Top Expat-Friendly Cities in Spain

Top Expat-Friendly Cities in Spain

In an era of globalization and digitalization, the world beckons with opportunities for those seeking a life abroad. Amidst this vast array of choices, Spain stands out as a promising destination, boasting a sunny climate, rich culture, and warm-hearted locals. But within Spain’s diverse tapestry, where exactly should expats seek refuge? Brace yourself as we embark on a journey to explore the seven finest cities for expatriates in Spain.

First, let’s grasp the essence of Spain’s geographical allure. The Spanish peninsula boasts five enchanting coasts: Costa Brava, Costa Dorada, Costa Blanca, Costa Cálida, and Costa del Sol. These pristine Mediterranean shores offer an endless supply of idyllic beaches, providing a retreat for water enthusiasts.

On the flip side, if mountains are your calling, Spain’s inland regions are adorned with charming pueblos. Here, majestic vistas accompany accessible trails for trekking, hiking, and biking. And in a delightful twist, you can even find locations that seamlessly blend coastal and mountainous splendors, offering a tapestry of experiences that transcends ordinary city life.

Every region in Spain has a distinct character and a trove of treasures to offer. The challenge lies in making the right choice that resonates with your desires. To navigate this maze, let us delve into the expat favorites, unraveling the hidden gems that set each region apart.

Unveiling the Most Desirable Expatriate Hubs in Spain

While the options abound, we have curated a list of top-tier destinations for those seeking to plant roots in Spain. From the vibrant North to the sun-kissed South, from the mainland to the captivating islands, each locale offers a unique climate, lifestyle, and ambiance. Brace yourself for a captivating journey that unveils the expat-approved havens.

In this post we cover the following areas:(click any section to see its content)


Without a doubt, Barcelona reigns supreme in the hearts of foreigners looking to work abroad. This beachside metropolis not only provides easy access to Costa Brava and Catalonia but also thrives on a diverse community of creative minds from across the globe. The city embraces newcomers, making it effortless to forge connections and find your tribe. Barcelona’s thriving ecosystem of co-working spaces, cafes, and libraries ensures optimal productivity. Moreover, this entrepreneurial haven, bolstered by the Entrepreneur’s Law, beckons ambitious individuals seeking to transform their innovative business ideas into reality.
Barcelona’s architectural marvels, such as the Sagrada Família, Park Güell, and Casa Batlló, astound visitors, while the city’s culinary scene tantalizes taste buds with Catalonian gastronomy. To top it off, athletes will revel in the well-maintained sports facilities and the opportunity for invigorating hikes in the embrace of mount Collserola.


As the regal capital of Spain, Madrid effortlessly enchants with its cobblestone alleys and serene green spaces. Amidst the bustling streets and vibrant nightlife, hidden oases like the renowned Retiro Park provide tranquil havens for relaxation. Madrid teems with cultural riches, offering theatrical spectacles like Lion King on Gran Vía, artistic wonders at the Museo Del Prado, and gastronomic delights in Mercado San Miguel. The city’s thriving art scene, exemplified by Museo Reina Sofia and Palacio de Cristal’s temporary galleries, captivates the creative soul.

Convenience reigns supreme in Madrid, boasting one of Europe’s largest public transportation networks. While the cost of living may be higher than in other Spanish regions, it remains considerably more affordable than cities like Paris or Milan. Furthermore, Madrid’s expansive metropolitan area promises endless opportunities for investors to explore the thriving real estate.


Valencia was recently ranked as the top destination for expats, offers a high quality of life in a smaller, yet vibrant, setting. Combining the charm of Madrid’s city life and Barcelona’s expat-friendly environment, Valencia boasts beautiful beaches. It seamlessly blends fast-paced city living with a relaxed coastal vibe and a lower cost of living.

Valencia has undergone significant development and continues to grow. The city has made sustainability a priority as tourism increases. It is a family-friendly and walkable city, with excellent biking infrastructure, including the renowned Turia Park, making it the running capital of Spain.

This city appeals to expats seeking co-working and remote work opportunities in a more laid-back environment. For digital nomads, Valencia offers the Digital Nomad Visa program, providing all the necessary information to work and live in the city.

Valencia is also famous for its culinary delights, with the iconic dish paella originating here. Don’t miss out on trying their unique version of horchata, made from tiger nuts, and enjoyed with fartons. The Central Market is a must-visit, boasting the largest fresh produce market in Europe with over 1,000 stalls.

Another highlight of Valencia is the City of Arts and Sciences, a futuristic architectural marvel. Additionally, the city is renowned for Las Fallas, a traditional fire festival featuring explosive celebrations and impressive artwork.


Despite that Sevilla has small-town feel, is Spain’s fourth-largest city and one of its oldest. Located in the South, Sevilla offers a time-capsule experience of traditional Spain in the modern era. Flamenco shows, vibrant food markets, and concerts throughout the year immerse visitors in the rich Spanish culture. The city strikes a balance between enjoying the present moment and a lively atmosphere filled with students and expats.

Sevilla is well-connected, with a walkable city center and an extensive cycling network spanning 180 kilometers, making it the most bike-friendly city in Spain. Plaza de Toros, the largest bullfighting stadium in Spain, and Plaza de España, a stunning 50,000 square meter plaza, are iconic landmarks worth exploring. The city’s charm has attracted directors from around the world, with numerous films and TV shows featuring scenes set in Sevilla.


Málaga situated along the Costa del Sol, offers a quieter atmosphere compared to Barcelona or Valencia, but with an abundance of sandy beaches. Whether taking a sunset stroll on the boardwalk or savoring sardine skewers under the sun, Málaga provides a pleasant climate year-round. For those not drawn to the beach, the city offers inland living options closer to the countryside and mountains.

With a significant expat and tourist presence, English is commonly spoken in Málaga. The city’s lower cost of living makes it a budget-friendly destination. Málaga is renowned as the birthplace of famous artist Pablo Picasso, whose works are showcased at the Picasso Museum. The city also boasts charming white towns (pueblos blancos) like Mijas and Casares, adding to its allure.


San Sebastián located in the Basque Country, offers majestic beaches and stunning views. Surfing enthusiasts flock to Zurriola Beach for its exceptional waves. Due to its geography, the city has preserved its original language and culture with little Latin and Arabic influence.

While San Sebastián’s cost of living is higher and the climate wetter, the city’s lush environment, Gothic architecture, and incredible food scene compensate for it. San Sebastián is renowned for its gastronomy, boasting the second-highest number of Michelin Stars per capita in the world. The city is a favorite among students studying in Spain.


The Canary Islands, located off the coast of Africa, offer a completely different climate and landscape compared to mainland Spain. Known for enjoying an eternal spring-like climate, the archipelago is a perfect getaway any time of the year.

Consisting of seven main islands, each with its distinct charm, the Canary Islands boast an abundance of natural beauty. Five of these islands have been designated as Biosphere Reserves, showcasing their commitment to environmental preservation.

The Canary Islands are not only a popular tourist destination but also an ideal place for retirement or a gap year. Many retirees from the UK, the US, and even Spanish nationals choose the islands as their final home, drawn by the pleasant climate and relaxed lifestyle.

If you’re considering making the Canary Islands your home, you can explore the retirement visa options available to facilitate your relocation.

Lastly, one of the distinctive features of the Canary Islands is their black-sand beaches, a testament to their volcanic origin. While white-sand beaches are easily found, the opportunity to experience the unique beauty of black-sand beaches is a true delight.

In summary, the Canary Islands provide a captivating escape from the mainland, with their diverse landscapes, pleasant climate, rich gastronomy, and vibrant culture. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, relaxation on sandy beaches, or an enchanting retirement destination, the Canary Islands offer a truly remarkable experience.


With its Timanfaya Natural Park, creates an otherworldly experience that feels like stepping onto the set of a sci-fi movie. Tenerife, home to Mount Teide, Spain’s tallest peak, offers breathtaking views and diverse landscapes. Fuerteventura entices visitors with its pristine white-sand beaches and a wealth of bird species to discover.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty of activities to enjoy on the Canary Islands. From hiking and snorkeling to surfing and paragliding, the archipelago provides endless opportunities for adventure.

While it’s difficult to choose a single standout location among the islands, each offers its unique appeal, and the choice ultimately depends on individual preferences.

Despite being part of Spain, the Canary Islands have their own distinct gastronomy. The islands are famous for their fried cheese and papas arrugadas, served with the delectable mojo sauce.

Carnival celebrations are also a highlight of the Canary Islands. The Carnaval de Santa Cruz de Tenerife, in particular, attracts tourists from all over the world. The cities come alive with vibrant music, parades, and people dressed in colorful and sparkly costumes.

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