Discover the best places to live in Spain! From vibrant Barcelona to historic Seville, find the perfect Spanish city for your lifestyle.

Last Updated on April 1, 2024 by Laila Oliveira

Spain has consistently been a popular destination for expats seeking a vibrant and rewarding lifestyle. If you’re considering making Spain your new home, your search for the perfect place to live, tailored to your needs, starts here. This article is your complete guide to the best places to live in Spain!

With its dynamic cities and tranquil coastal towns, Spain offers a wide range of options for expats. When considering the best places to live in Spain, factors such as cost of living, quality of life, healthcare, and employment opportunities come into play.

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Coastal gems like Valencia and Malaga boast a mild to warm climate, making them ideal for a laid-back lifestyle by the sea. Meanwhile, other Spanish cities like Seville and Granada enchant expats with their rich history, captivating architecture, and bustling street life.

In this guide, we’ll explore Spain’s finest cities for expats, highlighting their unique appeal and amenities. Join us as we embark on a journey to uncover the best places to live in Spain for your life abroad.

What Are The Best Places To Live In Spain?

Well, the answer to this question is quite complex; Spain boasts an impressive collection of beautiful destinations that appeal to different people. Whether you like the cosmopolitan buzz of Barcelona or the relaxed lifestyle in Palma de Mallorca, there’s a Spanish city perfect for you.

But let’s face it, living in Spain is more than just choosing a city. It’s about fully engaging in cultural experiences, enjoying a high standard of living, and taking advantage of the many recreational activities and job opportunities available.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a City

When looking at the list of Spanish cities to live in, several factors should be considered to ensure it aligns with your lifestyle and preferences. One of the fundamental things you should consider is the cost of living.

The cost of living varies significantly depending on the region. Major cities like Madrid and Barcelona tend to be more expensive, while smaller towns and rural areas offer more affordable options. Assess your budget and compare prices to find the best fit for your lifestyle.

The quality of life in that particular city is another important aspect when choosing the best city to live in Spain. Look into the quality of life indicators such as healthcare, safety, education, and overall well-being. Cities like Barcelona, Madrid, and Valencia often score well in these areas. Remember that Spain is culturally diverse, with different lifestyles and traditions.

Reflect on the type of lifestyle you desire. Do you want to live in a bustling city with vibrant nightlife (like Madrid), or would you prefer a small town with a close-knit community?

Decide whether you seek a fast-paced or more relaxed lifestyle. If you’re moving to Spain for work, consider cities with strong job markets in your industry. Cities like Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia offer many job opportunities. These are just a few factors to consider when searching for the perfect destination for you.

There are other aspects you can examine before deciding on a specific city, such as language, climate, and accessibility. Here’s an in-depth analysis of ten outstanding cities you can consider your home in Spain.

Barcelona: A Cultural Hub for Expats

There is no denying that Madrid holds the official title of Spain’s capital. However, Barcelona’s cultural significance and vibrant atmosphere contribute to its reputation as a major metropolis and a hub of Mediterranean life.

The city boasts a unique blend of history, art, architecture, and cuisine, offering a vibrant cultural scene that appeals to various tastes. One of Barcelona’s notable attractions is its stunning architecture, such as the Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, and Casa Batlló, showcasing the genius of Antoni Gaudí.

The beauty of living in Barcelona is the cost of living. You will quickly notice that living costs are significantly cheaper than in other major European cities. To give you some context, a family of four estimated monthly cost is €2,730 without rent, per Numbeo. On the other hand, a single person will need about €780 for the same expenditure.

Rent prices differ based on the neighborhood, but there are housing options to suit various budgets. For instance, a single-bedroom apartment in the city costs around €1,239 per month, whereas one outside the city averages €966. Lastly, Barcelona’s cosmopolitan atmosphere and diverse population make it a welcoming and inclusive city for expats.

Madrid: The Vibrant Capital City

If you are fascinated by big cities, then the capital of Spain might be what you are looking for. The vibrant city of Madrid is quite famous among expats thanks to its central location.

The expat population in this city is huge, approximately about 945,933, according to the latest census data. Despite a rather modern outlook, you will be pleasantly surprised by the city’s authentic culture and history.

Madrid is home to three of Spain’s most renowned art museums, with two of them, the Reina Sofia and the Prado, providing free admission every night of the week. Madrid’s vibrant nightlife, bustling markets, and numerous cultural events provide expats with ample opportunities to immerse themselves in the local culture.

This beautiful city boasts an outstanding public transportation system. As a result, relocating away from the city center will seem like a minor compromise, even if you prefer city living. English is common, so you’ll be fine if you don’t speak Spanish. However, it’s good to learn the language slowly and integrate in the local community.

The cost of living is not so different from Barcelona. While these two destinations are among the most expensive to live in Spain, they are very affordable compared to bigger cities like London or Paris.

Valencia: Balancing Tradition and Modernity

What if you fancy a rather laid-back but modern city? In this case, Valencia should be at the top of your priority list. For the city’s inhabitants, Valencia is the greatest destination in the world, and rightly so!

This is among the few cities that have struck the delicate balance between traditional and modernity. Refrain from letting the modern infrastructure and cool vibe fool you; this destination is rich in culture and history.

This is evident in its historic architecture, such as the stunning Valencia Cathedral and the City of Arts and Sciences, a modern architectural masterpiece.

If you are the outdoorsy type, Valencia has plenty of outdoor activities for you. The closeness to magnificent mountains allows for extended hikes during the summer and opportunities for snowboarding or skiing in the winter.

Also, if you love having a good time at the beach, there are several sandy beaches in the north and south of the city. Lastly, Valencia is relatively small, meaning you can get away with not having a car in this city, not to mention public transport is excellent.

Seville: A Taste of Andalusian Charm

Living in Seville, the heart of Andalusia is a delightful experience that combines authentic Spanish culture with the city’s vibrant lifestyle. Whether you’re considering a move or just curious, here’s a glimpse into what it’s like to live “la vida Sevillana”.

First, Seville is incredibly picturesque, with its Moorish architecture, riverside promenade, and charming horse-drawn carriages. The city is characterized by its vibrant atmosphere and warm, sunny weather.

This city boasts a good transport network, including a major airport, train and several bus stations. While Seville is the largest city in the autonomous Andalusia region, it has retained a small and cozy vibe. By extension, residents also report that the city is very safe for locals and expats.

If you are looking for a budget-friendly destination, Seville is one of Spain’s best places to live. You get to enjoy all that big cities offer without sacrificing the quality of life.

A single person’s estimated monthly cost is €735, while a family of four will need about €2,583 for the same. The average rental price for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is €825, while a similar apartment outside town goes for €557 per month.

Malaga: The Coastal Haven

Málaga, located on the sun-kissed coast of Spain, is a coastal haven that beckons expatriates with its irresistible charm. It is the second largest city in Andalusia, and it happens to take almost all the attention.

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Despite being a touristy destination, it is one of the best places to live in Spain, especially if you like being right in the action. What makes this destination impressive is the massive stretch of coastline that gives it an international feel.

As mentioned, if you don’t mind living in a busy neighborhood, get an apartment close to the beach. However, if you fancy a quieter destination, consider the popular La Malagueta, Limonar, and Cerrado de Calderon neighborhoods.

These neighborhoods are ideal for raising a family and enjoying a quiet life. Unlike bustling European capitals, Málaga is reasonably priced, allowing expats to stretch their euros further. A high standard of living without breaking the bank!

Tap into the Spanish festivals by participating in lively celebrations during the Feria de Málaga. This is when the streets come alive with music, dance, and colorful processions.

Alicante: Affordable Living on the Costa Blanca

Alicante, located on Spain’s Costa Blanca, is an ideal destination for expats seeking affordable living in a beautiful coastal setting. Its popularity is mainly due to its affordable living costs and consistently pleasant weather throughout the year.

The city is famous for its charming streets lined with palm trees, lively shopping streets, spacious boulevards, beautiful sandy beaches, and historical sites.

Residing in Alicante emerges as one of the most economical choices in Spain compared to more expensive cities such as Barcelona. You would need around €3,279 in Alicante to maintain the same lifestyle you can have with €4,100 in Barcelona.

If you’re seeking a stunning coastal city in Spain with mild winters and scorching summers, Alicante is an excellent choice.

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Granada: A Blend of History and Nature

The old town of Granada is the stark opposite of most of the cities mentioned previously. It is a popular destination because of the UNESCO World Heritage site Alhambra.

Residing in this city offers a distinctive chance to delve into the remnants of Arab civilization, providing an enriching historical experience. But there is more to Granada than history.

This beautiful destination is bordered by mountains to the north, giving you a great outdoor experience. You can enjoy the beautiful, well-preserved sandy beaches to the south whenever you wish.

In essence, living in Granada gives you a wholesome experience. If beauty and history aren’t enough to fall in love with Granada, you will be glad to know it is affordable too.

Bilbao: Northern Charm and Contemporary Living

Although Bilbao has not been popular in the past as the main expat destination, the narrative is slowly changing. This is particularly true for expats seeking an alternative to the famous Mediterranean lifestyle.

Unlike southern Spain, this northern city has a rather cooler climate. While this might appear to be a shortcoming, the bright side is that you get less tourism action and, hence, a quieter life.

Bilbao provides a unique cultural experience, contributing to the diverse fabric of Spain. The expatriate community in Bilbao is growing as more foreigners explore and value the distinctive attractions of this extraordinary city.

Bilbao is a lively city along a river, known for its significant industrial history and modern architectural presence. The combination of calm, rich history, and affordable living costs are why Bilbao has made this list of the best places to live in Spain.

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Salamanca: The University Town Experience

Salamanca, an ancient university town in the west of Spain, lies in the Autonomous Community of Castilla and León. Its rich history and architectural splendor make it a captivating destination. 

Salamanca is renowned for its well-preserved historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city boasts stunning architecture, including the famous University of Salamanca, one of the oldest universities in Europe. Historical and literary giants like Miguel de Cervantes, Christopher Columbus, Ignatius Loyola, and Hernán Cortés have graced its halls.

This town’s central location in Spain makes it an excellent base for exploring the rest of the country. The region of Castilla y León offers stunning countryside and historic towns to explore. It is also worth mentioning that Madrid is just a few hours away by train.

The city has a rich cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and theaters. It is also known for its vibrant nightlife, with many bars and restaurants offering traditional Spanish cuisine.

Palma de Mallorca: Island Living

The list of the best places to live in Spain can only be completed by mentioning the incredible Balearic Islands of Mallorca. This destination has become very popular among expats, and the numbers are going strong for a while.

On an island of about 1,209,906 inhabitants, the foreign population is 221,653. The island is easily navigable and incredibly picturesque, featuring secluded coves for swimming, historic railways, mountain scenery, intriguing cultural sites, and vibrant nightlife.

Many expats and families opt to reside in the southwest of the island, close to Palma, the capital of Mallorca. This choice is influenced by the proximity of the island’s main airport, convenient transport connections, and the presence of most international schools in this area.

The city is rich in history, with a well-preserved old town featuring historic buildings, charming narrow streets, and impressive architecture, like the iconic Palma Cathedral.

Do you need help moving to Spain?

Spain offers a diverse range of cities that cater to the needs and preferences of expats. Whether you’re drawn to the vibrant culture of cities like Barcelona and Madrid, the relaxed lifestyle of coastal towns like Valencia and Alicante, or the historical charm of cities like Seville and Salamanca, there is a city in Spain that will suit your lifestyle.

Whenever you are ready, get in touch with our experts at Viv Europe. As an immigration service, Viv Europe offers expats personalized assistance depending on their needs.c

We help with everything from finding the right city to live into navigating the Spanish bureaucracy’s intricacies. Our expertise can make your move to Spain smoother and more enjoyable. All you have to do is focus on settling into your new home and embracing the Spanish way of life.

Join our Facebook Group – All About Portugal For Expats, to connect with expat communities. Meet people who have already moved to Spain and Portugal, those in the process, and others still considering their options.

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