Best cities to live in Spain

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Great thank you sooo much... I shall get to it right away...


Hello everyone,

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Ahh ok..will do!

Hi Tamsin!

   I've landed a teaching position at the American School of Valencia and will be moving there next month. The school set me up with a great agency. They speak English pretty solidly, and  have already begun to look for housing for me, sending me links and communicating with landlord:

However, if you are comfortable with speaking Spanish and want to save some money by avoiding agency fees, try any of these websites (recommended to me by teachers already working at the school):

As for the best districts/barrios, I've been recommended anywhere in old town (Ciutat Vella), especially El Barrio Carme. Apparently, there is a large expat community there with an excellent night life scene. I've also been recommended the Ruzafa neighborhood in L'Eixample.

Best of luck, perhaps I'll see you around town!


Valencia, Barcelona and Denia are perfect places to live!!!

Barcelona in Catalunya! It's more European and a little less "mañana" to get things done. ;)
There's the sea, the mountains, Costa Brava.... all very pretty and great if you like the outdoors.

I have been living in San Sebastian, it is the most beautiful place ever, with some great beaches, surrounded by green hills, great for hikes, very child/family friendly, wheather not too hot and not too cold, just 10 Km to France, two hours to Pyrenees ski resorts, simply everything you need. Appartments/housing is a bit more expensive, but it is worthed. I can only recommend!

Hi Kristin!

Congratulations on landing a job!
I'm heading out to Valencia this Friday... I've chosen Benimaclet for now..It's multicultural, buzzing and I believe less Fiestas than Rusafa which was my first choice...But I need my I did an AirBnb there to get a feel a month or so ago..seems pretty cool!  I arrived on the night of San Juan and the tram was literally minutes from the beach.

Keep in touch we'll meet up for coffee and compare neighbourhoods!😉


Saw your post and we have been to Valencia and think it is a very nice city.  We are strongly considering making the move but we can move anywhere is Spain.  My wife is Colombian and we all speak Spanish at a fairly high level - wife of course is fluent.  Our kids 13, 12 and 9 are the most important part of this decision and where we live so schools are a high priority.  Are the public schools good?  Where we live in the US they are excellent.  How are the sports programs?  We love the weather in Valencia but is it better in Alicante or Malaga? 

Providing way too much info and rambling a bit but obviously this is a big decision and looking for any and all info to make this decision...

Thank you and take care

I have 3 children by my first marriage who went to school in the Barcelona area (Castell d'fels and L'Hospitalet) in the 1990s for 1 year (my daughter 2 years), and have one son with my second wife, and I have 2 stepchildren, the latter primarily attended Spanish public schools. My older children are all grown up, as are the stepchildren and all have attended public schools in both the US and in Spain, all speak both Spanish and English fairly fluently. To summarize briefly, I strongly believe that the public school system is Spain provides a very good education, based on my families experiences. Obviously, it may depend upon schools and to some degree on the neighborhood and group of friends that your children get involved with. In particular, I believe that Spain offers a much more secure environment for teenagers, which was one of the motivations for moving back to Spain from the US when our youngest was in the first year of the ESO (middle school). Although there may be some gang activity or skinheads in Madrid and Barcelona, it s almost non-existant in less populated areas. Drugs exist, but not a drug culture as in the US. Violence is also very infrequent here. One thing that I liked in Spain was that if your child has a good group of friends, the group tends to stay together as they progress through school. My son had friends from all social strata, countries, and religious backgrounds. His best friend is muslim, and he has friends that are Russian emigrees, a black friend from sub-saharan africa, some of them good students and some not. My daughter in the US is 32 years old and still maintains friendships with her friends in Castell D'Fels. As far as academics go, public school prepared my youngest son well with a good science and language background. Because he spoke English fluently, he studied German for 6 years, and now studies Physics at the University of Valencia.

There are a lot of differences between the US and Spanish school systems, not all of them positive (for Spain) from my point of view. In the US, the tendency is to advance children even if they are not performing well. If a student makes a minimal effort in the US he/she is promoted to the next grade level. Not so in Spain. In Spain, if you flunk three classes, you repeat the year. Tests are not easy and I remember my son telling me of tests where 1/2 the class flunked. This may seem like a scary scenario, however, the schools also tend to recognize immigrants need time to assimilate, but you will need to communicate your situation with teachers and the school principal. None of my children or step children have gone to private school but the rumor is that students in private schools are graded less harshly and as such the same student would have a higher grade point average. This is an obvious (but expensive) alternative if your child is not doing well in school. Spanish schools are obligatory (ESO) only through 10th grade, after which the best students go on to high school, and at this point make a choice as to whether to pursue science, technology, or humanities as their study. This may be too young an age to decide for some, however, it s possible to change one's area of study later. Apart from the normal physical education classes, there are no school sports to my knowledge in Spain, at least on the level of the US. There are many alternatives, however. There are private soccor clubs, as well as many other sports, including basketball, in many cities. My youngest son participated in soccer clubs, ping pong, tennis, squash, rowing, wind-surf, skiing, rock-climbing, cycling, judo, etc. But sorry, American football and baseball are probably hard to find. You will need to find out how and whn to signnup for these activities, many at low cost through the local city government. Finally, Spain is a catholic country and as such offers a religion course, but in most places you can sign up for an alternative course.

Recommendations: sign up for APA (the Spanish PTA) and go to meetings. This will save you money on textbooks and get you integrated. I also recommend the scouts (there are catholic and non-denominational scouts). My youngest son partipated in scouts.

a smaller city
    The more noth, the more European, so Valencia or Alicante are fine. Alicante is a smaller city and Valencia has more rat race. In the middle you have Javea, with good international schools, but it is a town, not a city.




I didn't see the first post in this thread but I'll answer anyway.

I think you have to start with your own criteria - do you want a city, a town or a small town? The advantages and disadvantages are the same in Spain as they would be anywhere in Western Europe.

Then you need to think about things like access to transport (airports are often important to Europeans who want to visit family), climate (it usually rains a lot in the North) and the cost of housing. We lived in Ciudad Rodrigo for instance for a while - lovely little town but something like 120 kms to a Carrefour or a multiscreen cinema where a four bed flat cost 300€ a month to rent. In Cartagena on the other hand where there is a plethora of supermarkets and cinemas we paid 650€ for a flat and parking was a nightmare until we rented a garage.

Maybe you need to think about how "English" the place needs to be in the sense of language. If you end up in Burgos or Leon or Badajoz it is not so easy to get by with English as it is if you're in Alicante or Valencia or Torremolinos. There's English everywhere to a degree but in the places where we Britons congregate - Alicante province, Malaga province, any of the islands and Murcia then you'll be able to find English speaking plumbers and carpenters and listen to English language radio.

I forgot to state in my long drawn out message that my youngest son and stepsons went to school in Alicante, where I know live. Culebron states some good considerations for making a choice. I have lived in Barcelona, Valencia, and Alicante, and of those three like Alicante best. I personally don't like big cities, although I would prefer Barcelona, over just about any large city in the US. I enjoyed livingnin Valencia, there is a lot to do and there are good Universities. In the Alicante area, I think Alicante, Denia, and Elche are all good choices if you want predominately Spanish culture, but an international presence. The Alicante airport is close to both Alicante and Elche.


Giving the situation I would discard anywhere in Cataluña, I believe everything will get back to normal, but I wouldn't say I'm 100 % sure, if that is the case, Barcelona is a good place, nothing to worry about nationalism, it is only about hating people from the rest of Spain, especially from Madrid. Btw, Madrid is a better rated place for living from a expat point of view than Barcelona, which is more touristic but less welcoming in general (which does not mean is not welcoming), but people from Madrid are more open and tolerant to anybody.

Apart from the 2 main cities in Spain, Castilla that represents almost 50 % of territory I would say is flat, dry and quite boring in general, nothing wrong, just a wee harsh. M favorite is Asturias, you can have beach, cliff and high mountain on the same spot, just amazing. Andalucia is just impressive, but difficult for job chances... Mediterranean coast is always good too.

Main problem in Spain is jobs. Unemployment rates are insane, and if you are lucky to have a job, salaries are terrible, long working hours, bad environment, etc... Totally different story is if you're an expat sent to Spain, in that case anywhere is fine, or you are retired with your own country's pension, in that case, just go to beach...


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