5 Top Places to Live in Spain as an Expat
Spain, the second biggest country in Europe, smaller only than France, offers an abundance of historical sights, rich local culture, and modern city life, attracts tourists, students, and expats alike. Many people dream of moving to Spain, but which are the best Spanish cities to move to according to your specific needs? What job opportunities can you look for, how much it cost to live, and what things to do in the city are among our top considerations when creating our list of best places to live in Spain.
What Do Expats Typically Do For a Living in Spain?
Since the recession in 2009, Spain’s economic situation got significantly worse, with the Spain unemployment rate plummeting in 2010 to almost 20%, and now in 2020, reaching 13% of the population. However, there are still job opportunities for qualified workers, people working in the hospitality industry, marketing and IT professionals, and construction work. A big advantage to finding work in Spain is knowing Spanish. Strictly English-speaking jobs are hard to come by unless you are planning to move to the city to teach English.
Read: Best Jobs in Spain
Best Places to Live in Spain For Expats
The allure of living in a place with a sunny, Mediterranean climate, friendly people all around, and delicious food makes Spain one of the top expat destinations in the world. Expats tend to like to live in the Southern parts of Spain to enjoy the sunny days and little rain all year round. With that being said, only one city on our list, Madrid, is not directly located in the south of Spain.
Read: Moving to Spain
This should come as no surprise that Spain’s capital city makes the top of this list. As the country’s largest financial hub and political center, Madrid also offers the top class nightclub and art scenes, sightseeing, and education for expat families. It’s also one of the most popular cities for expats to live in. Madrid is often described as an “elegant” city, thanks to its boulevards and neat parks, such as El Retiro or Sabatini Gardens situated around the city, the Royal Palace of Madrid, and Plaza Mayor, among other rich architectural sites.
In terms of cost living, renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center can cost you anywhere between 750 – 1200 euro per month. The average salary in Madrid is approx 1625 euro per month.
Barcelona is yet another top expat city in Spain, and what makes it even more unique to Madrid, that besides all that the capital has to offer, Barcelona beats it with a beach life / big city life. With the famous Park Guel, Sagrada Familia, and other sites designed by Gaudi to visit and enjoy a day, living in Barcelona can offer blissful evenings and exciting weekends after a work week’s stresses. Considered an art and cultural city, it’s worth mentioning that Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, an autonomous region, where people speak Catalonian alongside Spanish.
Costs of living here are very similar to those in Madrid, with expected rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in the city center you can expect to pay between 800 to 1100 euro per month. However, the average salary in Barcelona is a bit lower; 1455 euro per month.
Valencia, another southern city, is the third-largest Spanish city after Barcelona and Madrid. Valencia is known for its City of Arts and Sciences, a cultural and architectural complex featuring futuristic structures including a planetarium, an oceanarium, and an interactive museum. It is also known for “La Tomatina” – the tomato fight or tomato throwing festival! La Tomatina is a huge tourist attraction, and it’s held in Bunol, located approximately 35 minutes drive from Valencia. Let’s not forget Valencia’s famous nightlife and the majority of other historical sights in the city, and of course, beautiful beaches you can relax on the weekends.
Renting a 1-bedroom apartment in Valencia’s city center can cost you anywhere from 600 to 950 euro per month, with the average salary in Valencia is approx. 1415 euro.
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Seville, nearing the Portuguese border, is located a less than an hour drive from either the coast or mountains for those who like to enjoy both. While also famous for its Cathedral, which is the third-largest church in the world, and the biggest Gothic church, and being a resting place of Cristopher Columbus, Seville is not as touristy as Barcelona, Valencia, or Madrid. As a capital city of the Andalusian region, Seville is also famous for Flamenco dance and delicious tapas, offering expats a feel of bustling city life in a relatively small city.
With smaller-city life comes smaller costs – and salary. Seville’s median salary is about 1270 euro while renting a 1-bedroom apartment in the city center costs between 550 – 800 euro.
Majorca, part of Spain’s Balearic Islands, is mainly known for beach resorts, golf clubs, amazing nightclub scene, and its nine Michelin star restaurants to try. Offering a holiday style of living, Palma de Mallorca – or any place in Majorca – is an excellent place for retiring, digital nomads, or those looking for a career in the hospitality industry. In this part of Spain, the weather is beautiful most of the year, with relatively mild winters, too, meaning that life here mainly happens outdoors, making it a friendly and social place to live. Majorca also offers a more local lifestyle than the bigger cities, and life here seems more relaxed – as it should in a top holiday spot in Spain.
A 1-bedroom apartment in Palma de Mallorca’s city center can cost you between 750 to 110 euro per month, or if you opt to live outside of the city center, the price for a 1-bedroom apartment will go down to 500 – 900 euro. The average salary in Palma de Mallorca oscillates around 1280 euro per month, and most of the city’s and island’s jobs are in the tourism industry.
In the end, it is ultimately up to you what you like in a place you live. Some people like the bustling vibe of big cities; some like to experience the more resort-style living in the Southern, warmer places. The amazing thing about Spain is that it has something to offer that can match everyone’s requirements.