The 5 best places to live in Spain

Which are the best places to live in Spain? Let us guide you through the best places to live in Spain.


7 minute read
Updated on 5 Jun 2024

Spain is one of the most popular countries to live in thanks to its warm climate, affordable living costs and high-quality life. So 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 cities 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 cities to live in Spain: quality of life.

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

1. Barcelona

Barcelona is the best city to live in Spain for young adults.

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 to live in Spain. Barcelona offers gorgeous weather, delicious Catalan cuisine, plenty of art museums, a buzzing nightlife, outdoor spaces for workouts, and a thriving expat community. This is why thousands of expats decide to explore homes for rent in Barcelona each year.

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

Barcelona has over 179 nationalities and attracts many young expats. It’s even ranked as the 29th best city for expats. So if you're moving to Barcelona, many expat communities can quickly help you build a new social circle. Barcelona is also one of the top hotspots for entrepreneurs and digital nomads in Europe, thanks to its endless career opportunities.

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 spend 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€633

Your rental expense will vary depending on the neighborhood you choose to live in Barcelona. The good news is Barcelona has lively neighborhoods for every budget.

2. Madrid

Madrid is the best place to live in Spain for expats of all ages seeking a dynamic life in Spain.

If you're on a quest for a bustling lifestyle, Madrid is the best city to live in Spain. For a vibrant, social, and cultural lifestyle, young 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. You're 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. Its location also allows easy travel all over Europe.

Madrid is especially popular as the best place to live in Spain for young adults. It was even ranked as the 10th best expat city in the world. The capital of Spain is home to more than 520,000 expats. But it isn't a surprise. After all, Madrid plays a key role in the European economy and offers English-speaking expats endless job opportunities.

Of course all of these possibilities and high-quality life come with an expense. As a result, the cost of living in Madrid is more expensive than other Spanish cities like Seville and Valencia. Yet, in comparison rental prices are slightly cheaper than in Barcelona. So with smart budgeting, you can comfortably live in this dynamic city. To live in Madrid, you'll need around €1,580 monthly (rent included).

As a rule of thumb, the rent will take over the biggest chunk of your budget. But Madrid has many beautiful neighborhoods suited for every budget. Below you can find the average rental prices in Madrid.

Type of accommodationRental Price
Private Room€575

3. Valencia

Valencia is the best place to live in Spain with a family.

When broadening your scope beyond the two largest cities to find the best city to live in Spain, be sure to explore rental homes in Valencia. Valencia offers a dream home for a much smaller budget. As a result, families can comfortably find spacious apartments in one of the Valencia neighborhoods. Valencia also has numerous parks and green spaces, such as the Turia Gardens, long parks with playgrounds, allowing families to spend time outdoors. Valencia is also smaller in size, so most places are easily accessible by walking or 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. You can treat yourself to a bocadillo for merienda or indulge in the various tapas bars in the evening.

Valencia is the best place in Spain to live on a budget while offering a good urban life. Compared to other major Spanish cities like Barcelona and Madrid, Valencia generally has a more affordable cost of living. Housing, food, and entertainment are often less expensive, making it easier for families to live comfortably.

Below you can find average rental prices in Valencia.

Type of accommodationRental Price
Private Room€375

4. Málaga

Málaga is the best place to live in Southern Spain.

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 2nd best city for expats by InterNations. As a result, more than 90,463 expats live and study or work in Málaga.

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

Besides the fun activities, Málaga also offers many job opportunities for expats in the tourism or technology sectors. Many expats also move to Málaga to attend one of its language schools to learn Spanish.

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. Also, finding a rental in Málaga is very budget-friendly.

Type of accommodationRental Price
Private Room€340

5. Alicante

Alicante is the best place to live in Spain for English speakers.

Year-round good weather and a beach on your doorstep, that’s what await 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 colorful 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.

If you’re a Brit or an English speaker, you’ll easily fit in in Alicante. After all, Alicante is the most popular place among Brits. But it's not just the English; citizens from Germany, Sweden, Italy, etc., also choose Alicante as their new home.

One of the reasons Alicante is so popular among Brits is because it’s one of the cheapest places to live in Spain. In Alicante, rent is 49% cheaper, and groceries are 12% cheaper than in Barcelona.

Type of accommodationRental Price
Private Room€340

What is the safest place to live in Spain?

Valencia tops the charts as the safest place to live in Spain, boasting a safety index of 74.52. In general, all Spanish cities are pretty safe to live in, with low levels of violent crime. Barcelona ranks as the 11th safest city worldwide but attracts its fair share of pickpockets and tricksters due to its popularity among tourists. Madrid, with a safety index of 70.34, stands out as one of Europe's safest capitals but, like any major city, has areas requiring extra caution. Alicante boasts a reassuring score of 72.60, almost on par with Málaga's safety index. Málaga itself impresses with a safety index of 72.72, surpassing both Madrid and Barcelona.

Where do the most expats live in Spain?

In number, most expats live in the capital of Spain, Madrid. Madrid attracts a diverse expatriate community due to its bustling urban life, job opportunities, and rich cultural experiences. The cosmopolitan atmosphere, world-class amenities, and thriving social scene make Madrid a popular choice for those seeking a dynamic expat lifestyle.

Where is the cheapest place to live in Spain by the sea?

The cheapest places to live in Spain by the sea is Alicante. Alicante is a budget-friendly coastal haven that doesn't compromise on beauty, culture, or quality of life. The cost of housing, groceries, and dining out is generally more affordable, which will allow you to enjoy the benefits of seaside living without breaking the bank. You can relax in sandy shores and cyrstal-clear waters of some of the most beautiful beaches in Spain, such as the popular Playa del Postiguet, San Juan Beach, and Albufereta.

Time to move to Spain

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

This article is for informational purposes only.

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