Best cities for retirement in Spain

Hello everyone,

An increasing amount of people want to spend their retirement abroad. Would you consider giving a few tips to those looking into Spain for their retirement?

What are the most attractive cities for retirees in Spain?

Why are these the best cities in Spain for retirement (quality of life, cost of living, climate, health, security, etc.)?

Are there any specific areas in Spain where there are special retirement schemes or retirement-friendly residential areas?

Are there any activities suitable for retirees in Spain?

Do you have any tips on where to start looking or how to choose a suitable city for one’s retirement in Spain?

If you have, yourself, chosen to spend your retirement abroad, please tell us what city you have chosen and why?

Please share your experience.


Valencia is a good city to retire to for several reasons:
1. well connected by air travel to rest of Europe
2. cost of accommodation and general living is amongst the lowest in Europe
3. Spanish people are generally very welcoming and tolerant of "still-learning" phase of Spahish language
4. Its a socially active city - check - so much happening
5. it´s a coastal city - awesome beaches
5. it´s safe - at any time of the day or night.


A second vote for Valencia from me. I agree with the comments above to which I would add:

Excellent and modern medical facilities.
It is big, spain's number 3 city, and bigger is better when it comes to cities and their ability to help you.
Unusual weather. Yes, it has the horrendous storms in October, and for about 2 weeks in the summer it will be as hot as everywhere else in spain, but in general it's warm in winter and cool in summer.
People seem happier and a bit more chilled than Madrid or especially Barcelona. Maybe that is because it really is a low cost city.

There are disadvantages though. The main one is that english is really not that common in the city. Yes, you will find english speakers in hotels and some of the central banks, but generally not. You will have to learn the language, and by that I mean Castilian (lots of the locals speak valenciano, but they seem to have no expectation that foreigners would know this). This is why the locals do not mind you mangling their language, its a novelty to them.

Hi Everyone

I agree with the previous post.  Medical facilities here in Valenciana are far superior to those in the UK, and although the Valenciana dialect is widely spoken, everyone understands Castellano (although they may pretend they don't).  A basic knowledge of the language will get you a long way.  Trying is the main thing.  If you try - Spanish people will meet you more than halfway!  They don't mind mistakes.  We had 3 years (twice a week) of Spanish lessons.  We get by - just.

We've chosen to live in Benitachell (Alicante Province).  We purchased a holiday apartment here in 2000/2001 (in pesetas).

Then in 2007, we decided to make Spain our permanent home when we retired.  However, it was a 6-year plan and, towards the end of that time, we travelled far north and far south plus inland - just to see what other areas were like.  We couldn't find anywhere we liked better, so we finally made our permanent home here in Benitachell.  We sold our apartment, plus our house in the UK, and bought a lovely villa just outside the village and have never looked back!

The village itself remains very Spanish, but we have a high number of ex-pats in the surrounding urbanisations.  So we have the best of both worlds here.  We have a very enjoyable lifestyle .. living costs are much cheaper than in the UK .. and you can't beat the quality of life.

Hi, I am considering retiring in Spain and I hesitate between Valencia and Malaga.  Valencia sounds very appealing but I would like what you have to say about Malaga. Thanks.


I am considering retiring in Spain but I hesitate between Valencia and Malaga.  You mention that you traveled all over Spain.  Did you go to Malaga?  If so, could you comment on that city?

European521 you really should spend some time in each to decide what you prefer. (We have spent only a month in each so far, and are still conflicted about it!)  They're both amazing cities, both have excellent healthcare. There is more to the single core of Malaga (blocks and blocks of pedestrianized streets, and the adjacent port area is beautiful) but there are several nice, more dispersed neighborhoods within Valencia to check out.  The beaches are much wider and whiter in Valencia, but they are much farther from the core of the city than the Malaga beaches.  Malaga has beautiful hills nearby; Valencia has beautiful mountainous regions a bit further.  Overall, Malaga housing is reported to be generally probably about 30% more costly; but in many of the nicer in-town Valencian neighborhoods, the housing prices seem to be pretty close in cost to the center of Malaga, from those we have seen.

Thanks for your answer.  I guess the best thing is to spend some time in each city and decide then.  However, I have a couple of other questions.  Do you know anything about Spanish income tax and Spanish healthcare?   Since I would not be working in Spain, would I have to pay income tax?  My income would be strictly from Canadian sources (pensions, etc.).
What about health care?  Would I be entitled to free health care? I have tried to get some info on the internet without much success.
If you don't know the anwers to my questions do you have any idea where I could find them?

Thanks and have a great day😀

I am a US expat living in Alicante. If you are living in Spain more than 1/2 the star, it becomes you tax home.  Both Spain and the US requiere that you declare worldwide earnings. In my case, taxation is determined by the US Spain tax treaty, and up to a certain limit of earnings, for my private pension I pay about 19% taxes to Spain. Because this is more that I would pay in the US, I pay nothing in the US snd get a refund.

In my case, I am on the Spanish national health plan - I am married to a Spanish National - but I know of another American couple that had to obtain a private plan. This may depend upon the community in which you retire. The couple that I know pays around $300 or $350 per month, which is very inexpensive by US standards.

Are you legally able to work in Spain?
If you are it may be in your interest to register as (e.g.) self-employed.
You will then become liable to tax.
Income tax is related to your income, if you don´t have income you don´t pay income tax, but you DO pay Social Security ([at]300€ per month). Paying Social Security entitles you to a health card which grants your inclusion into the Spanish Health System.
Even if you subsequently become unemployed or stop paying Social Security, you retain your rights in the Health Service, I believe.
All this involves a lot of Spanish paperwork.

The rule in spain is that if you are living here you are taxable on your worldwide income.

However, that may vary depending on any double taxation agreement which exist between your country and spain. 

I had a Canadian friend who told me the agreement between spain and Canada provides for tax to be paid in Canada on Canadian  income.

  I suggest you check out how the agreement between Canada and spain affects you

Thanks for the info.  What about the fact that I am retired and over 65? Would  I have to pay the same amount of income  tax as a working person or less? Also, with respect to private health insurance I think  300€ per month is rather expensive. I thought that by paying social security you were entitled to free healthcare like a Spanish citizen.  Am I mistaken?
Thanks again.

Thanks for the info Simon.  Actually I am over 65 and retired and I am wondering if I would have to pay as much income tax as a working person.  With respect to health care, I don’t quite see why so many expats have a costly private plan when they could simply pay social security and be entitled to the Spanish health care.  Maybe you can explain.  Thanks again.

If after taking the double taxation agreement rules into consideration, if you are liable to pay tax in spain you will  pay the same as a worker,   however, there are slightly higher tax free allowances with increased age

I  believe that as a non EU national,  you will need about 27,000 € p.a. income as a single person and a little more as a couple, to qualify for residence in spain.

  Incidentally that could, and almost certainly  will,  apply to Brits if there is a Brexit with no deal

Not sure where you get the idea that you would be paying social security.  Only workers pay that

On the health cover :  I saw today that the free cover which appeared might have been available to all,  might have been amended giving a possibility of residents being able to pay into the government health cover fund.   However I believe that is in the air just now

I guess I was mistaken.  I get different, sometimes conflicting,  info from different people.

I think you have to be crystal clear on my first question:
Are you legally entitled to work in Spain?
If so then you may choose to subscribe to the Social Security system like a native Spaniard. (the 300€ per month payment includes the Health Service and old age Pension contribution).
If you are not entitled to work in Spain then you must contract Health insurance privately like non-EU ex-pats.
I do not know the details for over-65 year-olds although I have a friend that age who still pays tax (he has tourist apartment income) although he has stopped paying Social Security and he now receives a State Pension.
You asked why so many ex-pats contract to private health care when they could join the state system. Not knowing the details of these people (e.g. are they EU citizens?) - my guess is that the bureaucracy involved may put people off; you need a good level of Spanish to negotiate the system or you need a Spanish-speaker to help you do it.

Just for clarity

I have lived in and declared tax in spain for 32 years.  I am now 79.  My posts take that  experience into consideration

For me, Malaga and that coast just a bit too much. Towns and coastal villages near Alicante is perfect for us.  Just relax  eat out, spend less in the supermarkets and local stores.  I promise its a deam come true. We are next door to El Campello.

Could you please elaborate on "Malaga and that coast just a bit too much"? Thanks.

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