The 5 best places to live in Spain in 2023


Updated on Apr 13 • 8 minute read

If you're thinking of moving to Spain, you've probably done research on some of the top reasons and the not-so-obvious reasons to move to Spain. But an equally important decision is deciding where is the best place to live in Spain?

These are the 5 best places to live in Spain:

  1. Barcelona

  2. Madrid

  3. Valencia

  4. Málaga

  5. Alicante

Whether you live next door to Gaudi's finest in Barcelona or enjoy the sea breeze in Málaga, there's one thing you won't have to compromise on in any of the 5 best places to live in Spain: quality of life.

Besides that, we've taken a closer look at 3 characteristics of the 5 best cities in Spain:

  • Internationality: Where do most foreigners live in Spain?
  • Cost of living: Where is it cheapest to live in Spain?
  • Safety: Which city is safest to live in?

All set to choose your future home? Let’s get started!

1. Barcelona is the best place to live in Spain

Urban jungle meets sandy beach: it won't need a more convincing argument to see why Barcelona takes the top spot as the best city in Spain ahead of Madrid.

Barcelona is one of the safest cities in the world that also offers gorgeous weather, delicious Catalan cuisine, plenty of art museums, a buzzing nightlife, outdoor spaces for workouts, and a thriving expat community.

The Catalan city strikes the balance between a high quality of life with a seaside view.

Barcelona is also one of the top hotspots for entrepreneurs and digital nomads in Europe and blends two key ingredients: technology and talent. This is why thousands of expats decide to explore homes for rent in Barcelona each year.

Internationality in Barcelona

Brits, Germans and Americans alike find their way to Barcelona to enjoy the top quality of life and its laid-back manner. The city has over 179 nationalities and attracts young expats is even ranked as the 29th best city for expats. So if you're thinking of moving to Barcelona, know that there’re numerous expat communities ready to set you up in a new social circle in no time at all.

Cost of living in Barcelona

With its popularity as an expat destination, Barcelona is emerging as one of the top 3 most expensive cities in Spain.

Compared to other Spanish cities, the cost of living in Barcelona is fairly high. Although food prices tend to be lower, you’ll be shelling out most of your money on rent.

According to the HousingAnywhere Rent Index, rental prices have risen sharply in recent years.

Type of accommodationRental Price
Private Room€600

Keep in mind, Barcelona still comes in relatively cheap compared to other major cities in the UK, making it more than comfortable to live in Barcelona on a British budget.

Safety in Barcelona

Good to know: Barcelona ranks as the 11th safest city in the world. The popularity of the Catalan capital draws pickpockets and tricksters as you would experience in any other tourist city. To play it safe, there are 3 areas you might want to avoid in Barcelona during the night.

Learn more about the best neighbourhoods in Barcelona to find your new home away from home.

2. Madrid is the 2nd best city in Spain to live in

Club scene and urban culture are as abundant in Madrid as there is sand on the beach in Barcelona: infinite. For a vibrant, social and cultural lifestyle expats often decide to search for homes to rent in Madrid.

In the capital of Spain, you're always on the brink of something new and you can feel that wild and restless spirit in the air. One click away from a ticket to a new theatre show, one entry row away from the vibrant nightlife or a few steps away from the nearest park.

If you're on a quest for a bustling lifestyle, Madrid is your best city to live in Spain.

Even better, from Madrid, you can easily travel all over Europe.

Internationality in Madrid

Single expats and expat families, in particular, are moving to Madrid. Madrid was even ranked as the 10th best expat city in the world.

Did you know that almost 10,000 British expats live in the Spanish capital?

It’s no surprise. After all, Madrid takes on a key role in the European economy and offers English-speaking expats numerous job opportunities.

Cost of living in Madrid

If you compare Madrid with other European capitals such as London or Paris, the largest cities in Spain are considerably cheaper.

Type of accommodationRental Price
Private Room€520

Safety in Madrid

Madrid is one of the safest capitals in Europe, and close to being one of the safest cities in Spain. And that's despite being the capital of Spain!

With a safety index of 70.34, Madrid is considered a very safe city. By comparison, London's safety index stands at 46.79!

Explore the best neighbourhoods in Madrid.

3. Valencia is the best place to live in for

When broadening your scope beyond the two largest cities to find your best city to live in Spain, be sure to explore rental homes in Valencia. Valencia offers a dream home for a much smaller budget. And the fact that Valencia is geographically smaller than Madrid means that most places are easier to get to by walking or by public transport.

For food lovers specifically, Valencia is heaven on earth and the best place to live in Spain. As the original creators of paella, the Valencians set the bar high with their culinary talents. So why not treat yourself to a bocadillo for merienda or indulge in the various tapas bars in the evening?

Internationality in Valencia

You can find around 1,500 British expats in Valencia. Expat families enjoy a high-quality education with international schools.

Did you know that the digital nomad and freelance community is closely following in the footsteps of Barcelona? Join this ever-growing expat community if you want to be on the cutting edge!

Cost of living in Valencia

If you don't want to dig too deep into your wallet and don't want to miss out on the big city vibe, Valencia is the best place in Spain to live with its lower cost of living.

In Valencia, you'll find everything that the big cities in Spain offer without having to pay the high cost of living of Barcelona and Madrid. In fact, rental prices are 37% less in Valencia compared to Madrid and as much as 52% less than in rental homes in London.

Type of accommodationRental Price
Private Room€350

Safety in Valencia

The safest big city in Spain is Valencia. You will find just minor crimes in Valencia and very few violent crimes. With a safety index of 74.52, you can feel very safe in Valencia.

Find out which neighbourhood in Valencia is suitable for you to live in.

4. Málaga

Fresh fish straight from the salty spring and Andalusian festivals that burst with joie de vivre; that's more or less what you can expect if you explore rental homes in Málaga.

With its good weather all year round and laid-back lifestyle, everyone from students, families, couples and pensioners are drawn to the city in the south. In fact, Málaga was named the second best city for expats by InterNations.

Expats love Málaga for what it has to offer – several museums, a distinct cuisine, a buzzing nightlife, colourful festivals and stunning yellow sand beaches. And to make it better, the city offers good connectivity. With the third busiest airport in Spain and a reliable and cheap public transport, you’ll be able to travel within and outside of Málaga with ease.

Internationality in Málaga

Málaga attracts lots of international students to its university and several pensioners find themselves here because of how welcoming the locals are. You’ll also find plenty of tourists as Málaga is a popular destination in Spain.

More than 90,463 expats live and study or work in Málaga.

Cost of living in Málaga

For those moving to Spain for the high quality of life, the lower cost of living in Málaga is definitely going to appeal to you. After all, Málaga is one of the cheapest places to live in Spain.

Type of accommodationRental Price
Private Room€340

When compared to London, the average rental prices in London are almost 195% higher than in Málaga.

Safety in Málaga

When it comes to safety, Málaga scores highly: with a safety index of 72.72, Málaga is ahead of Madrid and Barcelona.

Málaga has a range of expat-friendly neighbourhoods where you can live. Find our which is the best for you.

5. Alicante best places to live in spain by the sea

Year-round good weather and a beach on your doorstep, that’s what awaits you when you find rental homes in Alicante.

You’ll also be exposed to the Spanish way of life without too much of a cultural shock, thanks to the huge expat population of the city.

Stroll through historic narrow streets and colourful houses, take in the easy-going spirit of the people, hit up the beach, enjoy the fresh Mediterranean food, experience the nightlife, and be surrounded by fellow foreigners. Overall, Alicante will let you experience a high quality of life.

Internationality in Alicante

British people won't be alone in Alicante for long. After all, Alicante is the most popular place among Brits.

But it's not just the English, citizens from Canada, Germany, Sweden, South Africa, etc., also choose Alicante as their new home. No doubt, in Alicante you can mingle with like-minded people in no time.

Cost of living in Alicante

One of the reasons Alicante is so popular among Brits is because it’s one of the cheapest places to live in Spain.

Type of accommodationRental Price
Private Room€340

Let's compare the rental prices with Barcelona. The average rent of Barcelona is almost 36% higher than that of Alicante and food costs almost 12% more as well.

Safety in Alicante

You can feel more than safe in Alicante as the safety index of 72.60 is almost as high as in Màlaga. For comparison, the safety index in London is 46.85.

Time to move to Spain!

Now that you know all about the 5 best cities in Spain to live in 2022, it's time to start preparing. Make sure to that you don't make these 7 biggest mistakes when moving to Spain by relying on a handy relocation checklist.

Please reach out to if you have any suggestions or inquiries about the content on this page.

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