Best Cities to Relocate Spain

I'm looking at testing out Spain next year for a possible move and am looking at Barcelona only because its my kind of city and its familiar. Are there other cities I should be looking at? I prefer places with major airports and amenities- would love other options. TIA

I'd recommend looking at Alicante, though it depends what you want really from a city.  It's got a big airport nearby, nice beaches, good climate and it's well connected.

Barcelona is a nice city - I lived in and around it for 6 years before my girlfriend and I moved to Alicante earlier this year.  Our main reasons for making the move were:

- the cost - property prices in Barcelona are crazy and we were looking to buy somewhere.  We managed to get a huge apartment here for a fraction of the cost there.  Whilst we didn't consider it, I've also noticed a difference in the general cost of living since moving, money seems to go noticeably further in Alicante.
- the crime - Barcelona has had a big problem with pickpockets for a number of years, but in the last year or so the crime rate has risen rapidly for more serious crimes including muggings and assaults.  Certain parts of the city didn't really feel safe any more at night.
- the pollution - Barcelona suffers a bit from air pollution.  You don't really notice it day to day, but on bad days there's a noticeable cloud over the city.  Living there long enough I developed a chronic throat problem that my doctor attributed to the air quality, which cleared up after I left.

The other big difference we noticed is the people and general attitude of the city.  I don't want to paint BCN in too much of a negative light, it's a beautiful city, with a great nightlife and vastly better than some other places I've lived, but we've found the people here in Alicante to be much more down to earth, welcoming and friendly.

Other cities we shortlisted were Valencia, Murcia and Cartagena, which might be worth considering as I've heard similar things about .. but we fell in love with Alicante on our first visit so never made it to those  :D

Wow! That pretty much sums it up! Ok I will spend a month in Lisbon and a month in Alicante so I can get an idea for both but you have much nailed my interests to a "T". I want a friendly spot, with good weather, close to the water and affordable. I've heard so much about Spain & Portugal that both are worth checking into. I only know beginner Spanish and plan to take some Portuguese classes as well before next year. Thanks for the thorough run down. It help tremendously in helping to make my decision. Maybe we'll meet one day.


Yes, Barcelona is a great place, cool, buzzy, tonnes going on, lots of interesting districts, english is spoken in quite a few places, is on the high speed rail network and has a well connected international airport. But, as another has said, people can be a bit more miserable, a bit harder, than the spanish norm. And property prices are crazy high.

Alternatives that spring to my mind:

Madrid: Property is as crazy as Barcelona and the climate is tougher (hotter in summer, colder in winter) but on balance, probably a better place to live. There is more there, its more international, less swamped with tourist, the people are a bit happier and it´s got that capital city buzz. A complex and diverse place.

Valencia: Spain's third city is often compared to Barcelona. It is where I live. Both are one the coast, both have an old town, both are modern cities. Valencia is much smaller than Barcelona / Madrid and its airport is not so well connected (but still not bad). It has a nice climate, never seeing frost and never getting crushingly hot (well, there are about 3 weeks a year where the locals flee for the mountains which surround the place). Its very cheap, one of the cheapest spanish cities, with housing a third the cost of the big two and menu del dias going for ten euros. It has  a good public transport infrastructure and is small and flat enough to make walking/cycling a viable way of getting about. English is not common. Everyone seems ridiculously chilled and happy.

Seville: Lots of people like Seville, with its gardens, old town, and Andalusian culture. I do not know it well. We were put off by the crushingly hot summers. Its beautiful, and there is lots of stunning countryside to visit near by.

Zaragoza: Spain's 5th city is often overlooked and I do not know why. 2 cathedrals, loads of things to do and see, proud locals, close to the Pyrenees, a high speed train ride away from Barcelona and Madrid. 2 hour drive to Valencia. But it does get really hot in summer (like 45C), and cold in winter. It's a tougher, more sensible, more northern sort of place than Valencia.

So that is the big 5. Some random smaller places:

I like Valladolid. Capital of its region, there is a nice sense of community. Close to Madrid and linked by high speed rail. People seemed happy. No one spoke english. Its the only place I in spain where have been stared at in open-mouthed amazement for speaking english. If this sort of local place appeals, consider Ciudad Real as well.

Alicante is nice, facing the sea surrounded by mountains. Lots of expats live there and the locals are used to foreigners. It can be expensive, especially if you try to live in one of the surrounding coastal villages where norther europeans push up house prices.

Bilbao is a good place. But like Zaragoza, people are harder, more businesslike than the south of Spain. But be aware that the northern coast is wet (you can get rain all year round, so nothing like Valencia's 300 days of sun a year). It snows in the winter. Everything is green.

Cadiz is small and beautiful, and being surrounded by water on all sides, a lot cooler than the rest of the south coast. Nice vibe when I was there but I have not been there at peak tourist season.

Thank you so much for your thorough review. This also  helps in determining where to start. Being from Hawaii I'm used to nice climates, food, people, culture and the access (major airport) to other places. I like that there are cities you mentioned that meet those requirements and are also happy, friendly places that can provide additional country touring through other modes.


Do you know if foreigners can buy property in Spain? I also wonder how hard it would be to find a place to rent as a starter?


TiptheWorld :

Do you know if foreigners can buy property in Spain? I also wonder how hard it would be to find a place to rent as a starter?


No restrictions to buying in Spain. Your money will be good here.

Renting is super easy to. There are lots of web sites (e.g. PISOS COM). I think it a good idea to rent in a town before settling down. We have moved a lot, and have found that our opinion of where to live changes as we get used to a place. Initially one is drawn to the old towns, the areas liked by tourists, but later you start to enjoy the places that the locals like and it takes time to find them.

You just need to figure out the visa side of things (which I know nothing about, as I am a European). If you stay here more than 90 days you will need a residence visa, and yes, the spanish bureaucrats will catch you eventually if you try to cheat.

Thanks so much that is super helpful. I will check out the site and Visa requirements. I'm thinking to be only be gone away from Hawaii 3 months out of the year, starting next summer, so might be good there.
But if I want to work low key somewhere I guess I'll need to figure out the working visa situation but I'm sure that'll come way after I've decided where to settle down on my next visit in 2021. Thanks again.

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