Published On: November 9th, 2023Categories: Europe, Moving Guides, Scouting TripsTags:

You Should Move to One of These 8 Cities in Spain

You Should Move to One of These 8 Cities in Spain

There are about 40,000 Americans living in Spain, a number that’s expected to grow thanks to all the country has to offer. People love Spain for its beautiful art and scenery, incredible food and wine, and top-rated healthcare and safety, all at a low cost of living by American standards.

There are also several expat-friendly visa options, including a non-lucrative visa for retirees, a digital nomad visa, and a golden visa for buying property. There’s another big bonus for people with Latin American, Filipino, or even Puerto Rico citizenship—an expedited path to Spanish dual citizenship. Because Spain is in the European Union, you can also use that citizenship to live anywhere in the EU.

Spain is a large country with many lifestyle options. Besides our favorite cities, there are dozens of neighborhoods and nearby towns that offer an excellent quality of life. No matter where you live, public transportation can easily take you from place to place. We recommend scouting the country on an expat tour to find your perfect spot.

Seville

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Seville is known for flamenco dancing and jamon iberico (Iberico ham), but those delicacies are just a sampling of what Seville has to offer. The capital of Andalusia has about 700,000 residents and a rich history of Christian and Muslim conquest, which you can see melded in its architecture. You can take a train to the coast, which is called Costa de la Luz (Coast of Light).

Our favorite neighborhoods: Nervion, Alameda, Triana, Macarena
Great cities nearby: Jerez de la Frontera, Cadiz
Fun fact: The first Costco in Spain was built in Seville

Malaga

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Malaga is a stunning city of half a million on the Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun). It has a thriving tech hub and an annual film festival. The city is covered with options to learn and enjoy art, like the SOHO art neighborhood and five major art schools. Not surprising since Picasso was born here.

Our favorite neighborhoods: Centro, Soho, El Perchel
Great cities nearby: Marbella, Rincon de la Victoria, Nerja
Fun fact: Malaga was founded by the Phoenicians 2800 years ago, making it one of Europe’s oldest cities

Alicante

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Alicante is a city of about 350,000 on the Costa Blanca (White Coast). The city is right on the beach, and you can visit dozens of other beach towns by tram. It’s a friendly, relaxed spot with expat communities of all origins. Visit in June to attend the Hogueras de San Juan (Bonfires of Saint John), a festival that features fireworks and burning elaborate and beautiful papier-mâché sculptures.

Our favorite neighborhoods: Centro, Altozano, Campoamor, Carolinas Altas, El Campello
Great cities nearby: Villajoyosa, Altea, Albir, Calp, Denia, Torrevieja
Fun fact: Some people say tapas originated in Alicante

Valencia

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Not to sound like a broken record, but Valencia also has amazing beaches, art, and food. It has a population of 800,000 and has been ranked the healthiest city on earth for two years in a row. Pictured is the tremendous Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (City of Arts and Sciences), a massive cultural and architectural complex. The city’s Fallas Festival, where giant puppets are crafted and burned, is similar to Alicante’s bonfire festival but this one is much larger. As many as three million people attend each year.

Our favorite neighborhoods: Centro, Soho, El Perchel
Great cities nearby: Marbella, Rincon de la Victoria, Nerja
Fun fact: It’s home to the largest aquarium in Europe

Barcelona

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Barcelona is a breathtaking city of 1.6 million people on the Mediterranean Sea. Closer to five million live in greater Barcelona. The city is known for art, architecture, fashion, and trade. One of the most notable things about Barcelona is its excellent city plan that’s kept the city from experiencing sprawl. There are endless choices of museums, markets, bars, restaurants, and beaches to visit. Sports fans will enjoy watching Barça and Barça Femení play football.

Our favorite neighborhoods: Ciutat Vella, Gracia, L’Eixample, Sarria, Nou Barris
Great cities nearby: Sitges, Cadaques, Figueres, Blanes, Tossa de Mar
Fun fact: The large cathedral you see in the photo above is La Sagrada Familia, which has been under construction for 140 years. It was supposed to be completed in 2026, but the pandemic caused additional delays

Bilbao

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Bilbao is in the northeastern part of Spain near the border with France. It’s called Basque Country, and it has its own language, cuisine, and culture. It’s also home to the incredible Guggenheim Museum. To the west is the Costa Verde (Green Coast), a lush region on the Atlantic Ocean.

Our favorite neighborhoods: Bilbao La Vieja, Casco Viejo, San Francisco, Abando, Uribarri
Great cities nearby: Santander, San Sebastian, Guernica
Fun fact: Small plates aren’t called tapas in Bilbao—they’re called pintxos (pronounced like pinch-ose or pin-chose)

Vigo

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Vigo residents gave the city the highest marks in Spain for quality of life, and viewing that sunset above, yyou can imagine wh. The city is located on Spain’s western coast, just north of Portugal, and it has a population of about 300,000. It’s known for mild weather and delicious local seafood.

Our favorite neighborhoods: Casco Vello, La Porta do Sol, Barrio de Bouzas, O Berbés, Teis
Great cities nearby: Combarro, A Guarda, Redes, Baiona, Camariñas, Santiago de Compostela
Fun fact: The oldest Spanish newspaper still in publication is the Faro de Vigo

Madrid

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One of the most vibrant and cosmopolitan cities in Europe, the Spanish capital has about 3.3 million residents, while 6.5 million live in greater Madrid. You’ll never run out of museums, concerts, plays, wine tastings, food tours, and sporting events in Madrid, but if you need a change of pace, take the high speed train to any coast. Almost every day is sunny, and if you’re still working on your Spanish,  many people in Madrid speak English.

Our favorite neighborhoods: La Latina, Malasaña, Chueca, Chameri, Lavapies, Chamartin, Villa de Vallecas
Great cities nearby: Las Rozas, San Sebastian de los Reyes, Getafe, Toledo, Valladolid
Fun fact: Madrid has the oldest working restaurant in the world

Guide to Moving to Spain

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Spain is incredibly popular with expats of all stripes, whether they’re studying abroad, retiring, or any of the life stages in between. They’re drawn to the cities, the beaches, the weather, the art and architecture, and the food — all at a decent cost of living — along with highly ranked safety, infrastructure, and healthcare. Spain welcomes retired Americans, and it’s easy to get around Europe once you’re there. Spanish people may speak Spanish, Catalan, or a number of other regional Romance languages or Spanish dialects, but more than a quarter speak English. Each region of the country has its own distinct personality, so enjoy exploring and discovering your favorites!

Guide to Moving to Spain

How to Get Healthcare in Spain

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Spain has one of the most innovative and remarkable healthcare systems in Western Europe. With its rich resources, Spain is home to a large number of hospitals and clinics that offer top-notch medical care.

How to Get Healthcare in Spain

 

Jen Barnett Expatsi
Co-founder at Expatsi | Website | + posts

Jen is the co-founder of Expatsi, a company that helps Americans move abroad. She created the Expatsi Test, an assessment that recommends countries for aspiring emigrants based on lifestyle data. Jen has an MBA from Emory University with concentrations in marketing and innovation. She's written for BusinessWeek, Health, Cooking Light, and Southern Living. Prior to Expatsi, she created Freshfully and Bottle & Bone—two businesses in the local food space—and spoke at TEDx on being brave. She's moving to Mexico in 2024, along with her husband and co-founder Brett, pitbull mix Squiggy, and three rotten cats. How can she help you move abroad?

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Jen Barnett Expatsi
Co-founder at Expatsi | Website | + posts

Jen is the co-founder of Expatsi, a company that helps Americans move abroad. She created the Expatsi Test, an assessment that recommends countries for aspiring emigrants based on lifestyle data. Jen has an MBA from Emory University with concentrations in marketing and innovation. She's written for BusinessWeek, Health, Cooking Light, and Southern Living. Prior to Expatsi, she created Freshfully and Bottle & Bone—two businesses in the local food space—and spoke at TEDx on being brave. She's moving to Mexico in 2024, along with her husband and co-founder Brett, pitbull mix Squiggy, and three rotten cats. How can she help you move abroad?