compared to larger cities, particularly in certain industries.
Alicante enjoys a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers, making it a popular destination for those seeking a warm and sunny environment. The city is located along the Costa Blanca, offering expats access to beautiful beaches and a relaxed coastal lifestyle.
Alicante generally has a reasonable cost of living compared to other European cities, making it an attractive option for expatriates looking for affordability. The area also has a diverse expatriate community, which can make it easier for newcomers to connect, socialise and find support.
Alicante is a popular tourist destination, especially during the summer months. This influx of tourists may impact the local atmosphere and lead to crowded areas. Expats may find that job opportunities, particularly in certain industries, are limited compared to larger cities. While Spanish is the official language, some locals may have limited proficiency in English. Expats might face language barriers, particularly in more remote areas.
Malaga is renowned for its picturesque coastal setting, offering expats a Mediterranean lifestyle with beautiful beaches, charming seaside promenades, and a relaxed atmosphere. The city has a rich cultural heritage, with historic landmarks, museums and vibrant festivals. Known for its excellent transportation infrastructure, Malaga is easily accessible from the UK and various European cities. The well connected airport and proximity to major highways make travel convenient for expatriates.
Malaga enjoys a mild and pleasant climate throughout the year, with warm winters and hot summers. This climate is particularly appealing to those seeking sunnier and milder weather conditions. However, the summer months in Malaga can be hot, and the region may experience occasional drought conditions. While generally reasonable compared to other European cities, the cost of living in Malaga might be higher than in some inland areas of Spain. Housing costs, in particular, can vary based on location.
Malaga attracts a diverse expatriate community, providing newcomers with opportunities to connect, socialise and share experiences with like minded individuals. But, as a popular tourist destination, Malaga experiences high visitor numbers, especially during peak seasons. This influx can impact local services and contribute to crowded areas.
Costa del Sol
For beachside living, the Costa del Sol is a great choice. It offers better value in areas like Manilva, La Duquesa, Nerja, and Torrox Costa. The Costa del Sol is renowned for its stunning coastal landscapes, offering expats an idyllic Mediterranean lifestyle with beautiful beaches, vibrant promenades, and a plethora of outdoor activities. The region enjoys a sunny climate throughout the year, making it a particularly attractive destination for those seeking warm and pleasant weather conditions.
The Costa del Sol is home to a diverse expatriate community, creating a multicultural environment where newcomers can connect with people from various backgrounds. The area boasts numerous tourist attractions, including historic sites, charming villages, and cultural events. The Costa del Sol offers a range of international amenities, including international schools, healthcare facilities, and diverse dining options, catering to the needs of expatriates.
Due to its popularity, the Costa del Sol can experience high levels of tourism, especially during peak seasons. This may lead to crowded areas and potential inconveniences. While the cost of living can be reasonable, certain areas along the Costa del Sol, particularly in popular expatriate communities, may have a higher cost of living compared to inland regions of Spain.
For those interested in island life, Ibiza presents a unique lifestyle with its vibrant culture and beautiful landscapes. It’s renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, crystal clear waters, and pristine beaches. The island is famous for its vibrant nightlife, with world class clubs and beach parties. For expats seeking an energetic and social atmosphere, Ibiza offers a unique entertainment scene. Ibiza attracts a diverse community of expatriates, creating a multicultural environment where newcomers can connect with people from various backgrounds. Ibiza has become a hub for health and wellness activities, with yoga retreats, organic markets, and a generally health conscious community.
Much of Ibiza’s economy is driven by seasonal tourism, and job opportunities may be limited during the off season. The cost of living in Ibiza, particularly in tourist hotspots, can be relatively high. During the peak summer months, Ibiza experiences a significant influx of tourists, leading to crowded beaches and bustling nightlife. This may impact the tranquillity for expats seeking a more peaceful environment. Ibiza can become relatively quiet during the off season, and some expats may find the island somewhat isolated when many businesses close, and social activities decline.
The Canary Islands
The Canary Islands boast a year round mild climate with warm temperatures, making it an attractive destination for expatriates seeking pleasant weather. The islands are known for their stunning landscapes, including volcanic terrain, lush greenery and beautiful beaches. The Canary Islands also have a rich cultural heritage influenced by Spanish, African and Latin American traditions. The islands offer a high quality of life with a relaxed pace, friendly locals, and a variety of leisure activities. Expats can enjoy a more tranquil and stress-free lifestyle.
Job opportunities may be more limited in the Canary Islands compared to larger cities, as the economy relies heavily on tourism and can be seasonal. The geographical distance from the mainland and other European countries can lead to a sense of isolation for some expatriates, especially during the off-season when tourism decreases. While generally lower than in mainland Europe, the cost of living on the Canary Islands can vary between islands and may be higher in tourist-centric areas.
Almería enjoys a warm and dry climate, making it an ideal destination for anyone who appreciates a Mediterranean climate with plenty of sunshine. Almería is known for its diverse and picturesque landscapes, including pristine beaches, dramatic mountains, and semi arid deserts. The region has a rich cultural heritage with a blend of Moorish and Spanish influences. A lot of expats enjoy immersing themselves in local traditions, historical sites and vibrant festivals.
The cost of living in Almería is generally lower compared to larger cities in Spain and other European countries. Expatriates can enjoy a more affordable lifestyle, including housing and daily.Almería offers a more authentic Spanish experience, with fewer tourists compared to some other coastal areas. Expatriates can engage with the local community and embrace the genuine Spanish lifestyle.
Job opportunities may be more limited compared to larger cities, and the economy is often driven by agriculture and tourism. Almería may have a smaller expatriate community compared to more popular expat destinations. While this can contribute to a more authentic experience, it may also limit social opportunities and access to expat-cfocused services. Certain areas of Almería may face challenges in terms of infrastructure, including public transportation and healthcare facilities. Expats should be prepared for potential variations in services, especially in more remote locations.
Madrid is a vibrant cultural hub with world class museums, art galleries, theatres and historical landmarks. The city offers a diverse and rich culinary scene, with a wide range of traditional Spanish dishes and international cuisine. Madrid is also renowned for its lively nightlife, featuring numerous bars, clubs, and entertainment venues. It’s a city that’s home to a diverse expat community, providing newcomers with opportunities to connect, socialise, and share experiences with people from around the world. The city serves as a major business and financial centre, offering a variety of professional opportunities. Expatriates may find a diverse job market across industries.
Madrid has a relatively high cost of living, especially in terms of housing and certain amenities. The housing market in Madrid can be competitive, and finding suitable accommodation may require time and effort. Expatriates should plan ahead and explore various neighbourhoods.
Madrid faces challenges related to traffic congestion and air pollution. Expatriates may encounter difficulties with traffic during rush hours and concerns about air quality in certain areas.
Palma Mallorca offers a Mediterranean lifestyle with beautiful beaches, a mild climate, and a relaxed atmosphere. The city has a rich cultural heritage with historic sites, museums, and festivals. Expatriates can immerse themselves in the local traditions and enjoy a blend of Spanish and Mallorcan culture. Palma Mallorca is known for its picturesque landscapes, including stunning coastlines, mountains, and charming villages. Expatriates can explore the natural beauty of the island.
The city attracts a diverse expatriate community, providing newcomers with opportunities to connect, socialise and share experiences with people from different backgrounds. Palma Mallorca offers various tourist attractions, including historical landmarks, vibrant markets, and a lively waterfront. Expatriates can enjoy exploring the city’s cultural and recreational offerings.
The cost of living in Palma Mallorca can be relatively high, especially in terms of housing and certain amenities. As a popular tourist destination, Palma Mallorca may experience high tourist numbers during peak seasons. This can impact the local atmosphere and lead to crowded areas. Job opportunities may be limited, particularly outside the tourism sector. It’s important to carefully research the local job market and consider language requirements.
The city is a cultural hub with a rich history, offering expatriates a blend of modern attractions and historical landmarks. Valencia hosts numerous festivals, events, and has a vibrant arts scene. Valencia is renowned for its diverse and delicious cuisine, including the famous dish paella. Expatriates can explore local markets, traditional restaurants, and culinary festivals.
The cost of living in Valencia is generally more affordable compared to larger European cities. Expatriates can enjoy a relatively reasonable lifestyle, including housing and daily expenses.
Valencia has beautiful beaches and offers a range of outdoor activities.
While English is spoken in tourist areas, some locals may have limited proficiency. Learning Spanish can enhance the expatriate experience and facilitate better integration. Valencia is a popular tourist destination and balancing tourist activities with the desire for a more local experience may be a consideration.
While Valencia has a decent public transportation system, some people may find it less extensive than in larger cities. Depending on the location, reliance on private transportation may be necessary. Summers in Valencia can be hot, and the city may experience heatwaves. Expatriates who are sensitive to high temperatures may find the climate challenging during the peak of summer.
San Sebastian is renowned for its exceptional culinary scene, with numerous Michelin-starred restaurants and pintxos bars. The city is situated on the picturesque Bay of Biscay, surrounded by beautiful beaches and green hills. Expatriates can enjoy the stunning coastal landscapes and outdoor activities. San Sebastian has a rich cultural heritage with historic architecture, museums, and festivals. The city consistently ranks high in quality of life indices. Expatriates can benefit from a relatively safe and clean environment, efficient public services, and a generally laid-back lifestyle.
San Sebastian has a relatively high cost of living, particularly in terms of housing and certain amenities. While many locals speak Spanish, Basque is also widely spoken, and some expats may encounter language barriers. Similarly, job opportunities may be limited, especially for expatriates who do not speak Basque. Certain industries, such as tourism, may provide more options, but competition can be fierce. The weather in San Sebastian can be variable, with frequent rainfall. You should be prepared for the possibility of wet weather, especially as San Sebastian has a lot of outdoor activities.
For those seeking luxury and having a larger budget, Marbella is a top choice. Known for its upscale amenities and luxury lifestyle, Marbella attracts expatriates seeking a glamorous and sophisticated environment. The city boasts high-end restaurants, shops, and entertainment options. Marbella has a diverse expat community, providing newcomers with opportunities to connect, socialise and share experiences with people from different backgrounds. Marbella has a historic old town and is in proximity to cultural sites such as the Alhambra in Granada and the Mezquita in Córdoba. Expatriates can explore the rich history and architecture of the area. The region is also golfing haven with numerous golf course
Marbella has a relatively high cost of living, especially in terms of upscale housing, fine dining, and luxury services. This is largely because Marbella is a popular tourist destination, and during peak seasons, you may find certain areas to be crowded. This may impact the local atmosphere, particularly in tourist-centric zones. Summers in Marbella can be hot, and the city may experience heatwaves. If you are sensitive to high temperatures, you may find the climate challenging during the peak of summer.
Where in Spain will you live?
Once you have decided on the location of your Spanish home, it’s time to organise getting your belongings there as well. This is where United International Removals comes in. Whether you are heading to the Canary Islands or Madrid, Barcelona or Marbella, our experts will ensure that your prized possessions get there safely. Get in touch to find out more.