The ultimate places to live in Spain
Considering living in Spain for your next adventure?
The home of sangria, tapas and siesta-grabbing snooze-fiends, Spain is swiftly becoming one of western Europe’s most popular destinations to live. With excellent food, year-round sun and a surprisingly low cost of living, loads of people just like you are frantically flocking to Spain.
And because it’s a pretty big country, Spain is home to plenty of potential new exciting existences. Want to live somewhere edgy and artistic? Laid back? Mountainous? Packed with history and heritage? Spain has it all.
In this article, we’ve brought you the best places in in Spain along with details on what’s so good about each one. If you’re a British citizen who wants to move to Spain after Brexit, please know that the rules have changed. For anyone planning on living in Spain as an expat, this is the ultimate guide. We’ve covered:
Here’s why these 8 cities are the best places to live in Spain:
Bam! Straight in with Spain’s capital, which is home to countless expats. Madrid is right in the center of the country, it’s the nation’s biggest city, and it’s a hugely popular choice for people who are planning on working remotely from Spain. Here’s why:
- Incredible food: okay, someone is gonna get upset over this, but if you’re a foodie, Madrid is (probably) the best destination in Spain. The city offers an endless smorgasbord of stomach-busting eating opportunities, and it’s easy to find a massive meal for €10 or less. Big food fans should also consider Valencia, but more on that later.
- Non-stop nightlife: Madrid’s nightlife is amazing, edgy and nocturnal. Dinner starts at 10pm. Bar-hopping starts at midnight. It might not end until the sun comes up, so don’t expect to be home before breakfast. For bars, nightclubs and dancing, Madrid is one of the best destinations on the planet.
- A surprisingly laid-back existence: okay, all of Spain is laid-back and languid, and life throughout the nation is lived at an invitingly gentle pace. But for a capital city, Madrid is unbelievably laconic and leisurely, and it’s also surprisingly walkable.
- Making friends: there are lots of digital nomads and expats in Madrid, making the city one of the best places in Spain for remote workers keen to make friends.
- Roaming, wandering and moving on: because Madrid is situated right in the center of the country, it’s perfectly located for exploring other parts of Spain. It has some fantastic neighborhoods filled with amazing restaurants, trendy bars and high-quality rentals. Public transport in Madrid is also excellent, and its sprawling airport connects you quickly, easily and frequently to the rest of the world. It is also fairly easy to find fully-equipped apartments for rent as well as short term rentals in Madrid if you want to spend a few months there.
The artiest, edgiest city in Spain, Barcelona is another popular choice for people who wish to live in Spain. Barcelona is by far the biggest travel hub in Spain, perpetually packed with tourists on whistlestop city breaks. The city has a massively multicultural population, with almost half of the city’s dwellers born abroad. Here’s why lots of people choose to move to Barcelona:
- Art at its heart: without doubt the hippest city in Spain, Barcelona is packed with a wacky cast of creatives, bohemians and hipsters along with lots of excellent venues and events. The city has had a proud artistic heritage for years – it’s the home of Gaudi (and all his kooky creations) along with lots of excellent galleries and architecture.
- A young population: if you’re a young professional or student, Barcelona is the best place in Spain for making friends. There’s a huge student population along with lots of people between 20-30 who decided to stick around after graduating.
- Shores and sands: Barcelona is home to lots of excellent beaches, and some are only a short walk from the center of the city.
- Buddying up: Barcelona is the best place in Spain for making friends – and by a pretty big margin. Here, you’ll find people from around the world, making Barcelona one of the best places in Spain for remote workers keen to make friends.
- Year-round good weather: Barcelona’s year-round climes are comfortable and temperate, with mid-summer temperatures hitting highs of 34°C and winter averages sitting at around 16°C. It can get pretty humid in Barcelona, but temperatures are never too lofty or too low.
Broadly speaking, Spain is a ridiculously cheap place to live (by western European standards). But things are a little different in Barcelona, where immigration, gentrification and popularity have driven prices up. If you’re on a budget or want to keep a tight grip on your purse strings, you should probably look for affordable studio apartments in Barcelona city.
Digital nomads, workationers and new expats should look for short term rentals in Barcelona that they can rent on a month to month basis. This will allow them to move from place to place without too many constraints.
We’ve also put together an amazing guide on living in Barcelona and things you need to know.
Valencia is sort of like a budget Barcelona. If you want the same atmosphere and energy as Barcelona but you’re low on cash, a Valencia would be an excellent choice for you. Valencia is bigger than you think, but it feels smaller than its dimensions should – it’s a paradox in city form. Here are the best things about living in Valencia:
- It’s rapidly emerging as Spain’s next top nomadic spot: Valencia is the new big player in Spain’s digital nomad landscape. If you fancy yourself as a curve-beating nomadic pioneer, get here now.
- Outrageous affordability: for a big city, Valencia is ridiculously affordable. You can find a good meal in an inexpensive restaurant for around €8 or less, while a domestic beer in a restaurant is only around €2. And all the other prices are comparably low-cost. Valencia is one of the best places in Spain for remote workers on a budget with incredibly good neighborhoods to live in.
- Endless food: Valencian food is some of Spain’s best food. The original home of the iconic paella, Valencia’s other tasty treats include wine, mussels, bunuelos, fideuà, arròs negre, excellent seafood and much more.
- It’s an excellent compromise: it’s a big city that feels like a small town. It’s cultural and cosmopolitan yet very traditional. It’s on the beach but it’s close to mountains. It’s never cold but neither is it blisteringly hot. It’s fastidiously Spanish but culturally progressive. In short, Valencia is a best-of-all-worlds bonanza, and it offers a little bit of everything.
- Cycling: Valencia is perhaps the most cycling-friendly city in Spain, with excellent infrastructure, lots of bike lanes, and relatively small dimensions. Valencia also has a city-wide cycle hire scheme which is perfect for casual riders.
Aside from all this stuff, public transport is excellent, there’s a large LGBTQ+ community, and the city offers a surprisingly hefty amount of tourist attractions and cultural events.
Digital nomads, workationers and remote workers should look for short term rentals in Valencia in order to retain the ability to pick up and move whenever they want.
Less than 200km south of Valencia is Alicante, a resort city unlike any of the other places we’ve featured so far. Alicante is a party hub, with a buzzing nightlife scene embraced by both locals and endless herds of western European tourists. Here’s why you should consider living in Alicante:
- Nightlife: in the summer, you’ll find endless opportunities for drinking and dancing, when Alicante’s streets are packed with party-pursuing tourists from around the world (but especially from Russia, Germany and the UK). If you like feeling like a long-term tourist rather than a short-term resident, Alicante is one of the most appealing destinations in Spain.
- Often-ignored pockets of culture and class: Alicante isn’t all partying and late nights. With an excellent old town, great beaches, a beautiful port and a heritage-stuffed castle complex, there’s lots of laid-back fun here too.
Pokey proportions: Alicante is small, perfect if you like diminutive dimensions. The population sits at around 330,000, while the city center itself is ridiculously walkable.
Another coastal town, Malaga sits on Spain’s southern shores, just east of Costa Del Sol. The city has a warm climate and a huge amount of history, heritage, culture and some great neighborhoods. Again, Malaga combines laid-back charm with an excellent, effervescent cityscape. Here are the top reasons to live and work remotely from Malaga:
- Foreigners everywhere: whether they’re working for startups, temping as club reps or just on a month-long holiday from somewhere cold, Malaga is packed with foreigners who are visiting both long-term and short-term. If you like making friends and being surrounded by a bunch of multinationals, Malaga is an excellent place to live.
- Great climes: this region isn’t named ‘Coast of the Sun’ by accident. It’s hot, bright and welcoming, with great weather all year round. You get 320 days of sunshine every year, and even in January, temperatures rarely drop below 13°C.
- Tempting proximity to the rest of the world: you’re a digital nomad or have a remote job, so you like moving around a lot. While lots of Spain is an excellent gateway to other parts of Europe, Malaga sits just north of Africa, and ports both in and around the city can give you access to Morocco and further afield.
There’s also lots of excellent culture and history in Malaga. You’ll find Roman and Islamic sites along with lots of galleries and museums. Some of these galleries and museums celebrate the iconic and unparalleled Picasso, who was born in Malaga.
Spending a few months in Malaga is completely worthwhile. You can easily find short term apartments in Malaga in the city Homelike platform.
Overflowing with heritage, history and Islamic sites, southern Seville is an inland gem. It’s an edgy, artistic city, brimming with parties, bohemians and lots of cool areas. Here’s why should consider living and working remotely from Seville:
- It’s ridiculously endearing: Seville looks good, feels good, and is packed with quaint and cosy charm. Cultural and romantic, Seville is quintessential Spain, with great food, night-long dancing, flamenco culture, long siestas and a relaxing way of life.
- It’s both historic and modern: in Seville, you’ll find fascinating contradictions which embrace both history and modernity. With orange trees, Islamic relics, a huge gothic cathedral, crumbling homes and lots of now-trendy neighborhoods, Seville is at a cultural crossroads in many ways, making it both trendy and retro.
- Neverending nightlife: you’ll find flamenco bars, hipster joints, wine, live music, and partying until 7am. If you like hanging around in the hipper areas of town, consider living in La Alameda.
If you just want to live in Seville temporarily just for the experience, there are plenty of short term rentals in Seville that come fully-furnished with flexible lease terms (you can do month to month renting)
This entry is a little different to everywhere we’ve featured so far. Not part of mainland Spain, Tenerife is part of an archipelago southwest of the nation, off the northwest coast of Africa. Part of the Canary Islands, Tenerife is by far the most populous of the eight islands which make up the quaint little cluster. Here’s why you might want to consider living as a digital nomad in Tenerife:
- Incredible weather: there’s no such thing as ‘cold’ in Tenerife. Winter temperatures rarely lurk below 20°C at sea level, while average temperatures in summer sit at around 30°C, but they often shoot considerably higher.
- Outdoor adventures: with towering mountains, lengthy hikes, excellent cycling trails, brilliant beaches, rolling hills, an iconic volcano and the sprawling summits of Teide National Park, Tenerife is one of the best adventure destinations in the whole of Spain. And because the region is so small, it means you can explore lots of it, even if you’re the type of digital nomad who likes to move on swiftly.
It’s tiny: with a population of less than a million on the entire island, and a total size of only around 2,000 square kilometers, Tenerife is a fun-size island of endless adventure. In spite of its size, around 5 million tourists descend upon Tenerife every year, perfect if you like mingling with travelers.
Home to the world-famous Alhambra, Granada is another excellent southern city, but a little smaller than most other places we’ve featured. Here’s why you might want to consider working remotely from Granada:
- Bundles of history and heritage: like lots of the other southern Spanish cities we’ve covered, there’s plenty of Islamic history in Granada. The biggest draw is (obviously) the Alhambra, but other great sites include baths, markets and the former Arabic quarter of Albaicín.
- It’s invitingly small: with a population of around 250,000 people, Granada is a friendly little city with a surprisingly large number of English-speaking expats. It’s easy to make friends in Granada, both with locals and other expats.
Outdoor exploration: from the center of Granada, you can spot the snow-covered peaks of the Sierra Nevada, a lofty mountain range that’s home to some of the tallest mountains in Spain. You can enjoy endless hiking, adventuring and outdoor exploration in and around Granada, where life is lived largely outside.