When it comes to making any move to Spain, it’s natural to consider traditionally popular inner-city areas including locations like Barcelona. After all, as if its stunning architecture wasn’t enough to tempt any potential resident, Spain’s second-largest city is something of a dream location for many, providing the best that Spain has to offer for anyone looking to feel more cultured in the wake of their move here.
Barcelona’s thriving art scene and generally stunning views have certainly made it a popular option for anyone looking to lay down Spanish roots. However, as with any location, ensuring that you’re making the most of what the city has to offer means considering the neighbourhoods which best suit your unique requirements and personality. Of course, taking a quick exploratory trip here yourself and dropping your bags in luggage storage Barcelona while you look at what the city has to offer is your best option for settling. To get started, however, it’s first worth considering whether the following personality types and their neighbourhood pairings ring true to you.
# 1 – Lusting after landmarks
Barcelona’s iconic landmarks are its main selling point, and they pose a pretty tempting argument as to why a move here could be worthwhile. Once a craftsman’s district, El Born is one of Barcelona’s oldest neighbourhoods and is therefore tempting for anyone looking to enjoy the most iconic areas of the city. As well as century-old shops that make it feel like you’re stepping right back to the heart of Spain’s charm, El Born is an especially tempting option for your move considering that it’s home to the gothic church Basílica de Santa Maria del Mar, and is within walking distance of the city’s other landmarks.
# 2 – Looking for atmosphere
Often, people moving to Spain are looking for a generally calmer way of life. In Barcelona, this atmosphere can be best achieved in areas like Gracia. Once an independent municipality, Gracia certainly isn’t afraid to stand apart and ensures a great atmosphere for locals thanks to a range of trendy stores, local folklore, and popular events. Gracia’s famed squares are, however, its best selling point, and are typically filled with residents young and old from around 7 pm.
# 3 – In love with the beach
If you love the idea of living in Barcelona but are attached to sea views and salty air, then Barceloneta may be the best option for you. Originally a traditional fishing neighbourhood, city harbour expansions have since seen this tourist-favourite becoming a great place to settle down and still enjoy the sea, complete with an iconic promenade and walks around the old harbour, Port Vell. Barceloneta beach itself is also famed as one of the city’s best despite being the most tourist-heavy, with entertainment always on-hand.
Other best places to live in Barcelona include El Raval and Sants, and each of them offers something different depending on what you’re after. Simply consider what that is, and which locations stand to tick the most boxes on your list of requirements.
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 …
When it comes to quality of life, southern Spain tops the charts in just about every category that relates to health, gastronomy, comfort and happiness with its endless sunshine, over 320 days per year! It’s no wonder Spain is one of the most visited countries in the world.
Living in Spain is a dream for many. If you visit inland Costa del Sol, up in the mountains, you will discover the authentic Spanish whitewashed villages with charming cobblestoned narrow streets, lovely shady squares with flamenco music playing in the background, and a great choice of local cafes and fabulous restaurants.
More and more foreigners seem to be moving to inland Costa del Sol. Although many people like the fabulous beaches and nightlife that the coast has to offer, if you move slightly more inland, up into the hills, you get to discovery and enjoy the real Spain, you will seek a way of life that seems almost untouched by tourism, it’s like taking a step back in time.
The valleys scenery is spectacular in all directions. As roads wind their way up the mountains, the views get better and better. The Guadalhorce Valley includes 8 municipalities; Alhaurin de la Torre, Alhaurin el Grande, Almogía, Álora, Cártama, Coín, Pizarra and Valle del Abdalajís. All are within a 30/40 minute drive from the coast, so really not far at all and the road infrastructure is very good making a journey by car a relaxing and enjoyable experience. If you want to be a little bit more adventurous you can branch off from the main road and take any of the many dirt tracks and you will quickly come across herds of goats and sheep and often mules ploughing between the olive trees.
The lifestyle that this part of Spain will offer you is incredibly rewarding in so many ways.
For one, the opportunity to get to know and live within an entirely different culture is something most people never get to experience.
You can spend a lifetime exploring this natural habitat either on foot, bicycle or horseback.
You will be amazed by the quality of life and how cheap it is to live well in this part of Spain.
Water costs are very low, particularly in the inland areas. Homeowners pay a municipal tax that is a fraction of the rate that you would pay in other European countries. Other expenses such as home and car insurance are also much lower.
Eating out is very reasonable. The average price for a full menu del dia (menu of the day), is between 8-10€ available in nearly all bars and restaurants.
In local bars, you pay no more than 1-1.50 € for a beer, glass of wine or a cup of coffee. And for groceries there is a wide choice of supermarkets. The local markets offer cheap fresh produce and a wide range of household necessities.
Another very important factor to take into consideration is the crime rate which is low in this part of Spain. When you compare the crime numbers to other countries, we are quite fortunate to have a lower crime problem.
Aside from the wonderful weather, there is also less pollution in this part of Spain. The major industries are mainly located in the north of the country. This part of Spain relies mainly on agriculture and tourism.
Life here in the mountains runs at a much slower pace. This is something that most foreigners would find strange at first, but this kind of lifestyle is certainly welcomed. This can have a huge impact on your health, as it can significantly reduce stress levels.
Spain prides itself as having a very diverse and rich culture. In these old towns and villages there are a lot of activities that not only serve as a form of entertainment, but also as a means of conserving old traditions and practices. Fiestas and festivals are the perfect example. Residents continue to practice old customs.
For years, the warmth of the people have made it a wonderful tourist attraction. The regions wonderful personality makes visitors feel immediately at home, integrating them into their culture. This joy permeates in the streets, especially in summer and that energy can be contagious. A typical Andalusian is a helpful person, willing to help others, especially visitors, making southern Spain a favourite destination for foreign visitors for years.
Andalucía is the best place in the world for the good life according to The Telegraph and this is not the first time it’s been granted such a popular destination.
Another bonus for people living inland from the Costa del Sol are the seasons. In this part of Spain you can really appreciate the changes of vegetation and enjoy the four seasons of the year and what they have to offer.
Although the climate in Andalucia is characterised by hot and dry summers and mild winters, between seasons you can enjoy the changes in flora and fauna. You will see snow-covered mountain peaks in the winter and lush green pastures in the spring covered with almond blossom and bright yellow endless fields of sunflowers. Autumn brings a palette of dark ochre and green colours that paint the landscapes of Andalucia.
The Natural Park, ‘Sierra de las Nieves’, is one of those destinations worth discovering with its authentic white villages and its beautiful natural spaces. It is one of the areas of Malaga, as the name implies, where it can snow in winter.
The villages in the Sierra, with its highest peak Torrecilla of 1.919m, are surrounded by extensive fields of almond trees that are a delight when in pink blossom.
The Guadalhorce Valley, also known as the orchard of Málaga, is where you will find endless fields packed with fruit trees.
No wonder so many northern Europeans travel south in search of their Mediterranean dream home.
If you have not yet visited this part of Spain…what are you waiting for!?
Inland Costa del Sol is waiting for you!
This article was written by Kelly Summerelle of Mediterranean Homes a local family run business. We have worked with Kelly for many years.
If you are thinking of moving to the Malaga area, renting or purchasing a property,
and, together with Kelly, we will find you your ideal inland Costa del Sol property!
Getting the perfect rented apartment in Madrid or any place requires careful attention to details. You must bear in mind certain information that aids the rental search. Here are a few tips that will aid you in renting a great apartment in Madrid.
7 Things to Consider When Renting an Apartment in Madrid
This tip may sound basic but it is very important especially when it comes to renting an apartment. You must work out the budget needed for the apartment. Make sure that your budget works fine with your monthly budget. Your budget should be a realistic one, you should not spend more than 30% of your annual income on housing. Your renting budget could depend on the area you want to rent an apartment.
2. Furnished or Unfurnished Apartment:
You should also consider if you want to rent a furnished or unfurnished apartment. It is best that when you are renting for the short term, you get a furnished apartment. When going for an unfurnished apartment, it is best done on long-term rentals in Madrid. Then you can do your furnishing yourself. You must also bear in mind that furnished apartments are more expensive and they require a larger deposit.
3. Look Online:
When you are ready to rent an apartment you should start browsing for some Spain rental websites. You can also call the numbers listed on the websites instead of sending an email or message. Most good houses in Madrid do not stay long in the open market so, don’t wait on it. When you get or see an apartment you love, it is best to get in touch with the landlords or agents.
4. Using an Estate Agent:
When making use of some websites, the contact numbers listed there are usually that of agents. When using an agent, you should also bear in mind that you can incur some extra expenses. Sometimes, you can get in direct contact with the landlord of the less expensive building. Although, estate agents are normally the ones that advertise the best apartments.
5. Pick out the right questions to ask when viewing apartments:
You should ask the right questions when viewing apartments with the landlord or agents. Some very good questions include the following; what is the deposit? Are the bills included? and Are their community fees or if they are included?
6. Air and Heating Condition:
You must find an apartment that provides you with great air conditioning or heating system. Since Madrid weather can be very cold in the winter and incredibly hot in the hot summer months.
7. Energy Certificate:
It is important that you also check for an energy certificate in any apartment in Madrid. When an apartment ranks the G certificate, the bills are likely to be on the higher ends unlike apartments with the A certificate.
So there you have 7 Top Tips for finding an apartment in Madrid. Go through each of the mentioned tips carefully in order to get the most out of them while searching for your apartment. You should give yourself plenty of time to find an apartment that suits you.
Many people dream of buying property abroad. If you are thinking of doing so, we strongly recommend you do your homework and spend plenty of time carrying out research!
I’m sure you will not be surprised to hear that Spain continues to reign supreme when it comes to Brits looking at buying property abroad. In fact, the country outshines the rest of Europe for enquiries from overseas buyers.
A whopping 2,513,374 searches are made every month for property in Spain by Britons looking to move to Spain or buy a holiday home here, according to property website Rightmove figures. This figure is 74 per cent more than in France, which is the second- most searched for European country with Italy third and Portugal fourth.
There’s no north-south divide at play here either with Spain being the No 1 sunny destination for people from across the UK including Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and London. Incredibly, 54 per cent of searches for Spanish property came from Glasgow with Liverpool coming a close second.
With its relatively mild winters and wall-to-wall sunshine in the summer, it’s no wonder Spain continues to attract UK property buyers. With an average flight time of just over two hours from the UK to Spain, it’s easy enough to fly out for a weekend or head back to the home country to visit family and friends whenever the fancy takes you.
Where to buy in Spain?
The favourite resort for Brits seeking to buy in Spain is Alicante, where the average enquiry price is €126,054 followed by Mallorca, which is much more expensive with an average enquiry price of €397,813 and Malaga is in third place, with an average enquiry price of €191,830.
What are people looking for in property in Alicante?
Alicante has the lowest average enquiry price in Spain. According to Rightmove’s figures, 62 per cent are searching for villas while 38 per cent are looking for apartments in Alicante. The popular Costa Blanca beaches, golf courses and low-cost flights into Alicante are all great reasons why people want to move here. The property prices are also very reasonable, especially when compared to the second-favourite destination, Mallorca.
As a guide, it is still possible to buy a two-bedroom apartment with communal pool for €45,000 in Torrevieja, south of Alicante. Further north, there is a two-bedroom apartment on Rightmove’s website in Javea for €75.000.
Malaga ticks so many boxes for Brits looking for property in southern Spain with its famous Costa del Sol beaches and golf courses as well as the splendid mountain ranges, ski resorts, white villages and Andalusian hospitality. Villas and apartments by the beach or golf courses are popular choices when it comes to buying property in Malaga while the cave houses and little mountain villages are also unique experiences for expats moving abroad.
Property prices vary enormously from resort to resort but you can buy a two-bedroom apartment on the Mijas Costa for €89,000, a a two-bedroom apartment in Malaga city for €127,000 or a charming five-bedroom rural cavehouse for €39,000.
Is it a good time to buy property in Spain?
Many people dream of buying in Spain – flights are generally economical and take a little more than two hours, the quality of life (and the wine!) is very good, plus property prices are very reasonable compared to much of the UK. But while some dream, others turn it into a reality. You may be surprised to find that a second home in sun-drenched Spain could be within your reach.
While living the UK has its high points, the weather and the warm beer aren’t among them. This could explain why there are more than 2.5 million online searches for property in Spain from British residents each and every month, according to Rightmove’s research. These property seekers are looking for a balance between affordable plane fares and short flight times so they can enjoy a long weekend away or a permanent move but be able to head back to the UK at short notice for work or to see family and friends.
The top destination for British property-seekers is – sunny Spain! The average price of property these bargain-hunting Brits are seeking is €156,940, which won’t get you much – if anything at all – in many parts of the UK. Rightmove has also found that the most popular locations for Brits seeking holiday homes abroad tend to be in the top holiday hotspots too. So which is the most popular destination? Alicante and the Costa Blanca resorts of course.
Alicante has the most of those 2,513,374 enquiries a month with people searching for an average price per property of €126,054. Mallorca is second with an average price search of €397,813 while Malaga comes in third where the average enquiry price is €191,830.
What’s so attractive about Alicante?
With about 320 days of sun each year and an average temperature of 29oC in August and 11o in January, it’s no wonder the Alicante region is so appealing. Plus many budget airlines such as Ryanair, EasyJet, Monarch and Norwegian fly into Alicante airport, which is the fifth busiest airport in Spain, so it’s easy to get to.
Alicante province includes the attractive Costa Blanca resorts with hundreds of kilometres of sandy beaches to soak up the sun or try watersports. This is a fabulous area for sports such as:
- cycling along the same routes you’ve seen in the Vuelta de España
- sailing in the same waters as the Volvo Ocean Race round-the-world yacht teams
- playing tennis on the same courts as David Ferrer
- playing golf on competition courses
- or simply sampling yoga on the beach; horse-riding in the mountains; paragliding; rock climbing; stand-up paddle and so much more.
It’s a paradise for food lovers too. You can visit the markets to buy the finest selection of fresh shellfish and fish, such as the special Denia red prawn, or head to the restaurants to sample some of the many rice dishes including paella and arroz a banda (rice cooked in fish stock).
With vast beaches, super theme parks, great nightlife, glorious mountains, traditional little Spanish villages and bustling cities, there are so many reasons to buy property in Alicante.
What’s magnificent about Malaga?
Malaga is Spain’s fourth busiest airport since it serves the city and the entire Costa del Sol resorts. It’s another favourite with budget airlines so you can enjoy an affordable flight to your chosen destination. The Costa del Sol is a long favourite with British expats and holidaymakers who can choose from the `fun in the sun’ resort of Fuengirola to the chic Marbella resorts and everything in between.
With endless sunny days, an average temperature of 26oC in August and a lovely 12oC in January, it’s no wonder that so many people head to the Costa del Sol throughout the year. As well as topping up the tan, people love the region for its countless golf courses to test all handicaps as well as amazing water sports facilities, particularly around Marbella and the swanky Puerto Banus.
Many people are also fascinated to learn there are impressive ski resorts in the region. It takes about 90 minutes to drive to the Sierra Nevada for skiing or snowboarding. It seems incredible that you could be skiing in the snow in the morning and then one hour later be having lunch on the beach – but it’s absolutely true!
Food lovers can sample fresh fish or shellfood straight from the sea; or try the cold gazpacho or salmorejo soups to beat the summer heat; migas made with bread, garlic and olive oil; or rabo de toro (oxtail). Simply delicious!
With its selection of beach resorts, mountains, white villages, historic cities, culture and friendly welcome, it’s no wonder so many people are looking for property in Malaga and its surrounding district.
Your next move?
If you are looking for property in Malaga or Alicante, please take a look at the Move to Malaga website for further information. Our contact details are there so you can get in touch to let us help you make your move to Spain.
Tell me how you can help me save time and money on my purchase …
New Series: What Is The Real Cost of living in Spain?
Welcome to our new series of posts looking at the cost of living in Spain. In this introductory post, we will inform you of general costs and provide you with great sources of information that you can use to calculate your own budget.
Your own personal cost of living in Spain will depend on the size of your family, your chosen destination and, of course, your expected standard of living. The information we provide serves as a guideline and it is up to you, to be honest when making your own calculations. A “Tapas in Malaga” kind of lifestyle budget will be nowhere near a “Popstar in Marbella” kind of lifestyle budget 😉
When talking about why they made the move to Spain, many expats will say the quality of life is one good reason while others point to the sun which seems to be constantly beaming down from the sky. Great food, endless fiestas and friendly environment are also major attractions.
Pensioners find their money goes further in Spain than in the UK and other north European countries, despite the poorer exchange rate compared to a few years ago. However, workers, unless they are self-employed with most of their income earned from outside Spain, will find the wages to be disappointingly low. That said, it is still fair to say your money goes a long way. For most people, the cost of living in Spain is generally lower than in their home country.
As we mentioned, in future articles we will be looking in detail at the cost of living in the top Spanish destinations for expats but now we are going to give a general overview of how much you need to live in Spain.
Living costs vary between the regions and from resort to resort – the top cities of Madrid and Barcelona are expensive but Spain’s third largest city of Valencia is surprisingly cheap. Likewise, the Balearic islands and swanky resorts such as Marbella will cost more than living in Torrevieja or Malaga. It’s worth bearing that in mind if you are still unsure of where to move to in Spain. You will find that some of the most expensive Spanish cities also have the highest incomes. For example, the cost of living in Barcelona is 30.17% higher than the national average, San Sebastian is 27.85% higher and Madrid is 22.72%. However, while. the average salary in Spain is about €23,000, in Madrid, it is €36,000, €33,000 in Barcelona and €29,000 in San Sebastian. Figures also show the cost of living in Madrid or Barcelona is still 40% cheaper than London.
Cost of living in Spain: Day to Day Expenses
These data are based on 26070 entries in the past 18 months from 2114 different contributors.
Last update: March, 2017 Source: Numbeo.com
Tips for reducing your own cost of living in Spain: Food shopping
It goes without saying that you’ll also need to adapt to your new life in Spain, particularly when doing the weekly grocery shopping. Buying everything in one large supermarket is often not the best option.
In Spain, the indoor markets are great for buying fruit, vegetables, meat and fish. This is simply because you can buy as much or as little as you want – no pre-packed stuff there!
Each supermarket has its own strengths and weaknesses. For example, Lidl can be great for meat, frozen and fresh veg, and fruit while Mercadona is a favourite for toiletries and bread. Other top supermarkets in Spain are Carrefour, Consum, Dia, Supercor and Aldi. (Click on the supermarket’s names to access their websites and compare prices)
Take your time with the food shopping. Visit new places and embrace the change. And it goes without saying, that you should always try to buy fresh products that are in season.
The best idea is to be versatile – as a Spanish teacher advised: “If chicken is expensive then eat fish. If potatoes are dear, eat rice instead.”
What you will find, in almost all parts of Spain, is that it’s much more affordable to go out to eat – and a that is a great way to start integrating.
Internet and mobile phones:
Cost of internet packages vary along with the speeds but, thankfully, fibre optic is making a breakthrough in many areas. The best deals are with Movistar, Orange and Vodafone, although you’ll need to check what their coverage is like in your area. You may also find firms in your area offering packages too.
If you think your children would benefit from being taught in English or following the British curriculum, you will find many private international schools in Spain. There is more information in our articles about international schools in Malaga and Alicante.
A litre of petrol is currently about €1.28. Use this website to check current petrol and diesel costs in your chosen destination: https://www.elpreciodelagasolina.com/
The results show you the location of petrol stations near to where you are …
Cost of Living in Spain: Monthly Expenses
Rent can be anything from about €450 to over €5000 (subject to your requirements) and location. For researching rental prices in different areas, the best online sites are Kyero, ThinkSpain and Idealista.
This article will help you to decide on the best location for you: http://movetomalagaspain.com/property-finder-malaga/where-to-live-in-malaga/
This article explains how to use portals to check out specific rental properties in different destinations: http://movetomalagaspain.com/how-to-find-your-ideal-long-term-rental-in-spain/
Use this table to calculate the rent in your chosen area: http://www.fotocasa.es/indice-alquiler-inmobiliario__fotocasa.asp
TIP: Rent prices are rising and good rental properties are difficult to find. Be ready to act quickly as soon as you find something you like!
Here is a breakdown that serves as a guideline as to where your money will go
Cost of Living in Spain: Annual Expenses
You will also need to factor in annual expenses such as:
- car insurance (average of €600 a year)
- house insurance (contents and building is from €129 with Linea Direct)
- travel insurance (from €70)
- health insurance if not eligible for SIP card (from €40 a month for a 30-year-old male)
Check out our article on how to save money on insurance in Spain
- car tax (€90 for a four-year-old family car)
- municipal taxes (about €125)
- IBI tax as a homeowner (depends on property value but from €200 to €800)
You should budget for a further €1,800 to cover these annual bills.
If you run a business, you will have to pay:
- tax on earnings
- IVA (the equivalent of VAT) of 21% which you collect from your customers
- any insurance needed such as public liability insurance.
You can read more in our articles about the costs of setting up a business in Spain as a freelance and whether it is such a good idea or not.
As you can see, many costs are fairly low in Spain, especially the fun ones such as having an after-work drink or dining out. When you add the other benefits of living in Spain such as the sheer beauty of the country, the crazy fiestas and the attitude of the locals, it’s worth every penny!
Take the first step towards living in MALAGA or ALICANTE. Contact us now!
We are often asked where is the best place to live in Spain.
Guess what we answer?
If you read our posts and follow us on Twitter and Facebook, you will see all the photographs we post. Most of them are from where we think the best place to live in Spain is. It is, of course, our, hometown of Mijas in the province of Malaga. We must also point out that it is Mijas Pueblo, the village, not the coastal area. Mijas Pueblo and Mijas Costa are two very different areas, but we’ll talk about that another day.
Here are a few pictures to give you an idea …
The Malaga province has so much to offer. It is not just all about Marbella or the Costa del Sol!
If you’d like to know more about the different areas of Malaga, read our post about the Malaga province HERE.
Here are our A to Z Reasons for living in Malaga
… maybe the best place to live in Spain ???
Airport: Malaga’s International Airport is a modern state of the art terminal that is being continually improved and updated. It is the fourth busiest airport in Spain after Madrid, Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca. It offers flight to over 70 destinations worldwide with passenger numbers in 2011 close to 13 million. The majority of traffic through Malaga Costa del Sol Airport (or Pablo Ruiz Picasso Airport as it is also known) comes from within the EU, although there are regular flights to Moscow, Riyadh, Kuwait, New York and Montreal. For more details visit this website: Aena
Beaches: The extensive beaches on the Costa del Sol, their diversity and climate have transformed the region into the best holiday destination. Enjoy them in the summer and almost all the year round! Malaga boasts more than 160km of coastline with a multiplicity of beaches. Malaga is proud to be home to many blue flag beaches.
Chiringuito: Malaga’s coastal region is simply littered with beach bars of all types. The most traditional and the most frequented by both tourists and residents alike are the little chiringuitos which traditionally serve locally caught fish and seafood. The image of sardines being cooked in a sand filled fishing boat is a popular image of this region.
Donkey Taxis: In Mijas, in the early 60s, visitors to the village asked if they could photograph the workers travelling home on their donkeys and have a ride themselves. This soon became a regular occurrence and the donkey taxi was born. Donkey-Taxis are today an institution in Mijas and one of its main attractions.
Education: Whether you are looking for a state-run Spanish or a private International school for your children, you have plenty to choose from. Educational options exist from pre- school nurseries, primary, junior, secondary and further education. (Read more about Schools in Málaga here).
Feria & Flamenco: Málaga is home to flamenco and fería. Every village and town in the province enjoys ferias throughout the year. The main Málaga fería takes place each year in the month of August. If you have not experienced the Feria de Málaga, be sure to add it to the top of your “to-do” list! Flamenco is performed by young and old, male and female. Flamenco is passion!
Golf: Spain has a huge number of golf courses, approximately 500, more than 70 of which are in Andalucia. What is more, the Costa del Sol is home to the highest concentration of greens and fairways to be found, not only in Spain but, in the whole of Europe. Not without reason has the Costa del Sol, with the finest golf facilities in Europe, become known as the Costa del Golf. It´s simply a golfers paradise! The 160 kilometre stretch of coastline, from Nerja in the east to Manilva in the west, is home to over 50 golf courses all of which are ideal locations in which to enjoy this popular sport. Add the fabulous year round climate and it’s most definitely golfing heaven.
Holidays: Where better to spend your holidays. The Costa del Sol in Malaga is one of Spain´s most popular holiday destination for a multitude of nationalities. It is a great place to own a holiday home whether it be for your own use or as a source of income.
International: Due to the diversity of nationalities who live and also visit the Malaga province, there is a very international and cosmopolitan feel to many areas. This applies predominantly to coastal areas, however, there are many inland towns and villages that are also inhabited by a high percentage of non-Spanish citizens.
Jamon: Jamon Serrano, Jamon Iberico … Spanish cured ham. A local delicacy and a common starter or tapa.
Kids: What does Malaga have to offer for children? Here´s just a few options to look out for: Water parks, Tivoli, Crocodile Park, Selwo Adventure safaris park, Selwo Marina, Sealife Benalmadena, numerous outdoor free parks inc Parque La Bateria, Parque la Paloma ….
Lifestyle: The number one reason for moving to Malaga!
Montes de Malaga: Montes de Málaga Natural Park is located quite near the capital of the Costa del Sol and can be said to serve as a “green lung” for the city. This park – found in the central-western zone of the Baetic Range – encompasses a mid-mountain landscape of gentle topography, criss-crossed by small valleys populated with extensive pine forests. It offers a range of outdoor activities and some amazing food. Look out for the famous “plato de los montes”.
Nightlife: The province of Málaga and the Costa del Sol have one of the most thriving nightlife nationwide. From beach bars and restaurants, bars, or pubs to nightclubs. Malaga offers both traditional and exclusive establishments. The towns come alive at night.
Olives & Olive Oil: Olive groves line many a road in the Malaga province. Unlike the bitter olives tasted in some other countries, Spanish olives, particularly the manzanilla variety are juicy and even sweet. Iberian olives are usually cured and eaten, often after being pitted, stuffed (with pickled pimento, anchovies, or other fillings) and packed in brine in jars or tins. And, of course, almost everything is cooked in olive oil!
Proximity: The excellent location of Málaga Province and Costa del Sol, plus the effective road infrastructure make it easy to access them by air, by road, by sea or by rail. Málaga’s size, the road infrastructure and modern vehicles make the province easily accessible from different Spanish locations. Málaga Airport is located 8 miles from downtown and well connected with Costa del Sol. The airport is the chief of all Spanish airports and one of the original locations with the first airline that was established in Spain in 1919 .The most important traffic in the airport is the European Union. London Gatwick is the destination with the most travellers, followed by Manchester, Dublin, London-Luton, Paris Charles De Gaulle and Brussels.
Quitapenas Bodega: Home to one of the most ancient wines of Spain. Although a relatively new DO compared with the many other wine regions of Spain, Malaga produces the distinctively flavoured wins such as Moscatel, Malaga Dulce, Malaga PX, Vegasol and Vegasur. Visit the bodegas website for more details visit this website: www.quitapenas.es
Recreation: The province of Malaga offers a multitude of recreational activities to suit all ages and interests. Watersports, golf, ice skating, inland rural activities, water parks, theme parks, animal rescue centres, bars, restaurants, shops. Whatever your favourite past time, you will be almost certainly able to find it here.
Sierra Nevada: Ok we are cheating a bit here as the Sierra Nevada is actually in Granada! However, it is only a 2 hour drive from Malaga and so is a popular option for day trips or weekends away. It is also possible to ski in the snow and swim in the sea on the same day! Details about Sierra Nevada here: http://sierranevada.es/
Tapas / Tinto de Verano: Tapas are a wonderful Spanish tradition and can be found in many bars in Malaga. Tapas are small plates of food that are a great way to test the local specialities. Tinto de verano is a refreshing summer drink. A mix of red wine and lemonade poured over ice and topped with a slice of lemon. Beware of drinking too many in the sun!
University: Málaga University (UMA) is a public institution which promotes outstanding research and teaching within the European Higher Education Area. The institution follows an educational model to promote competitive, quality teaching which is employment-orientated and accredited in Europe. Its vigor and growth over recent years have resulted in it becoming a reference point for universities in Spain. University School of Nursing (Provincial). Plaza Hospital Civil. s/n, 29009, Malaga (Spain).
Villages: Famous for its whitewashed villages scattered around the province, this is where you can experience the “real Spain of old”. In contrast to the modern and cosmopolitain coastline areas, the white washed villages of Malaga maintain their cultures and traditions.
Weather: One of the reasons why the Costa del Sol has become a world-class travel destination is the Mediterranean climate: mild all year round with an average temperature of 18º C. In the summer, temperatures rise to 25º C-30º C, whereas in winter they never go below 14º C during the day. There are hinterland areas, however, where the climate is continental and therefore marked by greater diurnal and seasonal variations in temperature.
X … marks Malaga as the spot to move to! (and if you want another substitute for the letter X: Xavier Dupre designed the Malaga font)
Yurts & Glamping: Glamping (glamorous camping) is a growing global phenomenon that combines camping with the luxury and amenities of a home or hotel. Also called boutique camping, luxury camping, posh camping or comfy camping, glamping allows travelers to experience nature without the hassle of finding camp space, carrying their tents, and erecting and taking down their own tents. Lodgings at a glamping sites include structures such as yurts, tipis, pods, bell tents, safari tents, tent cabins, and tree houses. Find some glamping options here: GoGlamping.com
Zoo Bioparc Fuengirola champions a new model of zoo based on respect for nature and the preservation of natural species, a model which has already established itself as a flagship for Europe. What Bioparc Fuengirola represents is a different concept of zoo. A zoological park where animals live side-by-side, recreating their natural habitat and so fostering their development at all levels. For more information: Visit http://www.bioparcfuengirola.es/en There are also Marinas, Crocodile Parks, Selwo Safari Park and many other places to visit animals in the Malaga area.
For more information about this beautiful area of Spain, contact : Costa del Sol Tourist Board – Plaza del Siglo, nº2 – 29015 Málaga Tel: +34 952126272 Fax: 34 952225207 email@example.com www.visitcostadelsol.com
So, what do you think? It’s a pretty great place with lots to offer. Where do you think is the best place to live in Spain?
Molly previously compared Barcelona and Granada. Read her thoughts here.
Would you like to write about your chosen home in Spain? If so, please get in touch. We’d love to tell everyone about where you live.
Thanks for reading and we hope you love Malaga as much as we do!
PS: Do you want to know a little secret? Well, if we didn’t have children we’d probably head off to the province of Cadiz … but that will have to wait for a few years yet 😉
If you are thinking about Moving to Spain, our book will answer a lot of your questions …
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You can see videos about out adventures on Our Family in Spain YouTube Channel.
If you are thinking of moving to Spain and wondering where to live, it is always interesting to hear what other expats living in Spain have to say about areas they have lived in.
In this article, Alicia gives us her thoughts on two popular locations on the Costa del Sol. She talks about living in Benalmadena and the maybe lesser known Alhaurin de la Torre.
Over to you Alicia …
When you think of the Costa del Sol, sun and sea instantly come to mind. Benalmádena sounds familiar to many, having been a popular holiday destination for many years, but the less well-known Alhaurín de la Torre is very close by and can offer an alternative way to be on the Costa del Sol but with fewer of those holidaymakers.
Living in Spain has many advantages, and for a majority of people the decision to relocate here can be reduced to several key factors (lifestyle, climate, or work) and the location of a new life in Spain will depend on the priorities each of these factors has. Once this has been decided, and the Costa del Sol has been ‘chosen’ as a location of interest, there are still many choices of places to live, each with their pros and cons.
This is where the comparison of Alhaurin de la Torre and Benalmádena comes in handy.
As per many places along the coast, Benalmadena has its roots in the fishing industry. However, what used to be a sleepy attractive fishing community is now a buzzing spot for visitors (both international and national). Pretty Torremolinos on one side and an increasingly international Fuengirola on the other flank Benalmádena’s long stretch of coastline.
Beside the seaside
Benalmadena boasts some lovely beaches. Well cared-for and with gentle coves, the inviting Mediterranean sea suits families and sun-lovers alike. The beaches are nice for swimmers, and a personal preference was enjoying the peace and ‘early-morning’ sun between 08.00 and 11.00am before the hoardes of tourists descended.
A town of three parts
Benalmádena is not just all coast. In fact it has three very distinct areas – the beaches and port area, Arroyo de la Miel, and Benalmádena Pueblo.
Each of these are very different, and will target a different set of criteria. Puerto Marina (the port) is an attractive area with expensive looking yachts surrounded by a unique architecture of residential buildings. A relatively newly constructed area (launched in the early 80’s) this is a desirable location for many, seeing as it also boasts many shops, restaurants, bars as well as mini-golf and the sea-life centre (http://www.visitsealife.com/benalmadena/).
For those who want more of a ‘town’ lifestyle, Arroyo de la Miel is just that. Situated further up the hill and maybe a 20 minute walk from the coast, this is a traditional Spanish town without any pretensions of being something it’s not. Supermarkets, libraries, schools, shops and bars are all at hand, and the railway station on the cercanías line (running from Fuengirola to Malaga centre) is right in the centre of the town. Up here you have Tivoli (an attraction park with all the fun of the fair all year), Selwo Marina where you can watch dolphins play, swim with the sea-lions, or observe other sea-based creatures (www.selwomarina.es), or even head up the mountain via the cable car (www.telefericobenalmadena.com) where you can enjoy amazing views of the whole Costa del Sol.
Benalmádena Pueblo is a traditional looking Andalucía village, even further up the hillside and further away from the other two areas of Benalmádena, but offers a different sort of lifestyle. For those looking to integrate themselves into village life this would be ideal, as the small town offers all the shops and amenities that you may need, wonderful views, and a true community feel. Its location means that it is also very accessible from the motorway connecting the various towns along the Costa del Sol.
Alhaurín de la Torre
Alhaurín de la Torre (frequently referred to as simply Alhaurín) is not to be confused with its larger neighbour Alhaurín el Grande. Alhaurín is often overlooked by visitors to the Costa del Sol, in search of more eye-catching or more well-known places, but in fact has plenty to offer, and is rapidly growing in popularity.
House prices are notably cheaper than those in the coastal areas, either for renting or buying. Rent-wise 500€ a month in the coast may get you a one bedroom flat, but with 400€ in Alhaurín you may be able to enjoy 2-3 bedrooms, plus an outdoor space. For anyone interested in living in the middle of the countryside even more bargains are to be had, with small cottages available to rent for similar prices. Buying property in either area has similar proportions with regards to what you can get for your money. Food prices are also slightly cheaper, as Alhaurín is not considered such a tourist hub, and this is reflected in these other costs.
In the ‘campo’
Despite being a town with a population close to 40,000 inhabitants, Alhaurín still feels very village like and the centre itself is relatively small. Only 30-40 years ago what is now the main shopping area in town was an un-asphalted space, with dust tracks instead of roads. In fact, the area behind where I lived (now a small car park) not so long ago was used to keep pigs and other farm animals. This feeling of being in the countryside (or the campo) is not easily forgotten as both fields and mountains surround the town, and it is an excellent area to go hiking or walking.
Despite the growing numbers of foreign residents in Alhaurín there is a strong emphasis on the Spanish influence in the town, and languages other than Spanish are rarely heard. The local residents are welcoming and friendly and there are many ferias and local events, ranging from the medieval fair, to concerts or art exhibitions at the local ‘cultural centre’ Centro Cultural ‘Vicente Aleixandre’ (http://www.culturalh.com/centro-cultural-vicente-aleixandre/)
Location, location, location
Although Alhaurín is not on the coast, it is only 15-20 minutes away from the beaches of Torremolinos and the same distance from the centre of Malaga and all it has to offer. It isn’t on any train lines, although the one located at the outdoor shopping centre Plaza Mayor is nearby, but it is very close to the airport (strategically located only 10 minutes away, yet is not on any flight lines). The closeness to the airport makes it very convenient for visits abroad and is close enough to dash back home for a forgotten passport (speaking from experience…).
Both Benalmádena and Alhaurín de la Torre are great places to live and have plenty to offer in terms of amenities and natural environments. Benalmádena is better equipped for tourism, with plenty to see and do, and understands the need for information and structure that many visitors like to have, although this does mean that you are rarely without tourists nearby. It also has a strong ex-pat community which may be a plus or a minus depending on your perspective. Alhaurín is a bit more authentic and feels more Spanish, although this can be less easy to deal with when it comes to finding out where to go/what to do. They are both near enough to ‘the big city’ (Malaga) for anyone interested in other cultural activities, so a key factor may simply be the proximity to the sea.
As Benalmádena has various ‘faces’, this allows for a certain level of flexibility when choosing where to live within the area, but for me Alhaurín offered the perfect balance of countryside living and town-life, yet still being close enough to the seaside without the stress of sharing my space with holidaymakers.
About the author: Alicia Shelley
Alicia studied Cognitive Science at Leeds University, graduating in 2005. In 2006 she moved to the Costa del Sol and although was originally based in the tourism sector she now works in an international association in the Technology Park of Andalusia, as well as teaching English in her spare time. She loves living in Spain and is a collaborator with www.andaluciainterior.com where she writes articles in English, sharing thoughts and information about inland Andalucía.
Do you agree or disagree with Alicia’s thoughts? Where would you rather live? Post your comments and we will welcome other ideas too about where to live in Spain.
Don’t forget to read Molly’s thoughts about Granada v Barcelona HERE
and Caroline’s thoughts about Madrid and Valencia HERE
Diana’s positive comments about Archidona and Frigiliana HERE
Cat and Hayley’s opinions on Antequerra and Seville HERE
And, of course, our totally biased opinion HERE
If you are thinking about moving to Spain, watch out “Moving to Spain videos” for lots of essential information.
Living in Seville versus Antequera: Comparing the South’s Biggest City to its Most Centrical
If you are thinking of moving to Spain and wondering where to live in Spain, it is always interesting to hear what other expats living in Spain have to say about areas they have lived in.
In this article, Cat and Hayley, two young, North Americans give us their thoughts on living in Seville and Antequera …
Seville is Southern Spain’s de-facto capital and a must-see on the tourism circuit. It’s also the center of politics and culture in the south. Antequera, on the other hand, is in the dead center of Andalusia and about as typically Spanish as you can get.
Here we give you the battle between settling in Andalusia’s largest city, Seville, or enjoying the small town charm of Antequera.
The Pros for living in Seville …
Proximity to the beaches and mountains: Seville is located in the Guadalquivir Valley and sits at just one hour from both the beaches in Huelva and the mountains in the Sierra Norte or Cádiz. It’s also not far from the Portuguese border.
Interurban transportation and friendly on cyclists: Home to an international airport, a major train station, and two bus depots, it’s easy to travel from Seville to destinations all over Spain. Several major motorways service the city, too. Seville has also received the accolade of being Spain’s most bike-friendly city, thanks to its flat terrain and over 100 kilometers of bike lanes.
The tapas and dining scene: Seville is well-known for its tapas, a small dish consumed at mealtime. Locals say the bar culture has kept the economy afloat, and the establishments are practically a Sevillano’s living room. What’s more, Seville offers several other types of cuisine, from Indian and Mexican to Argentinian, so you won’t have to eat tortilla española at every meal.
Beauty, folklore, and history: It’s impossible to keep Seville’s charm a secret. From the horse-drawn carriages to the eclectic architecture, the city is full of beautiful corners to explore. Seville is also quite traditional, so flamenco and bullfighting are common art forms and synonymous with the city. Living in Seville means never getting bored of its beauty.
Historic Seville is one of the many culture and contributions to Spanish patrimony. After all, it was here that the Catholic Kings gave Christopher Columbus money to discover the New World, and the riches the conquerors brought back were funneled through the city. This has left its legacy in both architecture and language, making Seville a culturally rich city.
Local festivals: Known for both its extravagant Holy Week and colorful local fair, Seville actually has a local minister solely dedicated to the springtime festivals. Because Seville is a cultural capital, there are plenty of flamenco shows, music festivals, and gastronomic markets throughout the year.
Strong international contingent: Truly a city with international flair, Seville has become home to people from many cultures without being too overwhelming. There are several international groups for expats to join, allowing us to stay in contact with our language and culture. Seville is also home to two universities, meaning Erasmus students arrive in droves during the academic year.
In the Pros Antequera corner…
Location, location, location: Antequera was nearly chosen as the capital of Spain’s Southern Autonomous Community for its strategic position in the geographic center of Andalucía. Nowhere are you better positioned to visit the South’s most famous cities than in Antequera. Head north to Córdoba or south to Málaga and arrive in just under an hour; while a trip west to Seville or east to Granada will take you around an hour and a half.
Antequera is also within an hour’s drive to the famous Costa del Sol beaches. Are mountains more your scene? Just 15 minutes outside the city is the famous El Torcal Park and Nature Reserve with Jurassic age rock formations that will take your breath away and transport you to another time.
Transportation: If you’re looking leave Andalucía, book high-speed train travel to Madrid from Antequera’s Santa Ana AVE station and arrive in two and a half hours. Or try Málaga’s International Airport, Spain’s fourth busiest with major routes servicing Spain, Europe, America, and Asia.
Eat on the cheap: If you’re looking for a traditional tapas experience look no further. Antequera keeps Spain’s culinary tradition alive and well by charging clients just over 80¢ for a small plate of food to accompany their drink of choice. Take advantage of the small portion sizes to sample a variety of tapas and expect to spend a mere 10€ on a meal out.
Still not full? Don’t forget to save room for breakfast! Antequera is known throughout Spain as home to the mollete, a delicious white bread roll served lightly toasted and spread with any number of typical breakfast toppings from tomato and olive oil, to jam or even paté. Though you’ll see mollete on menus all over Spain, the best can only be found in Antequera.
Culture: Where better to soak up Spanish culture than in this typical mid-sized city? Antequera hosts two ferias each year, one in May and the other in August, which coincide with bullfights at its bullring, built in 1848. Other festivals throughout the year keeps things lively: don’t miss the Tapa Fair usually held in June, September’s Medieval festival or February’s Carnival celebrations.
Practice makes perfect: Looking to perfect your Spanish? Try living in a small town rather than a capital city. With very few fellow ex-pats to depend on it would be almost impossible not to improve your Spanish while living in Antequera.
Cons for living in Seville
For every upside to living in Seville, there seems to be a downside. It’s actually an odd paradigm that expats get used to, but the annoyances sometimes creep up from time to time.
Limited flights from the San Pablo airport: Seville’s airport is quite small and doesn’t fly to many international destinations. This means flying from Málaga or Madrid is sometimes necessary, or catching several flights to reach your destination.
Still one hour from beaches and mountains: Seville is relatively close to the coast and to the mountains, but not that close. When you choose not to have a car, escaping the city can be tricky.
City-wide public transportation: While Seville is considered a transportation hub, the local public transportation leaves much to be desired: it’s expensive, slow and doesn’t reach every part of the city. Biking and walking is the best way to get around.
The heat: Seville is one of continental Europe’s hottest cities, and May to October feel like living in a sauna. Because the city sits in a valley, all of the hot air remains trapped over the city, a meteorological phenomenon known as El Bochorno to locals. No wonder so many sevillanos head to the coast every weekend!
Cost of living is higher: Naturally, living in a city means paying more for rent, entertainment and transportation. Aspiring expats should check out the cost of living as part of their research before choosing a city over a small town.
Small town blues: Life’s certainly far from perfect in Antequera. While locals are friendly and open, with only one cinema, a small shopping mall and a handful of grocery stores, expect to run into the same faces again and again. If you’re a fan of anonymity, Antequera is not the place for you.
Missing home?: It’s been a long day and nothing would make you happier than to kick back with some fellow English speakers in front of a hot plate of Mexican nachos, some spicy Indian curry or even a bowl delicious Thai noodles. Not in Antequera. If you’re a fan of frequent international flavors and company this traditional Spanish town may not be for you.
Buy a car: Antequera is well positioned in the heart of Andalucía; but you’ll be hard-pressed to take advantage of its stellar location without your own transportation. While busses and trains to major cities and small villages do exist, their timetables are famously irregular and inconvenient.
Have we peaked your interest? Have you made a decision? Are you a North American thinking of relocating to Spain? Get in touch.
Do you agree or disagree with Cat and Hayley’s thoughts? Where would you rather live? Post your comments and we will welcome other ideas too about where to live in Spain.
Don’t forget to read Molly’s thoughts about Granada v Barcelona HERE
and Caroline’s thoughts about Madrid and Valencia HERE
Diana’s positive comments about Archidona and Frigiliana HERE
And, of course, our totally biased opinion HERE
If you are thinking about moving to Spain, watch out “Moving to Spain videos” for lots of essential information.