One of the biggest questions when planning to relocate to Spain is where, exactly, you should choose to live. Of course, this is subjective depending on exactly what you want out of your move, but we have nevertheless tried to narrow down some of the best places to live in Spain for ex-pats.
As well as suggesting what we think are some of the nicest places to live in Spain, we’ve also tried to point out some of the cheapest for those planning a move on a budget, and will also discuss whether or not you need to pay for a Spain work visa if planning to take up employment.
Where is the best place for British families to live in Spain?
We might be a bit biased on this, but we truly believe that one of the best villages to live in Spain for Brits is Mijas Pueblo in the Malaga province.
It not only provides easy access to the extensive coastline and beautiful beaches of the Costa del Sol and the famous whitewashed villages in the region, but it’s also close to the Montes de Málaga Natural Park.
If you’re planning on moving to Spain with family, you can also rest assured that there plenty of great educational facilities for kids in the area, both at private and state-run schools.
Of course, if you’re a city kid at heart, you might not be so eager to give up the hustle and bustle and move to the coast. In that case, a great alternative option is the beautiful cosmopolitan city of Valencia, one of the most popular metropolitan areas for British ex-pats in Spain.
Some other great destinations worth considering if you’re moving to Spain include:
- Alicante, especially the stunning Costa Blanca coast
- Malaga, Marbella, and Alhaurin el Grande, all on the Costa del Sol
- Oviedo in Asturias considered the cleanest city in Spain
- Madrid, which boasts a large ex-pat community
If your main reason for moving to the country is the ample sunshine, you might consider relocating to the Canary Islands. The capital, Gran Canaria, is the warmest place in Spain in the winter and has the best climate year-round.
Best places to live in Spain as an American
While Brits tend to favour the Costa del Sol and the Costa Blanca areas, if you’re planning to move to Spain from the US then you’ll find most of your fellow American ex-pats living in the two biggest cities, Madrid and Barcelona.
Madrid, with its vibrant culture, large green spaces, and excellent international schools, is a particular favourite among Americans who live in Spain as an ex-pat, although those who like to have a beach and the seaside close by tend to favour Barcelona.
If you’re only planning to stay for a short time in the country, these cities are also probably the best places to live in Spain for a month or two, as they provide the biggest samples of Spanish cultures.
What is the safest city in Spain?
Barcelona and Madrid are also considered among the safest places to live in Spain and are in fact regarded as among the safest in Europe.
However, if the large amount of tourist interest in these major cities doesn’t really appeal to you, there are plenty of charming coastal towns that are just as safe (or safer!).
Some of the best small towns to live in Spain along the country’s coast include Altafulla in Catalonia, Ribadesella in Asturias, and Salobreña in Granada.
What is the cheapest city to live in Spain?
If you’re relocating to Spain on a tight budget, the living costs in your destination may be one of the biggest factors in your decision. Luckily, there are plenty of cheap places to live in Spain that are equally as pleasant and pretty.
For example, Seville, the capital of Andalusia, is often considered the cheapest city to live in Spain, and it is a positively gorgeous place with beautiful historic architecture.
Other places in Spain where the overall cost of living is low include:
- A Coruña
- Las Palmas
Saying this, the cost of living will vary for everyone no matter where in Spain you choose to relocate. It’s always possible to get by on a budget in most places if you inform yourself of the cheapest neighbourhoods to live in beforehand.
How to Live in Spain for Free
The good news for Brits planning to move to Spain is that, as EU citizens, they do not currently need to pay any visa or permit fees, although this may well change if you’re moving to Spain after Brexit.
If you’re planning to live in Spain for more than 3 consecutive months, however, you’ll have to register as a foreign resident and pay a small fee to get a resident’s permit at a local police station.
Once you register for residency and begin contributing to social security, or are retiring in Spain, you and your family members will also able to use Spain’s public healthcare free of charge. But that my friends, is an article for another day …
As a reader of our blog and Family Life in Spain Facebook Page, you will know that we spend the long, school summer holidays in Cadiz. Our days are filled with surfing, beach visits, playing padel (me, Lisa, that is!) enjoying delicious local food and basically enjoying summer living.
So, when we were asked to review a Tesalate Sand Free towel, we jumped at the opportunity.
Although I must admit, until it actually arrived we were not exactly sure what a “sand-free” towel actually was.
In our busy beach lives, a sand-free towel was simply an oxymoron.
So, by checking out the Tesalate website we learnt about their sand-free towels:
- Our exclusive AbsorbLite™ fabric has been specifically engineered to create a towel that makes your beach days more awesome than before.
- Sand free. Leave the beach at the beach.
- Full sized beach towel: 160cm x 80cm / 63 x 31 inches.
- Ultra absorbent; over 1 litre of water.
- Rapid-drying. Half the time of a regular beach towel.
- Compact when rolled. Fits in your bag.
Our first challenge was choosing the design … with so many great, fun designs to choose from (I think there are currently around 62!) To simplify the choice and the fact that all four of us loved four different designs, we made our lives easier by opting for the family-sized towel, of which there are currently 10 designs.
Look at the wide choice colours and design here: Have a look!
It was a close call between The Alchemist and Bohemian … but for us, Sancti Petri in Cadiz, where we spend our summers is always about the colour of the sea. The colour blue … The Alchemist was a clear winner!
What did we like about our Alchemist XL sand free towel from Tesalate?
- Super light and compact.
- Very easy to fold away
- Great design and lovely colours. It definitely caught the eye of many fellow beachgoers.
- Comfortable to lie on
- Absorbent and quick dry
- A quick flick of the towel and the sand disappears!
What did we dislike about our Alchemist XL sand free towel from Tesalate?
- This isn’t really a dislike but more of an observation that requires time to decide … the price!
- €89 is quite a lot to spend on a beach towel. However, if it continues to look as good as it does now and perform as well as it does, in 12 months time … we will definitely be purchasing another one!
Have you used a sand-free towel? What did you think?
If you fancy giving Tesalate a try, totally risk-free just have a look on their website. They offer:
- Free Shipping
- Most orders arrive within 3-5 days.
- They use DHL Express for EU orders.
- They offer Free Returns
- Don’t love it? Return it free.
- They even pay for shipping
What will happen with back to school 2020 in Spain?
What are your thoughts? How are you feeling? What do you know? What do you wish you knew?
By now, most parents are longing for the “vuelta al cole”, after the seemingly endless (although, these days we wish they were longer) summer holidays we enjoy in Spain. However, this year we are clouded in incertitude. The future is currently clouded by the continuing presence and threat of Coronavirus.
As I write this post, Friday, August 21st 2020, I am anxiously awaiting an email from our children’s school. On Monday this week, we received an email advising, amongst other things, that today we would be explained how “back to school 2020” would be organised.
I must tell you that I am not too concerned about our children going back to school, I am confident that their school will take all the necessary precautions and that our children are old enough and wise enough to take the necessary precautions. However, I am unhappy that our children are returning to school earlier than usual and that there is a possibility they will be expected to attend a school trip at the start of the term. Can you imagine? Around 200 students in a camp together, having been so careful for so long. It is my nightmare!
I am also concerned about the long term health effects, catching the virus may cause our children to suffer.
However, as new measures are currently being imposed across Spain due to a new spike in cases, I am hoping that the school’s plan will be changed. I am hoping that by the time I post my ramblings here that I will be able to tell you the outcome!
And about the spike in cases in Spain … can anybody tell me why Spain is portrayed so badly in newspapers, online portals and TV programmes all around the world? What have they done so wrong? Or is it really a scaremongering tactic? And if so, to what avail?
Yes, there are more cases being detected. Yes, there are lots more tests being carried out. Yes, the track and trace system is tight. Yes, strict measures are put in place in an attempt to slow the spread. And yes there are much fewer hospitalizations and deaths. But how long will this last …
I asked on social media for parent’s thoughts about back to school 2020 in Spain. Here are some comments:
I’ve seen letters being published by some of the local AMPAs with their demands but can’t help hoping that plans are being worked upon and we have to have a little faith in those to whom we entrust our children who also have a vested interest in keeping the children and themselves safe. Either that or my head is well and truly buried in the sand!
Hey Lisa, I’m going back to teaching this year after a 5 year break and in answer to your question – we don’t know what is going on. There are plans for all 3 scenarios – all virtual, semi-presencial and all in person. Our daughter would be starting nursery at the same school as a 2 year old and we are planning to keep her home at least the first few weeks if need be to see if it’s actually safe and how things go. I don’t feel like things are under control – too many questions and variables – if I have a fever (for some other cold or run of the mill illness, does my whole class and their families quarantine? Will the 20 child bubble group I’m meant to teach actually be a bubble – how can that be controlled on weekends with extended families and the inevitable Sunday lunches? Too many questions and lots of anxiety.
Hi here there is no news yet, the mommies I know don’t know either. My kids are in infantil, primaria and ESO. We live in Castilla y Leon. For me, I really hope the kids go back to school as it has been a real struggle to keep up with their homeworks and projects from home, even though they were in contact with their teachers and class online on a daily basis ( the child in primaria ) but most importantly for their social skills and their interactions with school kids and teachers. Of coarse safety is a top priority, and if it is decided that going to school is high risk, then that is that.
Nothing yet here in Mijas Costa. My son is due to go back to school on the 10th September. It’s pretty shocking that we have had no updates from the school but they got their school fees Definitely would hate to hear home schooling again
Hi! My son’s 4 and due to my start Reception soon after preschool. He needs it and he’s so excited. They’re going to be in preschool for the first two weeks to get them used to being back in school and then onto “big school”! I’m excited for him to go to, he’s an only child and it’s just me, him and my Mom so he’s going to learn so much more being around his friends again.
In Sotogrande on September 8th. We just received today (18 August) a thorough and complete re-opening document with Covid-19 health and safety measures. All parents must read and sign this before children return. How do I feel about it? Cautiously happy. Social interaction is crucial for our students well being. However, the policing of their distance to one another, (no hugging, no touching, no high-fives) is very sad to imagine, but not impossible. I taught in Japan for two years and they all bow to one another and there really isn’t any touching, so we will adapt to other ways of showing our affection. We must make that a key component of returning to school.
Here is an extract from the initial email from our children’s school about back to school 2020 plans:
in spite of everything that is happening, we continue to work with hope instead of fear of the unknown because we know that far beyond the security of certainties, human beings need the security of a community, of belonging to a group linked by bonds of commitment and affection (especially during moments of uncertainty and adversity). This is how we have evolved as a species over time and this is how, this year too, we will give the best of ourselves and create learning conditions in which our children feel that, whatever happens, they will never walk alone.
As a parent, I do value the social interaction going to school provides our children. Mixing with and learning in the presence of children of their age is an integral part of growing up. It is part of what helps them develop. However, we also need to weigh up risks and rewards. It is easier for me to say this as our children are now 13 and almost 16 years old. I do feel that parents of younger children are dealing with a much bigger challenge. How do you cope? What do you feel?
During the initial lockdown in Spain, our children received a minimum of 3 to 4 hours, online classes in the morning each day of the week. Classes were taught by their usual teachers, all students were present and joint tasks and projects were set for later in the day. Despite the expected initial hiccups and technical challenges (by some students and a couple of teachers!) classes ran smoothly and the sense of routine made the whole experience a lot more bearable for us all.
Based on this, I am preparing us for the possibility of returning to online classes. Even if this does not happen initially, I expect it may happen at some point. Some parts of Spain are already preparing for a mix of presential and online classes.
This is our school’s comment on online vs presential classes:
With regards to “Technophobia and Technophilia” which divides, sometimes excessively the state of opinion between those who advocate the advantages of classroom-based and online education, the truth is that during the last months of the previous academic year it became clear that there is good and bad online education, as there is also good and bad classroom-based education. We have been and are, without the slightest doubt, in the first group of both and we firmly believe that the two complement each other and offer advantages.
However, in the current situation it is not a question of arguing in favour or against, but rather being aware that in the circumstance of uncertainty both are necessary as part of a routine or habit that allows a transition to one extreme or the other in the event that the health authorities consider it necessary.
No matter what, a decision needs to be made and soon. Tension is rising in many parts of Spain. Both teachers and parents need to be reassured that the education, health and safety of the children are the priority. Articles like this one published in El Pais in English is not what we all need right now.
Like many times during this pandemic, fingers are pointed, people search for blame. We are all fighting this together. Surely, cohesion and teamwork is better than fragmentation and fighting … or am I still living in my bubble?
UPDATE: At 10 pm we finally received the 29-page document from the school. I am disappointed to say that they are still insisting on taking around 200 children to an activity camp from August 29th. How crazy is that? Or am I crazy for not agreeing with it?
To be continued …
When people think about going to Spain, they often think about packing their sunglasses, making sure they have a hat, and the number of beaches they’re going to enjoy. But actually, Spain has much more to it than just beaches and balmy evenings. There are several things that you should know before you head to Spain.
Of course, you want to plan your hot look with gorgeous sunglasses, a beautiful summer dress or some cool linen shorts, but like everything is better when you’re prepared.
Learn some Spanish
Like almost all countries, many people speak some (or fluent) English, however, learning a few key phrases is just proper etiquette. You’re going to want to be able to ask some questions like Donde Esta…? Where is…? And some simple greetings like Buenos Dias or Hola. And yes, you’re going to want to finish with gracias, because it’s just nice.
What is important to note, is that Spanish is not the only language; in fact, some regions have a second official language like Catalan, Basque, or Galicia. And while you don’t need to learn these extra languages, as almost everyone will speak Spanish, it wouldn’t hurt either.
Here you can learn some basic Spanish phrases: 67 Essential Spanish Phrases.
Many people who visit quite a few European countries still don’t know that you can actually drink the tap water. Big cities like Barcelona and Madrid both have very safe tap water to drink. In fact, in Madrid, it comes fresh from the Guadarrama mountain range – if you like cool facts. So you’ll be much better off bringing a reusable water bottle, then you will keep buying bottles of water in the local stores. It will save you money in the long run.
Spain is famous for its Tapas culture. This means when you order a drink in almost all cases, it’s going to arrive with a small bite to eat. Sometimes it’s potato chips/crisps other times its olives. It may even be ham or cheese, depending on where you are.
This is a polite gesture and is an indicator of how hospitable Spain can be. This free and tasty snack is simply meant to be enjoyed alongside your drink.
The siesta was historically common throughout Southern Europe, the Mediterranean, and even in mainland China. That traditional daytime nap has been put to bed. It has been reported in previous years that Spaniards actually work some of the longest hours in Europe, making a siesta something that most of them are not likely to see.
However, if you’re there on holiday, or have a very generous working schedule, you can feel free to nap. But you’re unlikely to see people taking a siesta.
When you arrive in Spain, whether it be for a holiday or for a relocation you’re going to notice the Spaniards are pretty snappy dressers. And you can spot a tourist a mile away with flip-flops and jogging bottoms.
Choose lightweight fabrics and you too can deal with the heat while looking fabulous.
It’s not uncommon to find that many shops and businesses will close for a couple of hours in the middle of the day. So ideally try not to plan to have anything done between 1pm – 4pm while you are on holiday; other than enjoying the fact that you are on holiday.
Many people enjoy long lunch breaks, especially when the midday heat is so hot. In the bigger cities, supermarkets and larger stores are often open, but you can’t guarantee that you’re going to find a smaller shop open in the middle of the day if you live in a village.
Although you will find the shops do stay open later in the evening. And many people, especially people who enjoy shopping, enjoy the fact that Barcelona and Madrid usually stay open until around 10 pm in the evening.
Ditch the Sangria
Unless you really love Sangria, then it’s quite a tourist drink. Most locals instead enjoy a Tinto de Verano, which is a summer wine. It consists of red wine and lemonade mixer.
Ideal for those long warm evenings. If you’d rather blend in with the locals than tourists and avoid paying a premium for that overpriced Sangria, go for the Tinto de Verano.
If you are a meat-eater, there is something that you simply cannot leave Spain without sampling. You will find it on most menus because it is one of the most beloved foods, called Jamon. Jamon is cured ham, and the most likely one you’ll find is Jamon Iberico. This is the best quality that you can get, and that comes from Blackhoofed Iberian pigs.
These pigs are quite luxurious and are fed extensively on acorns, which gives them their unique flavor.
Public transport is efficient and fast. The Spanish train system is ideal for getting between major cities, however in the south of Spain and certainly, towards some of the smaller cities, there aren’t always those connections. Here buses are equally fast and efficient and certainly are the best option if you’re going off the beaten path.
It should be noted that the train can be the most expensive option for public transport.
When the shops are closed, lunch is on. This means you will enjoy a wonderful lunch between 2 and 3:30 pm, but that pushes evening meal hours to much later in the day, typically from 9 pm till 10.30 pm. So you have to plan trips accordingly or take snacks in your bag if you can’t get with the schedule.
Tipping isn’t required and isn’t expected, it’s really something that you should just do anyway. Outstanding service or service, in general, should always be respected.
Indulge in the Culture
Many people when they get to Spain want to eat as much paella and drink as much Sangria as possible. And while that’s fun for many, there is a better way to enjoy Spanish culture. You will notice that the Spanish culture is much more about taking your time, enjoying the people in your family that you are spending time with, and the scenery. Relaxing and enjoying life. Go with the flow rather and fall into the tourist traps.
Rest on a Sunday
You are unlikely to find anything that is open on a Sunday, this is a designated day to get lunch with friends, visit family, relax and unwind. So if you’re planning on being in Spain for a Sunday, or you really want to make the most of that Spanish culture while you’re integrating; then plan Sunday as simply to be a day of family, food, and fun.
Big Cities and Little Villages
Large Spanish cities are busy and modern and filled with people from all over the world. They’re exciting and have a lot to do. It will give you a considerable taste of Spanish culture, but there are many tourist traps to keep an eye out for.
The smaller villages remain a space for century-old traditions that can still be found to this day. Spain is known as a country of traditions and culture. But to understand all of the different facets of that, try a few days in the city followed by a few days in smaller villages.
Spain is exhilarating and welcoming, with a rich history and the lives of culture. If you like spending time with family and friends and indulging in wonderful food, then it might be just time that you spent a little bit longer in Spain.
Relocating is tough for many people. It involves saying goodbye to your friends and family, it can put you in an uncomfortable position and it’s a struggle to stay on your two feet while integrating with the local community. However, for some people, these are the perfect circumstances for uncapped growth. It’s an opportunity to learn more about yourself as well as your surroundings, and it can help you identify new paths in life that you never thought were possible in the past.
It goes without saying that relocating can be a scary thought, but it’s also something that can completely change your perspective on life. So here are some of the top reasons to relocate in the future.
Relocating abroad for a slower pace of life …
1. It helps you build character
Putting yourself out of your comfort zone is a brilliant way to build character. Relocating will put you in a situation where you need to quickly adapt to your surroundings and learn new cultures and languages in order to feel more comfortable. This makes relocating a great way to build character and improve yourself over time.
2. There are plenty of accessible property services for foreigners
Regardless of where you plan to relocate to, there are going to be plenty of property services that are geared towards foreigners. This might be more expensive than what locals pay for, but it’s a small additional cost for all of the help that you’re going to get.
3. It opens up your tastes
Relocating can expose you to lots of different flavours, delicacies and types of cuisine. Broadening your palette like this can be a lot of fun and you’ll learn to appreciate different types of food around the world.
4. It teaches you about language
Languages are difficult to learn, especially if you don’t get to actively use it. But when you relocate to another country, you’ll be thrust into an environment where you need to quickly learn a new language in order to fit in and be able to communicate. This makes relocating one of the best ways to learn a language and integrate with a completely different society to what you’re used to.
5. It can enhance your career prospects
Moving abroad can open you up to new career opportunities and prospects, especially if you’re going abroad with a proven existing set of skills. However, there are also plenty of chances for you to learn a new skill, such as a language, or develop technical expertise working on something completely new.
6. You develop better social skills
It can be difficult communicating in a language you don’t know. However, relocating can put you in uncomfortable situations that will help you develop not just language skills, but also social skills that can be helpful throughout your life.
7. It’s incredibly rewarding
Few people muster up the courage to say goodbye to their old life and start fresh abroad. This is often because it takes a lot of dedication, hard work and motivation to even start living and working abroad. However, after a couple of months or even just a few weeks, all of the benefits will start to appear and you’ll be able to embrace opportunities in your new country. Whether it’s learning about the culture, traditions, meeting people or getting a new perspective at life, there are plenty of rewards just waiting to be claimed.
8. You develop a sense of self-sufficiency
One of the key skills you learn when relocating is being self-sufficient. There’s nobody to hold your hand and guide you through difficult times and there’s nobody to rely on. In fact, you might not even speak the language of the country you moved to. However, it goes without saying that these are the conditions that are required in order for someone to become self-sufficient and start relying on their own ability, leading to immense personal growth.
9. There are countless opportunities to meet new people
Travelling is a great opportunity to meet new people, but rarely do you ever turn those encounters into long-lasting relationships. When you actually decide to relocate, you’ll have more time to nurture these friendships and explore them, turning those first encounters into lifelong friendships or even partnerships.
10. It will change your life forever
A stagnant life is nothing to be proud of. While some people enjoy the idea of a stable and predictable lifestyle, others find that it can be easy to fall into a stagnant daily routine that makes their life boring and tiresome. Relocating could be the change you need in life to reinvigorate your passion and give you the boost you need to start fresh and reach for your dreams.
In our new online course, we include lots of information about costa and procedures for starting and running a business in Spain.
NEW Online Course for a successful Move To Spain .