Spain has long been a favorite retirement destination and little wonder. With so many beautiful locations to choose from, the biggest challenge for would-be retirees is how to settle on what is the best place to retire in Spain.
A fabulous climate, a vibrant and engaging culture, awe-inspiring natural beauty, heavenly cuisine, festivals, and mile after mile of brilliant coastline dotted with divine beaches are attracting expats in Spain to retire permanently.
Best Place To Retire In Spain
Add to its extensive benefits, the low cost of living in Spain plus a well-developed national health system and Spain is an attractive option. Here, are our Top 10 fabulous suggestions on where to live in Spain.
Madrid is Spain’s capital, a cosmopolitan city combining old-world charm, oodles of historical heritage with a modern infrastructure and its status as economic and financial center.
Spain takes its arts and culture seriously, and today the city has more than 60 museums, headlined by the sublime Prado Museum of Art. Culture vultures, who live and work in Spain will also adore the Reina Sofía National Art Centre, dedicated to late 19th-century contemporary Spanish works and home to Picasso’s Guernica together with the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.
In addition to the arts, expats in Spain can enjoy a stroll in Madrid’s extensive park and garden system, indulge in people watching from a quiet outdoor table in a local café or enjoy the city’s vibrant nightlife.
Madrid is where the bounty of Spain arrives at your table. Whether its seafood from Galicia, cider straight from the Asturian Highlands, or flamenco music from Spain’s south, Spain’s capital is a mixing pot of cultural traditions and delicious cuisine. It’s the place to enjoy a taste of the very best this vibrantly diverse country offers.
Madrid’s Imperial Past
Echoes of Madrid’s imperial past appear in its beautiful public gardens. Feeling overwhelmed by sheer volume of fabulous art on display in the Prado? Head for the nearby Botanical Gardens for a green experience. Here you will discover a lush, shady refuge from the hustle and bustle of this vibrant city.
Alternatively, hop aboard the metro and three stops away, you’ll discover the Retiro Park, one of this great city’s green lungs. Here you can easily while away your day watching the world go by as you laze around one of the Retiro’s many ponds, or just enjoy a time out from the city bustle. All this, plus its affordability contrasted to comparable European capitals makes Madrid an attractive answer to the puzzle of where to live in Spain.
Europe’s largest Mediterranean city and Spain’s second largest city, Barcelona is a serious contender for those considering emigrating to Spain. Barcelona boasts a host of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Antoni Gaudi’s magnificent Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family and the Palace of Catalan Music.
One of the legacies of playing host to the 1992 Olympic Games is Barcelona’s modern infrastructure and amenities. The city offers prospective retirees brilliant outdoor recreation and beautiful beaches; sensational cuisine and divine wine, fabulous arts and culture, the world-class Barcelona Football team, an epic sweep of history, sublime architecture and a thriving nightlife.
Barcelona is stylish, vibrant, and simply oozes colorful Catalan culture. Barcelona offers a heady mix of old and new. Its highlights include Gaudí’s eye-popping architecture, the Ramblas pedestrian mall, and the atmospheric Barri Gòtic medieval maze.
Placa de Catalunya
Barcelona’s beating heart is the historical Plaça de Catalunya, which separates the old Barcelona of 133 the Romans and the Visigoth dominion from the grid-layout street plan of the late 19th century Eixample neighborhood. Below this vast square, sprawl the flower stalls and street entertainers of the famous Ramblas as it flows down to Barcelona’s waterfront and the Columbus monument.
Affordable dining, excellent cuisine, high fashion, and serious street chic add luster to Barcelona’s allure. Combine those high points with a thriving, non-stop nightlife and stunning Mediterranean sunshine, and you’ll quickly discover Barcelona delivers on almost any facet you desire. Whether your passion is beaches, ballet or music, Barcelona is unquestionably one of the best places to retire in Spain.
Nestling at the foot of the rugged Sierra Nevada Mountains in Spain’s southern Andalusia region Granada is famous for being home to the exquisite Alhambra also known as the Red Fortress, a lavish Moorish fortress complex of palaces, battlements, thrusting towers and glorious gardens and the Albayzín, a historical residential barrio featuring a mix of prominent Moorish and Andalusian influences. Both are acclaimed UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
If you are looking for right places to live in Spain, Granada has to be on your list. Expats enjoy snow sports in the winter atop the lofty Sierra Nevadas, gleaming sandy beaches throughout the summer, and dramatic flamenco shows, exciting museums, colorful festivals, theatre and Arab baths all year round.
Alicante located on Spain’s eastern Mediterranean coast is a bustling contemporary city home to around 334,000 residents. One of Spain’s most modern cities, Alicante’s international airport has made it a gateway for those emigrating to Spain, while it has established a reputation for having some of the most sought-after property in Spain.
A trendy Spanish tourist destination, Alicante’s Mediterranean setting attracts sun lovers and beach fanatics from the world over. Despite this fluctuating flow of tourists, Alicante remains a Spanish city, with its inviting small-town vibe very much.
Thanks of its warm climate, visitors can take a stroll along Alicante’s beach from March through to October, while over the sun shines most days during the winter meaning you only a need jacket to stay cozy.
Just a few steps from its iconic, urban sandy beach you will discover a historic town center populated by winding pedestrian thoroughfares and cream-colored buildings housing charming cafés, hedonistic restaurants, and character-laden hotels. Is it any wonder, Alicante is a strong candidate for the best place to retire in Spain?
Potential retirees looking at houses in Spain need search no further than Alicante. Despite Alicante’s reputation as a tourist hotspot, house prices here remain affordable.
Spain’s sixth largest city, Málaga lays claim to being one of the world oldest cities. Set on the evocative Costa Del Sol, Málaga is an immensely popular destination on Spain’s southern Mediterranean coast and a strong contender for the best place to retire in Spain.
This vibrant and dynamic city offers would-be retirees a host of museums, great shopping, superb restaurants and cultural events, which bring the city alive including the annual Málaga Film Festival and the Holy Week celebrations. Supporting its place on the list of good places to live in Spain is Málaga’s very mild winters and wonderfully sunny summers.
Málaga as a city is sparkling clean, boasting a pedestrian-only city center and a revitalized harbor precinct that is a wonderful spot for a leisurely stroll. The city is brimming with museums, offers plenty of great dining, and heaps of shopping to suit all budgets and tastes.
Topping off Málaga’s magnetic attraction for expats in Spain is its glorious sunshine, long flowing coast, genuinely balmy winter temperatures and gentle sea breezes blowing off the Mediterranean, which cool even the fiercest hot summer days.
Above all else, Málaga is welcoming, spirited city, exuding its trademark Andalusian luster. Best of all, even in its major tourist areas, it remains at its heart a very Spanish city. To top it all off, Málaga remains very affordable, living up to the reputation of the low cost of living in Spain.
The medieval city of Valencia sits on Spain’s eastern Mediterranean coast along the evocatively named Orange Blossom Coast. Spain’s third-largest city, Valencia is renowned for its serried orange groves, dazzling beaches, mild climate, and its la Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias or City of Arts and Sciences, an architecturally daring futuristic complex that is host to an interactive science museum, an IMAX theater, Europe’s largest aquarium and an opera house.
The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of Our Lady of Valencia known more prosaically as Valencia Cathedral is believed to play host to the 2,000-year-old Holy Chalice. The very chalice Jesus Christ used during the Last Supper.
As Spain’s third-largest city, Valencia has all the attractions anyone could expect from a major metropolis. The town enjoys efficient air and rail connections with the rest of Europe and beyond, plenty of green spaces, sound healthcare infrastructure, and long-established universities.
Expats in Spain
Expats in Spain will enjoy a lazy stroll through Valencia’s beautifully designed parks, under the dappled shade of leafy trees, while music seems to fill the very air. Valencia abounds in culture for all tastes, spanning art and science museums, bewitching concert halls and one of Europe’s largest sprawling historical centers.
Valencia is also a beach town thanks to its setting right on the Mediterranean. Moreover, central Valencia’s population of only around 800,000 lends it a small town atmosphere.
While Valencia enjoys an expansive set of contemporary amenities and resources for residents, the cost of living and property prices in Valencia remain lower than for comparable property in Barcelona and Madrid, making it indeed one of the most enjoyable and affordable places to live and work in Spain.
Bilbao on Spain’s lush green north coast is a modern urban transformation miracle. Over the past 20 years this once industrial port city, the pride of the Basque region has metamorphosed from a grim, gritty metropolis into one of Europe’s poster children for urban revitalization.
Along the way, Bilbao resolutely preserved its romantic, medieval heritage. This epic sea change has garnered Bilbao international acclaim together with a shower of awards. The resultant explosion of tourism has made Bilbao one of Europe’s most livable cities and a strong contender on expatriate where to live in Spain lists.
The city’s 352,000+ residents can enjoy miles of green, leafy parks stretching languidly on both sides of the inlet. Today, visitors and residents alike can walk from one side to the other of central Bilbao without leaving its leafy green waterside spaces.
Locals and tourists take advantage of this beautiful landscaping to stroll, bicycle, and skate along this promenade, while children play contentedly in playgrounds dotted along the way. Delicate pedestrian bridges arc over the water to connect both sides of the estuary, further adding to its lustrous charm.
Sophisticated San Sebastián
While San Sebastian’s cost of living is relatively expensive, the city compensates with its charming elegance, typified by its glittering gastronomy and famous ‘pinchos.’ Moreover, the city has the striking “La Concha” beach on its very doorstep.
This unashamedly stylish seaside city sits on Spain’s north Atlantic coast and enjoys a legendary charm. San Sebastian is perhaps one of the world’s most beautiful urban beachfront developments. Curving, manicured golden sandy beaches like Playa de la Concha, with its signature promenade, beguile the spectators’ eyes. Equally gorgeous is the city itself, with its wide boulevards and unapologetic frothy belle époque architecture.
A resort destination since the mid-1800s, San Sebastián typified the attractiveness of property in Spain. It first became popular under Queen Isabella II, who enjoyed summering here with her court and harbored ambitions to create a resort to rival France’s famed Biarritz, sitting just over the border.
Of course, where the queen went, the court inevitably followed, and over the years San Sebastián evolved into an architectural more recently a shopping destination. With all the attractions this sophisticated city offers today, its gorgeous beaches simply represent the veritable icing on the cake.
Naturally, these attributes signal San Sebastián as being one of the best places to retire in Spain. While its population can almost double during the July to September peak tourist months, crowds are smaller the rest of the year while temperatures remain mild, even in the dead of winter.
If you are exploring houses in Spain, off-season and long-term rentals can be very reasonable. For glamour, sophistication, and sheer beauty, San Sebastián is hard to beat.
The Balearic Islands
In compiling a short list of the best place to retire in Spain, the Balearic Islands are rarely top of mind. Known more for their hedonistic lifestyle and wild nightlife, hot spots such as the island of Ibiza is famous more for its vibrant party atmosphere and pulsing club scene than its Mediterranean-style tranquillity.
Tranquillity is found in these warm, sun-kissed islands. Over the years, the Balearic Islands have proven to be a popular choice for expats in Spain. Palma de Mallorca is a city renowned for its welcoming climate, quality of life and beautiful Mediterranean environment.
If you are looking at houses in Spain, don’t forget to include the Balearic Islands in your Google search.
The charming Canary Islands
A balmy climate featuring mild, all year round temperatures, brilliant blue skies, clean air and warm sunshine, make the Canary Islands one of the most special places to live in Spain. Perfect for those looking restore their health, the Canary Islands are a unique and exclusive destination for prospective expats in Spain.
If you suffer from rheumatism, asthma, arthritis or experience pulmonary problems, one of the Canary Islands enchanting locations may be for you. Peace and tranquillity coupled with a winsome natural environment make Lanzarote and exciting choice.
If you are in search of seclusion and solitude head for La Palma, Gomera, and El Hierro. Alternatively, if you prefer a more city emphasis in your city and nature divide, Tenerife or Gran Canaria could provide a more hospitable home base for you. Once you begin exploring your options in the Canary Islands, your hardest question will be where to live in Spain?
Cost Of Living In Spain
One of the most influential features attracting expats is the low cost of living in Spain. Spain has never been more affordable for expats than it is right now. Day-to-day living expenses can be meager by international standards, while modern amenities are in abundance, whether you prefer cinemas or museums, music or live theatre scene, Spain has it in abundance.
Spain’s Healthcare Options
Spain has a well-developed national health system supported by an extensive Healthcare infrastructure. The system is accessible to everyone, even expats, although there are some limitations in service provision. Many retirees in Spain opt for private healthcare cover to avoid waiting lists for treatment and operations.
Expats in Spain Explore and Find Your Dream Location
Little wonder so many international expats find a happy post-career lifestyle in sunny Spain. Here expats can discover low-cost homes by the sea; a fabulous range of cuisine while the mild weather makes al fresco dining a true joy. Also, wherever you opt to settle, you are bound to find ready friends amongst your fellow seniors. Happily, the Spanish people are warm and welcoming, and the Spanish government makes it comparatively easy for expatriates to readjust to their new life in glorious Spain.
Prospective retirees searching for new cultural experiences, fabulous cuisine, a sunny, welcoming climate and access to affordable healthcare may consider Emigrating to Spain for their retirement. Spain offers balmy weather, a treasure-trove of historical and architectural delights, a vibrant arts and culture scene, fabulous food, and wine, wonderful outdoor recreational options, astounding natural beauty and hundreds of miles of inviting coastline, coupled with a low cost of living and a mature healthcare system.