10 best cities to live in Spain for Expats

Which are the best cities to live in Spain? Which are the best cities to retire in Spain? In the below list you’ll see our selection of some of the best cities in Spain to live in, according to official ratings, safety, things to do, and prices as well. For each of the places from the below list, you’ll find highlights of why they are great, so you can decide what would be the best fit for you. You’ll find the best cities to visit in Southern Spain, and well, the best cities in South of Spain you could live in. So, are you ready to decide where to live in Spain?

10 best cities to live in Spain

When we want to speak about the best cities to live in Spain, you must consider many different factors to decide if that place is good for you. You must ask yourself what is that you’re looking for before you ask for the best cities in Spain to live in. Do you want to find the best cities to retire in Spain, or you are an entrepreneur working remotely? Are you a freelancer, or a digital nomad? Maybe a blogger? Or you’re asking where to live in Spain because you want to find a job there?

Whichever of the above categories you fit in, we’ll discuss all of them! We’re also highlighting some places if you’re looking for ideas on where to live in Spain for a month or where to live in Spain as an American. Stick around, and you’ll get some ideas for the best places, but also so discover the best cities to visit in southern Spain, and best cities to visit in northern Spain! Now let’s see the best places for foreigners to live in Spain!

#1 Madrid

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Madrid is definitely one of the best cities to live in Spain. The Spanish capital city has everything an expat, a freelancer, or a digital entrepreneur would wish for. If you’re fitting any of these categories and you’re asking where to live in Spain, my first suggestion is Madrid! Moreover, for those who are asking where to live in Spain for a month, or where to live in Spain as an American, the answer is still Madrid!

Why is Madrid such a great pick? The club scene and urban culture in the city are absolutely spectacular. In the forever buzzing Spanish capital you can always find something new, and while you’re roaming the streets, that wild and restless vibe and spirit feels to surround you. Think just about the neighborhood festivals…

If you’re looking for a big city to live in Spain, you have no issues with the heat in the summer, and you really want a bustling lifestyle, then Madrid is definitely for you! On top of this, traveling from Madrid is also super easy with its huge international airports.

Speaking of internationality, for single expats and expat families I’d just say, that more than 10.000 British expats are based in Madrid. Even my cousin was living there for over a year doing remote work for her British company, so I know first-hand how great this city is for expats and freelancers. There are also numerous job opportunities in Madrid for English speakers, so if you’re looking to find a job there, your chances are much higher than in Barcelona or any other city in Spain. And don’t forget the safety index of Madrid, that’s much higher than London for instance. Madrid is considered one of the safest cities in Europe!

Cost of living in Madrid

Spain in usual is much cheaper than other Western and South-Western European countries. Comparing it to Milan, it’s just a couple hundred euros cheaper, but compared to London or Paris, it’s definitely unbeatable. See below the average rental prices!

Rental TypeRental Price
Apartment€1119
Studio Apartment€785
Private Room€480

#2 Barcelona

best cities in spain to live

Barcelona has been the city I’ve personally was planning to relocate to from London, but I went with Milan in the end. However, it is still my favorite city in Spain! I love Gaudi, I love the city, and I definitely do say that it’s one of the best cities to live in Spain, especially for expats, freelancers, digital nomads, and digital entrepreneurs. For those who are looking for the best cities in Spain to live in and find a job too, I must warn you that Barcelona isn’t an easy one.

Even though the city is full of European expats, and there are many job opportunities for English, French, German, or even Polish speakers, these jobs usually call center and sales jobs. So if you’re looking for something fancier, on a higher level, if you don’t speak Spanish and Catalan, it might be a great struggle to find your dream job.

Still, when people ask where to live in Spain, I’ll say Barcelona, since many friends, family members, and people I got to know there from the United States all the way to Poland say that it’s an amazing city to live in, though just if you’re actually self-employed, or remote worker. This doesn’t mean others couldn’t find a job or live well. It means simply that it’s harder.

Where to live in Spain as an American? Or where to live in Spain for a month? Barcelona is a great opportunity for this, and it’s beautiful, and there’s so much life and possibilities to live and enjoy life. It’s also not too expensive. The cosmopolitan life with a seaside view, where technology and talent are the two key factors for everyone who’s moving for career reasons. Barcelona is not just great for living, but it’s also one of the best cities to visit in Northern Spain.

Cost of living in Barcelona

The cost of living in Barcelona is higher than in Madrid, and the below prices are average, but if you’re looking to get an apartment in the best neighborhoods, you might want to add another €100-200 on top of these prices.

Rental TypeRental Price
Apartment€1.130
Studio Apartment€787
Private Room€457

#3 Malaga

best cities in spain to live

Malaga is one of the safest cities in Spain, and it’s much safer than Madrid or Barcelona too! Moreover, the beautiful Andalusian coastal city is incredibly friendly, and it’s always full of life. When it comes to the best cities to live in Spain, Malaga deserves 3rd place, since I personally considered Malaga as well as a future home. Moreover, one of our partners at MIRA Digital is actually planning to relocate there next year.

Malaga is one of the best cities in South of Spain, and if you love hot summers, parties, beautiful seasides and great Andalusian culture and food, well Malaga should be considered if you ask where to live in Spain as an American, but anyone whatsoever who loves Spain and authenticity.

Also, for those asking for the best cities to retire in Spain, Malaga is a great option! Actually, many from the United Kingdom do retire here. What better place to choose after the rainy days for 60 years, than an authentic Spanish city where the sun is always shining?

Now, when it comes to internationality, you must know that Malaga has over 90.000 expats who live and study or work in the city. It is indeed one of the largest expat networks to find in Malaga, and its international airport makes traveling easy as well!

Cost of living in Málaga

Malaga and Andalusia in usual are much cheaper than the northern side of Spain. Don’t be surprised by seeing the below prices, since you can actually find a room in a shared house for €170, I checked the prices on current rentals as well, not just the average index. Knowing this, for any expats, freelancers, remote workers, or entrepreneurs who are trying to find a cheaper city to move to in Spain, Malaga is perfect!

Rental TypeRental Price
Apartment€520
Studio Apartment€300
Private Room€170

#4 Seville

best cities in spain to live

Our love for Spain makes it hard to organize these cities on a list since we just love them all. The next on the list of the best cities in Spain to live in is definitely, undoubtedly Seville! Another of the best cities to visit in Southern Spain, but also one of the best picks if you love Andalusian culture, authenticity, and you’re asking where to live in Spain!

Seville is one of the best cities in south of Spain, with a safety index really impressive, and the rentals are about 70% lower than London. Many expats and freelancers move to Seville because of its culture, the forever awake and fun life in the city, and the fantastic climate. The historical buildings, the Flamenco, and festivals, the orange trees, and the beautiful streets make people fall in love with Seville instantly.

Seville is also great for those asking where to live in Spain for a month, but also for those who are wondering where to settle down as entrepreneurs, freelancers, or digital nomads. Eating a lot of delicious tapas, staying out in the warm night with some Gin tonic and friends, exploring the culture, listening to music on every street, or taking the weekend off to Cadiz or other seasides on the Costa del Sol… I’d say there’s nothing more beautiful to wish for.

Cost of living in Seville

The lowest price for an apartment in Seville starts at around €400, but if you’re looking for an apartment in the city center, that escalates to €500 as starters. Studio apartments are cheaper, and rooms are more or less the same price as in Malaga.

Rental TypeRental Price
Apartment€400
Studio Apartment€250
Private Room€190

#5 Alicante

best cities in spain to live

When it comes to the best cities to live in Spain, Alicante can’t be missed. The year-round beautiful weather and the beach just outside the city center make Alicante another great option for the best cities to live in Spain. Strolling through the historic narrow streets and colorful buildings in Alicante, then arriving at the beach, like if it was just at your doorstep is something fantastic!

Alicante is also great for expats, English speakers since it is becoming one of the most popular cities for expats slowly. There are many British people especially those who are living in Alicante, but you can find a great diversity of international groups of freelancers, expats, and entrepreneurs here!

When it comes to safety, note that Alicante’s safety index is almost double as London’s safety index. This means that it is definitely one of the safest cities in Spain to live in. Great news, right?

Cost of living in Alicante

Alicante, as well as Seville or Malaga, is one of the cheapest, yet greatest cities to live in Spain. An apartment in the city can cost you under €500 if you pick a place outside the city center, while in the city center of Alicante an average apartment costs €581. The below prices are an average of what is on the market.

Rental TypeRental Price
Apartment€480
Studio Apartment€390
Private Room€200

#6 Marbella

best cities in spain to live

What about the best cities to live in Spain if you’re actually planning to retire? We’ve already mentioned Malaga as one of the greatest options, but here’s another of the best cities to retire in Spain, Marbella. It’s another beautify on the Costal del Sol, really close to Malaga. Marbella looks more like a city-size resort than an actual city.

This places is definitely one of the best cities in the South of Spain, and it’s always crowded with visitors who are looking for high-end vacations and living. If you wouldn’t be looking for a place to move, Marbella is still one of the best cities to visit in southern Spain. But when it comes to living, it’s a real gem!

Marbella is all about glamour, attracting the rich and famous from all over the world. Wonderful beaches, fantastic location, architecture, great vibes, festivals, but also peace and safety. Due to the category of visitors and residents, Marbella is really protected, and local authorities take it really seriously to not allow any crime in the city.

Gastronomically, Marbella is a paradise for everyone. The most beautiful small cafes, all the way to Michelin starred restaurants, you can find anything in this little city! It’s the perfect place for expats, even those with families! Marbella offers plenty of English-speaking activities, education, child care, and entertainment. Some of the highlights are the Mayfair Academy, Calpe School, and Aloha College. So for those asking where to live in Spain as an American, considering the English speaking level, Marbella is perfect!

Retirees love Marbella, and I personally know many people from the United Kingdom who have moved to Marbella during the time I was living in England. The city offers easy integration to the local community and life, an extraordinary place to live with sunshine and beaches, and all the possibilities you may need for a healthy and beautiful lifestyle.

Since those who look for the best cities to retire in Spain choose mostly Marbella, the city has businesses and agencies specialized in catering for the needs of reign retirees, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities that are really great.

Cost of living in Marbella

Since Marbella is the place for the wealthy, you can imagine that prices of apartments are also much higher than in other cities in southern Spain. A one-bedroom apartment starts at around €750, while studio apartment prices start around €600, and a bedroom in shared house starts at €380, but the nicer ones are always around €500.

Rental TypeRental Price
Apartment€750
Studio Apartment€600
Private Room€380

#7 Granada

best cities in spain to live

You may be wondering by now why I keep suggesting cities in souther Spain, and I did actually ask myself that when I made the plan for this article. Now, the answer is simple. When it comes to the best cities in Spain to live as a foreigner, places where to live in Spain for a month, or simply the best places to visit in Spain, for some reason, Andalusia is just gifted to have all that we desire.

Beaches, mountains, culture, music, life, safety, acceptable prices, and beautiful, beautiful places. This is why my next suggestion for the best cities in south of Spain where to live in Granada. The most authentic, most beautiful, most interesting city between the mountains of the Sierra Nevada.

Granada is home of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Alhambra. The Arab, well, Moorish culture that is present in Granada makes this city one of the most beautiful places to choose to be your home. If you manage to find a house on the hill of the Albaicin neighborhood, you can go to sleep and wake up every day seeing the amazing Mudejar architecture. the Moorish castle every single day. And that view is just amazing!

For students, expats, and freelancers, but also entrepreneurs, Granada is a great place to move, since life, especially when it comes to students is super lively and cheerful. Those who studied in Granada confirmed that the whole experience was just incredible. The only issue that Granada may cause is that it’s not that easy to travel from there. You have to travel to Malaga or Seville to catch an international flight if there are no flights to your destination/home from Granada.

Cost of living in Granada

The prices to find accommodation in Granada is pretty acceptable. I mean, you can find a room starting at €120 too, but it’s rare. However most of the rooms cost around €150-€250, while the cheapest studio apartments start at €380, and 1 bedroom apartments at € 500, remember that these are the cheapest ones. If you’re looking for a really pretty place, you might want to add another €100 on top of these prices.

Rental TypeRental Price
Apartment€500
Studio Apartment€380
Private Room€150

#8 Valencia

best cities in spain to live

Valencia is one of the best cities to live in Spain, and I didn’t leave it as nr8 because I ranked the cities after their prices, or beauty, or anything like that. Also, Valencia is one of the best cities to retire in Spain if you’re looking for a somewhat bigger, more bustling place to live in. Moreover, Valencia is a great place for those asking where to live in Spain for a month!

For food lovers, Valencia is heaven on earth. As Bologna is the food heaven in Italy, Valencia is something like that for Spain. Valencia is where the amazing Paella is originating from, between many other amazing dishes. For those who love Mediterranean food, and love to eat, if you ask where to live in Spain, I’m saying Valencia!

Tapas bars, bocadillo for merienda, a bottle of Sangria, palm trees, beaches, culture, and stunning architecture… I mean, do you need anything more? The beauty in Valencia, compared to Barcelona or Madrid, that when it comes to activities, history, culture, they are more or less on the same level. However, Valencia offers a place to live for a much smaller budget than the other two cities.

Also, since Valencia is smaller than Barcelona or Madrid, it makes it much more walkable, and it’s not that crowded either. According to InterNations, there are about 1500 British expats in Valencia. Moreover, the international education, schools are really high-quality so it’s a perfect place for expat families as well. Digital nomads and freelancers also tend to pick Valencia as their home instead of Barcelona, that’s much more expensive.

Cost of living in Valencia

As I mentioned, the beauty of Valencia is that you can actually have the same level of big-city living as you’d do in Madrid or Barcelona, however, it will cost you much less. And well, since it’s more south, the influence from southern Spain, the culture, the architecture is resonating more.

Rental TypeRental Price
Apartment€785
Studio Apartment€585
Private Room€300

#9 Palma de Mallorca

best cities in spain to live

Now, I don’t know about you, but I had enough of the big cities of Spain, therefore for the 9th of the best cities in Spain to live I’m adding in Palma de Mallorca. As you might already know, Mallorca is one of the most beautiful islands on the Tyrren sea, and it’s developing really fast. Maybe even faster than some cities in southern Spain.

If you want crystal clear water, breathtaking beaches, and island life, you don’t have to fly to Bali to get it. Mallorca is an amazing place, and Palma de Mallorca is a great option for the best cities to retire in Spain, but also if you’re asking where to live in Spain as an American. Or, those who ask where to live in Spain for a month… Well, one month on an island wouldn’t be great?

Palma de Mallorca is becoming really international, with many expats from all around the world, as well as short-term visitors who want to enjoy the beauty of the Spanish island. For expats, freelancers, entrepreneurs, and well, everyone who loves islands and stunning beaches, this is a perfect location to move to! I must give you a heads up though, the prices to rent an apartment aren’t low!

Cost of living in Palma de Mallorca

As I said, it’s not cheap to rent your place in Mallorca at all, but for those who can afford these prices, the good news is, that the cost of living outside the rent is really acceptable. Now let’s see how much it costs to find an apartment in Palma de Mallorca.

Rental TypeRental Price
Apartment€850
Studio Apartment€500
Private Room€300

#10 San Sebastian

best cities in spain to live

Those who love surfing pay attention now, please! What is one of the best cities to live in Spain when you want a place with a seaside, beach, and possibility for surfing? The answer is San Sebastian! I’m personally considering for the next year where to live in Spain for a month since I want a place just as I described, and I’m also choosing to go to San Sebastian.

The quality of life in San Sebastian, the beautiful coast, and the lively city offers everything an expat, freelancer, or entrepreneur would ever need. Also, for those who are not dealing well with the heat of southern Spain, San Sebastian might be a perfect alternative, since it’s not as warm here.

People refer to San Sebastian also as the mini Paris, which includes stunning architecture and it’s really rich in history. If you’re looking for where to live in Spain, and you’re the going-out type of person, you will love what I’m about to say! San Sebastian’s historic center is holding the record of the highest number of bars in the world.

Cost of living in San Sebastian

Now, the number of British expats is lower in San Sebastian due to the fact that the weather is somewhat similar to the southern side of the UK, but there are still many international expats to find in the city. The below prices are the average of the lower-cost accommodations. But most of the accommodations that have stunning views, space, and incredible location cost at least €300 more.

Rental TypeRental Price
Apartment€900
Studio Apartment€700
Private Room€400

Wrapping up the 10 best cities to live in Spain

Now that we’ve gone through all the best cities in Spain to live in, and the best cities to retire in Spain, I must ask you! Did you find where to live in Spain? I know we’ve discussed the best cities to visit in southern Spain, which are also some of the best cities to move to as a freelancer or expat. But we also discussed a few of the best cities to visit in northern Spain and those that are great to settle down in.

I’ve tried to highlight what are the best options for where to live in Spain for a month, but also for where to live in Spain as an American. We’ve discussed some of the best cities in south of Spain that are affordable, beautiful, and really great options to move to. Now I just hope that you know which one is fitting your taste, and you’ll enjoy your new life in Spain!

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Helga

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