The top 5 cities in Spain for expats

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The top 5 cities in Spain for expats

Spain offers much more than just the stereotypical Andalusian Flamenco, fiesta and siesta. We have chosen our top 5 favourite destinations for expats to move to, for an authentic Spanish experience!  

1. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a tropical island paradise, ideal for anyone looking to escape the harsh Northern winters. The coldest month of the year is January, but even then temperatures don’t tend to drop below 19ºC.

The cosmopolitan city of Las Palmas offers more than just its climate and stunning beaches - the local people are open and friendly, the nightlife is great and the city hosts an annual carnival  in January or February. The carnival dates back to the 15th century and combines that rich history with music, dance, culture and leisure.

The Canary Islands are easily accessible from the peninsula and further afield, thanks to Las Palmas’ international airport.

Las Palmas factfile - monthly costs

Average salary (after tax): €975.00

Rent (1 bed apartment in city centre): €544.12

Rent (3 bed apartment in city centre): €880.53

Cost to buy per m²: €2,218.00

Cost of living (per person, excluding rent): €486.22

Salaries for expats tend to be slightly higher than local salaries all over Spain.

2. Nerja

Nerja has retained much of its traditional charm, as the former fishing village’s coastline hasn’t been destroyed by the tower blocks and developments that characterise many other Costa del Sol resorts.

All year round, expat communities live alongside the Spanish. Tourism is an important part of Nerja’s economy, but with 13 km of beaches, you’re bound to find a space to pop your towel down.

Explore Nerja’s stunning caves, coves and cliffs by day. By night, festivals and ferias (fairs) draw large crowds with live music, dancing and traditional Andalusian dress.

Nerja factfile - monthly costs

The prices below are costs for Malaga and are likely to be slightly higher in Nerja itself.

Average salary (after tax): €1295.76

Rent (1 bed apartment in city centre): €500.86

Rent (3 bed apartment in city centre): €865.62

Cost to buy per m²: €1658.67

Cost of living (per person, excluding rent): €527.18

3. Madrid

Spain’s capital may be the country’s most expensive city, but remains reasonably priced for a European metropolis.

There is always something to do in Madrid - morning, noon or night! Many shops don’t close for the traditional Spanish ‘siesta’ and excellent public transport links make it easy and cheap to get around the city. It is easier to find work and study opportunities in Madrid than in many other parts of Spain, particularly for English speakers.

LGBT friendly Madrid hosted World Pride 2017 and is extremely diverse. Spain is not generally renowned for how well it caters to its vegetarian and vegan residents and guests, but central Madrid offers something for all tummies!

Living on the well-connected outskirts of this cultural hubbub can get you much more living space for your budget than in the centre. Inland Madrid’s continental climate is very varied - it gets cold enough to ski in the sierra (mountains) in winter but temperatures above 40ºC are not uncommon in the summer!

Madrid factfile - monthly costs

Average salary (after tax): €1563.29

Rent (1 bed apartment in city centre): €777.21

Rent (3 bed apartment in city centre): €977.19

Cost to buy per m²: €4150.54

Cost of living (per person, excluding rent): €648.73

4. Granada

Andalusian Granada is a melting pot of Moorish, Jewish and Roman history. The narrow streets of a former silk market lead onto courtyards with fountains and arches. Arabic-style cafes serve teas and shisha, and bars give out huge, delicious tapas with every drink. Visit the Alhambra - a palace and fortress with grounds that overlook the city.

Located at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, the university city is great for avid skiers. However, steep hills mean that the city is not very accessible for those with limited mobility.

Less than 5% of Granada’s population are expats so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to practice your Spanish! There is no regional dialect in Andalusia, but locals tend to have very strong accents!

Granada factfile - monthly costs

Average salary (after tax): €1138.89

Rent (1 bed apartment in city centre): €378.64

Rent (3 bed apartment in city centre): €605.00

Cost to buy per m²: €1150.00

Cost of living (per person, excluding rent): €545.58

5. Valencia

In 2015, more British expats moved to the Valencian community than anywhere else in Spain. It’s not hard to see why - Spain’s third-largest city is coastal with a laid back yet modern lifestyle and offers employment opportunities for English speakers and good weather!

Though not an archetypically pretty Spanish town, there is a huge cultural offering in Valencia. Make sure you try local dishes, as paella from Valencia is recognised as being the best in Spain! Each March, art, history and music meet fire and light at Las Fallas festival .

Valencia has an international airport and metro, train, tram and bus services. Road signs are displayed in Castilian Spanish and Valenciano ‘Valencian’, the joint official language. The variant of Catalan is taught as a first or second language in state schools but most locals are able to speak and understand Castilian Spanish.

Valencia factfile - monthly costs

Average salary (after tax): €1319.00

Rent (1 bed apartment in city centre): €544.12

Rent (3 bed apartment in city centre): €880.53

Cost to buy per m²: €2218.00

Cost of living (per person, excluding rent): €553.31

Things to consider when moving to Spain

Before moving to Spain, check out the rest of the Just Landed Spain Guide for vital information on healthcare, property, visas and more. Wherever you are moving, AGS Movers  are a reputable moving company who can move you and your things to anywhere in Spain from around the world.

Further reading

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