Wondering what is the best place to live in Spain? We asked four travel bloggers and expats to tell us more about their experiences of living abroad, in Spain. As you may recall, we tried living in Seville ourselves and we have our own list of pros and cons of living in Spain. Although we decided to relocate somewhere in Europe for now, not a day goes by without us thinking of some of the outstanding sights we miss in Seville.
Spain continues to be a sought-after destination for expats wanting to move away from the UK, especially post Brexit. We believe Spain can be an excellent choice given that serious research went into picking the right location. For example, whilst we believe Seville is by far one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, the weather was too hot for us. So in the future, we might want to consider moving somewhere North of Spain where the weather is more forgiving and there are vaster areas of forests. Spain is a wonderful country, with great food, fantastic culture and wonderful landscape, so no surprise it continues to be a top spot for expats, retirees and digital nomads. Here are the best places to live in Spain according to other expats.
Barcelona – Claire Sturzaker, Tales of a Backpacker
I fell in love with Barcelona when I first moved there for a year as an exchange student. Later, I moved back and lived there for about three and a half years. The city is buzzing with life, and there is always plenty to do no matter what time of the day, month or year – it is impossible to be bored in Barcelona! There is a huge expat community, so I made friends from all over the world and with social groups like Meet Up and EatWith you can always find like-minded people. Barcelona is a hub for digital nomads too, with co-working spaces all around the city. Yes, there are way too many tourists, and August is horribly hot and busy, but you can escape to the beach or the mountains and be skiing one day or taking a dip in the Mediterranean the next. Barcelona really does have everything, the food is amazing, the architecture is unreal, nightlife, Catalan culture, festivals, sunshine, the list goes on! My favourite thing to do in Barcelona is to go up into the mountains to Tibidabo and Collserola to get amazing views of the city below. Barcelona is a hard place to leave, and I keep going back every chance I get!
Madrid – Lola, Miss Filatelista
I spent 8 months living in Madrid, Spain and hopped around to a few different neighborhoods. The easiest area for young foreigners to live in is the barrio of Malasaña. Here you’ll find endless tapas bars, wine cellars, clubs, unique boutiques, and more. Malasaña is well connected via the metro and bus systems and is centrally located in Madrid. The area has reasonable rent rates and like most of Spain, the cost of living is quite affordable. There are many college students, international workers, and locals living in the area. Those who seek somewhere more upscale and posh should live in Salamanca (the state in Madrid, not the college town), and those who’d like more peace and quiet, and proximity to nature, will love living near Retiro Park. Madrid is an excellent place to be based in Spain as there’s always something to do in the city, but it’s just as easy to get away for the weekend elsewhere in Spain via bus, train, or plane. There are many incredible day trips just a few hours away from Madrid that should not be missed!
Palomares, Costa de Almeria – Faith, Xyu and Beyond
Palomares is a quirky little village on the Costa de Almeria, Spain. Halfway between Alicante to the north and Malaga to the South Palomares is quite a “wealthy” village by Spanish standards.
Palomares is famous because of the hydrogen bomb incident that took place in 1996 a B-52 bomber from the US, collided with a tanker in the sky above Palomares. The accident killed all four crewmembers of the air tanker, and the B52 broke apart killing 3 of the 7 crew and dropping its payload of non-nuclear explosives on Palomares. Two of the bombs detonated on contact, the third stayed intact and the fourth was dumped into the sea.
The area is cordoned off to this day and each year several of the villagers are taken to Madrid for testing to see if there have been any ill effects from the dropping of the bombs. Fortunately, there have been absolutely no incidences of ill health or physical effects from the bombs. Nearly 50 years later the US has signed an agreement to clean up the site in Palomares.
The village itself has benefited from that incident, as it is a very wealthy little area with many beautiful homes. The town square has a lovely selection of restaurants and a great town centre where many treat themselves to tapa and beer and people watch. Palomares has shops of every kind from bakeries to pescadaria (fish shop), several banks a Farmacia and a village market every Wednesday.
Granada – Molly, Piccavey
Since 2006 Granada has been my hometown. Located in Andalusia, this magical city framed by Snow capped Nevada mountains, also has beaches South of the city. Allowing you to enjoy skiing and outdoor activities. There are lots of hiking trails and nature to explore in the region.
The Alpujarra Villages are stunning. White rustic houses perched on the edge of Sierra Nevada Natural Park. The surrounding landscape is rugged and lined with Prickly pear cacti and Fig trees. The artisan foods and crafts here are quite a treat.
Granada also has its coastline, Costa Tropical. Called this due to its mild climate and production of fruits such as Avocado, Papaya and Mangoes. Motril, Salobreña and Almunecar are seaside resorts great for watersports and beach life.
The most well-known places in Granada are the Alhambra Palace and the Albaicin quarter. Both listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Alhambra is a gem of Mudejar architecture. A collection of palaces and gardens, dating from 10th century to 19th century.
The Albaicin is the old Arab quarter which looks across to the Palace opposite. Quaint whitewashed cobbled streets filled with red geraniums and typical plant pots. A wonderful part of Granada to explore and lose yourself in.
Seville – Manouk, Groetjes uit Verweggistan
When I had the opportunity to study abroad I went for it. I wanted to go all by myself to see if I could make it work without anyone to help me out. I ended up in Seville in the south of Spain. The first time I ever went to this city was the day I moved there for six months. I grew to love it pretty fast. Living in Seville is like living in a museum: beautiful buildings everywhere. I couldn’t believe this to be my new home. Living in Seville is cheap compared to The Netherlands. This meant eating dinner in cute restaurants very often with my friends, doing salsa lessons to meet more locals and enjoying the sun on one of the beautiful plazas. The city stole my heart and is still my favourite place in the world.
Seville is very clean: the streets get cleaned every night after sunset. I lived a bit outside of the city centre, which made a bit quieter. And don’t get me started about the people: everyone is very friendly. The baker took time to teach me the names of all of the breads on a quiet day and in university they patiently repeated everything twenty times until I understood.
Living in Seville can be a wonderful experience if it is for you: I love the culture and the burning sun. You have to accept Spanish service to be a bit slow, but if you can embrace this, I promise you will not regret living here. In fact, you will never leave!
Summers are too hot, but every other part of the year Seville is wonderful. I love the Christmas decorations for example. And if you know the city better, important things like Semana Santa (Holy Week) are so much more special. We loved this week and we were able to escape the crowds. Seville’s famous Feria de Abril is the best if you know people because most of it is celebrated with your local friends in tents. Being a local in Seville makes the city just a little bit more magical and welcoming.
What is your favourite place to live in Spain? Where would you rather relocate? Tell us your story in the comments section below.